The NY Times Sunday Book Review: Liesl Schillinger Reviews “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Rebecca Traister

Liesl Schillinger’s review of Big Girls Don’t Cry in Sunday’s NY Times is yet another example of the attention this book have received in recent weeks from various media outlets. I suspect that much of this interest may be due to its somewhat provocative subtitle: The Election That Changed Everything For American Women. Traister uses the 2008 election, and its run-up, as a back-drop for an analysis of two influential (for better or worse) and often controversial women: Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Despite the subtitle Traister seems to conclude that, while much has changed or improved for women in the public/political sphere over the last several decades the tensions and anxieties that have always existed still remain, though they may be subtly disguised by “coded” speech.

On the morning of Aug. 29, 2008, Denver was swarming with journalists covering the Democratic National Convention. Awaking giddy from the euphoria of Barack Obama’s acceptance of his party’s nomination the night before, I turned on CNN to find John McCain announcing he had chosen a woman — an unknown Alaska governor and mother of five — as his running mate: ­Sarah Palin. “Obama’s just won the election,” I called to my still-slumbering companion. Five minutes later, having taken in Palin’s cocky moxie and Wonder Woman veneer, I shouted: “Get up! You’ve got to see this woman. Maybe McCain will win!”

Sleeping a few blocks away was the journalist Rebecca Traister, author of “Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women,” a passionate, visionary and very personal account of the cultural ferment that accompanied the election of ’08. Traister was covering the convention for Salon. A colleague woke her by saying urgently, “McCain picked Palin.” Traister’s stupefied response, she writes, was “Michael Palin?” (the British comedian). She wasn’t joking. And after she heard Palin speak, she wasn’t laughing.

Read the full article here.

— Thea Michailides

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