Tuesday 25 February 2020

Book Review! - Talk Softly And Carry Your Big Stick With Pride by Ariel Jean Bailey

OMG she still reviews! 😅😎

'Talk Softly and Carry Your Big Stick With Pride' against a Trans flag background (horizontal stripes: blue/pink/white/pink/blue)

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Title: Talk Softly And Carry Your Big Stick With Pride:
Talk Softly And Carry Your Big Stick With Pride by Ariel Jean Bailey book cover
The Biology, Sociology, and History of the Gender Spectrum
Author: Ariel Jean Bailey

Genre: Non-Fiction, LGBTQ+ (Trans+/NB+, some Genderqueer+, some Intersex+)

Amazon: USA

A Few Starting Notes:

I received a digital review copy from the author as an opportunity to provide a fair and honest review.

This review is late, ok? 

Like, the author gave me the review copy in the first half of 2019 September 2018 (#BadBookBlogger #DisasterGay) and... it's February 2020. Sorry! 😅 

This is an #OwnVoices book from a Transgender/Transsexual woman.

I am reviewing this book from the perspective of a Cisgender chick. 

So please be aware that I'm not Transgender, and I can't speak from that area of experience.

A quick note: 

The author refers to herself, and some other Transgender people, as Transsexual.

This is how Ms Bailey identifies.

But because this term has acquired some connotations of Transmedicalism, and I don't want people getting the wrong idea of Ms Bailey, I will say that she IN NO WAY supports transmedicalism in this book.

In fact, this book supports all Genderqueer and Trans+/NB+ people, and generally (imho) is extremely inclusive of the range of the gender spectrum.

The Premise:

This is a conversation on the gender spectrum, a riff on the hidden history of Trans people, and an eff you to Transphobic butt-faces who attempt to hide behind science.

Science says that both Sex (biological Sex, as opposed to, y'know, the having of sex,) and Gender are complex, with waaaaaay more than two options.

And Ariel Jean Bailey is here to tell you all about it!

The Best Bits:

This book's chatty tone and relative shortness make it a quick read.

Which, given that it covers biology, sociology, etc. etc. is no mean feat!
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It's upfront and honest and open - just the sort of thing you all know that I approve of heartily - and strikes a good balance between sensitivity and matter-of-fact.

This book will, I'm sure, mean a lot to young Trans+/NB+ people (and Intersex folks) looking for someone to just talk to them, y'know?

Like I said, though, I'm Cis, so I don't know exactly what Trans folks wanna read, ofc! 

As far as yours truly can see, though, this book is v. validating for people all over the gender spectrum.

The Not-So-Great Bits:

Sometimes - just sometimes - it feels like this book would've been better with a tighter focus and/or more of an overarching structure.

I know that those things come across as opposites - but what I mean is that it needed a stronger sense of guidance, connection, and segue between topics. 

And a tighter focus or broader overarching structure would've provided that.

Also, history, mythology, and religion are all dealt with together as one big ol' sociological stew here, which is absolutely fine but feels a little topic-hopping in places.
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I know, I know - that sounds a bit nit-picky

That's because it's a bit nit-picky - I'm a reviewer, after all!
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A lot of the mythology discussed which portrays Genderqueer and Trans+/NB+ people is problematic af 

- not that Bailey can do much about that, it is what it is. And mythology, in general, is messed up.

There is a messed-up (like, involving sexual assault and incest) myth, not included in this book, in Welsh mythology - about Gwydion and Gilfaethwy - which features gender variation too - y'know, if anyone's planning on writing an expanded study of this 😉

Content Warnings:

A lot of these (esp. the more extreme ones,) are in-context within the history/mythology elements of this book (as previously mentioned, mythology is messed up):

- rape and sexual assault
- incest
- violence and murder
- LGBTQ+ persecution
- discussions of the view of LGBTQ+ as a series of mental disorders
- Transphobia
- Homophobia and Queerphobia
- discussions of gender dysphoria

The Verdict:

This is an interesting #OwnVoices book, with a voice that speaks confidently and eloquently.

It's validating, chatty, and generally awesome. 

I def. recommend this book for people who want to read more about the whole gender spectrum.

Buy Now USA - Goodreads

Have you read any good non-fiction about Trans+ issues?
Talk to me! 😄💬

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  1. This sounds like a very informative book! I have become more interested in the viewpoints of trans/non-binary people ever since I read Sissy by: Jacob Tobia. That was a fabulous book!

    1. It's great! And I'll have to keep an eye out for Sissy! :)

  2. I actually am still really learning a lot about the trans community and some of the struggles transpeople have to experience... so this sounds like it could be informative for me in some ways. But then in others it sounds a bit far spread and not focused... but then maybe that would be useful to me as I am still learning and can gather a bit of knowledge from here and there.

    1. I think it would probs be useful to you - it looks at historical context and a lot of the often misunderstood science. It's also short enough that you won't feel like you have to wade through it! :)


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