FEMALE by Andrea Long Chu

This is one of my favorite books I’ve read lately. Easily. Andrea Long Chu does what Hilton Als does, what Imani Perry does, what bell hooks does–she goes with the flow in a thoughtful, analytical voice that takes you through creative connections between life and literature. Here, Chu’s central claim is that everyone is female, and that everyone hates it. That means we are all people who “let someone else do your desiring for you, at your own expense.” Both men and women act in certain ways as to not be associated that femaleness. But it’s ultimately projection–insecurity about being female, a body that things happen to.

Chu pairs her narrative reading of gender and sex to a ranty play written by Valerie Solanas (the woman who shot and killed Andy Warhol). It’s called SCUM Manifesto and it professes Solanas’s hatred for men and most women, as well as her fantasy of complete “defeminizing the human race” via genocide. Chu was obsessed with SCUM during college, an intense and confusing time in her life. It’s themes stuck with her afterwards too, throughout her own personal revelations about liking women and being a transwoman herself. She knows well that one of the things people are given by others is their gender. It’s something the public decides for you, which is why people do want to look the part, in order to play their role.

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