Imagine having an argument with your significant other, but instead of cooling off in another room, or agreeing to disagree, your husband forces you into an asylum! In the mid-nineteenth century this was a common occurrence--at least it was until Elizabeth Packard’s husband tried it with her. Instead of accepting it, Packard, who as a smart, independent-minded woman was feared for her thoughts and opinions, resisted, fighting for not just her own freedom but on behalf of other women in the same situation. Her battles both in and out of court changed not only her life but those of other American mental health patients.
"Oh, I've been meaning to get around to Invisible Women..." is exactly what Perez is seeking to address in her spot-on analysis of the global gender data gap. History is riddled with missing information about the labor and lives of over half the Earth's population, and yet little is being done to investigate (let alone correct) this massive omission. A perfect read for changemakers with a knack for statistics, Perez's razor-sharp reporting will leave readers wondering, "Is unisex really unisex? Or is it just another way to say, 'one size fits man'?"
In two previous books, Lose Your Mother and Scenes of Subjection, Saidiya Hartman pioneered “critical fabulation,” an approach combining archival research, critical theory, and fictional narrative to explore the afterlife of slavery and the effects of racism and exile on African-American identity. In her new book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (W.W. Norton, $28.95), she uses a similar methodology to examine a generation of young Black women who rebelled against traditional social and cultural constraints. Focusing on the urban experience of Black women in the early twentieth century, Hartman, a Guggenheim Fellow and professor at Columbia, uses history and literary imagination to trace the lives of women who rejected both degrading conditions of work and normative gender roles in personal relationships, showing how these experiments in work, sex, and marriage constituted a radical transformation of Black intimate and social life.