"Sady Doyle is an absolutely essential voice in this moment of moral panic. As we continue the battle for gender equality, her writing grounds the fight in a refreshing dose of sanity. I recommend it to anyone interested in remaining sane."— Lauren Duca, author of How to Start a Revolution: Young People and the Future of American Politics
"Sady Doyle has created a chimera of a book: simultaneously a crackling great read full of riveting stories, and a damning indictment of how our culture represses what it can't control. It's hard to read, at times, but also necessary and validating, swashbuckling without being careless, powerful and funny and compelling throughout."— Emily Gould, And the Heart Says Whatever
"Sady Doyle’s provocative and incisive cultural commentary is consistently several steps ahead of mainstream political analysis. What, today, is more important that an examination of our society’s fear of women and power, a topic Doyle has studied down years. Her deep understanding and witty, engaging analysis will make you see the world in a whole new, and important, way."—Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger
"Thoughtful and compelling, Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers is alternately refreshing and comforting, fascinating and infuriating. Doyle shines a light into dark corners where feminine rage and violence lurk…"— Cherie Priest, award-winning author of The Family Plot
"From history to pop-culture, Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers lays bare the violence and structured misogyny we don’t want to see. She has ripped the blinders off.”—Nancy Schwartzman, Director Roll Red Roll, Founder, Circle of 6
"Sady Doyle has redrawn the lines in the cultural sand with Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers. Combining history, folklore, true crime, personal anecdotes and horror films Doyle has written a book that redefines the female experience, emboldening, empowering and expanding it beyond its preconceived confines. Beautifully written, devastatingly funny, and exhaustively researched Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers is a deeply necessary and urgent book.”— Alexandra West, author of The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle: Final Girls and a New Hollywood Formula
"An eye-opening treatment of an issue that could not be more timely: the pathologization and demonization of women's power."— Kate Manne, author of Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny
"Sady Doyle opens my eyes, and challenges my beliefs, with a combination of historical perspective, fascinating portraits, psychological insight, and just damn good writing." — Andrew Jenks, host of What Really Happened?
“Doyle delivers a defense and embrace of the feminine grotesque.” — Erika M. Anderson (EMA), musician and multimedia artist
"Why are powerful women so scary to us, and what myths keep them that way? A macabre, witty, and often bone-chilling look at the way patriarchy has contained and neutralized women's power throughout the ages by construing it as monstrous, Doyle pulls off her dazzling synthesis in page-turning prose that makes it clear what the real monster ispatriarchyand leaves us with the hope that by embracing the monstrous within ourselves, we might just slay it." — Amy Gentry, author of Good as Gone and Last Woman Standing
"Sady Doyle successfully reframes patriarchy itself. It is not, as we have been told, the natural order of things: where men are fated to lead, absent any consideration to women. Instead, it is a system that was unnaturally constructed in fear of women. And now, as we reach what feels to be the end, the imagined monsters we have always made of women must become the very real monsters that are the only beings capable of breaking the system entirely."— Zack Akers, creator of Limetown podcast and TV series
"This book blew me away. Step by inexorable, logical, sure-footed step, Sady Doyle lays bare how patriarchy traps us in the stories it tells about us, and how these stories are a form of violence in themselves. Fueled by rage and spiked, like a nail bomb, with humor, this book feels like the lights coming on suddenly, just in time to see the roaches scatter."— Carina Chocano, bestselling author of You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Princesses, Trainwrecks and Other Man-Made Women
"Wrested from the sanitized grasp of corporate jargon and cliches, Doyle acquaints readers uneasily with the brutal, corporeal roots of our language and rituals around power: corrupt, degrade, gag, discipline, condemn, expel…"— Alana Massey, author of All The Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen To Be Famous Strangers
A deep dive into misogyny in popular culture, from timeless myth to contemporary horror flicks.
The second book by feminist commentator Doyle (Trainwreck: The Women We Love To Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why, 2016) is wide-ranging but operates from a simple premise: Western culture tends to perceive women as unruly monsters who can't be trusted as girls, wives, or mothers. In exorcisms—and, by extension, the horror classic The Exorcist—Doyle observes a cultural urge to barricade girls from puberty and sexual independence. She draws a throughline from Celtic myth to Romantic poets to true-crime touchstones like the Laci Peterson case, showing how each represents a fear of women and urge to bring them to heel. In the case of serial killer Ed Gein (the inspiration for a host of horror tales, Psycho and The Silence of the Lambs most famously), Doyle notes how the blame for his actions often shifts to his mother, routinely portrayed as "fanatically religious, permanently enraged, a castrating, sexless, son-warping harpy." The author sometimes approaches her source material, particularly movies, with wit and humor: She revels in rooting for the momma T. Rex in Jurassic Park and roasts Ben Kingsley's turn in the terrible sci-fi film Species, as he "visibly chokes down every line of dialogue with a barely contained rage that says ‘I played Gandhi, damn it.' " But Doyle recognizes how much of our misogynistic, transphobic cultural id is revealed in our trashiest cultural products, and she never loses sight of how the social norms they promote have led to feelings of fear and entrapment at best and countless deaths at worst. The author's accounting of the death of Anneliese Michel, the inspiration for The Exorcist, is especially chilling. A lengthy appendix serves as both a casebook of her sources and a recommendation list for further research both high (Julia Kristeva) and low (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
Unflinching, hard-charging feminist criticism.
From Circe and Cleopatra to the women of the TV series The Craft, female power has terrified men to the extent that it produces fears that lead men to kill women every day, argues Doyle (Trainwreck: The Women We Love To Hate, Mock, and Fear…and Why). Here, the author explores women's identities as daughters, wives, and mothers through a complex set of lenses—theoretical, historical, and cultural—and her prose moves seamlessly from feminist theory and pop culture analysis to damning real-life examples of the dangers women face because of the perceived threat of their sexuality. This much-needed work is as suitable for university courses on feminism, gender, and new media studies as it is for readers looking for an accessible analysis of the perils women encounter when society transforms them into monsters who need to be destroyed rather than seeing them as individuals whose power takes on important agency. VERDICT A vital read on femininity and sexuality that speaks to our past, present, and future.—Emily Bowles, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison