cover image F 'em!: Goo Goo, Gaga and Some Thoughts on Balls

F 'em!: Goo Goo, Gaga and Some Thoughts on Balls

Jennifer Baumgardner. Seal, $17 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-58005-360-0

Now in her 40s, writer, activist, and Third Wave feminist Baumgardner (Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics) has "shed the skin of a %E2%80%98young feminist'" and become smarter and more sophisticated. Her sophistication is evident in this well-organized, thoughtful, informative, and funny collection of essays and interviews in which she covers everything from "feminism as a myth" to father-daughter purity balls. Especially riveting sections include Baumgardner's portrayal of her younger self, the "cold reality" of working for Ms. in the 1990s, and the hilarious chapter "How to Do Everything Wrong," which examines her life choices. With skillful segues between topics, she writes lucidly about the transformative powers of children as well as the darker side of feminist issues, including abortion and incest. If there's a weakness in the book, it would be the interviews, though she's chosen a rich collection of personalities%E2%80%94from musician Bj%C3%B6rk to Bust cofounder and editor Debbie Stoller. In addition, it would have been helpful for unfamiliar readers if Baumgardner had defined First Wave through Fourth Wave feminists at the beginning, rather than at the very end. (Sept.)