Alex Blaze

Book Review: That's Revolting!

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 11, 2008 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment
Tags: Mattilda Berbstein Sycamore, that's revolting!

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, et al.
That's Revolting! Queer strategies for resisting assimilation (New revised and expanded edition)
Soft Skull Press, 2007

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's re-release of That's Revolting! isn't about the why of resisting assimilation - Sycamore and her band of queer activists are more interested in telling you how to fight the assimilationist project.

The articles in this anthology describe community projects and activisms that include the use of pirate radio, resisting police action, running a queer experimental films, and using bathrooms to resist gender fundamentalism and ablism. Here, the term "action" isn't reduced to "writing extensively to convince others," "intersectionality" doesn't mean "that one essay I read about black lesbians back in college," "queer identity politics" hasn't shifted to the commodification of middle- to upper-class gay experiences, and "change" isn't "incrementalism" turned "trickle-down activism."

It's not a what-to-think book. It's a training manual for the would-be and veteran queer activist, chock full of wisdom and lessons-learned about successful and less-than-successful projects.

(Full disclosure: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is a TBP contributor.)

The essays in this book are diverse in terms of issues tackled (HIV/AIDS funding, articulating intersex status, fighting racism), approaches taken (from influencing electoral politics to infusing politics in cultural projects, to raising awareness through body-centered activism, to completely subverting the government), problems faced (lack of diversity, media bias, apathy, commodification, queer reticence to self/community-criticism), and voice.

The writers are fresh, fierce, and fabulous, and while some essays will definitely be more useful than others, this anthology should be sitting on the shelves of everyone who's working to improve queer lives.

Visit the That's Revolting! website for more info on ordering a copy.


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That sounds interesting. I'll have to get my local book store to order a copy for me.

I've had less time to read actual books lately than online content, but I'm working my way through Mattilda's updated book. I must say, it's not my usual type of reading, but I'm really enjoying it!

Nerissa Belcher | December 12, 2008 8:24 AM

I'm transsexual and support the right of anyone to be whom they wish to be which, obviously, includes various queer presentations. However, I'd like to point out that most LGBTQ individuals, including myself, are relatively mainstream except for our sexual orientation and/or gender identification. This can be observed by looking around. For every purple Mohawk haired, heavily tattooed gender queer activist or similar there are at least one hundred LGBTQ individuals living relatively typical lives and looking/acting mainstream by choice, not to include our sexual orientation/gender identification.

My impression is most of us appreciate that our sexual orientation and/or gender identification is only a small part of our identity. For the minority who feel it vital they resist assimilation then hopefully the book will be of benefit.