Bitch Doctrine: Essays for dissenting adults
Bloomsbury, $24.99 pb, 373 pp, 9781408881613
Like Wonder Woman loping across a battlefield, arms raised, bracelets repelling bullets, Laurie Penny charges boldly into the culture wars. In Bitch Doctrine, we traverse trigger warnings, misogynistic trolls, sex work, commodity feminism, gender identity, transphobia, free speech, nerd entitlement, left-wing rape apologists, and toxic masculinity, exemplified by the rise of Donald Trump.
Naturally, ‘Orange Hitler’ gets some of Penny’s best lines. He is ‘a lacquered, lying sack of personality disorders’, and the 2016 US election campaign resembled ‘a wet dream that David Lynch might have had after falling asleep watching Fox News’. Wit is an essential part of the armour worn by Penny, a young, British, ‘genderqueer’ feminist. ‘Some of my best friends truly are straight, white men,’ she assures us late in this book. ‘Sometimes we do straight white men things together, like eating undercooked barbecue meat and scratching ourselves in front of Top Gear.’