Normally when it comes to composing compelling lists of memorable women throughout the span of history – you know, those notable, trailblazing archetypes known around the globe that often end up branded through quotes or images on t-shirts – most people wouldn’t think to include walking pop-culture prank Miley Cyrus. Even more, it’d be unlikely she’d be included among the likes of respected and admired figures like Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Taylor or Oprah Winfrey. Unless, of course, it’s a list of women who have openly admitted to lighting up and loving it at some point in their lives.
Following a spirited foreword that urges readers to celebrate the deep “herstory” of cannabis, “Tokin’ Women” unfolds in a collection of brief profiles accompanied by images and pro-marijuana quotes from each source. Some of the names and faces will be familiar to those with a grasp of both ancient history and contemporary culture, while others may be getting introduced to these figures for the first time.
Depending on each reader’s particular interests within and outside of the cannabis universe, they can find a number of women who strike their fancy. Spiritual types can zen out over goddesses like Ishtar from Sumeria, Seshat from Egypt, Magu from China and Parvati from India. Others may be more excited about the entertainers included in the book like actresses Whoopi Goldberg, Cameron Diaz and Lily Tomlin or singers like Janis Joplin, Barbra Streisand and Billie Holiday, while brainy types can get geeked over smarties like “Nickel and Dimed” author Barbara Ehrenreich and renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead.
Author Nola Evangelista (AKA Ellen Komp) has been a longtime advocate and activist, working as the deputy director of California NORML. She does readers a favor by keeping each profile succinct and chock full of the most interesting and pertinent facts.
Like many interesting, little, coffee table books, this one doesn’t have to be read from front-to-back. It can be picked up and read from any page without reducing the impact of the collection. The book makes a case for every tokin’ woman, highlighting the spectrum of diversity in age, era, ethnicity, social status and professional careers. It’s by no means a comprehensive collection (is that possible?), but it does a fine job at skimming the surface of such an expansive topic without overwhelming the reader with too many factoids and tidbits.
For some time, people have been asking “where are all the women?” when it comes to the cannabis industry and this book seeks to answer it resoundingly: We’ve been here all along.
Evangelista Sista Press, 2015 – $15
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