Invigorating ... Ms. Penaluna tacks between rage and humor, biography and theory. Her writing is sharp and rousing. Her message is consoling and motivating. If this is what it means to think like a woman, sign me up.
Penaluna sometimes seems to agree that there is no such thing as the female mind. She chafes at the suggestion that women are intrinsically caring and rejects the idea that they are naturally ill-suited to rational pursuits. It is suspicious, then, that the main point of connection among the four thinkers she has chosen to write about, or at least the one that she stresses, is simply that each is female ... Of course, How to Think Like a Woman is more than a resuscitation of early modern philosophers who have been unjustly excised from the canon because of their sex ... The weakest sections of the book follow Penaluna’s rocky path through graduate school at an unnamed institution ... If the personal reflections in How to Think Like a Woman are often mushy and maudlin, its portrait of philosophy’s misogyny is more firmly wrought ... These women have strikingly similar stories, but what, if anything, unites their thought? We learn a great deal about the oppression they faced, which was of course considerable, and very little about the content of their philosophies. What Penaluna does have to say about their actual commitments is often shallow and cursory ... In general, How to Think Like a Woman contains a lot of agonizing about philosophy but little philosophy itself ... Reduc[es] four rich philosophers to mere avatars of their demographic ... Not as a woman, but as a person, I think this is not how to think.
Her story of rebuilding and reimagining personally and professionally demonstrates defiant independence from patriarchal prescriptions and their shame and an embrace of feminist anger, ambiguity, and diversity of thought. While the author struggles some to make all components work powerfully, the book is a solid, entertaining, and intellectually stimulating attempt at a new kind of work ... An occasionally tepid but ultimately satisfying, redemptive reclamation of the female voice in the study of philosophy.