Skip to main content

Sex Object by Jessica Valenti: Is Feminism Changing?



I brought Sex Object with me to London, because why wouldn't you want to read a feminist memoir that refuses to be optimistic when you're on a week-long trip?

Jessica Valenti is obviously a Name in popular feminism. As the founder of feministing.com and a frequent go-to lady for quotes about how things in the culture affect the ladies, it makes sense for her to be writing books. And she's a good writer! And yes, there is a but, but that only but is that this book is a major downer. Which I RESPECT.

Valenti points out that "even subversive sarcasm" in response to comments from men being assholes "adds a cool-girl nonchalance, an updated, sharper version of the expectation that women be forever pleasant, even as we're eating shit" and that the "inability to be vulnerable--the unwillingness to be victims, even if we are--doesn't protect us, it just covers up the wreckage."

This has made me think.

Because we are conditioned to act like none of it hurts us, to "not give them the satisfaction," but it reminds me of the Hulu show Harlots, which takes the image of the good-time 18th century sex worker and shows the pain and anguish comprising their lives. If we act like harassment doesn't affect us and that everything's okay, it will be much less evident how much damage it wreaks.

With some parts of Lindy West's book Shrill and then this memoir, it looks like a turn is happening in cultural feminism. We might be moving away from smart, sharp, sarcastic replies and towards showing the gaping wounds that are caused by casual comments every day.

Valenti is brutally honest in this book about her life, her fears, and her thoughts. It's a hard read, but it's provocative. IS the answer to lay ourselves out as vulnerable human beings? Or are we supposed to be indomitable superheroes, capable of fearlessly sailing over the waves of idiotic commentary slabbered out by a gender that is seeing its millennia-long hold on power slipping through its fingers?

It's a difficult question. Especially now, as The Handmaid's Tale becomes a cultural touchstone once more and every day we see an elected-by-the-people head of our country whose treatment of women has been demonstrably abominable. It's almost unthinkable to put ourselves in a vulnerable position under these circumstances, but the thing worth thinking about is that people, average people, are not monsters. They just frequently don't think. I know I don't. I believe that people, when faced when someone's vulnerability, are far more likely to make a change than when that person presents a strong sparkling seemingly impenetrable face to the public.

Jessica Valenti was extremely brave for writing this hard book. I have hope we will follow her example.

Comments

  1. I picked up this book at some point and I am now both extra looking forward to reading it and also a bit nervous. Making yourself vulnerable is ALWAYS scary, especially with the fear that you're giving power to the exact people that are hurting you.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop ( Odyssey Books , where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have. I feel like we could get to this point, Emily INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'. You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters. If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing: We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilar

Minithon: The Mini Readathon, January 11th, 2020

The minithon is upon us once more! Minithons are for the lazy. Minithons are for the uncommitted. Minithons are for us. The minithon lasts 6 hours (10 AM to 4 PM CST), therefore making it a mini readathon, as opposed to the lovely Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and 24in48, both of which you should participate in, but both of which are a longer commitment than this, the Busy Watching Netflix person's readathon. By 'read for six hours' what's really meant in the minithon is "read a little bit and eat a lot of snacks and post pictures of your books and your snacks, but mostly your snacks." We like to keep it a mini theme here, which mainly means justifying your books and your snacks to fit that theme. Does your book have children in it? Mini people! Does it have a dog! Mini wolf! Does it have pencils? Mini versions of graphite mines! or however you get graphite, I don't really know. I just picture toiling miners. The point is, justify it or don't