Friday, October 31, 2008
The Female Thing
(Thank you, lessie, for the recommendation!)
The Female Thing, Envy, Sex, Dirt and Vulnerablitiy by Laura Kipnis. (BTW, that link is to the review by Salon's Laura Miller and it is excellent. Much better than what I am going to write here, so read it if you are curious for more about the book) Laura put together a thrilling and quick (less than 200 pgs) read that probably pissed a bunch of people off and I totally fell in love with it. Filled with plenty of referenece to (and digs at) feminist theory and plenty of reference to (and digs at) our pop-culture, I think it would make a perfect follow-up read to Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs. (Just in case you were looking for a good book to read along side that one.)
Here's a few quotes...
A little bit about Envy: "Clearly both male presence and male absence are equally capable of causing chagrin, each in its own way. [heterosexual] woman [is] suspended between wanting to have a man and wanting what men don't have to give... The irony is that even women who really don't want a man- don't want them as boyfriends or husbands or sex-partners- usually still want something that men have: their salaries, for one thing, or their social privleges, or their access to those coveted corridors of power... " (pg 16, 24)
Something about Sex: "Let's be honest: Nature herself has not been entirely kind to women in this regard... amoung Nature's little jokes at women's expense is the entire excruciating, immoblizing burden (sorry, privilege) of childbearing (a privilege that can kill you, thanks), PMS, painful sexual initiation... and on top of that, the unkindest joke of all: the placement of the clitoris, the primary local of female sexual pleasure, at some remove from the vagina, the primary local of human sexual intercourse." (pg 44)
The dish on Dirt: "How could anyone think there is anything compulsive about the numerous time-consuming beautifying procedures and absolutions that most of us females ritually perform before leaving the house and presenting our fatally flawed, often secretly bleeding bodies for public inspection- even those of us armed to the teeth with feminist theory or madonnaesque postmodern irony about femininity?" (pg 117)
A revealing glimpse of Vulnerablitiy: "If you're a chick, your sitting on some pretty valuable real estate. Is there any other body cavity quite so laden with symbolic value, not to mention actual monetary worth, particularly for exclusive access?" (She followes that up with the quip: "...women got blessed with these wonderfully valuable vagina's but not necesarily with the body strength to defend them, should it prove necessary.") (pg 123, 125)
I giggled and smirked and nodded my head through the Envy Sex and Dirt sections, and felt uncomfortably exposed through the Vulnerablity section, and really really enjoyed all of it.
anyhoo... anyone else read it? I'd love to hear what you thought.