29 October, 2006

Good sex, bad sex

Two books about sex - one excellent and one mediocre. The good one was Linda Grant's Sexing the millenium, her history and feminist analysis of the sexual revolution. I love Linda Grant - her novel When I lived in modern times was wonderful and I always like her articles for the Guardian. She's a very moral, political person, but incredibly human as well - I've particularly enjoyed some of the things she's written about fashion: serious, but with a particular joy in clothes and dress. Sexing the millenium was wonderful - witty and profound, an acknowledgment that although contraception has freed a lot of women to have more sex (outside marriage, without commitment) the basic sexual roles and models for sexuality have not really been fundamentally changed. [64]

The other book was Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist pigs: women and raunch culture, an examination of the way that women have bought into the 'porno-isation' of popular culture. I actually read this a month ago for my women's group. It's a polemical work, looking at phenomena like the way that pole-dancing and stripping classes are being marketed as leisure activities for middle-class women, Nuts and Zoo magazine, and so on. It was interesting, but I thought was probably more relevant to American feminists than British ones. It also suffered from a lack of analysis and a rather dubious anecdotal basis - she didn't really offer any serious data to back up her claims except interviews with various women, so it seemed rather more like a list of sexual behaviour that was making her uneasy than an attempt to explain why society might be becoming more 'porno-ised'. I also felt her chapter on lesbian culture seemed like a rather desperate attempt to tie her concerns about a pervasive macho culture on to what is actually quite an open and accepting part of society, and I had serious doubts about her attempts to prove anything by interviewing teenage girls - I really don't think it's reasonable to draw any conclusions about adult female sexuality by talking to fifteen-year-olds. Still, her intent was admirable, and it generated a good discussion at my group, so it can't have been all bad. [65]


problemshelved said...

how's the women's group going anyway?

woodscolt said...

The first meeting was a hit. You and Mary should come along next time - I'll keep you posted.