Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Have just been to the bookshop appearance of Ariel Levy, so I now have my signed copy of this,
and a recording of what she said to edit together for Women on the Line. I liked her. It's quite an accomplishment, I think, to wade into subject matter that's in an hysterical bullshit minefield and, by treating it thoughtfully and intelligently and being a liberal-minded sort, to come out with an exploration of 'raunch culture' that doesn't play into the hysterical bullshit - that is, 'aye me, look at where postfeminism has got us, isn't it terrible. It was obviously pointless and dangerous/ has gone too far!!'. The basic point of Levy's book, I believe [though I may update when I've read it], is that this stripper look that has become a dominant female aesthetic may have reached the point where it's no longer simply an option for many women, but an obligation. And women's anxieties about conforming to this aesthetic create a market for looking/behaving sexed up and smooth and raunchy in this one particular way, even if the look/behaviour is not matched by authentic desire, pleasure, etc. And what Levy's advocating is not a movement to desexed seriousness or what have you [because it's kinda insane to a) prescribe behaviour, and b) limit the options to two extremes], but simply a realisation - reflected in culture - that women's sexualties and ways of being empowered are as diverse and individual as are women. So basically, she's not really saying that women who embrace raunch are deluded faux sluts, rather, that it is impossible for this one aesthetic to comply with the personalities and preferences of everyone, so it shouldn't be sponsored in any opressive way. And, when she is saying that women who embrace raunch are deluded faux sluts, it's only for consciousness-raising purposes, as in, "Let's examine this phenomenon. Is it working for you? Is it good for you? Because, if it's actually damaging for you, you'd be wise to reject it. And further, there should be room for you to reject it without the risk of being labelled humourless and uncool and sexually un-liberated, and without casting any aspersions on women who do embrace it..." You see? Reasonable. Anyways, the bearded one from Vulture was there.

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