Book Reviews Again
Once again, sorry for the delay. I guess I'll try to make this a weekly goal and see if I can meet that.
Not much to notate though. Mostly just going to work, selling decorating services for the holidays, getting home late, reading, and then collapsing into sleep. I'm not motivated to do much more than I have to these days. I've got enough proposals backed up on the pest control side of things that I'm working late at home to just make those work out, not to mention trying to juggle my appointments around the schedule the decorating division sets for me. Most of the time, I don't even know where I'm going until the morning of, which I really hate because it means I have to go into the office EVERY DAY. Usually I could avoid this, but now I can't. Totally frustrating. Hopefully, it will pay off and I'll get some sales soon so we can have some money for Christmas. That would be nice.
Actually, money period would be nice. Dan's still working on the job thing.
Other than that, not much else going on. My dad is still alive. We had dinner with him last night, and that went okay. He's got to have the leaves blown out of the driveway sometime soon, and I'm going to try to have Dan do it during the day. Problem is, my dad likes to micromanage. So, I've got to break it to him that he can only give Dan directions at the start and critique him at the end of the job. No watching from the garage and yelling commands the entire time. (I don't know if its just me that he does it with, so I'm going to brief him.) I would do it myself, but I just don't have the spare time. I feel horrible about it, but I have barely enough time to keep myself sane these days. Taking on extra projects, which his caseworker should alleviate sometime soon, is something I just can't do.
Anyway, here's some book reviews. That's mostly what I've been doing with my free time.
Don't let the bookjacket fool you, this isn't as dramatic and gory as it seems it would be. Its probably my Gen X self, but I expected more horror. I expected more descriptions of horrible scary killings that would chill me all night and give me insomnia. Not the case here. Although fairly balanced at the start, most of the book discusses the building and maintaining of the World's Fair. Not a horrible read, but not what I wanted. Its also rather slow going if you're looking forward to the chapters about the murderer. Normally, I like historical works, but this one set itself up a little bigger than it becomes on reading. So, if you're looking forward to those bloody murder scenes, skip it. You're better off reading something else.
This one is actually pretty good. Its a little hard to get into at first, but it really touched me because I tend to think that the mother portrayed is similar to my mother when she was gone. I don't, and never will, really know what was going through her head when she left, but this gives me a different perspective, albeit a ficticious one. I also liked that the kids got to reunite with her, but only to see what happened to her. When they're back together all they could focus on was how she had changed. I did like the honesty in that they constantly were trying to please her in order to stay with her, but she was never capable of being a mother in the first place. The scenes in the orphanage are heart rendering, but even more so when they realize their mother is never coming to speak up for them. That's when it really hit me, how similar both situations were. But don't worry, it does have a happy ending that seems to fit the plot.
A couple of good quotes.
"How do you forget your mother? Even if you make that conscious effort, there is still the longing, the almost primitive need. In the marrow, the blood, the genes. What is so very amazing then is how she could walk out on her children and then betray them." (270)
"I long ago gave up judging her. I will never know what inexorable needs must have driven her from us. Perhaps it is self-delusion but I have always chosen to believe that her decision was a painful one. I can only pity her for all the love and living she left behind. Children, grandchildren, she never knew, now, great-grandchildren." (272)
A lot like my mom.
I'll willingly admit I'm a Female Chauvinist Pig (FCP), and for most of the time I've liked it. I've found raunch culture humorous, entertaining, and interesting, although some parts can be pathetic. Levy does a good job, however, of showing us how mainstream raunch has become and how its affecting the third generation feminists. Her argument rests on the reality that we, as women, have fewer options to express our sexuality than ever before. Everything has become focused on the physical ideal of the stripper or porn star. That being said, we're all working to look right, dance right, and act right because otherwise we'll be labeled as uptight. As this has spread, our options to do other things which may be sexual to us have faded. The raunch culture emphasizes the need to be like one of the guys, loose and relaxed about sex, not looking for love or romantic stimulation. We're going to classes to learn how to strip, how to wear lingerie full time, and what surgical proceedures we should pursue to look better for said men. Many women have also decided to get more attention by becoming bisexual, or acting like it at parties, so guys will want them.
All this, according to Levy, leads to confusion for young women and a false liberation. Personally, I'll admit I wouldn't want to be raising a daughter in this cultural climate because its hard enough to explain safe sex, much less how you know when having sex is right for you. Girls are under a lot of pressure these days to be hypersexual even before they've had sex. Of course, the pressure to have sex itself is also really high because the earlier you lose your virginity the cooler you become. There's a price for all this however, and that's the confusion Levy notes with her younger interviewees that can't seem to tell if they're having sexual/romantic feelings for someone or if they're just being goofy, and that's just sad.
As for the false liberation, I think she's right. I might be getting more conservative in my old age, but I think she does have a point that Girl Power has been commercialized to hell and back. Yeah, now we're dominant enough to look at porn and have a good laugh. We know not to take it seriously. We're free with our sexuality enough to embrace all the stuff guys have liked before we got there. But wait, aren't all we're embracing is the same super skinny big breasted perfect stripper removing her clothes and getting nasty on the dance floor? Isn't there anything new for us to look at?
I also think the focus on us trying to be more like the guys does detract from women being seen as women. Levy makes the point that if even the lesbians are going trans doesn't that constantly reinforce the idea that women are inferior? If we're all yearning to be more like the guys and less like the girls, then why should women get any rights at all? Nobody wants to be a full fledged woman these days because that's just not hip, but it needs to be done. We shouldn't be trading in real rights, or forgetting about those we still don't have, just because we're deemed liberated enough to like XXX materials. That wasn't what we were fighting for in the first place. We need to get back on track and get the real rights in addition to the right to be pigs when we feel like it.
Anyway, enough analysis. This is a good feminist read that will get you thinking about how our culture has changed and what we've got versus what everyone says we have. It examines mainstream, youth, and lesbian culture very well and, for my male readers, it isn't as man hating as some other works I've reviewed. In fact, it focuses more on culture than on how men have created culture, so it should be fairly palatable.
It also has one good quote that finally explains Andrea Dworkin's man hating position on anything heterosexual. "Dworkin was a former prostitute who had been beaten by her husband and sexually assaulted by doctors when she was taken to the Women's House of Detention in New York City in 1965 after participating in a march against the Vietnamm War." (64) Yeah. Personally, I think that should be at the top of any program before she begins speaking because I NEVER knew that and it explains why she's so angry. Not to dismiss your experience, because it wasn't right and it wasn't your fault either, but not all prostitutes experience such horrible conditions (unless they're in prison) and not all men are assholes. Its the truth, and those of us pro-porn feminists really don't like other women telling us what we can and cannot do. Liberation means freedom for all, not just those choices you'd promote.
Enough for now. Will try to update in between, but if it doesn't happen, I'll see you next week!