Author and Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny and bracing memoir, Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes, from the everyday to the existential.
Sex Object explores the painful, funny, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti's adolescence and young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation.
In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, this literary memoir is sure to shock those already familiar with Valenti's work and enthrall those who are just finding it.
©2016 Jessica Valenti (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
"Jessica Valenti is a breath of fresh air. She offers the kind of raw honesty that can feel like a punch in the gut, but leaves you with the warmth of a deep embrace." (Ms. Magazine)
"One of the most visible and successful feminists of her generation." (Washington Post)
"A gutsy young third wave feminist." (The New York Times)
I haven't even finished it yet. I am 2 hours in and I have cried, laughed and pondered some of the very things she points out. The way she felt and the way men "show up" in her life. I feel like many have shown up in the same ways. It makes me wonder how many females actually encounter this, or ignore it cause we are taught its the way things are. Just buy the dang book, its so worth the purchase. To maybe even understand the things you've ignored just to fit it the box. Thanks Jessica, big help for some of us to read your words.
If you were ever wondering what it's like to be a woman trying to navigate sexism in society, then all you have to do is read this book. Valenti nails it; not only with her own personal stories but with the way in which she articulates the objectification of women in general. I haven't read many books where I have related as much I as I do to this one. I hope more and more people listen to/read this book and feel the same way I do. We need to keep up the good feminist fight, but we also must remember that we should never have to have this fight, and that it never stops being exhausting.
I would recommend this book to any young woman heading out into the world. Or any woman in general. Men too.
There were a lot of examples in this book that I had never even considered to be odd, but through her eyes I see them for what they are. The female rating system (1-10, or anywhere between 'cute like a little sister' to 'sexy enough to fuck') in particular is something that I had kind of just gotten used to seeing. My friends have rated me, and worse than that I wanted them to do it so that I could feel some kind of validation.
This was such a great eye-opening account of a woman with a real life and real emotions. There is no faking to be found in this book.
I appreciated every second of it, and thank her for writing it.
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
A lifetime ago, I remember some neighborhood mothers getting together one muggy July afternoon for a "coffee klatch" at our house in the small Midwestern city I grew up in. Cigarettes were smoked, pound cake eaten, and as clouds gathered for a coming storm, darkening the sky, the women talked about mom things. Recipes. Weight Watchers, and its insistence on eating liver (that's old school WW).
The conversation wandered into feminism. It started out with prim horror at "bra burning" (everyone agreed they wouldn't do it); meandered into a discussion of working mothers (admittedly, the extra money was nice, but it was only okay if you were home in time to make dinner); and finally, became boisterous when one much older woman (her sons were already in college! her daughters married!) admitted to reading Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" (1963). It turned out that each and every one, drinking their secretly-spiked (but only from us kids) coffee, was a Germaine Greer "The Female Eunuch" (1970) and Gloria Steinem/Ms. magazine reading, closeted feminist.
I've been a feminist since that seemingly accidental "consciousness raising" meeting I eavesdropped on, hidden halfway up the stairs, absolutely enthralled. It turns out that I am from a between generation of quiet feminists, post "second-wave" (the first wave was suffrage, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton) and pre third-wave. We're the women that internalized the ideals, got educations, and have always worked outside the home - some of us in traditionally male jobs. I actually started out my adulthood as an enlisted Army recruit. We've done it without being paid the same as men, keeping house and raise children because someone has to - all while being treated as sex objects.
I was initially bemused by Jessica Valenti's "Sex Object" (2016) - and a little taken aback by the casual vulgarity. What she describes happening to many young women - sexual harassment that sometimes crosses the line to sexual violence - is so common, I figured it was something everyone already knew about. It's something most women go through at sometime in their lives, some to a greater degree than others. Valenti, who grew up in New York City, has gotten more than most - it's a big city with a lot of people, and to paraphrase, the odds are ever not in her favor. The in person catcalling and aggressive sexual harassment does ease as a woman ages. Sometimes, older women who see it happening to others can shut it down by simply looking askance at the offender. Or offenders.
And the swearing in Valenti's book? Let a man say the "f" word at work and it's no biggie, but a woman? At best, she'll be reprimanded - and maybe fired. A woman of my generation is never, ever allowed to show anger and certainly can't ever drop the "f" bomb. Valenti's use of that word was more shocking to me than it should have been, but it's a me issue, not a book issue. I'm glad she's able to speak her mind.
Valenti does the narration, and it's a good production.
The title of the review is a quote from Valenti.
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This author describes her life/personal history with such candor. It's crige-inducing at times, but astonishinngly vulnerable. Unfortunately, the themes of sexual assault and cultural pathology, are all too familiar to girls /women in this country. I highly recommend this book. Everyone should read it.
Listening to a book is often my second choice because I prefer to read. In this case, though, I felt like listening to Valenti's memoir in her own voice really added to my experience of the text. I am a fan of her writing online, and I found it refreshing to see her let her guard down and expose her vulnerabilities in this memoir. I agree with her premise that refusing to "act tough" all the time is an important feminist act in itself, so I really enjoyed how this memoir put that idea into practice both in form and content. I wish I didn't relate to her stories of being objectified so strongly, but I do. As a fellow feminist and mother of daughters, I am thankful she has given voice to these stories and will carry her insights on them with me.
I really appreciated her feminist perspective and her honesty. Her sense of humor was pretty fun. That said, it's a drag in places...mostly I just have trouble relating when folks talk about how they cheated on almost everyone they ever dated, and cheated with people who were also in relationships.
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