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Sex object : a memoir / Jessica Valenti.
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Booklist Reviews 2016 May #2
Founder of the blog, feministing.com, Guardian columnist Valenti (The Purity Myth, 2009) dissects the misogyny she encountered growing up and its formative role in making her the outspoken feminist and activist she is today. From discovering she was an object of male desire to being ejaculated on while riding the subway to receiving shocking hate mail as her writing became popular (those vitriolic e-mails and Twitter and Facebook posts appear in the appendix), Valenti describes her experiences with candor and seriocomic humor while offering continually entertaining quips, such as, "ignoring men—whether romantically or rhetorically—is existential violence to them." Her memoir changes pace when Valenti discusses her near-death experience while delivering her daughter, Layla, who was three months premature. Layla's miraculous recovery and Valenti's anxiety-ridden days of early motherhood strike an unexpected chord, adding much more than pithy insight to this radical feminist's life story. An entertaining and shocking memoir from a leading feminist writer. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2016 January #1
A Guardian US columnist who merits one million page views a month, Valenti founded Feministing.com in 2004. Here, she uses moments in her own life to reflect on women's lives today. With a 100,000-copy first printing.[Page 68]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2016 April #1
In her latest work, Valenti (Why Have Kids?; The Purity Myth; Yes Means Yes!) provides an unflinching description of her experiences with sexual assault and harassment, dysfunctional relationships, and objectification. The result is a book that is brief and harrowing, sometimes confessional, and occasionally brusque. Valenti, founder of the feminist blog feministing.com, considers the effect of these experiences on her psyche, her ability to live life without fear, and, as the account progresses, how her anxieties and encounters affect her young daughter. There is little in the way of a call to arms here, but instead a clear-eyed documentation of the author's life as a woman in an urban setting where sexual objectification is rampant. While Valenti doesn't claim that her experience is universal, she convincingly argues that her stories, while personal, are not by any means exceptional. VERDICT Despite several darkly humorous passages, this book can feel bleak. However, some readers will strongly identify with the author's history, and with her drive to provide a better environment for her daughter.—Rebecca Brody, Westfield State Univ., MA[Page 111]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2016 March #2
Reviewed by Laura Bates. Who would I be if I didn't live in a world that hated women?" asks Valenti, founder of the website Feministing, in the introduction to her new memoir. In a confident and compelling volume that sweeps readers along from her childhood in Queens, N.Y., to her experiences of motherhood and her career as a celebrated feminist writer, Valenti attempts to answer the question—not by imagining that other "version of myself that never existed" but by setting out a bold and unflinching road map of her journey to becoming the woman she is. Valenti has a knack for making the mundane moments in her life startling and the shocking ones routine, which is exactly what is needed in a book that seeks to force its readers to reevaluate the norms of sexism and sexual violence that have become our wallpaper without our even noticing. Her style is fluid and engaging, drawing the reader in with deftly drawn anecdotes and demonstrating different insidious forms of gender inequality through the vivid recreation of her own lived experience. The choice to order the book nonchronologically, starting with the description of her first abortion and jumping between childhood taunts and marital pressures, between her own experiences and those of her mother and grandmother, is a powerful decision that allows the stories to breathe. Valenti is offering something that is more than the sum of its parts. By presenting these vivid snapshots in a messy and disjointed way she invites the reader to examine the gendered implications of each episode, the better to understand their cumulative impact on her as a woman. In many places, the anecdotes speak eloquently for themselves. Occasionally (as in the description of her mother's offer to talk with her about birth control as "a well-meaning lie") the lack of context can become frustrating for readers, leaving some sketches feeling like empty examples of a wider point we haven't quite made out. Valenti is at her best when she combines memoir and feminist analysis in a way that feels enlightening and unforced—for example, in the chapter where she allows herself the space fully to explore her own discomfort and socialized guilt at the come-ons of a married male friend, and takes us with her as she comes to the realization that "it makes me feel disgusting and cheap—even though it was not me who said the cheap thing." Valenti's book is a memoir and as such a very specific story of her own unique experience. It might not, therefore, be considered a vehicle to establish wider conclusions about the systemic effects of misogyny across a spectrum of different women's lives. But as a memoir, it is enough that it tells one woman's story, and in its unwavering bravery, it is powerful enough to stand alone. Her descriptions of harassment, sexism, and sexual assault embody the truth she articulates in her first chapter: "Recognizing suffering is not giving up and it's not weak." It is strong, and it does an important service for others who suffer too. (June) Laura Bates is author of the forthcoming book Everyday Sexism (St. Martin's/Dunne, Apr.).[Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC
This will be my undoing: living at the intersection of black, female, and feminist in (white) America