In her Quarterly Essay, Unfinished Business: Sex, Freedom and Misogyny, Anna Goldsworth writes, among other things, about the messages that books such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey convey to female readers. Book Thingo invited readers to share some of their thoughts on the essay. (You can find a list of participants here.)
Kat’s note: Our first post in the series is by Jodi McAlister (also known as Book Thingo’s Virgin Hornypants Specialist), which I think is particularly fitting given that she has presented a paper on Fifty Shades, romance and porn (a shorter version of which you might have already read at The Popular Romance Project). Please note that I have (loosely) applied Book Thingo’s house style, so any strange non-academic-y looking formatting is all my fault! You can find Jodi’s contact details at the end of this post.
The key issue that threads its way through the 70 pages of Anna Goldsworthy’s quarterly essay Unfinished Business: Sex, Freedom and Misogyny is female subjectivity. ‘[Feminism] has much to offer our daughters, even beyond equal pay, the vote, bodily autonomy, the right to own property, the right to have an education,’ Goldsworthy states in the essay’s final paragraph. ‘It can offer them subjectivity—but it is up to them to claim it. A liberation from the she of third person—that she who is to be looked at, or tagged in Facebook, or poked with things, like a thing—into that magnificent gender-neutral first person. I. Me.’ (Goldsworthy, 2013, 68-69).
Goldsworthy explores this idea using a number of examples. Most prevalent and important to her argument is Julia Gillard’s famous misogyny speech, but she covers a lot of ground, from social media to cosmetics to pornography to politics. If I tried to engage with everything she said, this would probably become the longest blog post in the history of the universe, so what I’m going to focus on are the areas I know stuff about: namely, pornography and Fifty Shades of Grey. This also probably isn’t going to be a review in the traditional sense of the word—instead, it’s going to be more of an elaboration, an explication, a further engagement. (Not just because I like alliteration. Although I do like alliteration. It sounds nice.)
It’s also going to be SUPER nerdy, because I am, after all, an academic type, and that is what I do. So, you know, be prepared for that.
Read the rest of this post.