03 November 2006
So: the first meeting. There were nine of us, and we decamped from the (noisy, crowded) planned pub to the All Bar One round the corner. We settled round a long table. No one drank chardonnay.
Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: women and the rise of raunch culture was the book we had decided to discuss, and it was a good decision – at least, we all seemed to have plenty to say about it. The general feeling seemed to be one of disappointment – her general point about the ‘porn’-isation of popular culture was something that we all recognised, to a certain extent – Nuts and Zoo magazines, the rise of pole-dancing and stripping classes as leisure pursuits for the middle classes – but her research was very anecdotal; she would describe a phenomenon like the ‘boi’ trend among lesbians and back it up with nothing more than a couple of interviews.
We also all felt the book suffered from being too descriptive and not analytical enough – as someone said, it felt like a list of things she found disturbing, with no attempt to suggest why we were seeing all this stuff happen. Also we mostly found the way she used examples of teenage girls rather problematic - using teenagers to say something about adult female sexuality doesn't make much sense.
Hopefully the next meeting will be in early January, and I'd welcome suggestions for what to discuss then. Poeple suggested various things: Andrea Dworkin's Pornography, something about the Muslim veil, or perhaps a television programme like The L-word.