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Pre-2008 Posts

Et tu, Jessica?

Jessica Valenti's New Book Cover

Oh, for crying out loud.  It never ends.  (For the unaware, Jessica Valenti is one of the bloggers at FeministingAbove is the cover of her new book.) 

I came across this over at Nubian’s place.   




22 thoughts on “Et tu, Jessica?

  1. The link for Feministing isn’t working.

    There’s also an interesting discussion over at Feministing which your readers might be interested in.

    In the thread, a number of people discuss the cover, among them Jessica.

    Posted by Melinda Casino | October 26, 2006, 12:39 am
  2. It’s not a surprise really…. Feminism has become all about ‘femininity’… it’s the more commodity friendly that way.

    Posted by AradhanaDevindra | October 26, 2006, 2:30 am
  3. Funny, it reminded me of Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying” novel cover. Did you know Jessica interviewed Jong for Salon in April of this year? Jong was a “fun feminist” for a while. Anyway, just pointing out the coincidences.

    Posted by Sophia | October 26, 2006, 2:34 am
  4. It never ends…that is correct…

    Posted by chasingmoksha | October 26, 2006, 5:36 am
  5. If that cover is any indication at all of why feminism should matter to young women then we’re doomed.

    Incidentally, I showed the pic to my daughter who is a young woman and her reaction was “that’s taking the piss out of feminists, surely?”

    I’m inclined to agree with her.

    Posted by witchy-woo | October 26, 2006, 10:29 am
  6. I was a lurker on Femlisting for a very long time. (Commented only a few times). Femlisting tends to attract proto-feminists (defined as those who have yet to evolve completely away from patriarchy-compliance – they call themselves “fun” feminists).

    I’m not surprised by this at all.

    Posted by Lya Kahlo | October 26, 2006, 11:51 am
  7. Witchy, you must be proud of your daughter – out of the mouths of babes – couldn’t have said it better myself.

    ‘Fun-feminists’ no wonder I don’t take them seriously. I don’t think the fun feminists are proto-feminists – they are unlikely to ever evolve (but most likely continue pandering to the patriarchy).

    Posted by stormcloud | October 26, 2006, 2:26 pm
  8. ” I don’t think the fun feminists are proto-feminists – they are unlikely to ever evolve (but most likely continue pandering to the patriarchy). ”

    And i still agree ;). the dictionary defines “proto-” as:

    “First in time; earliest: protolithic.
    First formed; primitive; original: protohuman.”

    So, imo, calling them proto-feminists is just a way to imply they’re at the start of the journey with no suggestion that they will, indeed, evolve.

    Posted by Lya Kahlo | October 26, 2006, 4:53 pm
  9. It should be, “Why feminism should alienate older, non-white women, who do not have patriarchy-approved bodies.”

    Posted by jo22 | October 26, 2006, 4:58 pm
  10. Or “Fuck feminism, I’m only here for (patriarchally defined) Fun”.

    I wanted to ask Jessica some questions about that cover – how it sits with her thoughts/writing etc. – but, judging by the reception nubian got for simply expressing a view, I realised that if you’re not all happy-clappy-back slappy about it you’re demonised to hell on a pole.

    Needless to say, if it ever comes over here and I see it in a bookshop I shall adopt my customary practice of turning it upside down and facing backwards. I do what I can…

    Posted by witchy-woo | October 26, 2006, 10:46 pm
  11. You know, what is getting to me is all of the people who are saying, “Well, that was Seal Press. They made that decision. I mean, if you want to get your book published, you don’t have any choice…”


    You DO have a choice. That’s what negotiating a book deal is all about. The author or her agent always has an opportunity to negotiate something the author can live with. You don’t just sign every last right away, or at least, not if you want to be absolutely sure the book that gets published is the book you want published.

    I remember a thread we had on the old Ms boards in which someone was pretty much getting excoriated for having published a book on Seal Press. If I’m not mistaken, I felt sorry for the person being excoriated, although I don’t remember right now who it was. If I’m recalling correctly, I thought the book that was at issue was a good book and most of the people commenting did too, or at least didn’t think it was a *bad* book. The issue was that Seal Press publishes so many crummy books which they describe as “feminist” (actually, probably “gender studies” :/). Anyway, a woman who is a personal friend of mine, published, a radical feminist Second Waver, was absolutely adamant about the importance of NOT publishing on a venue like Seal Press, she didn’t care HOW good your book was. In fact, if your book was any good from a feminist point of view, you should absolutely NOT publish on Seal Press, she thought. Although I thought that was pretty hard core, given how hard it is to get good feminist work published right now by pretty much anybody, I think she was right. The thing was, too, she lived that. She was published, she had won some awards for what she published, but she has had difficulty more recently getting published. She is so NOT the fun kind of feminist. She undoubtedly COULD be published, given her credentials, if she would simply water everything down, pull all of her punches, agree to a cover like this cover, etc. But that would mean not only her reputation as a serious feminist would be down the tubes, she’d feel shitty, like she’d sold out.

    What the heck is it with all of these feminists who think everybody should just be a-okay with selling out?


    Posted by womensspace | October 26, 2006, 10:58 pm
  12. As a young woman, I don’t think I’ll read the book. The choice of cover is enough to tell me feminism matters.


    Posted by laurapea | October 27, 2006, 12:25 am
  13. Why oh why did I go look at the comments section? How in hell is that cover ‘edgy’?! To steal a phrase : it’s about as edgy as a satsuma. That is exactly the kind of image that made me feel alienated from my own body as a teenager, the kind of image which I immediately associate with adverts and porn, the two things that made me feel most shit about my body and myself. It is airbrushed. The woman is reduced to a part. She is sex, not a person. Her body matters more than anything else. This is the kind of bullshit we’re fighting against. Arghhh….

    Posted by laurapea | October 27, 2006, 12:39 am
  14. What the heck is it with all of these feminists who think everybody should just be a-okay with selling out?

    Sorry Heart but, “feminist” and “selling out” just aren’t bed-mates. You’re either a feminist or you’re a sell-out. It’s not logically possible to be both.

    Posted by witchy-woo | October 27, 2006, 12:55 am
  15. I agree witchy-woo, and when I was trying to tell some sex postive this, that capitalism is in fact the tool for capitalist whores, they got all up in arms and some how the use of the word whore, even though it had the preceding capitalist attached meant to them that they could no longer have sex at liberty. All of sudden money is the new bed partner, and ain’t no body ashamed of this.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | October 27, 2006, 2:55 am
  16. I’m sick of women with low sexual self esteem like using the sexy bodies of other women to boost their personal sexy factors in the eyes of others. Ladies, you’ve got your OWN bellies, breasts and butts to employ in the service of constructing your sexy selves, why co-opt the sexiness of other women to the task unless you lack sexual self esteem?

    On second thought, maybe Elizabeth Wurtzel getting naked on the cover of her book Bitch and being ignored by feminists scares women like Jessica into insisting on a serious author’s photo while some anonymous woman prettier than her graces the cover with her bared abs? I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t use other women’s “media perfect” sexuality because I’m afraid of judgements on my own “media imperfect” body. I am who I am, flabby abs and all.

    Posted by diamonda | October 28, 2006, 4:02 pm
  17. Excellent point, diamonda.

    Funny–my boyfriend was thinking about an album with another man instead of himself on the cover! A sexier man. I told him he should use (and sexualize) himself.

    Posted by Katie | October 30, 2006, 8:18 pm
  18. (that is…IF he wanted to go for the “sexualized art sells” aspect)

    Posted by Katie | October 30, 2006, 8:19 pm
  19. Heart wrote in another thread, “If, as women, we do not put women’s issues first, we will lose all of the rights that we have, one by one, I guarantee you, we will lose them all.”

    The past few weeks have given me a lesson in how hard this is going to be. The sexism spewed by feminist women towards other women is kinda astonishing to witness in people you’d most like to think could apply the stuff they say to non-feminists to themselves.

    When Jessica Valenti’s sexist book title and cover appeared (sexism being reducing women to objects d’ sex for the reducer’s always-justifiable purposes) I posted a criticism that got me banned from future postings at Feministing. I got told to “get over it” and was invited to suck the pretty pink Valenti titty til it turned purple.

    Then some black women posted their, IMO correct, opinions about the inherent racism of the cover choice, and the white feminist did not tell the black feminists to “get over it” and to put their black girl lips around her white girl tit and suck it. That would have come off as racist in a way the same remarks to nonwhite women are not seen as sexist. Why is that?

    My guess: even among feminists the social reality that tolerates racism an eensy bit less than it tolerates sexism operates to keep sexist remarks like Jessica’s from being called what they are, a female chauvinist piggy attack to score points by taking a feminist woman down verbally in a way that would be unacceptable to do to black women. Borrowing hate speech from misogynist men to throw at feminist women questioning sexism is okay to Jessica’s because there is no social consequence to her telling a woman to “suck mah tit, bitch”, only the sexee points to be gained by a woman appropriating a standard patriarchal put-down to bash another woman with. Telling a black woman to suck your white tit carries social consequences Jessica is aware of so she takes pains to avoid taking such racially tinged, patriarchally-approved bites out of black women critics.

    I’m writing here now because I saw a round-up of this issue at a feminist blog that characterized the kerfluffle over the backwards-going cover mainly as one of the “perhaps more serious issue of race”. Feminists in general, who might be counted on to concern themselves primarily with sexism, consider racism to be a more serious issue than sexism when the two are combined, and the two bigotries combine with furious frequency. Jessica using sexist remarks as word-weapons against other women is accepted as par for the sassy grrl course where nonsexist and nonracist decorum when relating to black women is more stringently socially enforced.

    My heartfelt admiration extends to nubian of the blac(k)ademic blog for discussing not only the racism of the cover but the sexism of both the cover and the title. It’s the integration of these elements that combine to make the sexist, racist book presentation such a slap in the face to the worldwide women’s movements.

    Posted by Sam | November 4, 2006, 4:36 pm
  20. Oops, that should be, “That would have come off as racist in a way the same remarks to white women are not seen as sexist.”

    Posted by Sam | November 4, 2006, 5:32 pm
  21. Sam, I think you are putting too much weight on the racist/sexist slant. What Jessica did, if she in fact responded to you like that is act like a patriach. Which is the biggest beef I have with these pseudo feminists. They use the same tactics that men use. Women are better than that. I felt it first hand when I was in the military. Some man always running to get some woman (who was not in my chain of command) to talk to me, to put me in check. These women were more than happy to spread the masculine power, never looking at themselves in the mirror and asking who they remind themselves of.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | November 5, 2006, 3:14 am
  22. She did in fact respond like that.

    In a way it’s rather flattering that Jessica allows anti-feminists like Fritz and self-avowed saidist/masochist boy wonders like Alon Levy to keep postng but has banned lil ole feminist me from expressing a contrary opinion at Feministing evermore. In 2000 Al Gore swaggeringly offered to debate Dubya anywhere and anytime, but he shit his boxers at the thought of debating Ralph Nader and said nothing while the Democrats pulled every unethical, antidemocratic trick to prevent the debate between Nader and Gore the majority of voters said they wanted.

    That’s the problem with black & white thinking that posits one team as the Good Guys and the other team is the Bad Guys; self-righteousness leaves no room for the possibility that the Good Guys may really be the Not Good Enough Guys.

    Posted by Sam | November 6, 2006, 7:03 pm

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