Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

I felt compelled to order this from the public library a few weeks ago because of a Litsy post. I've heard Jessica's name and her first book, Full Frontal Feminism, before and just hadn't picked it up to read.

Sex Object; A memoir took me by surprise. I don't know why as the title is fairly explicit I just didn't fully understand that I'd be reading about Jessica's sexual escapades and yet I feel calmer having relived some of my own sexaul past through her experiences. For years I felt like there must be something wrong with me; did I have a sign taped to my back that said "abuse me/pick me"?

I've suffered through my own bits of harassment, stalkers, and leering overstimulated "manly" men (creeps). Jessica's story brought that message home; every woman has her own scary tales. Her story assured me that I was not the only one. Even sharing creeper tales with friends I always felt like I won hands down.  That we even have to share stories about this is ridiculous.

Not only do we deal with men's expectations of us but we shoulder a lot of that ourselves. Many of us never feel smart enough, sexy enough, pretty enough. Expectations on whether or not we are pretty both from our own selves and the men that surround us is a universal problem and I hear from my own daughter, which truthfully, is so hard to bear. It's like I went through this already and raised you to BE yourself, to share your opinion, to speak and you still complain that you don't look right, your hair isn't right, you feel awkward.

I feel like I made it through my own swamp of insecurities to get to a place where I have a job that I feel secure in, a husband who loves me no matter what, and children who are beginning to see that I am smarter than they thought.  It's also easier to be a feminist in my own head and heart, in my own home, about my own body.  Jessica's journey has been one of sounding the alarm and putting herself out there loudly speaking about gender and women's issue for most of her adult life. That's impressive to me. And she's been crucified through social media posts about her opinions, what she has to say. It must mean even the haters are listening.

I would love to hear Jessica speak. The book, told in a chaotic, back and forth method, relays her past and present. It's told in un-chronological order yet the last two chapters sort of sum up where she's at today, happily married and the mother of a precocious daughter.

I think to be secure in ourselves is to be complacent and it's really about just finding some bit of peace every day. You-made-it through-another-day feeling whole.  I'm glad to have had a chance to think about my own past/present as I read through Jessica's.

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