Then again, it was horror and fear on the part of the publishers which kept this work, first written as the opening section of Leduc's novel Ravages (1955), unpublished in its original form until 2000 – and in French, at that. Leduc, a friend of Simone de Beauvoir (who also had a crush on her), had spent three years writing Thérèse and Isabelle – and it shows, in a good way. So when Gallimard said, in effect, "no way" in 1954 ("impossible to publish openly," said Raymond Queneau, of all people), Leduc nearly had a breakdown. The publishers had, in De Beauvoir's words, "cut her tongue out," and although the work was reshaped and inserted, piecemeal, into subsequent books (and circulated in a private edition among friends), it hasn't appeared in English before this edition (more...)
Coming at you at the end of April, from the always excellent Zero Books (publishers of Mark Fisher, Adam Kotsko, Nina Power, Richard Seymour...), is Laurie Penny's Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism:
Modern culture is obsessed with controlling women's bodies. Our societies are saturated with images of unreal, idealised female beauty whilst real female bodies and the women who inhabit them are alienated from their own personal and political potential. Under modern capitalism, women are both consumers and consumed: Meat Market offers strategies for resisting this gory cycle of consumption, exposing how the trade in female flesh extends into every part of women's political selfhood. Touching on sexuality, prostitution, hunger, consumption, eating disorders, housework, transsexualism and the global trade in the signs and signifiers of femininity, Meat Market is a thin, bloody sliver of feminist dialectic, dissecting women's bodies as the fleshy fulcrum of capitalist cannibalism.
I like Power's focus on work and the changes to work. And I agree with much of what she says about today's "feel-good" feminism, and in particular with her point that we need to address how "'feminism' as a term has come to be used by those who would traditionally have been regarded as the enemies of feminism". For example, those who defended the invasion of Afghanistan in the interest of "women's rights", among other allegedly Western values; also, the spectacle of Sarah Palin is relevant here, embodying as she does many superficial characteristics of mainstream feminism, namely the obsession with placing women in positions of power (Power spends a section discussing Palin in detail. I admit I don't find her terribly interesting as a figure. I am more interested in the implications of the widespread misogynist attacks on her from liberals—the "enemy women" phenomenon.). With respect to the problem of powerful women, Power notes the Margaret Thatchers and Condoleeza Rices of the world and observes that, "It is not enough to have women in top positions of power, it depends upon what kind of women they are and what they're going to do when they get there." I would go further and say that even that's not enough. What matters is the nature of the power and the structure of the system. Any woman who manages to rise to a position of power in such a patriarchal system as we currently enjoy is bound to perpetuate that system (more...)