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Do boobs have to be political? The great awokening has made it harder for women to write about their bodies


April 26, 2021   6 mins

In a world where personal memoirs have been written on every imaginable topic, the literary canon contains one surprising omission: there is no such thing as a penis memoir.

I googled this so you don’t have to (and so suffer the consequences, in the form of bizarre targeted advertisements). It turns out that men don’t write much about their bodies at all, and when they do, they keep it above the neck. Their memoirs focus on matters of the mind: mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, even a lobotomy. (Okay, Mark Wahlberg did dedicate his book to his penis, but that doesn’t count.)

It makes a sort of sense. Despite their anxieties about pattern baldness and matters of size — as in, does size matter? — society has always valued men for their minds at least as much as their bodies. If a man’s head is filled with great ideas, his ability to fill out a tight t-shirt hardly matters.

It’s different for women, and the body memoir is a genre in which they dominate. Beauty standards have always been a pressure point in women’s lives, but the waning days of second-wave feminism plus the dawn of the internet — and the confessional style of writing that proliferated there — led to a glut of literary oversharing as women turned their body issues into book deals. At their best, these books were brilliant: Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face, Judith Moore’s Fat Girl, Roxane Gay’s Hunger. The female reproductive system was a rich vein of inspiration unto itself, as shelves filled up with pregnancy, infertility, or menopause memoirs. Stagings of The Vagina Monologues became a regular event.

These books are like written dispatches from an endless, unwinnable war, a running tally of fleshy mortification. A woman’s body is both battleground to be defended and enemy territory, friend and foe. We try to torture it into submission, to make it an acceptable shape and size — a paradoxical fight we win by losing, whether it’s weight or our inhibitions about it. Women reclaimed their bodies by writing about them, asserting their right to take up physical space. And not just a sliver: a lot of space. Size XXL, double D, skin-for-miles space.

Leslie Lehr’s new memoir, A Boob’s Life, feels like a time-travelling artifact from this golden age of women’s writing. Frank and feminist, it’s one woman’s account of living her best (breast) life. By 2021 standards, it’s already a huge success: an announcement came in February that Salma Hayek would be developing the book into an HBO series in which a woman’s life “gets turned upside down when her boobs start talking to her”. But the book itself features no talking teats. It’s not really about boobs; they’re just the framework, the structure, the foundation garment that shapes the narrative. Lehr goes from wanting breasts, to getting them, to getting implants, to getting cancer. She gets angry. She gets perspective.

Many parts of A Boob’s Life read like a throwback to the early aughts — when the rise of plastic surgery reality shows, digital airbrushing, and newly ubiquitous internet porn had unleashed a new and particularly punishing standard to which women were supposed to aspire: a state of hairless, poreless, plastic perfection. In this era of the obligatory Brazilian wax, a woman could write in gritty confessional detail about her body and be considered brave for doing so. And had it been released just ten years earlier, A Boob’s Life would have been seen as radical and empowering — a much-needed rejoinder in a culture that celebrated boobs but hated women.

The days of raunch culture and lad mags are just far enough behind us that we’ve all developed a collective amnesia about how out-there some of it actually was, especially in a world where everything before 2016 is often dismissed as equally problematic. We forget that before Jimmy Kimmel claimed the mantle of moral authority in late-night comedian’s clothing, he was the co-host of The Man Show, in which one of the regular segments featured slow-motion footage of big-breasted women (lovingly nicknamed “the Juggies”) jumping on trampolines. When a mainstream, primetime TV programme thought that the spectacle of a woman getting slapped in the face by her own boobs was the height of comedy, we could in fact have done with a reminder that the boobs had a woman attached to them.

This is the era of American culture at which A Boob’s Life takes aim (hence the subtitle: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me―and You), but it’s just a little too late — like thinking of the perfect cutting rejoinder to an insult when the person who insulted you has not only left the room but also been dead for years. We’ve moved on, not just from turn-of-the-century raunch, but also from the blowback to it. The time for the body memoir is over; the confessional has been replaced by the political.

The conversation about women’s bodies has become strange and stilted. Talking frankly about things like boobs or vaginas used to be a riposte to the prudery of American social conservatism; now women are being shushed from both sides of the aisle, and occasionally from inside their own metaphorical house. Twitter tampon advertisements devolve into a mess of 240-character feminist infighting about the acceptability of referring to users as “menstruators”. Planned Parenthood has issued a series of mindblowing apologies — including for focusing “too narrowly on ‘women’s health’.” The organisation’s entire reason for being — its unapologetic commitment to women and their bodies and their ability to care for them — was transformed overnight into an embarrassment, hopelessly out of touch with what really matters.

“We must take up less space, and lend more support. And we must put our time, energy, and resources into fights that advance an agenda other than our own,” wrote Planned Parenthood president and chief executive Alexis McGill Johnson.

Once, women bravely fought for the right to live bigger, to be bigger, to take up as much space as we deserved; now, apparently, the feminist position is to be as unobtrusive as possible. In 2008, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler declared that “Bitches get stuff done!” and were met with a wave of roaring approval. In 2021, an assertive woman is just another manager-calling Karen, centring herself at the expense of everyone else. Leaning in is out. Empowerment has been replaced by abnegation. The head of one of the country’s most historic feminist institutions now instructs women to take up less space, and lend more support. Like a bra. Or a folding step stool.

One gets the sense that A Boob’s Life knows it is arriving into a hostile landscape. It’s trying to negotiate the contemporary, complex and evolving attitude toward women and their bodies by leaning into a very particular brand of pink-pussy-hat-wearing feminist outrage (even as those hats, and the vaginal double entendre they represent, have themselves come to be seen as the totem of the embarrassing basic white woman).

Perhaps anticipating the calls to sit down, shut up, and stop taking up space, the book periodically tries to dress itself up as something more, something bigger and more political than just a memoir about one woman’s life (and breasts). Lehr offers historical sidebars and bulleted lists to contextualise America’s purported breast obsession: a list of actresses who have bared their breasts onscreen, a timeline of lingerie-based trivia, a loose history of cheerleading as a microcosm for women’s oppression. The 2016 election looms especially large, as Lehr attempts to connect her father’s vote for Donald Trump to his various failings as a parent and husband, all of which is connected (somehow) to her complicated relationship with her own womanhood. One remarkable passage takes an earlier anecdote about a happy childhood moment in which Dad taught her to dive for her lifeguard training certification, and recasts it as something sinister and symbolic.

“He taught me I could do whatever I set my mind to, as long as I worked hard,” Lehr writes. “Now I understood that when he hung me by the ankles and dropped me off the high dive all those years ago, it was a baptism into the deep pool of patriarchy.”

But despite Lehr’s best efforts and colorful phrasing (a baptism! In the deep pool of patriarchy!), the historical sidebars and rhetorical flourishes about privilege, white men and patriarchy only weaken the narrative, vainly attempting to politicise the personal. The strength of a memoir is in the specificity of it, in the intimacy. To position A Boob’s Life as a feminist polemic is a defensive crouch that unwittingly undermines its appeal — but the fact that the author felt it necessary is also revealing.

The great awokening in American culture is supposed to represent the apex of progressive enlightenment, and yet the rules that dictate how a woman should speak, write, be, are stricter than ever. What are we to make of an era where a woman can’t write frankly about her body without endless apologies, caveats, privilege acknowledgments, and permission-seeking?

In this way, it seems that feminist progress has taken us for a long walk around the same well-trodden circle. But until we come around again to being unembarrassed about asserting our right to take up space, authors like Lehr will find ways to adapt, shaping their work to the demands of the culture just as they shape their bodies according to the current vogue. The truth, as always, is that you can punish your body, politicise it, write about it, make it into a temple or a battlefield or both at once. The biggest question, eternally unanswered — and yet, we try—  is how to live graciously inside of it.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

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Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

The fact that men don’t write about their bodies and that women endlessly do should tell you, if common sense does not, exactly who has made “beauty standards…a pressure point in women’s lives”: other women.
Men famously do not notice women’s hair, shoes, clothing or makeup. Likewise, women do not notice if a bloke turns up for a first date in the 2.5 or the 3-litre. To the other sex these are trivia beneath attention, regard or even notice. Other women do notice other women’s shoes and makeup, however, and that’s who they’re for. They’re for women to assert themselves against other women and, optimally, to intimidate other women into backing off. Analogously, women are not attracted to steroid-inflated bodybuilders, but in each case the idea is to drive away or cow competition from the same sex. This leaves the field free for the hugest bodybuilder to get together with the one with the best shoes and nails. The reality of course is that it doesn’t necessarily happen that way.
Body shaming is something women do to each other.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jon Redman
Eloise Burke
Eloise Burke
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I just wanna say that as a woman, I do not seem to fit the generalization about women dressing for other women. I pay very close attention to my hair, clothes, and make-up (if any) and I rejoice keenly in a superior production. I agonize quietly at any failure. I LOVE being all put together. If women notice other women’s hair, shoes, clothes, etc.(I can’t say as I do, particularly), it is probably because of outstanding success – or failure.
And let us not deceive ourselves – a woman’s looks are of far more importance than a man’s while she is young and fertile. A. beautiful woman has many more men to choose a partner from.

David Stanley
David Stanley
3 years ago

So much of the pressure that women are under comes from other women. The fact is, women talk about their feelings more than men and are also more sensitive to the feelings of others. This creates an endless feedback loop which becomes completely neurotic.
Look at this article. It’s an article about the reaction to a book about the reaction to a woman’s reaction to society’s reaction to her breasts (I think!). For some reason, this is all the fault of men.
I think a lot of women find this completely exhausting but can’t figure a way out of it. In truth the way out of it is to be a little bit less emotionally engaged and a bit more stoic. However, because this is seen as a male trait it is portrayed as inherently toxic. Instead, men are implored to be more like women and talk endlessly about our feelings.
I’m not saying that the male way is better, it’s just that we need a balance between the two. We need to be able to talk about our feelings but also to know when not to.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Look at this article. It’s an article about the reaction to a book about the reaction to a woman’s reaction to society’s reaction to her breasts (I think!). For some reason, this is all the fault of men.

I don’t think this article is claiming this is all the fault of men. The book probably is, but not the article.

Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

Agreed. I thought it was very pointedly not doing so.

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
3 years ago

Note: The importance of appearance for men is highly underrated.
Perhaps there was a time when being bald, fat, and generally unattractive so long as you were powerful and smart was OK for men. That time has passed… Women do not realize this simply because they are not men…

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago

If men’s appearance is unimportant how come on a dating site women rated 80% of men as below average in looks?

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Perhaps because the vast majority of men who resort to dating sites really are below average.
By way of clarification, I have never used a dating site.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

I don’t think so Terry – it is possibly literally true.
If you look at comparative statistics about men and women, the thing that almost always jumps out is the relative lack of extremes found among women. If you take IQ, for example, the highest, lowest, median and average scores for men and women are the same. There are, however, more male geniuses and more male morons. Women are much more closely gathered about the mean. This means that there are numerically fewer women capable of becoming professors of maths at Russell Group universities. They exist but they are rarer, as are the inverse: women who can’t add 2 and 2 twice and get the same answer.
It applies to height as well. The average man is 5’7″ and the average woman is 5’3″ but there are far more 7-foot tall men than 6’8″ tall women. There are also far more 5’1″ tall men than 4’8″ tall women.
It applies to risk-taking too. Stupid, pointlessly dangerous sports are a male preserve. Far more men have been killed on K2 than women.
If good-looking is defined as within one standard deviation of average, and if this closer gathering by women about the mean is true here as well, there really are more below-average-looking men than women.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

That is probably true, and I’d further add that organisations led or headed by women are not noticeably well led. One thinks of Cressida kciD of the Met, Alison Saunders as DPP, Paula Fennell of the Post Office, and of course Theresa May.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

And Frau Merkel who has now been revealed to us as following trends rather than doing anything new.

William Harvey
William Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Evolution may have made females more risk adverse. They are smaller, physically weaker in combat and would have offspring to care for. Undertaking risky activities would not be a good survival strategy overall and evolution would have rewarded and punished accordingly. Our highly organised and mechanised societies of the last few hundred years would not have changed the millions of years of our evolution.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

They are currently performing badly, as predicted in HM Submarines. Things are not much better in the RAF and Army.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Excellent Post!!

The issue is intelligence is seX linked (carried on the X chromosome) Men, having one X can be genius or idiot with no other X mitigating it. Women have 2 X, so the low one is lifted by the high, and the high one mitigated by the low, and thus mostly closer to mean.

The prisons are full of very low IQ men, and the top thinkers are also mostly men, it is just how it works. But then talking of IQ and genetics opens a whole world of insanity as it also means something which may not be said.

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Brilliant – and delighted to discover I’m fractionally above average height!

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

What interests me about this is what evolutionary pressures produce this clustering about the mean effect in women? Is it safety in numbers? Or are women constantly pulling down the exceptional competition? Or something men do to women?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Sanford’s post above sums it up. When it comes to certain qualities, women get the average score on two rolls of the dice, whereas men just get whatever they roll on one.
The odds of rolling a 6 are 1 in 6. All scores between 1 and 6 are evenly distributed and equally likely. The odds of rolling two sixes – or snake eyes, for that matter – are however 1 in 36. Most rolls sum to 7 and produce a mean of 3.5.
Ergo, the highest and lowest possible scores are the same; the median and mean are the same; the area under the curve is exactly the same. But the second die moderates the female ones and sixes towards the mean score of 3.5.
It appears to be an artefact of chromosomes, and as a result, female outliers in pretty well anything are vanishingly rare, from IQ to shoe size to looks.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Stunned silence!

Ian Wigg
Ian Wigg
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Having just perused a couple of these sights out of interest due to the OP I found it interesting that the vast majority of the women seem to be considerably above average and still resorting to dating sites.
Does this mean that men are perhaps being more honest with their photographs?

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

because you are really below average? ( I stopped bothering when I noticed how obsessed women seem to be with height, and I’m definitely below average in that department)

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Preston

Powerplay, Mark. It draws a line – you crave me, so I have the power to approve/reject you. Whether they like it or not, that is the single most important power leverage women hold in society.
Now the hypothesis that the roles above can be reversed is different can of worms…

Last edited 3 years ago by Andre Lower
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
3 years ago

The fact that till now there has been no comment by a female reader might be taken to prove the author’s point that women now fear to speak up about their bodies. I suspect, however, that it is rather due to the huge gap between Ms Rosenfield and the women who read Unherd, most of whom are over 45, I would guess, and whose concerns are not those she voices. Perhaps Unherd should pay more attention to what actually interests its readership.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

I find Kat Rosenfield to be one of the most interesting, thought-provoking and amusing writers here. (I’m over 45 and male.)

S A
S A
3 years ago

I suspect the slew of books listed (and more unlisted) suggests otherwise.

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago

I was just beginning to wonder about that myself

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

I suspect there is going to be a great deal of such hand-wringing about and among women, provided the word ‘women’ itself is allowed to stand, which is hardly a given:
Twitter tampon advertisements devolve into a mess of 240-character feminist infighting about the acceptability of referring to users as “menstruators”.
And those people who choose to nurse babies are to be called chestfeeders. Feminism is showing itself an empty vessel. This is no longer about entry into the mainstream for women, it’s about womanhood itself being erased by less than one percent of the population, and ironically, it is often aided by real women.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

“What are we to make of an era where a woman can’t write frankly about her body without endless apologies, caveats, privilege acknowledgments, and permission-seeking?”
That it is an era that still has some sense. I don’t write endlessly and frankly about my body because I don’t expect other people to be interested in it. Can’t you find something else to write about?

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

That’s because men don’t have tits – good job too or we would spend all day playing with them.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

That would be a challenging w*nk.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

We’d manage.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Carson

Don’t go there Scott.

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago

How I wish modern women would stop moaning and being so narcissistically self-obsessed.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

It’s really only the ones who write for a living (or mouth off on Twitter), though, isn’t it?
The women I meet in my working life appear a lot more balanced than this.

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

You are wise in your choice of friends.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I have always found the same – Thank goodness.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
3 years ago

The narcissism exemplified by the article is simply incredible. Other commentators have pointed our specific examples, but my favourite line would have to be:
women bravely fought for the right to live bigger, to be bigger, to take up as much space as we deserved”
To be selfish, to be greedy, and even to be fat, apparently. You go girl.

crispletters
crispletters
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron Kevali

Yes

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  crispletters

Precisely the age of ‘Blob Woman’ is upon us.
The mantra being “ if I want to stuff my face, I’m worth it”.
How Aphrodite would weep!

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago

There was an online ad campaign a couple of years ago for some kind of high-protein cereal bar that featured woman after woman – many of them overweight – cramming their faces with food. It began with something like: “You were made to eat…so eat! Feed the beast”! It was grotesque, implying that abandoning all self-control somehow empowers women. Cultural disapproval of overeating – gluttony IOW – is really the only tool an affluent, food-abundant society has to deter people from stuffing their faces and thus destroying their health.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron Kevali

I’d like to be reminded of when it was that it was illegal “to live bigger, to be bigger, to take up as much space as we deserved”, or at least when a documented chorus of scolding for these was normal, and that did not originate among other women. Those who complain loudest about this mysterious epoch are also vaguest about when it was, and how it was men doing it.

S A
S A
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron Kevali

It is one of those things, I do wonder what year it was they repealed the law that made it illegal to be fat (and just for women)… Oh no, someone asked for a specific… Misog….

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
3 years ago

From the article:
Beauty standards have always been a pressure point in women’s lives, but the waning days of second-wave feminism plus the dawn of the internet — and the confessional style of writing that proliferated there — led to a glut of literary oversharing as women turned their body issues into book deals. At their best, these books were brilliant: Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face, Judith Moore’s Fat Girl, Roxane Gay’s Hunger
… and who has read these books? My guess is that it is 99% female. Men simply don’t care about any of this stuff. We know what we like (and it varies) and that’s an end to it.

Waldo Warbler
Waldo Warbler
3 years ago

This intense self-absorption used to be seen rightly as symptomatic of a disorder.

Most men, I would venture, care less about these “women’s issues” than they do the contents of their wife’s bathroom cabinet. They know it is there, but can’t fathom why anyone would bother with all that stuff.

It is perhaps not a coincidence that astrology also happens to be largely the preserve of women.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago

I’m guessing that men forced those women in the photo to fry themselves in the sun.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

I’m guessing you’re being sarcastic.

David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  John Jones

They do look quite nice though – sort of human twiglets

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

‘Darwinian Self Selection’.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

They are literally being tortured! Where is Amnesty International to put an end to this injustice?

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago

I have to confess I find it somewhat amusing that millennial feminists, those pioneers of wokeness, can no longer prattle on about their vaginas without getting cancelled for supposed transphobia.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  M Spahn

Any reason for them stopping that prattle is a good one. However, I dislike the effect this new wokeness is having on healthcare and midwifery; having been helped into the world by a midwife myself (back in a time when such a thing was becoming very rare) I’ve always had a lot of respect for the profession. Now I learn that midwives in Britain are being instructed not to use words like “woman”, “breast”, or “mother”, because they’re not seen as “inclusive” of biological women who identify as men who are having a baby. Are they actually going along with this nonsense?

Steve
Steve
3 years ago

Maybe if women cared about being socially acceptable a bit less, and embraced their inner autist.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

This is presumably why the cold blooded killing of Ms Ashli Babbitt, last January is not only going to go unpunished, but the (black) killer is to be accorded total anonymity?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Agreed the “Crime of the Century “!

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago

No Charles, she was killed because she chose to challenge the police force that was defending the integrity of a public space. She very well deserved the shot she got. And your little manouver of trying to play the race card with the colour of the policeman who shot her belies your intent to twist the facts.

Eloise Burke
Eloise Burke
3 years ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

“betrays”

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

Ashli Babbit was unarmed, and, like the vast majority of the other protesters who entered the Capital that day, she was nonviolent, non-destructive, and had been ALLOWED to enter by the police. The place had been stormed by protesters before (as have many state capitals too, before and since then) without any participants getting killed. And if you think the police felt so threatened, how would you explain why they shot only one person, and a woman at that? Without even giving her a warning? It seems to me she was singled out, by a cop with an agenda. Either that, or he was just an overly sensitive, very poorly trained cop who couldn’t control his anger at protesters shouting mean things at him. But I guess we’ll never find out.

Last edited 3 years ago by Kathy Prendergast
Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago

Yeah. I remember when atheism stopped being about atheism and started being about feminism. Now feminism has stopped being about feminism and started being about race and trans issues.
I’m not saying it’s a step in the right direction, because it isn’t. But it’s a justice of sorts, even so.

S A
S A
3 years ago

“Women reclaimed their bodies by writing about them”
I have always found this view so strange. If I think of all the women I have huge admiration for I tend to think of the ones who did the most to minimise focus on their bodies and maximise focus on their minds. Women who wore drab clothing that would make them unnoticeable (and required no thought about them when getting ready in the morning). Basic suit in the office, loose comfortable stuff for under a lab coat in a lab, practical stuff for any hobby. Minimise the visibility and thought given too them and their minds shine through.
Or perhaps it is just an effective filter, the type of women who put a lot of focus on their bodies do so as they have little else to recommend them.
As for “stop taking up space” how about just be careful about what you take it up with. Self-indulgent driven about your own feeling about your body it is dull. If you have an idea about something useful – now we are talking.
Sadly the women I admire, though everywhere in real life, are non-existent in the media.

Mark Preston
Mark Preston
3 years ago
Reply to  S A

Women are always banging on about themselves and their bodies – listen to any female ‘comedian’ and you get the point. Pure solipsism.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  S A

I agree it’s a stupid statement, implying as it does that women who could not or did not write about their bodies could never “reclaim” them. The world is full of women who do not feel the least bit ashamed of or alienated from their own bodies, who have never written a word about them and may even be embarrassed to use the medically correct terms for their body parts when they go to the doctor. They don’t need Western feminists telling them that they have to “celebrate” their bodies by publically crowing about them and even brazenly exposing them (try to convince most women in developing countries to do that…) They see these women as unfeminine and ridiculous. and if anything they pity them.

Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
3 years ago

There is such a book from a male perspective. Lo E Lui, Alberto Moravia, 1971.A man’s dialogue with his p***s. It takes an Italian!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Rose

There was a BBC 30 minute Radio Play some years ago, set at a tĂȘte-Ă -tĂȘte dinner where the male organs start discussing the possibility of ‘Ugandan Relations’ later in the evening.

It ended with the stomach mutinying, after the demands of the brain and the p***s prove too much, as I recall.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Rose

If there’s one thing I know about Italians, it’s that they know their sausage!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

salsicce, salami, cottechini, zampone…

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

And we must put our time, energy, and resources into fights that advance an agenda other than our own,” wrote Planned Parenthood president and chief executive Alexis McGill Johnson.

What an astoundingly idiotic thing to say.

The head of one of the country’s most historic feminist institutions now instructs women to take up less space, and lend more support. Like a bra. Or a folding step stool.

Lol!

“Now I understood that when he hung me by the ankles and dropped me off the high dive all those years ago, it was a baptism into the deep pool of patriarchy.”

I bet her dad now wishes he dropped her in the sea instead of a swimming pool.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago

Backed up by those Calvin Klein adverts which no longer feature a slim an attractive female but a huge glowering and aggressive looking overweight woman

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago

“In this age of the obligatory Brazilian wax”…funny; I’ve never felt in the least bit “obliged” to have this gruesome procedure done to myself.
I suspect the main reason for the Brazilian’s popularity is not straight men’s preferences, but the popularity of swimsuits that barely cover the nether regions. Still, there’s a wide range of choice in swimwear, for women who prefer not to be virtually naked even at the beach or swimming pool. I’ve always been partial to the modest one-piece Speedo, myself, which offers more than adequate coverage. And thus, no need to remove the hair nature gives us to avoid looking, in the words of one female comedian, “like a sandwich with sprouts.”

Last edited 3 years ago by Kathy Prendergast
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Better than the Old Holborn tobacco sprouting out

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

Are you a member of the grow your own tights community? Beat the pheasants out of the bush, I believe?

Richard Martin
Richard Martin
3 years ago

The photo at the top of the article, of the chicks on the beach was ok, but the rest of the article was a bit turgid.
Mind you anyone who describes herself as a ‘culture writer’ is unlikely to be someone you’d want to meet down the pub, which is a shame ‘cos she looks quite foxy in her byline pic.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Martin
Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

So you’re saying the market is wide open for The Life and Times of Johnson Longfellow? The publishers all thought I was crazy, but who’s laughing now?

Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones
3 years ago

The trampoline-bouncers on The Man Show were called “The Juggy Girls” not “The Juggies”.

HildaRuth Beaumont
HildaRuth Beaumont
3 years ago

Well, this is interesting. I note that there is only one female respondent but I’m not sure that women over 45 are uninterested in this topic. Some women see themselves as in competition with other women but some women do not and have friendly supportive conversations about what might suit each of them, where to get the best bargains etc. The role of men in this – well I must come clean here as I’m on both sides of the fence. I am a man but I delight in cross dressing. My experience with other ‘sister’ cross dressers is that there is minimal bitchiness and kindness prevails. This is revealed in the crossdresser heaven website
All good wishes
HildaRuth

William Harvey
William Harvey
3 years ago

Excellent comment. Thanks for the perspective.

HildaRuth Beaumont
HildaRuth Beaumont
3 years ago
Reply to  William Harvey

Thank you William, I must admit to finding many of the male comments bordering on misogyny.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
3 years ago

Quick note to author. Jimmy Kimmel, in his “Woke” incarnation, would really appreciate if you erase from memory The Man Show and the Girls on Trampolines segment. Jimmy was in his “Comatose” incarnation during the Man Show years. He has no memory of the weekly outrages portrayed on this show and would appreciate it if you drop yours down the nearest memory hole.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
3 years ago

It turns out that men don’t write much about their bodies at all, and when they do, they keep it above the neck.

Jake’s Thing – Kingsley Amis.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
3 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

Well said. Mr Amis (Senior) hits the nail on the head as usual.

crispletters
crispletters
3 years ago

I like this book called “Teach Us to Sit Still”by Tim Parks.Tim writes about his prostate .Boring,huh? No.Really absorbing.Parks can write.He’s chosen a good vehicle with which to interrogate himself.

lesliejlehr
lesliejlehr
3 years ago

Thank you for this fabulous review and deep discussion! I wrote the original proposal in 2016 and had to keep tilting it this way and that as time and history continued… “adapting” as you say, to get it published. Women have a long history of adapting in order to get heard. I’m grateful to have a voice and will keep trying to be heard. 😉

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  lesliejlehr

I doubt this will have you “heard” by men somehow…

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

Nor by a whole of lot of women – if the responses here are anything to go by. Just one female has made a comment (me)!
I’d hardly describe the article as a ‘deep discussion’ either. The snobbish swipe at ‘Miranda’ struck me as particularly shallow. She completely failed to appreciate how that comedy helped women who felt socially awkward because of their bodies.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

Tits are those funny little things roughly in the middle of the bobs. Like the cherry on a pillow of whipped cream.

Simon Cooper
Simon Cooper
3 years ago

Planned Parenthood doesn’t really care about women. It cares about making money. Mainly from killing babies. It is entirely possible that at least half of these babies were tiny little women.

sm dunn-dufault
sm dunn-dufault
1 year ago

Did Kat Rosenfield call into being Grace Laverty’s memoir (Please Miss: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering p***s)?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

What a staggeringly pointless article?

Alex Delszsen
Alex Delszsen
3 years ago

So many reasons…why don’t you ask these women, in a polite way? That may take some effort to not imply that they are wrong, or to resist your need to editorialize to them.
Unsolicited, here are a few answers I could have answered, at various times in my life: Men get the wrong message. I am walking alone on the street. My feet cannot take heels anymore. That pretty girl in sweats and a tee can rock it. Being not so pretty, and not smiling up at you in my happiness at being so pretty, you could interpret me as not really trying…

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Delszsen

I don’t think he’s necessarily complaining about women not really trying. He’s just questioning the whole notion that women everywhere are under enormous pressure to look slender, attractive, and well-dressed all of the time. And I agree with him; just a quick walk around a typical North American city will disabuse anyone of that notion very quickly. Maybe it’s more true in some other parts o the world; I lived in Japan for a few years and rarely saw any overweight, poorly groomed, or sloppily dressed women there (unless they were foreigners like me!) But then I rarely saw any overweight, poorly groomed, or sloppily dressed men there, other than homeless men.

Toni Hargis
Toni Hargis
3 years ago

Look at all these men talking about women and feminism, showing yet again, a lack of insight into the wider systemic values. Or perhaps it’s willful ignorance?
“… exactly who has made “beauty standards
a pressure point in women’s lives”: other women.”
So much of the pressure that women are under comes from other women.”
” it does seem to me that the current safety obsessed nature of our society is primarily female driven.” (NO S**T Sherlock)
“How I wish modern women would stop moaning and being so narcissistically self-obsessed.”
“’I’m guessing that men forced those women in the photo to fry themselves in the sun.”
It’s like stepping into incel-land.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago
Reply to  Toni Hargis

Ah, I see – any dissent from your views must be “confronted” via disqualification of the dissenters, instead of actual arguments, right?
You sound like the typical screeching feminist.