AK's Reviews > One Dimensional Woman

One Dimensional Woman by Nina Power
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's review
Mar 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: critical-theory, read-2012, feminism

Of all the markers of female faux-emancipation (fauxmancipation?) that Power bulldozes in this book, I was most glad to see her demolish chocolate. I do not care for chocolate that much. It is fine. I'd prefer shortbread any day of the year, which, in contemporary feminist-lite rhetoric about 'what women want,' makes me some kind of, I don't know, boy. Reading women writing cheekily about how really all they want is to eat chocolates and not get chubby has always filled me with a vague despair. Power writes:

"I think there's a very real sense in which woman are supposed to say 'chocolate' whenever someone asks them what they want. It irresistibly symbolizes any or all of the following: ontological girlishness, a naughty virginity that gets it kicks only from a widely-available mucky cloying substitute, a kind of pecuniary decadence."

Yeah. Take that, Chocolate Industrial Complex.

In a mere 69 pages Power comes down hard on much of contemporary feminism, arguing the term has either been co-opted by people like Sarah Palin who argue they're feminists just because they're women, or come to stand for the guiltless indulgence of the liberated, 'empowered' female consumer. Jessica Valenti's book Full Frontal Feminism get a particularly thorough dressing down, as it provides numerous examples of the 'feminists buy what they wanna buy!' style of emancipation through consumption that Power reviles. Other reviews have noted that Valenti is a bit of a straw-woman here, as her website Feministing contains examples of the structural critiques that Power repeatedly asks for, but Power's argument is valid and powerfully argued nonetheless.

The flip side to the emancipated consumer is the capable professional, representative of the 'feminization of labor' and the 'laborization of women.' Power's materialist framework allows her to think through the changing vicissitudes of contemporary work in an engaging way, culminating in her really, totally awesome dissection of everything that is wrong with porn these days. If, like me, you don't have any fundamental moral objection to pornography, and yet wonder why so much of it sucks so bad (blows so hard??), might I offer this sentence as a tantalizing clue-

"The excessive taxonomical drive of contemporary pornography is merely one element of its quest to bore us all to death and remind us that everything is merely a form of work, including, or even most especially, pleasure."

Power ends with a call for rethinking the possibility of communes, collectivism, and unorthodox forms of reproduction as potential ways out of the eternal vacillation between working and shopping and shopping and work, which some of my fellow Goodreaders have found a little odd, but I think is just fine, especially since this call is intertwined with a provocative critique of 'sexoleftism.' More than just the 'sites of resistance' that every activist and their mother is talking about these days, Power ends with suggestions for alternate modes of being.
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Reading Progress

March 16, 2012 – Started Reading
March 16, 2012 – Shelved
March 16, 2012 – Shelved as: critical-theory
March 16, 2012 – Shelved as: read-2012
March 17, 2012 – Finished Reading
February 26, 2017 – Shelved as: feminism

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message 1: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Acosta I love your book reviews!!!

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