Saturday, 4 April 2009
i.t. interview with charlotte roche
I.T. interviews Charlotte Roche for Salon. The interview touches on some of the things discussed in One-Dimensional Woman, particularly the false liberation of consumerist hedonism. Roche sees a dearth of language to deal with female embodiment and sexuality; I agree, although I'm not sure the solution can in any way be a simple practice of 'being more honest'.
From the interview:
NP: I think a lot of the book is about recognizing these feelings of embarrassment. Contemporary women are supposed to be liberated, hedonistic, you can go out and get drunk, sleep around. But if we don't have the words to describe the range of experiences other than the old negative ones, then nothing has really changed.
Charlotte Roche: If we don't have the words and we don't talk about it, and I would also suggest that we don't even think about it. I have this theory. If you tell any man, "Today I am your sexual servant. You can tell me whatever you want and I'll do it to you," every man would think of 12 things to do. Men have fantasies; they have words for everything. They could tell a woman, "Lie down, do this, lick this." But if I a man said to me, "I am your sexual servant, what do you want me to do?" I would be blank. There's nothing even in my head to allow myself to think what I actually like.
I seem to be a modern, self-confident woman, and people would think that kind of woman would be into dirty talk, high heels, drugs, fucking around. But as soon as it comes to the secret intimacy of my own fantasies, there's almost nothing there. So for me it was about sitting down and thinking, what does the vagina look like? What do all the little bits look like? What could you call them? It was therapy for myself to actually think about this, which I wasn't doing before.
Nancy Fraser's recent article in the New Left Review is a very important reflection on the co-opting of second wave feminism to the neo-liberal project. She writes:
My hypothesis can be stated thus: what was truly new about the second wave was the way it wove together, in a critique of androcentric state-organized capitalism, three analytically distinct dimensions of gender injustice: economic, cultural and political. Subjecting state-organized capitalism to wide-ranging, multifaceted scrutiny, in which those three perspectives intermingled freely, feminists generated a critique that was simultaneously ramified and systematic. In the ensuing decades, however, the three dimensions of injustice became separated, both from one another and from the critique of capitalism. With the fragmentation of the feminist critique came the selective incorporation and partial recuperation of some of its strands. Split off from one another and from the societal critique that had integrated them, second-wave hopes were conscripted in the service of a project that was deeply at odds with our larger, holistic vision of a just society. In a fine instance of the cunning of history, utopian desires found a second life as feeling currents that legitimated the transition to a new form of capitalism: post-Fordist, transnational, neoliberal.