Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"That Laura Kipnis!"

One of the reasons I continue to read Salon -- years past the point when I conisdered the hamfisted, partisan comic This Modern World to be insightful -- is because I like following the intellectual life of one of its founders, Laura Miller. It's not often that someone's choice of material to review and perspectives on the material appeals to me this much. The only recent one that comes to mind is Ed Gonzalez at Slant Magazine.

However, unlike Ed Gonzalez whose reviews just make me want to read more of his reviews, Laura Miller's really capable of letting the material she's reviewing either shine or hang itself as the case may be. Her review of Laura Kipnis' The Female Thing today is a good example of the former:
In wrestling with Dworkin's writings equating heterosexual intercourse with subjugation -- a more challenging task -- Kipnis is equally astute. "Dworkin didn't read the culture wrong: it's entirely true that all the idioms for penetration -- 'getting fucked,' 'screwed over' -- are about humiliation and exploitation. Which does make it hard to see how anyone can avoid a certain duality about the experience, even when it's pleasurable, as it often is! Dworkin is the great case study in the ambivalence of femininity: after all, she's hardly indifferent about penetration." As Kipnis notes earlier, Dworkin's key work, "Intercourse," hinged around her "wonderfully inflamed" indictment of the practice. "But," Kipnis goes on, "can there really be this much aversion without some corner of desire? The opposite of desire isn't aversion, it's indifference."
So, I absolutely have to read this book now, despite the fact that the cover design will make it hugely embarrassing to hold in public. See:

It's more than just the fig leaf; it's the color. [Link to Salon review]


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