A week ago, Paul and I hosted our second bookclub. This month’s book was Spud by the South African John van der Ruit. It was a funny, very easy-to-read book set in an elite boys boarding school in South Africa in 1990 – the year that Nelson Mandela was let out of jail and that apartheid was ended. It wasn’t very political or deep but it made me laugh a lot and I even cried. Next month we’re reading Y: the Last Man, a comic set on Earth where all the male humans and mammals have died except for one man (and his male pet monkey). I have read the first two volumes and wasn’t that impressed – it was interesting but I got the feeling that the writers thought they were being feminist but I wasn’t all that convinced that they knew what they were doing.
Last Tuesday night I went to a Feminist bookclub at the Glass Bar, which is (according to them) London’s only women-only bar. It is in a very cool, small, stone building near Euston Station and the book was Rightwing Women: the Politics of the Domesticated Female by Andrea Dworkin. I didn’t mind some of the book but there are a lot of things about Andrea Dworkin’s theories that I really don’t agree with. For example, Dworkin is the kind of feminist who claims that consuming pornography leads men to rape women. But I have read about studies that have found that male sexual offenders actually consume less pornography than the rest of the general population. I was definitely in a minority (of one?) at the reading group in my thoughts that pornography is not inherently sexist. My argument is that of course a lot of pornography produced in a sexist society is going to be sexist but that doesn’t mean that portrayals of people having sex has to automatically be sexist. There are sexist books but we don’t try to ban all books. And there are sexist TV shows but we don’t try to ban all TV. So the same with pornography. When I said that there is a lot of pornography that is not degrading to women and that shows women in control and enjoying themselves, one of the women there said that she doesn’t call that pornography!!! So we have definite issues with terminology. Anyway, as the pornography discussion deepened, the woman leading the discussion promptly changed the subject. Anyway, I will go to next month’s meeting where we’re reading Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier. I was also pleased to recommend the book Talkin’ Up to the White Woman by Aileen Moreton-Robinson.
The Glass Bar also has a theory reading group which I’m going to tomorrow night with Helen.