Dear God, what awful choices she has made in her life! Her personality was warped by insecurity, a problem made worse by the way her parents burdened her with their own ambitions and, of course, there was New York City itself.... The working-class neighborhood where Jessica Valenti grew up was frequented by hookers and their customers, and when she traveled to school via the subway, she encountered the notorious “flashers” and “mashers” (exhibitionists and frotteurs) who have menaced the city’s public-transportation system for decades. Ms. Valenti doesn’t seem to understand this as a uniquely urban hazard....Speaking of cocaine, McCain quotes Valenti, as an undergraduate student, doing coke with one of her women's studies professors at the professor's house. This was at SUNY-Albany. McCain is amazed that a professor would not take pains to hide her drug taking from students. There's more cocaine later, including in what is my favorite of McCain's sentences (paraphrasing her text):
Many genuinely despicable behaviors are commonplace in big cities, including violent crime, drug abuse and sexual hedonism. Ms. Valenti was a practitioner of the latter two vices from an early age, but goes to some length to avoid admitting that her behavior was wrong. She recounts her use of marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA) and cocaine as if being a dopehead was an ordinary aspect of life, the same way she discusses her drunkenness and all the various “hook-ups” and “relationships” in which she engaged from the time she lost her virginity as a 14-year-old freshman at Stuyvesant until 2009 when, at age 30, she married a Harvard boy five years younger than her. What emerges from the pages of Sex Object, discernible to any thinking adult, is the tale of what happens to girls growing up in a culture devoid of morality.
Yeah, she already had a master’s degree in Women’s Studies from Rutgers (2002) and was working for NOW, but she was drunk when she got to this bar, met a broad-shouldered 6-foot-3 guy, showed him her panties and when they got back to her place at 4 a.m., cocaine “seemed like a decent idea.”I'm glad McCain read that so I don't have to. It sounds like it's mostly descriptions of sexual encounters, and that's not the kind of writing that's ever likely to be much good, and it's really unlikely to be good if it's written not for the sake of sex but to make political points. It doesn't sound from McCain's discussion as though the sex stories support the the proposition that men are misogynists or whatever Valenti's form of feminism propounds.
As McCain tells it, Valenti sees misogyny whenever men care about how women look, but she enthuses over the looks of her male sexual partners. McCain is staunchly anti-feminist, so his paraphrasing of the feminist ideology would have to be double-checked, and I don't feel the lure to read "Sex Object."
I had a very annoying interaction with her years ago, and I don't have enough neutrality to want to invest my time in figuring out what she is really saying. And of course, it's not the kind of thing I'd read for pleasure. And I read "Mercy" by Andrea Dworkin, so I've seen enough writing depicting sexual degradation from the feminist viewpoint.