The feminists Crispin reveres are the radicals currently out of favor—Andrea Dworkin, Shulamith Firestone—and “our great weirdos,” the true individualists like Emily Dickinson and Simone Weil, who reimagined society in difficult and intriguing ways—and made people uncomfortable in the process. Feminism now, Crispin passionately argues, is all too comfortable. It’s too firmly invested in the consumer culture to break out of it and create something else. Feminism has become a lifestyle, not a world-changer—it’s just “another thing to buy.” And what it buys into is the same old patriarchal culture whose values of money and power are also successful women’s markers of achievement. But what, Crispin asks, is all that “empowerment” and “girl power” for? She wants feminism to be about more than self-help. Whether or not you agree with her on every point, Crispin’s blunt, uncompromising manifesto is just the kind of galvanizing call-to-action we need right now.
In 2014, Northwestern Professor Laura Kipnis was the subject of a Title IX suit charged by two students who objected to her remarks in a provocative journal article about professor-student relationships. The resulting internal investigation and shady legal process provoked Kipnis to investigate other Title IX suits and to shed light on the ways this system is subject to abuse. Examining her own case and others nationwide, Kipnis considers the effects of assigning increased power to ever-expanding university administration- are students unwittingly inviting a level of administrative paternalism which undermines their independence and enacts a conservative sexual agenda? Whether you agree with her or not, Kipnis raises questions about the consequences of institutional involvement in the personal lives of students which merit consideration.
This book is part memoir, part meandering travelogue through alternative sexuality in 21st century America. The book starts as Witt turns 30 and, newly single, moves to San Francisco—the hotbed of alternative sexual culture in the U.S. today. In San Francisco she focuses her work as a journalist on writing about novel forms of sexual expression cropping up in the Internet age, and the new communities that embrace them. Witt visits polyamorous communities, a BDSM porn company, devotees of a practice called “orgasmic meditation”, and women who earn a living livestreaming their autoerotic acts, as well as other pioneers pushing the boundaries of human sexual expression. She also chronicles her own attempts to find love and lust through the brave new world of online dating. Witt’s forays into all of these strange landscapes remind us of just how radically technological advances and evolving social mores are re-writing the rules of nearly all social interactions today, perhaps most prominently those involving our biologically hard-wired drives to find sex and companionship.