Thursday, November 27, 2003

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Kristy Dallas Alley

Cunt, by Inga Muscio Let’s just get one thing straight, before you read any further. This is not a book about using the word cunt so you can be a punk-rock badass. The word is just a jumping-off point. So even if you are way to prissy to ever utter the big, bad C word, you can still read this book and love it.

Inga Muscio has a vision. It involves women of all stripes doing some serious shit kicking. It involves menarche parties and mass harassings of date rapists. It involves you getting off your ass and doing a bunch of stuff you have been thinking and talking about doing for a long time. Like learning self defense. Like making sure your girlfriends get home safely after a night out. Like using the word cunt without blushing because it is, after all, just another word for your fabulous genitals, which someone has managed to convince you is the worst of all insults.

I love this book. I laughed until I was crying several times, as when the author describes her impression of the infamous Period Movie in grade school. And a few times I just flat out cried, as when she describes learning of her mother’s girlhood rape. But mostly I nodded my head and thought “Amen, Inga. Rock on.”

Fresh Milk, by Fiona Giles This is not La Leche League’s breastfeeding book. Fiona Giles’ intention in putting together this collection of stories and thoughts on lactation is to bust through taboos surrounding the lactating breast. The result is like nothing you’ve ever read.

Early on, the book seems like what you thought it would be—fresh and moving, but not shocking. Women talking about their decision to breastfeed or not, a woman who pumps and donates after the sudden death of her infant daughter, the trials of thrush and learning to breastfeed in public and having your Dad leave the room whenever you nurse. But about halfway through, the direction of the book seems to change.
The subject is sex. Sex and lactation. Not two things we are comfortable discussing together. Topics addressed include incorporating milky letdowns into sex, couples who induce lactation solely for sexual purposes, and lactation porn, among others. I did not agree with Giles’s viewpoint on some of these issues, but I thought it took balls to even bring them up, and I could see what she was trying to say. All in all, the book was enjoyable, surprising, and completely worth reading.

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