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Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
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Sex Object: A Memoir

by Jessica Valenti

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2.5/5

This book was interesting in some parts, but overall it was kind of a superficial retelling of her life.

Valenti recalls her experiences through like in this memoir, but never really goes into it. This happened, That happened. I made this bad decision, I slept with this guy, I was assaulted by that man, I had an abortion. And while these experiences could have been rather impactful, there was no development of the ideas. It was just a simple retelling.

Maybe Valenti meant it to be that way, however, I don't think it made a great book. If she had spent time unpacking her experiences I think it would have worked better.

The organisation of the book wasn't great either. She jumps around time a lot, swaps topic mid chapter, and then back again. It made it hard to follow, and furthered that feeling of superficial. It was like random blog posts had been put together from the tag #life, and pages got mixed up in the middle.

Her title "Sex Object" held more promise than the book had. A stronger delivery was needed to hold up to what was promised. While the book was not bad, and her experiences were quite relevant, she just didn't grow them enough to really hit that mark. ( )
  carmacreator | Jun 13, 2018 |
Sex Object is not at all the book I thought it was going to be but I'm not entirely sure what I expected either. I had read Valenti's book Full Frontal Feminism a while back and had a sense of her style of feminism and that how she feels about the way women relate to men. Of course, not all feminism is about men but they are the half of the population and we need them for procreation.

Still, I'm pretty sure I missed the "memoir" part of this book for a long time and thought it was another feminist commentary on the titled subject, which I am very interested in. There is a lot out there about the way women are viewed as sex objects and Valenti does get into it a bit in Full Frontal Feminism but I figured she had just dedicated the whole book to it this time. She is one of those writers for me that I'm always willing to see what she has to say. I don't perfectly agree with everything she says (change your name if you want to) but I do get what she's saying in a lot of ways and appreciate her point of view.

Nevertheless, this is a memoir, not a feminist commentary on being treated like we were created specifically for the male gaze and usage by men. In the book, Valenti recounts all the ways she was made to feel like a sex object by those around her. The problem with the book and the title is that her experience is not that unique among women. Pervy teacher who just wants a hug for a good grade? Flashed or catcalled on the street? Talked about as if your sole reason for being is how much someone wants to have sex with you?

Yep. I have either had similar experiences or known at least one person personally that has had it. These are not little pieces of the universe that Valenti happened to stumble onto because she was a slut or something. These are all a part of the female experience and what makes it obvious that we are still sex objects in a lot of ways to a lot of men. Even men who don't really believe women to be just sex objects will refer to us as such when we've pissed them off. And apologize profusely to the women in the room that they don't mean us, in my experience. Because it's the worst thing they can call women and there's really something wrong with that. Why is my worth directly correlated to whether or not you want to have sex me and whether or not I'm willing to? And why does that only last insofar as it's appropriate for me to want to?

This is why we feminists call it a rigged system against us so much. It is. The experiences Valenti talks about in this book are all reasons why I love the idea of the Slut Walk and Reclaim the Night. All those things about women that so directly correlate our value to someone's views of who we should be having sex with, who we should want to have sex with, and whether or not we will have sex with them need to be eliminated.

Well, there are two ways to equalize any given number, though. We can lower the one number to the other (as in men can stop looking at us this way) or raise the lower number up to meet the other, as in we could constantly reduce men to sex objects. They say they'll like it, but just as Valenti points out in the book, they don't really know what they're talking about. They like it when an available, attractive woman ogles them a bit in a way that doesn't feel threatening. The problem is that we are constantly assaulted by the more threatening kind of gaze in these circumstances. It's the kind of look that makes men worry about what happens to them in jail. Yeah, I don't really want to do that either. I've seen it happen, though, and I've known plenty of guys who are not in the habit of doing this, so maybe it will equalize one day....

I'm not really counting on it happening in my lifetime, but I have hope for the new generation. I borrowed the audiobook from my library, read by the author. Click on the cover to be redirected to Booklikes for purchase options or add it to Goodreads for later. While I think most women would enjoy the book, I want men to read it so they can see what we're talking about better when we say things like "women are treated like sex objects". ( )
  Calavari | Apr 5, 2018 |
Some of the essays and sections of this book were great, and hit the mark so well...and others made me want to toss this one in the DNF pile. But overall, the good outweighed the bad... and perhaps, just perhaps the parts that made me most uncomfortable were also the parts that were the most unfiltered and uncaring/unneeding of anyone else's approval, and the ones that needed to be spoken out loud and without reservation before we can really see the picture as a whole.

**Not for the faint of heart, because in all honesty the real lives of woman in this society aren't rosy.** ( )
  RivetedReaderMelissa | Mar 22, 2018 |
Jessica Valenti makes no excuses for the language she uses or for the principles in which she believes. From the stories she tells about her childhood and the years beyond, she's been dealing with chauvinism and men who are pigs for decades. She is not alone. I could absolutely relate to some, although not all, of her essays.

As a grandmother, I don't spend much time thinking about the times I've been groped or had men expose themselves to me. But it has happened multiple times. Listening to the audiobook, and hearing Valenti describe her experiences in crude detail, made me heartbroken and angry for every woman, girl, and child who's lived through this. And especially for the ones who don't live through it. Let me also be clear, I say it was crude detail, not because of the frank language Valenti uses but because the men were crude in the first place. That's putting it nicely.

On the other hand, I didn't have a strong connection to Valenti's experiences with pregnancy and parenthood since mine have been radically different. I believe her essays have value and deserve to be told. Connecting and listening to other women is a part of empowering us all.

I'm a feminist, and I believe women's rights are still very much at risk. The final essay in this book is a list of email, Twitter, and Facebook responses Valenti received. Just when I thought I'd become numb to her style of writing with f-bombs and other cursing, she reads us some completely heinous stuff. When men stop judging women based on their looks and sexuality, the world will improve. When men stop treating women like objects instead of valid humans, feminism won't be such a fight. We have a long, long way to go and I appreciate Valenti for shining a light on the reasons why. ( )
  TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
At first, I thought this book had a specific message or agenda. I mean, it sort of does, related to the title, but if you focus too much on that, much of what she relates will leave you scratching you head. When I realized that this is mainly a memoir, a rumination on a life lived, then I began to appreciate it much more. Some highlights are her description of her cocaine addiction. She actually describes this period in positive terms, and how she stopped cold turkey. I liked this section, not because I am a fan of amphetamines or something, but because it is a narrative that you don't often hear "I did a lot of drugs once and it was one of the best periods of my life" (not an exact quote). I think it takes a lot of courage to write something like that.
Her pregnancy complications are brutal and honest and terrifying.
The grilled cheese chapter i found to be an honest, complex, and fascinating look at rape and consent etc.
This book did make me feel bad about all the terrible things men do (specifically to women in this book, but also made me think of terrible things they do to other men (violence, etc))
There are some stylistic and writing issues I take, but whatever. ( )
  weberam2 | Nov 24, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062435086, Hardcover)

Author and Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny and bracing memoir, Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes from the every day to the existential. 

Sex Object explores the painful, funny, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation. 

In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, this literary memoir is sure to shock those already familiar with Valenti’s work and enthrall those who are just finding it.

“Jessica Valenti is a breath of fresh air. She offers the kind of raw honesty that can feel like a punch in the gut, but leaves you with the warmth of a deep embrace.” – Ms. Magazine

“One of the most visible and successful feminists of her generation.”   Washington Post

“A gutsy young third wave feminist.” – The New York Times

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 05 Mar 2016 22:58:32 -0500)

"Who would I be if I lived in a world that didn't hate women?" Hailed by the Washington Post as "one of the most visible and successful feminists of her generation," Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a memoir that Publishers Weekly calls "bold and unflinching," Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes on women's lives, from the everyday to the existential. From subway gropings and imposter syndrome to sexual awakenings and motherhood, Sex Object reveals the painful, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti's adolescence and young adulthood in New York City. In the tradition of writers like Joan Didion and Mary Karr, Sex Object is a profoundly moving tour de force that is bound to shock those already familiar with Valenti's work, and enthrall those who are just finding it"--… (more)

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