German bestseller Wetlands, written by television personality and author Charlotte Roche, has sparked a debate in Germany and abroad about whether the book—which features explicit descriptions of the private grooming practices and sex life of the novel’s 18-year-old narrator—is a bastion for modern feminism or glorified pornography. (The New York Times)
What the commentators said
As the author has said, “‘Wetlands is not feminist in a political sense, but instead feminism of the body, that has to do with anxiety and repression and the fear that you stink,’” said the celebrity, sex, and fashion blog Jezebel. It's not just the "literary equivalent of a Sarah Silverman act." Yes, the book is "kind of icky," but "if it helps women take away a moment of understanding that we're all sort of dirty and weird and sexual and that that's okay," then "this should be required reading."
The combination of pornography and feminism is quite old, said Nicholas Kulish in The New York Times, and it experiences periodic revivals. These revivals—think porn star turned “sex educator,” Annie Sprinkle, pop icon Madonna, and Eve Ensler of The Vagina Monologues—have "varying degrees of relevance to feminism," and Wetlands is just the most recent installment. But as German feminist and writer Ingrid Kolb told me, “'When a woman breaks a taboo, it is automatically incorporated into the feminism debate, whether it really belongs there or not.'”
I haven't even read Wetlands, said Kris-Stella Trump in Coffee Shop Philosophy, but "why would the taboo she broke—on female bodies—not be a feminist issue? For me, raunchiness and sexiness do not mean a topic can't be 'truly' feminist." Sure, sex sells, and the book might draw a crowd for reasons other than feminism, but "what matters is that [the author] rebelled against a taboo that she felt was constraining her as a woman."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama doesn't have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do
- Why Antonin Scalia was right to defend a drug dealer
- Why we need a maximum wage
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
Subscribe to the Week