Where have all the interesting women gone? If the contemporary portrayal of womankind were to be believed, contemporary female achievement would culminate in the ownership of expensive handbags, a vibrator, a job, a flat and a man. Of course, no one has to believe the TV shows, the magazines and adverts, and many don't. But how has it come to this? Did the desires of twentieth-century women's liberation achieve their fulfilment in the shopper's paradise of 'naughty' self-pampering, playboy bunny pendants and bikini waxes? That the height of supposed female emancipation coincides so perfectly with consumerism is a miserable index of a politically desolate time. Much contemporary feminism, particularly in its American formulation, doesn't seem too concerned about this coincidence. This short book is partly an attack on the apparent abdication of any systematic political thought on the part of today's positive, up-beat feminists. It suggests alternative ways of thinking about transformations in work, sexuality and culture that, while seemingly far-fetched in the current ideological climate, may provide more serious material for future feminism.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Nina Power's One Dimensional Woman (0 Books, Â£7.99) was a welcome reminder that there is more to feminism than Either/Or (Pradettes apussyfooting in Jimmy Choos/Moms amoosehunting on the campaign trail). A rabblerousing joy to read. ~ Helen DeWitt, Books of the Year, New Statesman
An important contribution to the latest string of books on feminism and women's liberation. ~ Sian Ruddick, International Socialism
One Dimensional Woman offers an interesting contribution to the current debate on work, sex and politics. The book covers an impressive array of subjects. The most interesting section looks at the ahistorical nature of feminist debate on pornography. ~ Jacqui Freeman, Socialist Review
Crucially, it is Power's theoretical lens that raises this book above the level of much mainstream polemic. A philosophy lecturer, she will no doubt be dismissed by some for being too academic. But it is critical theory that gives her the tools to tackle these debates. One of the highlights is her fascinating genealogy of pornography. Many mainstream debates about gender equality remain boring, simplistic, even dangerous. That is why I salute this book: because it makes you think. (full review in linked files) ~ The Guardian, 16th Jan 2010
Nina Power is keen to confront the uncomfortable and unpalatable, a refreshing trait in a culture perpetually moving toward anodyne. ~ Catherine Scott, Bitch
Nina Power's One-Dimensional Woman does a fine job of reading Valenti's fatuous advertising copy as an ideological symptom, a sign of the times. Valenti's response demonstrates perfectly the hostility to thought, the pre-emptive smothering of imagination, that shields the reality-system with which her putative feminism seeks to accommodate itself. Accusations of elitism are not only the last but also, invariably, the immediate resort of those who have accepted the capitalist injunction to "live without ideas" (as Badiou puts it). No further argument will ever be produced.
Elitists are those whose thought is abstract because it is concerned with the deadly abstractions which dominate our lives, and because it aims at a future incompatible with our dominated present. In point of fact, Nina's writing is far more urgently and hectically involved with the bodies and languages of our common world than the most lavishly anecdotal self-help book; but it also, as Natalie Hanman rightly identifies, turns the intense focus of the theoretical lens on that world, in order to burn a hole through its apparent self-evidence and inevitability. This is the task of an elite from which everyone is equally excluded by the demand that we remain without ideas: an elite that already includes all of us insofar as we are capable of participating in thought. ~ Poetix 53 / 50 133t
It's rare for anger to be so witty, wit to be so angry, or either to be so compelling. An outstanding dose of sal volatile. ~ China Mieville, author of "weird fiction" Embassytown, The City and the city, Railsea...
'Philosophically sophisticated, politically astute, Nina Power's trenchant analysis of the issues of work, sex and politics underlying consumerist contemporary feminism brings much-needed energy to debates too often trivialized. At a time when the media make minstrelization look like the only game in town, the acerbic wit, historical breadth and sheer imaginative inventiveness of One-Dimensional Woman provoke the subversive belief that feminism could again be a radical force for change.' ~ Helen DeWitt, novellist