Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This is, like, so REVOLUTIONARY!

WOW. Where do I begin? I guess I will start with:

- This is a "Self Help" book. (See back cover, top left corner)
- This is the "authoritative voice on modern female sexuality"
(Kirkus Review...whatever that is...)
- It is meant to be empowering to women...right?

Okay. So before I actually began reading "The Hot Woman's Handbook: The Cake Guide To Female Sexual Pleasure" and I was just paging through, I was already scoffing at the material. It appeared to me to be a glamorized and hyped-up Cosmopolitan Magazine in book form. So far this "CAKE" isn't looking too sweet to me.
Then once I began to read, the very first few pages were already making me angry. In the introduction, the CAKE authors express their lament because of the "huge disconnect between how women are portrayed and how women really live, fantasize, think, and act." And I immediately wonder "how are women portrayed according to CAKE and how is CAKE different?" And then, of course, they answer my question by describing one of their infamous CAKE events. They projected "naughty excerpts from 100 of the best erotic films" and projected them on 40 foot tall screens. Oh, I get it now, CAKE women are PORN STARS!!! Oh, how original. Am I starting to sound like Levy yet?
Right off the bat, I do not like the way Gallagher and Kramer are claiming to be so revolutionary and unique to the "sexual" world and even the "real" world. They claim that under the CAKE Philosophy "female sexuality is about to come out of the closet." I beg to differ. I for one, never even heard of CAKE until this class but some how I have learned a great deal about female sexuality and my own sexuality. Maybe it's partly because I'm growing up in this "Raunch" culture but I am pretty sure I have learned about human sexuality through some reliable sources. So maybe I'm just an exception to most women but I really doubt it. I read Anne Koedt's "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" two years ago and I definitely thought my "floodgates" were opened up to the world of sexuality. I learned a lot from Koedt and she wrote that essay back in 1970. So far, I'm only reading CAKE as an exploitation of women's sexuality and I'm pretty sure that was not what Anne Koedt was going for.
I understand that this book is intended to be a "women's sexuality" guide of some sort but I do not understand why they believe sexuality should be integrated into all aspects of our lives. Yes, sexuality is important and I'm happy that women are finally learning that they actually have a "sexuality" but sex does not have to be incorporated into checking a book out from the library or shoveling the sidewalk. I encourage women to explore their bodies and definitely try masturbating but the way CAKE presents their material is...trashy.
I also do not appreciate the way they generalize their supposed research and make it sound like every single woman has experienced the very same thing. I agree that a lot of the time children are discouraged to think, talk, and experiment with their sexuality. And things would be a lot easier if we were taught the way our bodies worked without feeling shame if we happen to feel pleasure. But CAKE does portray a very narrow and, to say the least, "raunchy" form of female sexuality. (does that make sense?)
The "interviews" they present throughout the book seem very unnatural and fabricated to me. I'm pretty sure many of the quotes from the women they interviewed were made up by the authors in order to introduce their next exciting and shocking subjects. Many of their information is very generalized and really doesn't include every woman. But I guess I'm not sure whether they are targeting every woman or not. It's more like they are targeting upper class, white women that love to shop and get Brazilians (but going au naturel is okay, too...)
I'm pretty sure the CAKE authors wrote this book in order to shock the world but I'm in no way shocked, I'm just disgusted, annoyed and cynical. I have showed this book to several of my friends, including my boyfriend and I jokingly opened up the book to "TIPS FOR MEN" just for him. He agrees with many of my sentiments and said "sex should never be had just for fun." Then he pulled out a lovely quote from Jack Kerouac and it goes like this:

"Boys and Girls in America have such a sad time together.
Sophistication demands they go straight to sex without proper
talk and not talk about courtship but real talk about souls."

There is no way I could say it better than that. Sexuality is an important part of humanity but it should not be degraded or exploited. I'm not sure what else to say other than I am unimpressed by CAKE.

The End.


Anya G said...

I agree that the "interviews" seemed contrived and manipulated. All of them had similar tones. I can't imagine that every woman who wrote in would have such homogeneous, stereotypical, fantasies and desires. I also am not particularly interested in reading the fabricated pornographic imaginings of "hot women" that I can't relate to...where does the reality of women's real experience (mundane or not) come in? If we're all supposed to be sexually liberated, why are all of our sexual fantasies supposed to involved forceful penetration and men ejaculating on our bodies? Reading these "accounts" did little to sexually liberate me. In fact, I felt sort of boxed in by the limited scope and incredibly objectified language utilized by the CAKE authors.

hannahb said...

I was also unimpressed by this book. The supposed mission is great, but nothing seemed very new--the message is still that you have to be "raunch-y" to be liberated. What really bothered me is the lack of concern for women's health. Now, I realize this book does not intend to be a thorough health manual--they leave the STIs up to Our Bodies, Ourselves. But the vibrators they stamp as "CAKE approved" are not the safest for women's health--the legendary Rabbit, for example, contains plastics that would not be allowed in infant toys. See this page on "Pussy Politics" from Smitten Kitten for more information: http://www.smittenkittenonline.com/pages/CATT.cfm

Anne said...

Laura, you do raise some critical points in your response; however, I would have liked to see a more careful assessment of the text. To quote from the syllabus, "In your critical response papers you should summarize, analyze, critique, and assess the text’s main points. You are encouraged to position the text’s argument against the arguments in other texts read for this seminar or other related courses. Also, please feel free to include links to additional relevant readings, in particular as they pertain to the original text’s contemporary relevance." I wonder if perhaps your immediate reaction of disapproval prevented you from engaging the text more carefully. I do want you to develop a personal critical voice, though, and there's room for emotional reactions in such a voice. But keep in mind also what kind of voice you want to develop and present; what is the best strategy of getting people to listen to you?