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What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About #MeToo: Essays on Sex, Authority and the Mess of Life

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An exquisite examination of a sexual culture in crisis What if we took sex out of the box marked 'special', either the worst or best thing that a human person can experience, and considered it within the complexity of reality? In this extraordinary book, despite longstanding tabloid-style sexual preoccupations with monsters and victims, shame and virtue, JoAnn Wypijewski do An exquisite examination of a sexual culture in crisis What if we took sex out of the box marked 'special', either the worst or best thing that a human person can experience, and considered it within the complexity of reality? In this extraordinary book, despite longstanding tabloid-style sexual preoccupations with monsters and victims, shame and virtue, JoAnn Wypijewski does exactly that. From the HIV crisis to the paedophile priest panic, Woody Allen to Brett Kavanaugh, child pornography to Abu Ghraib, Wypijewski takes the most famous sex panics of the last decades and turns them inside out, weaving what together becomes a searing indictment of modern sexual politics, exposing the myriad ways sex panics and the expansion of the punitive state are intertwined. What emerges is an examination of the multiple ways in which the ever-expanding default language of monsters and victims has contributed to the repressive power of the state. Politics exists in the mess of life. Sex does too, Wypijewski insists, and so must sexual politics, to make any sense at all.


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An exquisite examination of a sexual culture in crisis What if we took sex out of the box marked 'special', either the worst or best thing that a human person can experience, and considered it within the complexity of reality? In this extraordinary book, despite longstanding tabloid-style sexual preoccupations with monsters and victims, shame and virtue, JoAnn Wypijewski do An exquisite examination of a sexual culture in crisis What if we took sex out of the box marked 'special', either the worst or best thing that a human person can experience, and considered it within the complexity of reality? In this extraordinary book, despite longstanding tabloid-style sexual preoccupations with monsters and victims, shame and virtue, JoAnn Wypijewski does exactly that. From the HIV crisis to the paedophile priest panic, Woody Allen to Brett Kavanaugh, child pornography to Abu Ghraib, Wypijewski takes the most famous sex panics of the last decades and turns them inside out, weaving what together becomes a searing indictment of modern sexual politics, exposing the myriad ways sex panics and the expansion of the punitive state are intertwined. What emerges is an examination of the multiple ways in which the ever-expanding default language of monsters and victims has contributed to the repressive power of the state. Politics exists in the mess of life. Sex does too, Wypijewski insists, and so must sexual politics, to make any sense at all.

30 review for What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About #MeToo: Essays on Sex, Authority and the Mess of Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    David M

    This is a brave little book. Many on the left are still in denial about just how bad the climate of moralistic preening and ideological conformity has become. The discourse around sex and gender is now completely schizophrenic. Likewise, leftists can never seem to decide if they want more or fewer prisons. Wypijewski here does a remarkable job speaking up for the rights of the accused and the moral complexity of life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Engaging and an overall well-researched collection of essays. I think her most compelling claim is that “believe all women” perpetuates an erasure of nuance and human complexity in the name of good vs. evil politics. What do we miss when we confine any life within the tight frame of accusation? Somewhere in ~the discourse~ we’ve conflated critical examination with either defending abusers or not believing victims?? How grossly minimizing. Things are not oft that black and white, and in adopting t Engaging and an overall well-researched collection of essays. I think her most compelling claim is that “believe all women” perpetuates an erasure of nuance and human complexity in the name of good vs. evil politics. What do we miss when we confine any life within the tight frame of accusation? Somewhere in ~the discourse~ we’ve conflated critical examination with either defending abusers or not believing victims?? How grossly minimizing. Things are not oft that black and white, and in adopting that way of thinking, consequentially, invites righteousness and shame, which asserts the #MeToo movement’s whole ethos of vengeance as a social good. It’s less a matter of “but victims deserve to feel vengeful”—it's unmistakably within their right in wanting to seek vindication and besides how dense do you have to be to mistake earnest critique for invalidation of lived experiences & traumas?? Not to mention that’s totally besides the point ?—but more an inquisition and reexamination regarding the limits of embracing punitive attitudes and systems in handling matters of sexual assault and abuse.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I heard the author on the Femsplainers podcast (S8E4) and was immediately hooked by the premise that #MeToo is a continuation of sex panics that go back deep in our American history. Also that the feminist embrace of the police state is not new – such as the collab of anti-porn feminists with the Reagan right – and will backfire. As the author writes in the essay The Upside of Censorship: “Liberals take note: it will be used against you.” The essays are uneven, and it gets off to a rocky start wi I heard the author on the Femsplainers podcast (S8E4) and was immediately hooked by the premise that #MeToo is a continuation of sex panics that go back deep in our American history. Also that the feminist embrace of the police state is not new – such as the collab of anti-porn feminists with the Reagan right – and will backfire. As the author writes in the essay The Upside of Censorship: “Liberals take note: it will be used against you.” The essays are uneven, and it gets off to a rocky start with the prologue and first essay about the AIDs epidemic. Wypijewski brings in all kinds of disparate ideas to show that nothing is an easy black and white, everything is nuanced, and the media has obscured complicated stories into simple tales of good and evil. But I got lost along the way sometimes – like, how did we get to this topic? How does this connect? I thought she was at her best in more focused essays, where she covers the murder of Matthew Shepard with a focus on the assailants, the complicated life of Boston street priest Paul Shanley, the Woody Allen allegations, and finally the essay on Brett Kavanaugh’s “adult neglect of reflection and his indifference to suffering.” These I would all recommend!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter Landau

    Powerful indictment of the sex panic fueled by media and personal emotion that we all can get caught up in. Deep reporting on cases that seemed cut and dry because of lazy reporting or knee-jerk responses. An eye-opening and important book in an age without nuance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liza MacShap

    really good

  6. 4 out of 5

    Iqra S. Cheema

    The book takes count of multiple sex assault allegations/cases in the US and puts it in the cultural and political background. Well researched, some really well put sentences here & there.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    An interesting set of essays, decrying the moral hysteria triggered by many high profile sex scandal. Wypijewski comes across like a defence lawyer, forensically analysing the cases and pulling apart the arguments - not so much letting the accused off the hook, but more stating how these cases don't exist in a vacuum and scapegoating doesn't do anything to help the wider situation in a messy and nuanced world where judgements are meted out by outrage rather than due process. Wypijewski almost ne An interesting set of essays, decrying the moral hysteria triggered by many high profile sex scandal. Wypijewski comes across like a defence lawyer, forensically analysing the cases and pulling apart the arguments - not so much letting the accused off the hook, but more stating how these cases don't exist in a vacuum and scapegoating doesn't do anything to help the wider situation in a messy and nuanced world where judgements are meted out by outrage rather than due process. Wypijewski almost never talks about in detail about the victims in these cases and can appreciate criticisms that she doesn't really appreciate the nature of all abuse, but there are definitely questions opened up here which are worth exploring and will lead to a more useful end state than the current framework. The title is a bit of misnomer, the focus on #MeToo is somewhat limited (there's probably 4 times the space devoted to abuse within the Catholic church) so bear that in mind if that's your main interest. The structure is repetitive too with each essay structured almost identically, which makes it a bit of a slog at times - maybe one more to dip in and out of.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rosie B

    I'm really not sure how to rate this. At times, Wypijewski makes astute observations on matters such as white women falsely accusing black men, gay priests being targeted by pedophilia claims...but then she'll treat people suffering from sexual trauma with this sheen of derision. She's clearly never been assaulted, so maybe that's what makes her the perfect person to write this book. I don't know, I didn't love it. I'm really not sure how to rate this. At times, Wypijewski makes astute observations on matters such as white women falsely accusing black men, gay priests being targeted by pedophilia claims...but then she'll treat people suffering from sexual trauma with this sheen of derision. She's clearly never been assaulted, so maybe that's what makes her the perfect person to write this book. I don't know, I didn't love it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    A thought provoking and at times uncomfortable read. As a loosely edited collection of articles by Wypijewski spanning from the 1990s to the present day, it is difficult to ascribe a singular rating. At it's best this is an excoriating attack attack on the hypocrisy and moralising of the carceral US state. From the propensity to assume guilt, and the ecstatic delight in scandal and moral panic, whipped up by a media class and legal profession that are interested in making profit rather than any s A thought provoking and at times uncomfortable read. As a loosely edited collection of articles by Wypijewski spanning from the 1990s to the present day, it is difficult to ascribe a singular rating. At it's best this is an excoriating attack attack on the hypocrisy and moralising of the carceral US state. From the propensity to assume guilt, and the ecstatic delight in scandal and moral panic, whipped up by a media class and legal profession that are interested in making profit rather than any sense of nuance or justice. To our tendency to other offenders as evil people, rather than acknowledge them as reflections of the society that produced them, and systems that we ourselves perpetuate. At other times however I felt a bordering insensitivity for alleged victims. The same nuance that afforded to the supposed 'bad guys', produces a marked sense of uncomfortableness when applied to the accuser. In a way this reveals another layer of hypocrisy which leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth when being faced to confront.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Interesting but also deeply uncomfortable at times in increasingly surprising ways.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anya

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

  13. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vivian Lestrange

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roselise Hodge

  16. 5 out of 5

    Margaux Smith

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mehdi

  18. 4 out of 5

    Clementine

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mary Thornburg

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emma Marinoni

  22. 5 out of 5

    Luis

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Nachman

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark Wright

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Shaiman

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diotima

  27. 5 out of 5

    Angelica

  28. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Davies

  29. 5 out of 5

    Firuza Pastakia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Naori

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