Frequently, I find myself disagreeing with Sara Pascoe- but it’s not a problem! She’s funny, curious, and well-researched, and she makes no claims about being objective. She leans right into the fact that she her opinions are colored by her past experiences, and she remains open to other ideas and beliefs even if they do not mesh with hers. She is open and honest about her past experiences- especially those that pertain to sex, power, and money. Some are truly harrowing, yet she is a comedian and manages to squeeze some laughs out of you while also drawing tears of empathy and rage.
“Fear and arousal is not just a great band name, they predispose our deepest, most subconscious emotional needs.”
Like her previous book, Animal, Pascoe gets down and dirty with sex- why we do what we do, why we want what we want, and the great divide between what it means to be female in a world that kowtows to the power of men. She dives into pornography, sex work, power dynamics, and human biology. She shares her own stories, as well as interviews with friends, academics, sex workers, authors, critics, and entries from message boards across the wide and often murky sea of the internet.
Pascoe looks into the science of why we do what we do, and knows that science doesn’t answer every question, nor does it affirm past things that have been done by humankind.
“When looking for evolutionary explanations it can seem like we’re seeking to excuse behavior, to justify it. But I do not think there is any excuse or justification. Evolutionary pressures are not a defense.”
In one scene, Pascoe talks about how- when excited about information that she had learned through her research, she giddly shared with a group of women who had survived abuse the potential historical and biological reasons that abuse happens- she knows as soon as the words leave her lips that she has made a mistake. Sometimes you just need to listen. I appreciate that as much as she wants to learn, she also knows that all learning is not academic, and just because you may have someone’s reasons for an action, it does not speak all answers.
Our opinions differ most when it comes to sex work; I won’t attack you with my opinion, but I do ask that you take the time to think about your own feelings around the subject. Pascoe does not preach about her feelings on the matter, nor does she state that all other feelings are wrong. She speaks with people on both sides of the debate, and is honest about her own subjectivity. We have all experienced different things. We all are shaped in different ways through those different experiences. We can share, learn, and disagree without tearing down each other.
I highly recommend that, should you choose to check out this book, you experience it through audio book. She is a stand-up comedian, and her delivery is always excellent. I miss the back and forth of her last book, where she pretended to be a teacher interrupted by her teenage students, as this time she is frequently interupted by a male voice that is not terribly comfortable with the performance. She is funnier on her own, letting her own voice run wild.