REVIEW BY SUSAN KLOPFER
Author, speaker, blogger
Why do I keep thinking about grabbing my crotch? I guess it is a new fear-based reaction I’m having since the presidential primaries went south on sex, and I do not think I am alone. These Michael Jackson moments are brought to me because of the Grand Old Party, the same folks many of us have been fighting over sex and privacy since back in the 1960s…and 50s…and 20s…and…
Certainly, many of us remember The Vagina Monologues, those powerful and crusty episodic essays about a woman’s private parts and sexual experiences, first presented as a play in 1996. Every story falls back on The Vagina; all are short essays about love and rape, menstruation, female genital mutilation, masturbation, birth, topped off with a special monologue on The Big O. Lovingly and beautifully treated, frightening, refreshing, disgusting and witty, the entire package brought a big wink-wink from Off Broadway theatre when it opened.
After the excitement of Eve Ensler’s play about womanhood waned, most theatre lovers moved on, except for catching up with her yearly contributions that often focus on global women’s themes.
As women (and men, too) we were moving forward, especially in the hippy 60s when we were fighting for a myriad of civil rights and social justice, almost getting somewhere in this country’s rare dialogue on sexual honesty – we certainly never expected a giant rip to appear on the very most private part of our bodies, not in 2012, for God’s sake.
This new, jagged tear (requiring numerous stitches) comes directly from the Republicans, the GOP – the folks who brought us Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, three white, foolish, men who honestly believe they should take over our our bodies!
Now, here comes a Brit to our rescue, and bless his soul! American/British journalist and author Denis G. Campbell, quite familiar with politics on both sides of the pond, is taking on the Grand Old Party, knowing that the GOP is shagging American women. Campbell is actually doing something about it, via The Vagina Wars, GOP’S War on Women.
His newest book explores what is going on over recent political attempts to undermine American women, and Campbell is quite serious in his observations. Sure, the British can be so very witty with their own sexual slang; consider words like sex on a stick (for sexually attractive, slim, woman), sex wee (semen), wabs (female breasts) and “vadge” for vagina. Even collecting a paycheck is “getting screwed” in Campbell’s world.
Despite the sophomoric humor, the UK still has it together when it comes to sex, especially for a country that is not really old enough to act like big brother to silly, sexually immature, American Republicans, who cannot talk for more than 30 seconds about responsible, safe sex or homosexuality without giggling—or making threats.
We are talking maybe 300 years or so since England united with Scotland and only 200 or so years since the Brits united with Ireland. These are not particularly old, wise combined people. They simple are not frequently engaged in public political debate over a woman’s right to contraception, abortion, and doing kinky things in the bedroom.
What clicked for Campbell was recalling his experience as an audience member for playwright Ensler’s Monologues, before it was popular, and then returning home to the UK with a “better understanding of the pressure and pain” women face about sexuality and living. Going back home to “socialist Europe” – often “disdained” for issues from medical care to social contracts by the U.S. right, offered a teachable moment for this journalist.
Campbell remains struck by what he sees as the common sense and openness of thought in the UK over sex, compared to what one sees in the U.S. media and its coverage of “poisonous politics.” We can learn from this outside observer who tells us to quit sticking our heads in the sand over sexual issues, and to recognize the mental and financial harm of maintaining an Ostrich in the sand view of sexuality.
Campbell in some ways writes like a modern social psychologist, opening up an honest, important dialogue often based on research, a media approach, which is needed here and now.
One might observe this British writer follows in the footsteps of brave Molly Pitcher, a somewhat unknown American woman who during the battle of Monmouth, midway through the Revolutionary War, brought water to the troops from a nearby spring, and then took over her husband’s place at a cannon when he was wounded
Under fire, and losing men, the artillery unit was going to fall back until Molly Pitcher volunteered to bravely serve the cannon in her husband’s place.
So, the Brit is coming and this time brave Denis G. Campbell brings us fresh water and helps us take up our cannons. From How Did The Culture War Get Here through topics including Supreme Court Appointments, ALEC…and the Very Bad Month, Which Mitt Romney Will Women Voters See, and Why a Man Wrote This Book, Campbell’s contribution is a must-read for those who want to understand the whys and where-fors of this current war, and what can be done to change the climate, once again.
Sensible men and sensible women will find this book an important read; silly men and silly women should read it too, because we must try to help the GOP to grow up and stay out of our private, sexual matters. White GOP men typically keep their affairs to themselves – out of the public’s eyes. (Maybe threat of exposure would keep them off our backs.)
Meanwhile, Campbell’s The Vagina Wars, GOP’S War on Women honors our brave, hippy mothers and so many others who have fought this war before. With solid information and encouragement, at least we have a fresh start.
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