Sex, Feminism, & How to Save Your Own Life

Remember this famous picture of the beautiful Erica Jong?

Erica Jong

Sometimes one wonders where feminism went.

We still spend hours listening to pop songs about the men who love us and dump us.  We still love rom/coms where the girl gets the guy, even if he’s obnoxious.  And we are supposed to want a romance with Edward in Twilight, a vampire, even though in Stephenie Meyer’s  fourth book, Breaking Dawn, Bella’s longed-for sex with Edward leaves bruises all over her body.  (Vampires and human aren’t meant to mate.)

How to Save Your Own LIfe erica JongI am reading Erica Jong’s How to Save Your Own life, the sequel to Fear of Flying.  Jong sensitively explores Isadora Wing’s alienation from her husband, her affairs with unattractive male friends she loves, and with attractive men she doesn’t love, and her feminist philosophy in progress.

I wonder if this novel might be too radical for today’s audience.  It’s not necessarily the sex.  It’s the ideology.

It’s refreshing to read Erica Jong in 1977 on shopping and makeup as a substitute for sex.   Feminists used to try to escape the sexist image of women as dolls who made up their faces, dyed their hair, and shopped for shoes.

Suddenly I had a vision of a whole world of women starved for sex and making do with all sorts of buyable substitutes. Making up. A woman who spent her afternoons with a lover would never again find herself in Bloomingdale’s fingering Mary Cunt or lusting after Elizabeth Ardent. She’d go barefaced as a baby and throw her charge plate in the nearest sewer. Isn’t that the problem? That women have been swindled for centuries into substituting adornment for love, fashion (as it were) for passion? The main floor of Bloomingdale’s by Hieronymus Bosch!

Very funny!  And many women of my generation thought this in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s,  and then we gave up.

What do you think about Jong’s radicalism?