Sex Money Power after book club meeting Sept. 22nd

Sex Power and Money Small

Follow-up blurb concerning Sex Money Power after book club prepared by Sealia.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, there has been an array of books investigating women’s lives and their experiences of sexism and misogyny, including the likes of Laura Bates’ influential tome, Everyday Sexism, and Do It Like a Woman, by Caroline Criado Perez.

In her second book, Sex Power Money, comedian Sara Pascoe takes an analytical – yet hilarious – approach to confront her own prejudices and ‘fear of the male libido’. Whip-smart and funny, Pascoe digests reams of research into an eye-opening journey through social, cultural, and linguistic anthropology. She has an engaging, conversational style of writing and an intriguing supply of curious facts and eye-opening research.

One of the big questions of this book is whether we will ever be able to escape what she calls the Conundrum of Heterosexuality, that is, women venerating status and men worshipping youth (though she carefully acknowledges that this does not apply to all).

She begins by looking into evolutionary theory to determine how our biology (and its change over time) affects our current societal norms and certain gender roles; as human brains became larger, their hips became narrower, and this led to babies being born smaller and totally helpless. So, a baby had a better chance of survival – sheltered from predators, enemies, cold and hunger – if it had a male who was “bonded” to its mother and therefore more likely to protect it and provide food, shelter, tribal status for it.

Pascoe also poses provocative questions around topics such as survival sex, sex workers, and porn’s place in our society (especially men’s perceptions of women and how this is affected by porn use) examining her own preconceptions about these and the language used to describe them.

Pascoe uses the 1993 film Indecent Proposal, Hollywood’s idea of what happens when sex, power and money collide, as a sort of case study. The wife becomes an object to be borrowed, rented out for a million dollars, which – conveniently – will solve the couple’s financial worries. Back in the real world, Pascoe asks how poor you would have to be to resort to survival sex and investigates what sort of people take advantage of the desperate. Where do the lines of power, money, and sex intertwine?

Pascoe covers a lot of ground in this meandering assessment of how humans handle sex, power, and money but she manages to lasso the result into a fascinating and cohesive exploration of the human condition.

While it primarily considers how women are affected by changing social mores, it is by no means an "all men are bastards" study, with Pascoe readily admitting that they also suffer from societal expectations.

Our group had a grand old time discussing this book as it raised topics typically taboo and not often discussed, even amongst close friends.  The question of who pays for dinner when on a first date, whether or not paying for dinner led to expectations of sexual encounters after the date, how young we were when we first got asked to have sex with a boyfriend/partner (and how that affected your future reactions to boys/men “propositioning” you), and how we thought exposure to porn (even before a first sexual encounter) might change boys’ perceptions of girls and women… were just some of the topics covered. What an afternoon!

Some members found that clearly there was a generational difference with a lot of the topics covered. We also noted that access to internet clearly changed the societal dynamic to these and other topics.

Overall, it was a very lively discussion and seemed to keep everyone engaged throughout.