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Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution Paperback – September 16, 2014

4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Penny's] work on protest movements, sex, and desire has been at the forefront of feminist writing of the last few years.” ―Bitch

“Laurie Penny is already a respected commentator . . . She balances sophisticated theorising with the anecdotal . . . An exceptional writer with a shark-bite wit.” ―The Independent on Meat Market

“Incisive… A fascinating read.” ―Feministing.com on Meat Market

“Penny writes in raw, engaging prose about how blogging was a liberation from her troublesome teenage body, about the joys of being a geek, and--most interestingly--about what it is like to be on the receiving end of sexist abuse . . . A worthwhile and provocative read.” ―The Observer on Cybersexism

About the Author

Laurie Penny is a columnist and contributing editor at the New Statesman and editor at large at the New Inquiry, and has written for the Guardian, Salon, the Nation, and others. Her blog, Penny Red, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2010, and she won the 2012 British Media Award for Twitter Public Personality of the Year; she has 84,000 followers. She is also the author of two previous books, Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism and the collection Penny Red. Laurie lives in London.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (September 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1620406896
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620406892
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. STYLE on July 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an older man (with lots of women in my life) I found this a very thought provoking book about the impact of modern society on women today. The book also covers gender issues, men and women who are stuck in crappy or no jobs, and the plight of young males. She is quite sympathetic to the latter.

She mainly writes about the UK and US.

She writes well with a young voice, which can be very provocative at times. Not a bad thing.

I don't agree with everything she says but she got me thinking!

Highly recommended to all genders.
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I truly adored this book. Taking the reader from self-harm to Internet harassment to Love(tm)—Penny's categorization of modern, capitalist romance—Penny depicts the important issues facing the modern human (particularly the modern woman), fleshing out the underlying causes of societal decay and focusing on how we can fix it.

While at times, Penny has a tendency to repeat a point ad nauseam, it seems a stylistic choice, rather than an attempt to condescend. Nevertheless, certain sections could have benefited from a harsh stylistic edit. I occasionally found myself skipping paragraphs.

Still - this is an absolute must-read for feminists, would-be feminists, anti-feminists, and, well, everyone.
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Gorgeous, powerful, and thought provoking, Unspeakable Things should be required reading for those vested in positive change. Penny elucidated the need for feminism in a witty, passionate, and honest voice and brought the conversation back to its second wave inception. Feminism is not just about stopping misogyny and resulting rape culture, securing equal pay, or achieving and preserving reproductive freedoms. As Penny articulates so well, it is about changing the system and liberating a global population crushed by patriarchy and neo-liberal policy. Penny paints a picture of what it might mean to truly be free.
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Format: Paperback
This book is beautifully written - Penny's prose is both witty and vivid. She starts the introduction, "This is not a fairy tale. This is a story about how sex and money and power put fences around our fantasies. This is a story about how gender polices our dreams." I knew I would be hooked. This is the first book I have read that ties together things as seemingly disparate as eating disorders, the Occupy movement, the effect of sexism on men/boys, sex work, class, tech culture, social media, kink, and neoliberalism so effectively. She discusses not just sex but also love as one of the control tactics of the neoliberal patriarchy. It is great to have such an up-to-date and refreshing 21st-century rallying text for the feminist movement. I have given it 4 stars instead of 5 because sometimes she can be a little repetitive, it is more rhetorical rather than scholarly, and nothing she says is something I have never before heard elsewhere (though I read a lot of feminist literature and am involved in such circles, so that is not entirely surprising).
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I read this book in one great gulp, barely pausing for breath. Penny's gender analysis is always lucid and insightful, but what particularly moves me is that she's the first writer I've read who really articulates what it is to grow up on the Internet as a woman-- all of it, the beautiful and the trollish (and for readers of these reviews, you should know that "men's rights advocates" have been running a campaign to troll Penny with one-star reviews).
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Unspeakable Things speaks very eloquently about not only the plight of women (and not just women, but minority and poor women), but also the plight of men in a society that enforces its particular brand of masculinity for everyone. This book is not just for feminists, not just for women, but for the poor young man who can't get a job, the genderqueer person who's sick of being asked what they "really" are, the woman who loves sex for its own sake but is tired of being called a slut, and anyone else who's poorly served by the current status quo (and there are many of us). Highly recommended.
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Just bought this because I used Amazon's "Look Inside" feature and started reading the introduction and decided I wanted to read more. That was the main reason. The other reason was that the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth "one-bombs" from the unemployed males lurking about following orders from their troll masters just pissed me off--so I bought it to spite their white trash asses.
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All the problems discussed in this book should already have been fixed. But they haven't been. So it's time to get to work. Unspeakable Things does a solid job of laying out what needs to change and why - and it's funny and eloquent along the way (though in a very British way).

Some people hate that it's also a personal and somewhat auto-biographical book - as though that's somehow unprofessional - but I found it a strength. Nobody writes about this stuff unless it affects them emotionally, so why pretend otherwise? And making the book personal makes it more interesting - at least to me. (But fair warning: maybe look elsewhere if you want a more academic tone or prefer the use of the passive voice throughout.)
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