Two books about sex – one excellent and one mediocre. The good one was Linda Grant’s Sexing the millenium, her history and feminist analysis of the sexual revolution. I love Linda Grant – her novel When I lived in modern times was wonderful and I always like her articles for the Guardian. She’s a very moral, political person, but incredibly human as well – I’ve particularly enjoyed some of the things she’s written about fashion: serious, but with a particular joy in clothes and dress. Sexing the millenium was wonderful – witty and profound, an acknowledgment that although contraception has freed a lot of women to have more sex (outside marriage, without commitment) the basic sexual roles and models for sexuality have not really been fundamentally changed. 
The other book was Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist pigs: women and raunch culture, an examination of the way that women have bought into the ‘porno-isation’ of popular culture. I actually read this a month ago for my women’s group. It’s a polemical work, looking at phenomena like the way that pole-dancing and stripping classes are being marketed as leisure activities for middle-class women, Nuts and Zoo magazine, and so on. It was interesting, but I thought was probably more relevant to American feminists than British ones. It also suffered from a lack of analysis and a rather dubious anecdotal basis – she didn’t really offer any serious data to back up her claims except interviews with various women, so it seemed rather more like a list of sexual behaviour that was making her uneasy than an attempt to explain why society might be becoming more ‘porno-ised’. I also felt her chapter on lesbian culture seemed like a rather desperate attempt to tie her concerns about a pervasive macho culture on to what is actually quite an open and accepting part of society, and I had serious doubts about her attempts to prove anything by interviewing teenage girls – I really don’t think it’s reasonable to draw any conclusions about adult female sexuality by talking to fifteen-year-olds. Still, her intent was admirable, and it generated a good discussion at my group, so it can’t have been all bad.