Intersectional feminism. Equality for all, that’s what it comes down to. It’s what intersectional feminists want. But aren’t all people already equal? That’s a question I get asked a lot. People get angry at feminists. Women can work, get into politics and do what they want. Well, not exactly. There are so many subjects to tackle, so where should I begin. Today a book about appearance, sexuality and culture and how these things are different for all sexes. Sletvrees (Slutfear) by Sunny Bergman.
I love Sunny Bergman. She’s a intersectional feminist, writer, documentary maker, activist and much more (that I probably don’t even know about). I like all of her documentaries and the book I am sharing today was also made into a documentary (if you’re more into watching instead of reading). She’s made me aware of problems I considered normal back in the days. Her films and books are funny and serious at the same time. She dares to ask tough questions and this way taboos are tackled.
I think Sletvrees was my first feminist book. The title Sletvrees (Slutfear) refers to the different norms and expectations for women in society. Slut is a word used for women and men can never be a slut (and if they are, it is a positive thing, whereas for women it is something to be ashamed of). The book is tackles three different subjects. Appearance, culture and sexuality. However, the book isn’t really divided into three parts. Appearance, culture and sexuality are discussed throughout the whole book and they are the underlying base. I’d say the book is more the learning process of Bergman herself. She tells the story of her life in a chronological order in which she made three documentaries who align together (Beperkt Houdbaar, Sunny Side of Sex and Sletvrees).
Women are taught to look a certain way, pretty. We’re supposed to hide fat, acne, wrinkles and more. After Sunny talks about the first part of her life she switches to the part where she made her first documentary: Beperkt Houdbaar (Perishable). What processes and sources make the beauty standard we have the norm? She talks about make-overs, plastic surgery, aging, photoshopping, magazines and more. What do we consider ‘normal’ and why?
Bergman travels the world to see the differences in culture. What are the beauty, sexuality and other standards in other parts of the world? This part really shows that all of the things we ask from women are made up by ourselves. In Europe certain things are considered ugly or abnormal while in other cultures these things are then again beautiful or normal. Bergman really made me realize that everything resolves around culture.
Women don’t experience the same sexual freedom like men do. If they have many bedpartners they are named a slut, if a man does the same thing he is praised. Women shouldn’t want sex but at the same time they should. Women should show skin, but not too much. Virginity for women is considered something ‘sacred’ and special while for men it’s not. Women’s bodies are sexualized, we’re not supposed to show nipples or too much nudity. When men do the same thing it is considered normal. If you have a high sex drive as a woman you are considered a nympho while for men it’s considered normal. Just to name a few things.
Feminism in General
This is just the base, this book describes sooooo much! I just named the main lines in the book but this book is about so much more. Maybe I should have said that this book is about feminism in general. It’s a sum-up in a way. It’s a sum-up of feminist issues. And some are deepened. I consider this book a must-read if you’re Dutch. It was my first dip into intersectional feminism.