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Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism by Laurie Penny

by Natasha Abrahams (follow)
Non-Fiction (83)      Feminist (29)      LGBT (13)     


meat market laurie penny
Meat Market by Laurie Penny


Every sentence of Meat Market could become a famous quote. I cannot pick a favourite, but here is an example: "From the moment we become old enough to want to own ourselves, the corporate cast of womanhood is stamped onto our subconscious, burnt into our brains, reminding us that we are cattle, that we are chattel, that we must strive for conformity, that we can never be free."

The book is a brief but striking tour through the contemporary patriarchy, focusing on how capitalism and male dominance are inextricably linked. It is essentially an updated radical feminism, suited for modern readers. Unlike some of its intellectual predecessors, this book does not alienate trans individuals (indeed, Penny has publicly stated that she identified as genderqueer).

Four essay-length chapters make up the bulk of Meat Market, discussing raunch culture, women's relationships with their bodies including eating disorders, how femininity may be purchased and performed, and the unpaid labour that is demanded of women in the private sphere. Penny expertly connects the realities of women's lives with the surrounding culture and capitalist context.

Penny does not shy away from difficult issues. She takes on areas which are divisive battlegrounds among feminists, such as sex work. It is on contentious topics that there are occasional blind spots in her otherwise incisive analysis.

There are few truly new ideas contained within Meat Market, but they are presented in an impassioned and highly accessible manner. The brevity of the book (it is only 66 pages) is both a strength and a weakness; there are some points where she could have expanded further, but the compactness of her prose makes it all the more powerful.

I would recommend this book to both budding and veteran feminists.

**Rating: 4/5
Published: 2011**

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