Anne Elizabeth Moore's autopsy of our culture's obsession with bodies and how they define more roles than you can imagine is pure art.
Knowing that Moore fits the definition of a feminist may make you scoff at the revolutionary manner in which her latest book, Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes, focuses on the body and gender roles. Yes, feminists are at the forefront of critiquing body image and our cultural obsession with perfection, but Moore stands at the front of that movement. WAY IN FRONT. So far ahead of the curve that some of the essays will leave you pondering, "What was Veronica thinking? This has nothing to do with feminism or bodies?" Then you'll turn a page and get smacked with what I'm talking about.
Moore opens many of the essays (most which were previously published, but updated for this collection) with personal stories, especially of her growing list of chronic diseases and near death experiences. Her reflections of her mortality and how once close friends abandoned her will draw you in. The sympathy you feel is a grand trap she sets that ensnares you faster than your favorite roller coaster drops your stomach. Before you know it her death bed musings turn into a lesson on the politics of table-to-farm restaurants, living wages for fashion models, and pondering the feminism of horror movies. One moment you question how people can abandon a friend in need (if you are said author's friend you wonder if you have done enough and realize you have not.) the next you are trying to find something in the world that is not controlled by big business.
The outrage over the current administration's budget cuts especially towards arts and the elderly creates an image that everyday people value art. That we value people for their own sake. Yet Moore's essay on people's reaction to her decision to not reproduce gives us a peek into what people really value. Time and again she is clearly told that her art and contribution to our collective intellectual knowledge base is not enough. Her contributions to humanity can only be calculated by the number of humans she produces. As the mother of an only-child, I feel for this as I have been accused of robbing the world of more amazing feminist-minded persons as if having children was as easy as making a photocopy of my fabulous teenage daughter.
What that essay does is actually scarier than tell people who do not have children that they are not contributing to humanity. What it does is call into question HOW we reproduce creative and kick ass people like Moore. Her parents were not creative public intellectuals, yet she is one of the best GenX will ever have. Moore's essay actually reopened my fear that my daughter will grow up to reject everything that I taught her. It questions the power of parenting in creating the next generation of anything. In the time of test prep and helicopter parenting, this essay is scary as fuck and liberating, if you have the courage to embrace it.
All that from her recollecting that one time a friend wouldn't let go of the fact she decided she did not want to gestate a human being in her uterus.
That is why you should get a copy of this book. Moore not only pushes us to question capitalism, but even ideas that make us secure in our progressive bubble when we brunch at the hip organic cafe and buy local. Don't get me wrong, she does not make you want to give up the resistance. Rather she demands that you question if you really need one more "Nevertheless, she persists" tee and Facebook algorithm generated coffee mug. Two questions I ask myself almost daily. She pushes you to value the work of not just the woman who made your t-shirt on the other side of our planet, but also the model who sold it to us. Moore connects the dots that you did not even think were on the same page. And if we are going to resist, we might as well go all the way.
Second disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher.