There has been a lot of talk about Charlotte Roche's Wetlands and whether it is, as the author says, "not feminist in a political sense, but instead feminism of the body, that has to do with anxiety and repression and the fear that you stink," or whether it's just the literary equivalent of a Sarah Silverman act, all fart jokes and cringe-inducing explorations of the depths of female potty humor with no political content. Not that I'm by any means all the way through the book (reading in another language you haven't read consistently in almost ten years is hard!), but I have to say that I'm kind of coming down on Ms. Roche's side in this debate. Yeah, it's kind of icky, but that's sort of the point. Another excerpt, and a case in point, is after the jump.
Some of you hard-core ladies might recall Tracie's grand experiments with the perfume Vulva, taking it to be sniffed in Chelsea and on the Upper East Side. Most people were, let's be frank, kind of grossed out by the smell of pussy. Now, while there are, no doubt, plenty of sex-phobic and gynophobic people in the world, legitimate phobias were not the issue here. Pussy (when not in the throes of a bacterial infection) doesn't smell bad. It doesn't need to be douched or perfumed away. Femininity shouldn't be a celebration of being hairless and stankless and pristine like a fucking Barbie doll, and (good) sex doesn't look like an R-rated movie. It's fluid-filled and objectively kind of weird-looking, sweaty and, yes, smelly and full of heavy breathing and weird noises and none of it detracts from the fact that we are biologically designed to want to do it, badly, and that, when done right, it feels really damn good. And the more we all (men and women) obsess about whether we smell or look perfect or are doing it "right," the less we pay attention to doing it (and having fun at it). And, yes, pay equality and child care and parental leave and equal rights are important feminist issues, but it is no less important for women to feel comfortable in their own bodies and not try to live up to some Barbie ideal of what women are "supposed" to be, and if Wetlands helps start a conversation about hemorrhoids and taking a crap like a human being whether or not you're at "his" house and liking anal sex and liking the smell of pussy or whatever, if it helps women take away a moment of understanding that we're all sort of dirty and weird and sexual and that that's okay, then, fuck it, this should be required reading.