culture / Jordan Upshaw / November 2018

New Erotica for Feminists

Written by Jordan Upshaw

Almost two years ago, Chivomengro introduced you to The Belladonna, where four kick-ass, accomplished women editors—Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor, and Carrie Wittmer—bring you comedy and satire by women and other marginalized genders, for everyone. The Belladonnas have come a long way since our last article about them. They wrote a hilarious, viral McSweeney’s article, “New Erotica for Feminists,” which grew into a hilarious brand-new book, New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust, and Equal Pay.

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New Erotica for Feminists expands on the original premise with chapters of erotica for every occasion.

Like the article, the book is a collection of funny feminist vignettes. The McSweeney’s article contained such gems as:

“…Would you like a foot massage? It’s not a fetish, I just know how hard you work.”

“I meet a scientist on Tinder. They go on and on about their biggest professional achievement—the serum that made Ruth Bader Ginsburg immortal. It drives me wild. I don my naughtiest jabot and my sex gavel.”

“He calls me into his office and closes the door… to promote me. He promotes me again and again. I am wild with ecstasy.”

The Belladonnas know exactly what it is women really fantasize about: equality.

NEFF expands on the original premise with chapters of erotica for every occasion. There’s “New Erotica for Feminists Who are Parents,” containing fantasies such as breastfeeding in public without being harrassed and paid maternity leave that doesn’t end in career-sabotage. “New Literary Erotica for Feminists” provides erotic, feminist retellings of classic literature such as Romeo & Juliet and The Scarlet Letter.

To be perfectly honest, NEFF is hard to oversell. It’s funny, feminist, and timely. These vignettes will make you laugh and then make you think. Because if you peel back the many layers of comedy, at the heart of NEFF is justifiable anger. Why are things like “clear and enthusiastic consent” and “I treat you with respect” comedy rather than reality?

This is a weird time for women. (God, isn’t it always?) We’re currently celebrating that over 100 women made fucking history during the midterm elections, while simultaneously fearing for our lives with a BEER-loving, alleged sexual predator on the Supreme Court. Our voices are being heard with the fall of powerful predators (Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly) and then promptly forgotten again (Louis CK, Aziz Ansari).

NEFF is comedy for this strange new era. In many ways, the book is a reflection of the cultural shift caused by #MeToo and #TimesUp. Women are relieved that change is happening but mad that we still have to fight for equal pay, bodily autonomy, respect for women’s soccer, etc. The Belladonnas express that anger as sarcastically and poignantly as your wine-drunk, sophomore year roommate who probably writes for SNL or something now. It’s hilarious, but also kind of depressing—aka being a woman.

When asked by Shondaland who this book is for, The Belladonnas summed it up perfectly: “Shorter answer: Feminists and those who love them—so, also feminists.

“Longer answer: Anyone who looks at the current state of society, recognizes the many fantasies’ that should be reality (equal pay, parental leave, free flavored seltzer water for all) and needs to laugh—because otherwise they would cry.

“But mostly, it’s for Mike Pence.”

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