The statistics on sexual assault may have forced a national dialogue on consent, but honest conversations between adults and teenagers about what happens after yes — discussions about ethics, respect, decision making, sensuality, reciprocity, relationship building, the ability to assert desires and set limits — remain rare. And while we are more often telling children that both parties must agree unequivocally to a sexual encounter, we still tend to avoid the biggest taboo of all: women’s capacity for and entitlement to sexual pleasure.
Still standing in the middle of the produce section with my phone against my face — the call over — I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. With “all my education,” as my family would say, two degrees and the student loans to show for it, I was nonetheless positioned only marginally better off than my grandparents, who ran errands and did other grunt work two generations removed from where I now stood. Activity continued around me, and this glaring manifestation of what it meant to only slightly improve over one’s predecessors was a quiet, personal revelation that somehow moored me and kept me from imploding. I recognized a shared struggle between myself and them, a sort of inheritance. And unlike my grandparents, who had grade school educations and did factory and domestic work, I had options. Or at least, I thought I did.
Derrida makes a startling claim in the Grammatology: to focus on the apparently marginal and secondary issue of writing raises problems serious enough to overrun all the conceptual resources of the then triumphant “human sciences” (and their model of scientificity provided by structural linguistics), in addition to those of history in general and indeed philosophy itself. All these disciplines share presuppositions that a hard look at the question of writing radically unsettles.
Spiotta throws in many surprises, keeping us off balance throughout this complicated and important book. She reminds us to wonder what's "real," and what's constructed by visible or invisible others. And how can we tell?