Body Hor­ror: Cap­i­tal­ism, Fear, Misog­yny, Jokes

Anne El­iz­a­beth Moore

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction -

Curb­side Splen­dor Soft­cover $16.95 (300pp) 978-1-940430-88-1

Body Hor­ror is an in­cred­i­ble, touch­ing, in­tel­li­gent col­lec­tion that looks be­yond what’s com­fort­able to ex­am­ine what is true.

By turns ten­der, in­sight­ful, and sharp as a scalpel, Anne El­iz­a­beth Moore’s es­says in Body Hor­ror: Cap­i­tal­ism, Fear, Misog­yny, Jokes are unforgettable. Moore writes about the fe­male body—its work, the in­dus­tries that hang on it and hire it, and its strange, spe­cific ill­nesses.

Although the com­mon thread in Body Hor­ror is cap­i­tal­ism, Moore doesn’t lec­ture. In­stead, her sub­jects il­lus­trate how cap­i­tal­ism specif­i­cally acts on women. Be­gin­ning with a gar­ment work­ers’ strike in Cam­bo­dia, Moore re­it­er­ates how “dis­rupt­ing sys­tems of gen­der op­pres­sion— or the much milder ver­sion of the same, ex­plor­ing new nar­ra­tive forms—can only come from al­low­ing the op­pressed to speak for them­selves.”

If that seems a bit es­o­teric, there are plenty of ex­am­ples. The col­lec­tion in­cludes a re­view of Naomi Wolf’s “vagsplain­ing” cul­tural his­tory, and es­says on fash­ion mod­el­ing, re­pro­duc­tive dis­in­ter­est, and Moore’s chronic au­toim­mune dis­eases, among many oth­ers. How do we de­fine wom­an­hood? she asks. Is our fem­i­nin­ity be­ing sold to us, or ex­tracted?

Moore, an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist, is by turns hu­mor­ous and deadly se­ri­ous. Her writ­ing style is mat­ter-of-fact, a dev­as­tat­ing con­trast to the se­ri­ous­ness of her sub­ject. For ex­am­ple, she de­scribes how, shortly be­fore po­lice opened fire on a group of strik­ing Cam­bo­dian gar­ment work­ers at Veng Sreng Street, “thou­sands of happy

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