A few words on Linda Lovelace

In other news, I've finished Gloria Steinem's book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. It's a fantastic read and I highly recommend it. One of the most powerful chapters for me was on Linda Lovelace. I consider myself to have a pretty healthy outlook on sex but I just think the story of her life as a porn actress and the story of her life as an abused woman are too painful for me to read. It also upsets me that they are re-releasing Deep Throat in theatres to coincide with the "documentary" called Inside Deep Throat. For those who have not seen or heard about the film, the concept is that Lovelace plays a woman whose clitoris is located at the back of her throat and the only way she can be satisfied is to give oral sex to men. But also, in characteristic "where did that come from and what does it have to do with the title" fashion, there is a scene where men drink soda from a hollow glass tube inserted into her vagina, a setup that's ridiculously unsafe. The parts that were so upsetting to me, though, were the references from her book Ordeal that describe the abuse she endured for years at the hands of Chuck Traynor. Or that when she went on the Phil Donahue show to promote her book (this is back in 1980 or so), the reaction to her story was more of "what did she do to make this happen" instead of "what happened to make her abusers so horrible and why are they not in prison." Because I could quote half the book, I'll just put in this one snippet:

She describes being so isolated and controlled that she was not allowed to speak in public or go to the bathroom without Traynor's permission. There was no choice. It could happen to anyone. She says this simply, over and over again, and to many women in the audience the point finally comes through. But to some, it never does. Donahue continues to ask questions about her childhood, her background. What attracted her to this fate? How can we raise our daughters to avoid it? If you accept the truth of Linda's story, his questions are enraging, like saying, "What in your background led you to a concentration camp?" No one asks how we can stop raising men who fit Linda's terrified description of Chuck Traynor. Or what attracted the millions of people who went to Deep Throat. Or what to do about the millions of "normal" men who assume that some sexualized violence and aggression are quite okay.

I could write a whole looooong entry just on Linda Lovelace and her story, but it's too involved for blogging at the moment. And her chapter is just one of the many fascinating topics Steinem covers. The point is I really enjoyed the book. I offer it to any of my readers on loan if you don't mind the tons of highlighted passages and post-it tabs.