Volume 44, Issue 6: November/December 2010

Review: Fast Feminism

  • Fast Feminism

    Shannon Bell

    Autonomedia, 2010

Sex, Shock and Speed

Fast Feminism disciplines philosophy. In it, Shannon Bell makes philosophy her boy; she makes it lick and shine her boot for having refused her sex, anatomy, and the female phallus the ontological place of privilege amongst the philosopher kings. With a violent love it blends elements of postmodern, post, cyber, and third wave feminisms with “speed philosophy,” all of which Bell defines in clear, articulate, and accessible terms.

Fast Feminism is critical action theory that is influenced, but not over-determined, by the ideas of Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Emmanuel Levinas, Paul Virilio and Georges Bataille. It is a perverse provocateur that takes on questions not typically the purview of philosophy. It forces philosophy to face its staid and stodgy frigidity as it is made orgiastically to bed down with its others: the sexually live body as hermeneutics, aesthetics, practice, knowledge, ethics, and bio-techno-ontology.

It offers new genealogies and bold, frank, political discussions of female ejaculation, S/M, pornography, and the “aesthetic” literature of intergenerational love and sex. It does so in ways that expose the habitual formality and docile approach of philosophy to its select set of problems, a set that continues to exclude and denigrate the foci of too many feminist theorists. This is the fate of the feminist philosopher, as Bell knows too well, and as Fast Feminism makes obvious, philosophizing from, not about, life and sex in the margins, outside the traditional bounds of theory. Indeed, this, in part, is what is exciting and unique about Bell’s book: it makes philosophy of “cum, blood, and urine,” or the messy, moist, mucous of life outside the academy, something that few philosophers, apart from Luce Irigaray, ever dare to do.

Fast Feminism’s censorious tribulations, preceding its final publication with Autonomedia and recounted by Bell in the text, are a case in point: no less than four academic presses eagerly solicited or accepted Bell’s manuscript only to reject it, sometimes within days, because timid press presidents and senior editors, with final say, still blush when met with a philosophy that has a pulse and a cunt. Fast Feminism’s philosophy occurs in doing; it is “theory-in-action,” not a static meditation on being. It intentionally butts into your line of thought and reroutes it. It drives you down dangerous new roads, and abandons you, naked and bleeding, with undisciplined thoughts and sensations that aren’t easily appropriated. Its libertine prose is intentionally visceral, blunt and violate as it explicitly and pornographically discusses the most taboo situations in which a body can place itself. In it, Bell shocks and transgresses with her own body, as a human doing in the world, with a “will to laughter,” not for its own sake, but for ours; she pushes us up against the limitations of our knowledge of sex and the perverse other; she arouses in our consciousness a recognition that perversity is not simply a mode of regulation that constrains freedom, culture, and expression, but a praxis that can subvert those constraints.

Fast Feminism is an arousing text mentally, emotionally and somatically.

Read it–I dare you! You won’t put it down, even when you disagree with it because the frequently uncomfortable challenge that it poses to your own sexual narratives, or the dominant knowledge that gets you hot, but then fucks you, is deeply engaging.