Elevate Difference

Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture

No cheap thrills here: Maria Elena Buszek’s Pin-Up Grrrls is a welcome departure from the usual pin-up fare. As the author explains in her introduction to the book, "[T]he pin-up seems an excellent place to track the history of both heated disagreements and remarkable similarities within and between feminist generations precisely because of its longevity, prominence, and mixed meanings in pop culture since the rise of the feminist movement."

Popular rags like Playboy and Maxim have long foregone the subtly provocative pin-up in favor of raunchier, in-your-face sex. But as an image that has inspired countless others, the pin-up is appeal is pervasive and remains culturally relevant. The social climate we live in today has witnessed the commodification of sex escalate to never-before-seen level of frenzy. In this light, Pin-Up Grrrls is a breath of crisp, fresh air. While sexed-up female bodies are splashed across any available surface (television screens, magazines, billboards) to sell everything from sports cars to yogurt to shaving cream, Buszek takes a long, hard look at the evolution of the pin-up. This book is no superficial analysis; it becomes clear over the length of the book that the author has done her homework in a successful effort to look at the pin-up from all angles, historically, socially and artistically.

As a feminist critique of a cultural phenomenon, Pin-Up Grrrls couldn’t be better. Gone are the coy stockings and cherry pouts of pin-up past, leaving in their wake range of mutations and condemnations, imitations and exaggerations, each of which can be found in this book alongside a sharp analysis and interesting history. Don’t let the title fool you; the density and subject matter of this book are not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for a few dirty pictures, grab a Maxim at the gas station. If, however, you’re looking for an insightful and thorough exploration of a popular sexual phenomenon researched and written by a smart woman and focused through a feminist lens, this book just might be your wet dream come true.

Written by: Kelly Moritz, December 27th 2006

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