Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body

Lauren Hossack in The F Word:

ANIMAL-jacket-300x477What if everything we think about romance is wrong? Why do many women have such skewed relationships with their bodies? How does one navigate the sometimes murky waters of consent? These are just some of the questions that have been bothering comedian and actor Sara Pascoe. So she went off and researched them all, and the result is Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body. It’s part autobiography, part history, part science – and all very funny. Her refreshing, honest writing breaks down otherwise complex scientific studies and peppers them with anecdotes from her own life that elicit laughter, sympathy and self-reflection in equal measure.

A hybrid work, Animal tackles scientific theories of human behaviour along with medical and cultural history, making them easy for the lay person to understand. The problems and pressures cis women face are given the serious analysis they deserve, but there’s plenty of room for laughter too. It’s a highly entertaining and engaging read, full of facts you might be shocked to realise you didn’t know already. For instance, did you know that the menstrual cycle can last anywhere from 20 to 60 days? If not, like Pascoe, you need no longer panic about not adhering to the oft-publicised 28-day cycle – turns out that’s just the average length. Recollections of disastrous relationships, her first period and the abortion she had as a teenager serve as jumping-off points before these issues are explored in a wider context. Reflections include how the advice in teen magazines can leave you ill-equipped when it comes to relationships. Pascoe doesn’t let the media off lightly for what it teaches girls and women, or how it represents them. Animal is a sharp reminder not to believe everything you read, although, like the author, many of us have already learned the hard way.

More here.