Fertile Ground: Inga Muscio's Rose: Love in Violent Times

the cover of Rose, which is red and features a drawing of a pink roseInga Muscio’s Rose: Love in Violent Times is a heart-wrenching journey, with ups and downs, depressing moments mirrored by inspirational ones. It is beautiful, and though it largely continues with Muscio’s usual themes of feminism and antiracism, I would file this book under “ecofeminism” as well.

Muscio’s latest, published last year, picks up where her classic Cunt: A Declaration of Independence left off. Rose is divided into two sections: Violence and Love. It’s written in Muscio’s standard conversational yet highly informed tone, touching on history, culture, and anecdotes from her own life, seamlessly sewing it all together in a beautiful, diverse patchwork quilt. “Violence” talks about violence in our culture, engrained as it is, and speaks much about rape and safety. 

In the book, Muscio theorizes that rape and destruction of the earth are connected, a basic part of ecofeminist theory. She compares rape and sexual violence to losing connection with the natural world, carelessly living in it while ruthlessly controlling it, from clear-cutting forests to destroying fragile ecosystems, home to wildlife as well as people:

Looking at the past two hundred years in the US, people have moved further and further away from nature and their own humanity, meanwhile endlessly replicating the power model of raping indians and the land, and enslaving entire populations of human beings. Rape is intrinsic to slavery; they go hand in hand. You cannot have slavery without rape. Rape is necessary for total control, emotional compliance, and breeding purposes. Humans rape—each other and the earth—to compensate for the isolation in our hearts and the deadened emptiness in our souls.

Muscio goes on to say that nature feeds the soul. Being a part of, as opposed to being in a dominating position over, the natural world is life-affirming and life-fulfilling. 

Part two, “Love,” focuses on everything from word usage (she spends a good amount of time just dissecting biases in the dictionary) to the violence we consume by eating food thoughtlessly, like purchasing a meal of factory farmed-meat in a styrofoam container. She again uses history and family stories from her youth to carry her points home. It is also a call to arms, a thread to hold on to, a rope of hope the reader may climb. Love is what we need if we are ever to stop violence in its tracks. 

Rose is a wonderful book, and despite its heavy subjects, is not a depressing read. (That means a lot coming from someone who gets easily stressed merely reading articles on climate change.) Rape is a difficult subject, and while some parts are indeed hard to read, the book as a whole makes the reader feel empowered and, even, uplifted. Muscio sees both the horror and beauty in the world. Rose is jarring and thought-provoking, and a high on my recommendation list for ecofeminist literature.

Previously: Looking at Photos of Organic Food Makes You Jerk-y, Pointless Study Says, Weight of the Nation, HBO? Let’s Talk Industrial Agriculture First

by Alison Parker
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4 Comments Have Been Posted

An amazing book. Loved every

An amazing book. Loved every minute of it and had a hard time putting it down. I usually have a hard time reading about sexual violence, but with the way she frames every issue is just beautiful. Great read.

WHY do feminists praise these books?!

This is not the first favourable review I've come across for Muscio on a feminist site -- I'm utterly puzzled as to how feminists can appreciate and recommend her writing. 'Rose' is admittedly a little less problematic (though still sickeningly privileged), but 'Cunt' is a huge parcel of terrible privilege, which, among other things, totally ignores the experience of non-cisgender people ("all women have cunts"); is incredibly and repeatedly racist and filled with cultural appropriation (Muscio's use of "black speak" being just the tip fo the iceberg); advocates vigilante justice; encourages and participates in woman-on-woman bitching ("hapless straight ladies" and other such barbs, not to mention the entire section Muscio devotes to viciously ripping apart the book's female reviewers who dared to give it less than five stars); is extremely poorly researched (her entire chapter on the etymology of the word 'cunt' is completely fabricated) and deeply misleading. How does Muscio get so much credit for all this? I am left utterly speechless.

reading 'cunt' at age 20 was

reading 'cunt' at age 20 was my intro to feminism; it's what made me a feminist. i can't say it's a perfect piece of writing, but i don't think a single work can speak to everyone. it offered me valuable and empowering ideas, and i certainly did have a revelation reading it -particularly about the shame i'd been conditioned to feel about my period and the way women are pitted against each other by this culture (when they should look out for one another).

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