Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture

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by Maria Elena Buszek

Maria Elena Buszek offers an educational, yet stylishly entertaining exploration of pin-up history, from it’s 19th century beginnings, to today’s fascination with pornography.  With over 100, never before published photos of various pin-ups, Buszek admirably provides an abounding history on women’s urgency to expose their sexuality. She also raises questions about achieving a better understanding the role of pin-ups within modern society: Should pin up models be embraced for revealing the power of female sexuality or shunned for offending neo-feminists? Why do women quickly accept Bettie Page as a source of feminist power, but immediately shun Pamela Anderson? 

Buszek, an assistant professor of art history from Kansas City Art Institute, balances both photography and intensive research to fully create the only well-known existing text solely dedicated to pin-up culture. She also discusses the impact of art, from Varga Girl illustrations in Esquire magazine to underground fanzines, as a primary influence in constructing popularity between society and photo teasers. 

While Pin-Up Grrls may not be an easy read for a weekend trip to the beach, it’s “chick lit” for all women in support of their own sexuality should purchase and read many times over. Buszek has precisely mastered an entire subject in which all women can both learn and appreciate the power of feminine sexuality. 

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