I concede that Justin has real feelings for Jenna, but ultimately he can't let her go — not because he loves her, but because for a self-identified shrimp like himself she's an intoxicating affirmation of his worth. She's an object, property. The real question isn't whether the book is sexist, though, but if it is aware of its own sexism.
Girl Crazy does showcase the contrast between Justin's ex (an educated and sexually conservative middle-class woman) and Jenna (a drug-addled, undereducated and marginalized sex worker). However, the novel does nothing with this contrast other than to condemn the former's prudishness and support the sexual openness of the latter.
Although my immediate instinct is that Jenna is a female chauvinist (she confuses sexual power with real power), still the fact remains that there are plenty of real-life Jennas who are happy to be Jennas. I'm more concerned about the Justins of the world. And I'm most of all concerned that Smith takes the time to point out the "wrong" types of women, yet doesn't truly commit to throwing relief on the less than savory actions of his male characters.
Nice work by Bronwyn Kienapple for eye weekly's bookclub.