emma b. says

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eat, Snob, Love, or the Feminist conundrum

Two people, two women, who I admire have recently recommended that I read Eat, Pray, Love. It's been out for awhile and widely reviewed as a puff piece of post feminist self indulgence, at least according to the critics I generally admire and not all that well written to boot. Plus, according to the overlords of investigative snark at Gawker media she neglects to disclose she's cheating on her husband before she leaves him...

But they said, look past it, it speaks.

Full disclosure, some months ago, when I was coming apart at the seams, I was at the gym watching Oprah. This was when she was touting The Secret, so I thought what the fuck, I'll give it a shot. They had it at my video store and I swear to god you would think I was renting kiddie porn from the glances askance. I spent the next however long the running time was pitching expletives at the screen and wishing I had not misspent that precious time. What a boat load of hooey, preying on those who would gladly sacrifice hard earned dollars at the altar of a bunch of capitalist quasi-mystics regurgitating philosophy 101. My head exploded, also I am a snob.

I am a snob. I do not buy books that have pink jackets. I am a snob. I do not purchase anything that is marketed to me as the One solution, the Ultimate diet, I vehemently, vehemently despise the genre known as chick-lit, even more than I despised Harlequin romance novels -- at least they weren't trying to be didactic, they just wanted to elicit a furtive soft core orgasm, and as far as I'm concerned that can't be all bad (even if it weren't my style)

So this book, I am three quarters into thanks to my extremely expensive day at the car dealership. Car+ tune-up + two new tires= a grand. I called my father, I was all, is this right? and he was all, no it's not, but you don't know dick about cars, do you. Right. And he got flustered on my behalf, which I find angry making and charming all at once. Oh fuck it, it was a nice enough day, I spent it at my favorite beach (after they gave me the truly troubling PT Cruiser to gallivant in) Rodeo beach, there were lot's of surfers, the sun was out, I had my iPod, I was calm.

Back on rant. Much poorer and back in the City and hungry, I took me and the book down to Magnolia for duck confit, and this is what came to me, envy. I was up in arms over a pink book because I was utterly envious. Even though her descriptions of depression and the desolution following the demise of a marriage and a relationship were succinct and pitch perfect, I was jealous. No one gave me advance when I got divorced, I didn't get to travel, no, I was mired in a poverty and a depression profound, and yet still, I muddled through -- and right along with the envy is the admiration, I (very) begrudgingly admit that the book does speak. There is nothing wrong with eating, and there is nothing wrong with praying, and she is careful about how she speaks of her relationship with the sublime, it's not cloying, best of all it's not pink, and there is certainly nothing wrong with loving.

I have issues with women. With the F word in particular, then again I have issues with men, with people in general, fair enough to state that I am a reasonable misanthope in an unreasonable world. But back to the fairer sex, my sex, let us just say that I have a certain horror of gaggles of females. It starts with my maternal grandmother, wends many years as my own mother's understudy, the high school trials, a study in venom and tampax, coellesces and explodes my first two years in college at hippieville ground zero, where at one point I was entreated to share my vagina with a bunch of hairy legged succubi, I politely declined and fled to France. It's a testament to my mother, that she survived her mother and does the best she can, it's a testament to my highschool girlfriends that these days we get together and air past grievances with good grace and mighty laughter. As to the succubi, they effectively turned me off for forever the politics of high feminism. No, you may not see my vulva, and no, I do not want to beat on a drum and howl at mother moon with you, thank you very much, no, I think Andrea Dworkin is a shoddy polemicist, go on, go ahead and ostracize me, you fucking raging pre-menopausal hypocrite. Also, shave your goddamn legs, all that fuzz is giving you mean cankles.

Speaking of raging non-premenopausal (we hope) hypocrites, hello! I am one.

I grew up in a household of peers, there was never any question of equality between my parents. It was a given, or a hard won war in a golden period of glasnost when I came to conscience. They certainly fought as equals, hard core scrappers, the both of them. Conceits were a solid victory. To their credit, the house was equally divided, to each his own domain, and in the middle an unflagging solidarity (isn't weird how I resort to the politspeak of my childhood). I resented the term feminist, as far as I could see it had no weight in my life, I was never taught that I couldn't do anything as well as a boy could, if I so chose (and if I didn't get an education I was certainly going to end up pumping gas, a unisex fate worse than death in my family). Which must be the reason that neither me or my brother knows dick about automobiles, while my father is one of the last of his age, the man knows how to tinker (sometimes to our great detriment) while the children of this generation surrender our plastic and leave it to the extortionists masquerading as professionals. I swear the dude at the dealership wrung his hands in anticipation, here comes a girl who freely admits her total ignorance and says, well, do what you need to do now, I'd rather pay now then break down in the dark on a lonely stretch on highway one, where the sharks and the serial killers lurk.

Back on rant. For many years I forsook feminism as a sixties throw back, with a certain nostalgia, like gloves and hats and further back, corsets. I suppose I should thank our feckless leader and the ensuing elections for making me take up the Feminist mantle, with the caveat that it's a different sort of feminism, if such a thing could be had..... Most of it has to do with the pro-choice movement, and if you are not, stop reading me now, I spend an ungodly amount of time writing to my navel, but as the political season wratchets up, expect me to comment here more.

Back on rant. The other driver in my fledgling feminism is our world wide web of the internets, which has sparked me to donate to the South Dakota indian reservation to provide abortion services and which has sparked me to donate to medicins sans frontiers to the campaign for women who most likely have suffered through excision and after child birth develop fistula - if you don't know what I am talking about Nicholas Kristoff at the NYT has written extensively on the women who are banished for suffering after mutilation.

Closer to home, it started when Salon started publishing the Broad Sheet, which I read in conjunction with their political blog the War Room, and then Gawker Media got wise and started publishing Jezebel.com which is my favoritist site on all of the internets, even more that Icanhasacheezburger, yes even better than that.

I am not sure why I have never been discriminated against, I had my share of "grey rape" in my sexually precocious youth, but I always figured that half the responsability was my own, it's possible that I am making large allowances, but I never felt undone. Let's face it, pre-breast reduction I was built like a blonde shit brickhouse, in the best sense, and I am still stacked to the heavens with tits and ass. The one time in my early twenties when I was working in a hotel a sales person placed his hand on my ass, I made such an almighty stink, that subsequently no one has dared. This where I get into trouble with the feminists, take it between your two hands and raise a stink. Some assclown decides that it's his right to clap you on the ass and speculate about your future sex life, make and almighty stink. But here's where it gets treacherous, you can't do it as an animal, you have to do as a lady, a lady whose virtue has been called into question, you have do it as they expect you to. As my paternal grandmother (who never identified as a feminist, but will gladly take all your money at bridge while affably drinking you under the table) said, disarm with charm, mollify, manipulate, attack. If it's a man's world afterall, that advice has served me well. Sorry ladies, all you furry legged and up in arms ladies, I respect where you are coming from, I hear you, I hear you well, we are all on your side. We want education, we want, we all want for these girls in the age of Paris and Britney to not suffer the indignities and embarrassments that we all suffered at the hands of our peers and at the hands of boys, no matter where you landed on the social scale, it was all equally horrible. Can we all just agree on that and go from there?

Because at the end of the day we all want the same thing, the same fundamental things. Choice, access to education, wage equality, a chance at life, a chance at happiness. Dare I say it, a chance at love, she-love, man-love, girl and boy love, just plain old confounding love.

End rant.


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