I wrote a post on Third Coast Review about a book and lectures I recently attended. Read the full post here, and/or the summary of it below (or read the summary and then if you’re curious read the full post?).
- (Talking about Why I Am Not a Feminist) I don’t know why Jessa Crispin wrote this bloated coffee table book without any pictures. The entirety of the book is grand unspecific criticisms. In 200+ pages, I can count on one hand the number of concrete examples that she employs to help make her argument. This format of vague, broad statements might’ve actually made a good manifesto if she’d limited herself to a few pages.
2. Though her book is crappy, I found some parts insightful including her discussion of something she calls “empowerment feminism.” Being a #GirlBoss is not an accomplishment for the feminist cause, it merely benefits your own interests. This t-shirt that says “Strong Like Mom” was probably sewn by someone’s mother in her 12th hour of labor. It supports Target and your ego.
3. I went to hear Camille Paglia speak in March at the Chicago Public Library (damn I love the library!). I feel like I shouldn’t attempt to summarize Camille Paglia in a few sentences, so I won’t. But I will say that if you aren’t familiar with her, go read her stuff. She’s wild! Her arguments are terribly interesting, and I mean “terribly” because the conclusions she comes to can be pretty whacky and uncomfortable and not PC, but the way she gets there is based in fairly logical (not always sound) premises.
4. Roxane Gay read at a Chicago Humanities Festival event and it was very stimulating. For the most part, she tells stories about herself or writes fiction, but then she also has this social media personality. She’s an influencer offering rhetoric to mainstream liberals (here I am using mainstream as the group which determines what political correctness is…I guess). The bits of her book that she read aloud were lovely, as were her comments and insight into the body acceptance movement. Two things seemed shady to me:
A. She offhandedly mentioned the court of public opinion like it was a good thing. An audience member asked her whether she stands by her shaming of Nate Parker and whether black women ought to stand by him as a black artist or if as feminists they should shame him. Gay stood by her denouncement of Parker saying that where the court system failed, the court of public opinion has ruled decisively and he will likely never work again. She said she wished the same treatment were applied to Casey Affleck. I cringed in my seat, not because I consider either man respectable, but because of Gay’s reliance and even pride in the court of public opinion. Sometimes, the actual courts get it wrong and often public opinion does too… Denouncing Affleck and Parker are probably safe bets, but Gay seems quick to decide the fate of others.
B. An older white woman who seemed to be a big fan of Gay (she mentioned she’d attended the writer’s last speaking event in Chicago) asked about how to be a good ally to minorities. Roxane Gay seemed annoyed by the question. She essentially shut the woman down telling her to start by not asking that question. I was reminded of Jessa Crispin’s confusing contradictory statements about being less critical of men while also vitriolically denying that there’s a place for men in the feminist movement. Gay seemed to contradict the very notion of an intersectional feminist movement, suggesting there’s no space for non-minority women, and especially those who ask questions.
5. Both Camille Paglia and Roxane Gay watch The Real Housewives series. Isn’t that funny? Two smart, incredibly different ladies both watch the same garbage TV series. Supports my theory about being shameless with what you like. Shame is boring, and who’s got the time for it?