Women’s Studies Victims

I take the title of this blog from an Of Montreal song of the same name, and while the song lyrics from it have nothing much to do with this blog, the sentiment is within the same vein. It’s the idea that got me started thinking about things, and has inspired enough material to form a lengthy blog post. Here’s the question I got stuck on last night: can someone be a victim of a women’s studies student? I think so. As much as the feminist needs to be heard and the issues addressed that they speak to, I think we can alienate and drive away would-be supporters with an offering of a  fist where an open hand would suffice. 

Consider this scenario…I was killing a few hours in the bookstore last night, and found myself in the women’s studies section. Haunting the bookstore on an almost daily basis for the past three years, I honestly had never run across this section. And why is this? Am I just the pretentious sort that thinks I’ve got a firm enough grasp on the issues within to not need any more source material? Perhaps, but I’m going to cite some other reasons why I think I haven’t found this section, and why others are probably not bothering to waste the effort on this category. I’ll also get to the bit on the “victim” part of my title, so hang with me. 

So…here’s the Women’s Studies section…

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It’s five shelves and, due to the limited number of titles (I guess), one of these shelves is used to display a couple of titles that may be of interest to readers of this section. It’s located in between the “Sports” section and the “African American” literature section. This is probably why I didn’t find the section for so long. And it’s my first gripe about the section. There’s four five shelf fixtures devoted to sports and only one to women’s studies and African American titles. It’s not even really subtle that the minority reads have been pushed back into this corner to die.

Further embarassment for this section comes from only a cursory inspection of the titles. Two of the four shelves that are “full” are actually the subsection of Gay Studies titles that have been lumped into the overall heading of Women’s Studies. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a full supporter of gay rights, and well…rights in general for everyone. But the connection between the LGBT community and femminism is something that sometimes backfires in the campaign for both issues. I can’t tell you how many times that mentioning feminism has led to the discussion of preference of sexuality or outright questioning if I am a lesbian. Putting the titles on women’s rights and gay rights under this heading is convenient perhaps, but irksome all the same. Even more frustrating for all involved in this scenario is that 75% of the titles under gay studies are erotica. It’s hard to be taken seriously in a cause when under the section’s literature it’s all titles of this sort. Those looking for factual information on the issues facing these minorities are not neccessarily going to be willing to wade through these titles to find something that gets to the struggle beyond the bedroom. (Sorry, puns…eh) But these are the titles that sell, because that is how the stock of bookstores works.   

Looking closer at the two shelves that are truly the women’s studies section, there’s some pretty raw farce at play here too. Three titles jumped out at me right off the bat. These are pictured below…

 

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The first  picture shows, side by side, two of the titles that first envoked my ire and set me in motion to blog. The one of the left is titled “Mistress,” and is a history of “the other woman” throughout the ages. Awesome. When I send someone to the Women’s Studies section, the first thing I want them seeing is NOT a book on how a  few bold broads commandeered other women’s husbands. Not even touching on the fact that these women probably were not fully at fault in their extramarital endeavors, it’s just not really something that screams empowerment and women’s rights. Quite frankly, it’s the opposite, and it’s almost catty to have it in this section. When I think about being a strong and independent woman, I don’t feel the need to look at another woman’s man. Being a mistress or a cuckold is not something to really get enthralled with. 

And then there’s the book beside “Mistresses,” and here’s where I’m on a bit of ground less firm. This title is called “Sexy Feminism.” I’m all for the adjective “sexy.” When someone tells me I look sexy, I take it as a great compliment, and it makes me feel pretty badass. Because “sexy” is a charged word, and it’s something that women are seeking (sometimes shamelessly I’ll admit) to add to their definition. I also identify with the title of feminist. I take exception though when I see a book called “sexy feminism” because it implies that there is such a thing as “Unsexy feminism.” I’m not trying to be overly sensitive here, but my thought is that feminism CAN be sexy and it CAN be about feeling appealing in your own skin, but it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. If you want to be a feminist and do something decidedly “unsexy” like…I dunno, eat four or five cookies in one sitting, then you should be able to do that. I’m just thinking this title was a “how-to” guide on how to get to being a sexy feminist. It’s like you don’t have to work to get to this. If you say you are a feminist, I’m not going to question your sexiness. The two are separate entities, and coupling them works to damage both terms.

This being said, I think I may have been guilty of creating a “women’s studies victim.” I was having a discussion via text, which was my first mistake on expressing anything like this without running the risk of misrepressenting and not expressing ideas in a tidy fashion. And to the friend I was having the banter with on my thoughts about this women’s studies section, I felt later that I was being a bit of a “bra burner.” That is to say, I think my effort to represent feminism and be proud of the ideas I think compose it, turned into a tirade with what I think is wrong with it’s perception and limits. I’m frustrated when feminism falls short, and things like rape happen or a woman’s choice to make decisions about her body and her mind are blocked. I think this is why I get a little preachy when I see the roadblocks, and thereby I ignore that support or good elements that may underlie these. This friend of mine is a supporter of women’s rights (and that’s pretty sexy too, by the way), and I was not helping the cause by nitpicking on a statement he made that asserted that he thought feminists were sexy. So, I acknowlede his support and say that I don’t take back what I said, but I do agree feminism is sexy.

Even this feels badly articulated, and thus I admit my limits on explanation are sometimes reached. So I leave the question and topic open…how do we make the message of feminism heard, and not ostracize the supporters? How do we have rational discussion on the topic and not lapse into the complaining of what is wrong with the movement? I really would like to find out, because I enjoy talking about feminism, but I don’t want to be the person who can’t have a talk with someone about something unrelated to feminism and end up coming back to feminism faults. I’m trying to say, feminism is not my life, but it is my life. I’m hoping my co-blogger on this topic can flush this out a bit more, along with her throughts on the women’s studies section. I’m sure she can also speak more to the “Suicide Girls” featured title in this section, and why this gets us all riled up as well. Look for her upcoming rebuttal and such at brandidrown.wordpress.com    

And then there’s the last title from this section that really made me do an eye roll.

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The book is called “The End of Men,” subtitled “The Rise of Women.” UGH. NO. The “rise of women”will not happen when the supposed reign of men ends. It happens when you stand up for yourself and you make your own choices and are not only allowed but respected as well. And my brand of feminism at least is not about dethroning anyone, certainly not about “ending” men. I love men. (Shocker? Were we not paying attention back in the gay studies parsing part of this article? ha) I think having a book like this in the section is the most disturbing thing I encountered. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: men are our greatest ally in attaining equal rights. The rights of one group should not come at the expense of singling out, destroying, or working against another group. Besides that, it’s just idiotic to think that women would be better off in a world of no men. A loving, supportive male partner to assist in your goal attainment and as someone you can support in their endeavors is a wonderful thing indeed. I look forward to the day that I can not insult a male ego by taking a guy out for valentine’s day or in some way put some role reversal on the “female privlidge” of the code of paying for a lady’s date and it not be something unheard of. 

 

I conclude this with the disclaimer of sorts that this is not in any way, shape or form meant to rail against the bookstore in question. The bookstore did not choose the selection of books within. The title list is dictated by sales. Sex sells. Ergo why there are several of these titles in-section. If customers would order-in other books and the demand for titles of more weight was called for, then I think the section would improve. This is where the consumer voice should come into play. If you go into a bookstore and do not see what you want, request they order it in. The people who read Duck Dynasty, Heaven is Real, and Glenn Beck sure do make their literary muscle known through buying power, and so should the other half.  

Well, this was enjoyable. Look for my co-blogger’s response at brandidrown.wordpress.com and please share your thoughts. I say with absolutely certainty that the only thing I know is that I don’t know. Meaning, I’m not the authority on this or any other subject and would love for someone to challenge me and change my mind. With only the slightest trace of sarcasm, I say: enlighten me. 

-Anna R. Kotopple

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I wrote a short story

No secrets here. I wrote a short story, and I like it. Therefore, I will share it with all you fine folk. My short stories have had tendancy in the past to turn into novellas so, who knows, you could be reading chapter one of my new work in progress. Keep in mind it’s a first draft, but enjoy!

 

Shoelaces Untied

Lucas rushed down the hall towards me, and I considered briefly if I should turn away as if I hadn’t seen him. Before I could though, he had me swept up against his side, his arm around my shoulder, clutching my small frame against his much taller one. And he didn’t even break stride as  we now performed a simple gliding walk along the halls, tiled blue and brown from their floor and up the walls as well.

 Never one to mince words, Lucas asked, “Why you you avoiding me?”

“Me? I thought you were the one distancing yourself,” I said. Lucas was an intelligent sort of person, but I could still bluff my way through most of our encounters.

“Not at all, sweetie,” he said, using those long, spindle arms to manhandle me closer for a kiss on the forehead.

“Oh, I imagined it was all misunderstanding,”I said, snuggling a bit closer.

Lucas dropped his arm from my shoulders and smiled again: “I’ve got to run now,” he said.

And he did. He practically sprinted to the restroom at the hallway’s end. Ducking into the tiny cubicles, super-hero transformation style, he emerged minutes later as a giant, slime oozing, jade green snake/man hybrid. He licked his long, sharp canines, cackled into the air and in true duplicitous villian style, he disappeared around the corner and out of my line of vision.

I woke up from this nightmare, and oriented myself once again with reality. I was alone. In my apartment. Tucked under the red and brown plaid sheets I clung to as if letting go of these would sweep me into the sea.  My head ringing from the late night highball.

A week later, the reality was still delirious, but true. Lucas cheated on me. He misled me for God knows how long. And in the end, he only told me about the affair because his mistress was now pregnant.

He told me via text message. I knew he wasn’t one much for confrontation, but I had no idea how much until that message vibrated in, illuminating my backlit screen and throwing spotlight on all the corners of my glass house I’d thought I could hole away in.

A day after the dream, exactly one week from the fallout, my left ear went deaf. I couldn’t even process what to do with this new curve the first two days after it happened. I was a victim of the infamous Turkey Drop, and now I couldn’t even hear the consolations of those who knew it was coming. I’d been broken up with two days before Thanksgiving. Turkey  Dropped, as this type of breakup is called, in order to avoid being stuck with me through the Christmas holidays, and the New Year ring-in, and my birthday, and Valentine’s day until he could drop me in early March. And now half of my world was silent and I couldn’t even be bothered to wonder why.

On the third day,I went to my doctor and after the standard round of invasive questioning on when I’d last used all my parts, he told me it was just a bit too much wax in my head. Nothing glamorous or exotic for this gal. I was simply full of too much smelly, golden glue. There wasn’t much to do but try home remedies of peroxide and sweet oil and wait it out, he said. The glass house was in deadly broken slivers, and all I had now was time to kill anyway. 

I went to the bookstore later that evening to find something that would occupy my thoughts and simultaneously help me fall asleep. Standing at the informaton desk, describing my pitiful self-serving book needs, the book-maiden assisting me asked if I knew the author and title of the book I was looking for. She wanted me to pin down my heart’s bloody flip-flop on her bookshelves. I said forget it, and asked her to show me the section where computer repair books were. 

I headed to the shelves where my book-maiden resolutely pointed, banishing me to the land of hard drives and cold logical machines, as she picked up another customer’s call on line one. Whomever is imagining that a small town bookstore is the place to go to nurse a broken heart, be warned that it’s simply not so. Wading through endless titles on self-help and Godly love to reach my desired section, I looked up the stairs, across the store, and into the coffee shop that was buzzing with activity, muted, silent-film style in my present condition. 

Cafe center stage sat my Lucas, and he was not alone. Dear readers, no, he was not alone. 

Lucas sat, all long slimbs and with a heartbreaker grin in a chair made for someone with less chuzpah. He still lookde so good. Better than ever, in fact. One shouldn’t be allowed to look so good after crushing someone else. 

He sat with one foot tucked beneath him and his coal black hair ws trussed up in the semi-pompador, mohawk style I still found so endearing, even as I tried to hate it with all my might. He was talking animatedly with hands fluttering like startled birds. As he smiled and preened, leaning over that small cafe table, at ease as a veteran actor on stage, I wondered, did his heart still pound so hard you could feel it through his chest. Did it shudder and shake like that for this woman across from him as it had thudded so violently once when I leaned against his frame?

She was unreal. My first thought, bitter as an accidental bite into an apple core, was how in the hell had he chosen to give this one his seed? Luke is the only gospel that mentions the virgin birth. I’d always assumed this was just mixed metaphor, but now there was Lucas’s “baby momma” and I was reconsidering. A miraculous unconsumed birth is actually something I could see Lucas perpetuating to honor his own attractiveness, getting behind such an idea, you can say. I would have preferred this miracle to the truth perhaps. Ah, irony!

The woman was very rotund. I’m harsh on this vixen, but mind you, she’d just been a co-conspirator to my cuckold horns, and they were still heavy, so heavy, upon my head. Her hair, perhaps blond once, seemed much too short and she had muddied it with magenta and faded pink streaks. She had fine bone structure, though. She was built like a stocky, well-fed Amazon. She would crush me in battle. It appears she already had. 

She wore a quirky, long striped scarf, looking like a Whovian character of sorts. Her socks, I noticed as she crossed her legs and her ankle length flowing skirt parted, where mismatched. She wore those terribly impractical snow boots that everyone is so fond of. What made her more desirable than me, I wondered, as my knees shook and my heart continued to run wild with ache. 

I looked down at my own black Converse, a Smiths lyric written on the rubber sidewall. They were untied. I looked back to this new couple at their table. Lucas dropped his gesturing hands to his coffee cup and warmed them there as the woman said something. Then they both laughed aloud, their open mouths ringing with the sounds I couldn’t catch. It was rare to ever that Lucas laughed aloud. I’d only heard it once between smiles we shared or whatever it was people who laugh share.. Everything that once “was,” I was now rethinking as I watched the two. 

Maybe in some alternate realtiy, I would have marched up the chairs and flipped their table, telling the woman how silly magenta was as a hair color for thirty-year-olds. But the sane, wounded me knew about that kind of futility. I turned and walked out of the bookstore and into the new December air, chilly, but familiar once I’d let it soak into my skin and take hold of my bones. 

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