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View Diary: Feminism: a few thoughts (and a request!) from a guy's perspective (201 comments)

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  •  And I second The Golden Notebook (3+ / 0-)

    Considered a major feminist landmark since it came out in the 60s, though Doris Lessing said she did not consider herself a feminist. I'm embarrassed to say it's so long since I read it that I don't remember homophobia, but I take your word that it's there. Great writing and, as you say, much food for thought on the constraints surrounding women.

    •  I was 16 when I read it... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit, Calvino Partigiani

      ...and, um, being trans, to all the world a boy, and thinking hard about things.  Her discussion of her gay roommate is honest in a subjective sense but it wasn't probably the best thing I could have done to myself, to be so in awe of a writer and read that.  Genuinely toxic.  But the book also gave me a lot of good things to think about for the next 32 years, in and really informed how I saw relationships in my 20s.  

      It's counted a feminist book though obviously her goals were so much past any one framing of the world, it is some ways a narrative exploration of everything ending with "ism".  But it describes in some measure the world where my mother grew up -- not the British part, but the constraints and expectations -- and also the party thing, what it was to be a person in the party, a communist and a bright thoughtful person at that particular time, which helped me put a personal spin on a world just before my life began.  Anyway, back to work.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 06:42:17 PM PDT

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    •  It's been 30+ years since I read Golden Notebook (4+ / 0-)

      and I can't comment on whether the book does, or does not, have a homophobic component/tone.

      The one part I do remember from the book, about gay men, had to do with the protagonists's realization that the two gay men she trusted as friends and allies (as men who did not hate women, and were therefore 'safe' to have as male companions/friends).  The two men were sharing an apartment in her house, as tenants.  one day, she overheard them talking about her, her female roommate, and women in general, viciously mocking them as women, mocking their bodies as disgusting, saying some truly terrible things.  The protagonist was stunned and experienced that terrible swirl or emotions and realizations that happens when some you have trusted at a core-level says or does something that shows you that they, at core-level, are the polar opposite of what you have believed them to be.  The  protagonist had worked hard to distance herself from the Hate against women that was everywhere in her society, and these two men had been a trusted exception because she believed them to be free of that Hate.  She discovered that they carried the same Hate, expressed in a different form.

      •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CroneWit, Calvino Partigiani

        The protagonist also expresses her view that the gay roomie is a parody of womanhood, and as I recall expresses pity for his benighted state.   Something like disgust comes through at some points, to me, quite clearly.  Why the pity and disgust are icky is just not on her radar as a writer, or so it felt. The roomie has many faults, but I'm hardly the first reader to note her take on gay men.  It is a very small part of the book, and as you say, it isn't the frame that Anna is thinking about these things -- the idea of queer people as a class of human beings is very far away, and the idea that these are example inverts is very close.   In a work that honest and perceptive, I am not even sure these are flaws to forgive, or that these flaws need to be forgiven.  Authors are not required to create PC protagonists.  

        I seriously loved the book and it changed my life. But her views seemed -- to me -- to come through quite clearly, independent of what Anna was thinking about and working on for herself.  

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 08:30:43 AM PDT

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      •  and must add... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CroneWit, Calvino Partigiani

        ...that I loved this book.  I'm not trying to take it down.  I like a lot of writers for whom me and mine are not really part of the moral universe.  But if I don't note that with honesty for myself, then I write myself out of my own moral universe.   I learned that, in part, by reading this book.

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 08:38:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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