Sunday, June 28, 2009

Looking for Feminism in the Texicanic World

Greetings, ducks, from Dallas/Fort Worth airport, where my Texas sojourn is finally at an end!

I usually like to take a day to recover after having my face electrocuted, although given the relatively light workload nowadays I don't really need to. For recovery, you may read "sleep til noon, make a Starbucks run for breakfast, and then take a swim in 100-degree weather." It also means a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon on Hulu!

I've mentioned how much I've come to love Buffy. The characters talk like I want to, except even cooler! And they're all so cute! And I really like Willow, who like yours truly is a redhead. I'm even a bit like her--bookish, intensely interested in learning new things, convinced that knowledge is power.

There's another side to her, of course--as the series develops, Willow become interested in magic and witchcraft, and later comes out as a lesbian. (Not at the point I'm at in the series, though; right now she and Seth Green's Oz make an adorable couple. And then there' the Evil Vampiric Willow, from the episodes The Wish and Doppelgangland--the inhabitant of an alternate world where Buffy never came to Sunnydale, and she and Xander are two of the meanest vampires in town.

I watched both those episodes on this trip, and maybe it's just that I recently decided to try going off my antidepressants, but I really felt like Evil Willow for a while yesterday--that is, I seemed to be channeling my inner Bad Girl, someone who's probably dying for a workout right about now--she sees so little sunlight.

In this mood, I decided to run out and find some books on feminism.

I'll admit that for somebody who writes a blog largely about theoretical issues, I'm not nearly as grounded in feminist theory as I'd like to be. So, having time on my hands, I drove over to the local Barnes and Noble to see what I might be able to turn up in the way of anthologies or Large Omnibus Editions. Of course, I thought that my location might have some difficulties that I might not have in the Great American Metropolis--but Dallas is a surprisingly progressive city, I had been seeing Obama/Biden bumper stickers, and I figured what the hell, Barnes and Noble is homogeneous, that's what everyone complains about.

As it turns out, I did end up finding bell hooks' Feminist Theory, but it took some doing.

First I had to locate the Women's Studies section of the bookstore. This was not immediately apparent, and I wandered through Fiction and Literature, Self-Help, Literary Theory (which in a really incongruous bit of geography, was right next to Westerns) before I found the single half bookcase that was my goal--wedged in between Gay and Lesbian Fiction and African-American Studies. My initial assessment wasn't promising--there was a guide to mystical female symbols, a copy of Everything I Needed To Know I Learned From Other Women, and The Feminine Mystique, which would be good reading from a historical standpoint but not what I was in the mood for.

In contrast, there was a four-bookshelf deep Christianity section, a whole table devoted to Twilight (vampires! cool! with Mormon values! yikes!) and a book called Surrender, wherein a woman whose husband re-enlists in the Army (without telling her) and gets shipped off to Iraq learns how to avoid temptation but submitting to God (and, presumably, her husband's) will.

By this point I wanted to be wearing my vampiric leather corset, mutter "bored now" in my Evil Willow voice, and start flipping over bookcases.

I didn't--like I said, bell hooks saved me--but it was a good thing I found her book before I browsed the magazines, because "women's interests" always grates on my nerves. I mean, seriously? Besides, there was a time I wasn't a woman, and let me tell you, I was interested.

It didn't help that on my way to get dinner (Whattaburger: must take advantage of the cuisine de terroir), I passed a Halliburton office.

I think I'm going to adopt Evil Willow as the mascot of this blog. She'd be useful as a counterpoint to, say, Maureen Dowd. I always have such hope for Maureen--I mean, she's a snarky redhead with a voracious sexual appetite and a ton of power; that's pretty much my mission statement. Yet she writes stuff like this:

As in all great affairs, Mark Sanford fell in love simultaneously with a woman and himself — with the dashing new version of himself he saw in her molten eyes.

In a weepy, gothic unraveling, the South Carolina governor gave a press conference illustrating how smitten he was, not only with his Argentine amante, but with his own tenderness, his own pathos and his own feminine side.

He got into trouble as a man and tried to get out as a woman.
Way to go, Madame Dowd! Thank goodness sexism is over, or else I might get upset that even rich and famous women feel the need to practice it!


Bored now. Wanna hunt.


  1. You seem to be at the same place in re-viewing Buffy as me- I'm showing it to my girlfriend as well, so it's nice to see it again through fresh eyes.

    Anyway, wondered if you'd seen this wonderful t-shirt (on the Buffy vs Twilight theme). Did my feminist heart good:

  2. That is *teh awesome.*

    I've got a problem with the vamps are nice theme too--they went to great lengths on Buffy to explain why Angel was different. (And I would just like to note: when Angel went bad, he lived up to his billing as the cruelest thing on two legs; kudos for the writing team to go so dark.)

    Also there was a great episode of Buffy where they encountered vampire wannabes, with less than pleasant results.

  3. The women's studies section of my local /independant/ bookstore has an even crappier selection than the one you visited - almost entirely Oprah! srsly.