Posted by: beansai | February 20, 2008

Journal Entry #5: Hypocrite in a pouffy white dress

    I found Susan Gilman’s tale of coming of age enjoyable and relatable for obvious reasons. I think the only real way that I related to it was the “girl” factor, and that she had experiences similar to what most girls have growing up. In that way, I was able to empathize with her case. I also generally enjoyed her sarcastic, cynical attitude. I find myself leaning toward those tendencies as well. Is there anyone who isn’t cynical these days? It seems a given with our haggard lives, doing too much in too little time, always going never stopping, always hasseled or hassling about something.

    I also think that it is her attitude that makes her so likeable, so human. I think if she was a happy go lucky, always seeing the brighter side of life, kind of person, I would be turned off. I wouldn’t believe it. I’d say bull shit. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this memoir when we first started reading it. I had really enjoyed Jarhead and it’s cold, distant, brutal truth-telling style. I liked learning about something, about an aspect of life I didn’t know or understand; even if it is only one man’s opinion, it was still more insightful than my vague guesses. So when it came time to reading Hypocrite, and it’s very different style and content, I wasn’t entirely sold. But, happily enough, it turned into an enjoyable read, and a book that I am not angry I bought. There’s nothing worse than buying a book for a class and then you end up hating it.

    We had discussions in class about whether or not this memoir was a feminist text. I find that hard to answer…I find that my replies only suit “feminist” conditionally. I think she definitely expresses feminist ideas, and tries desperately to be a feminist, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that her text is promoting full blown feminist theory. I think it also depends on how you define feminism. I personally don’t consider sleeping around to be feminist, just because you are doing what you choose with your body. It makes me sad to think that these days, so many women think it is empowering their womanhood by abusing and manipulating their bodies. It’s not like I’m trying to say hey, abstinence all the way! or anything, but honestly, is the measure of my feminist quality really gaged by how much I expose my body to a casual lifestyle?

    Well, that was a bit of a feminist tirade, wasn’t it? I’m just trying to ask whether we can truly claim Gilman’s memoir as feminist or not, due to the varying definitions of what feminist is? Or maybe I’m just making this much more complicated than it needs to be.

    I find it interesting that people considered Gilman’s memoir as a story that has been told before. That female coming of age story. Then, we get to the memoir Goat and suddenly, because it is a male coming of age story it is something new, something that is never discussed. Is this a gender issue? I think so. Women…are, of course, naturally emotional and dramatic and talkative, so undoubtedly the female coming of age story has been told again and again and again, right? Is it feminist of me to find that offensive? I suppose I can’t really deny that it has historically been more acceptible for women to talk of their “feelings” than men. But it isn’t as though women were always allowed to talk about their menstrual cycles or having babies or taking a shit or farting. I guess I just find the whole distinction between the coming of age stories ludicrous. I feel that there are always going to be aspects of life that are expected to be kept in the dark in social terms. All these coming of age stories have their similarities to others and to each other, whether based on men or women.

    Maybe I’m just one of those women that doesn’t like to admit that men have their own social stigmas that they have to live up to or through. But that isn’t true. I know that and acknowledge it. So what is it that is bothering me so much about this. Perhaps it is the idea of the masculine taking away our feminine victimhood? Because women often are portrayed as the victims right? From rape to discrimination in the work place. Maybe I’m just not ready to give up my feminist spotlight just yet. Maybe it is still too fresh in my own mind the gender discriminations I encountered growing up. Maybe I just want my chance to relate and retaliate without my experiences just being thrown off to the side as a “been there done that” sort of case. Maybe.

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