Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You totally know this is going to be on Oprah… or Jerry Springer

My feminist friends have been teeth-gnashing, hand-wringing, and dabbling in all kinds of Freudian self-psychoanalyses since Rebecca Walker’s article, about her mother Alice Walker, broke in UK’s Daily Mail:

Now keep in mind that The Daily Mail is a very conservative turkey and it might make better sense why Rebecca W’s article seems backlash-y, undermine-y, and badly researched. I feel no insecurity that the Walker acrimony exposes the non monolithic aspects of feminism to non feminist scrutiny and criticism. And i doubt if it’s a third-wave feminist against the second-wave kind of thing as Phyllis Chesler makes it appear in her article. It just seems to be a rather cheerless reality that the children of artists and leaders often appear to be disturbed/damaged and alienated (see: Gandhi, M.K; Marx, Karl, or even Blyton, Enid etc.).

While I’m not an outright fan of Alice Walker’s, I have to say that Rebecca W’s work appears to be lacking in nuance. I remember Rebecca Walker’s 1990’s sex-positive essay “Lusting for Freedom” as appealing, but in this here article, she alleges that her mother pushed her towards early sexual experimentation. So, umm—all I can see is how an opportunity to form a strong historical and theoretical center for her resentment has been wasted.

Still there is a lot of psychic pain here. And I can identify with the feeling of disappointing your feminist mother by marrying, having kids. Much as my mom adores her grandkids, it made her anxious knowing that i would no longer be able to put my ambitions first. And sometimes, she’ll still look at me all i-told-you-so and quote Sanskrit: Vivaham vidya nashanam (marriage exterminates scholarship).

So, so far, no solutions--just sentiment :). And oh, Blue pointed me to Rebecca Walker’s blog, which has a very different voice from the article in question. I skimmed; i kinda liked.


Blue said...

It's not going to be on Oprah.


Oprah owes a good deal of her career to Alice Walker (and Steven Spielberg).

Also she single-handedly produced Color Purple: The Musical.

No way would she invite that drama on her show. ^__^

maya said...

I was just being flippant, Blue--hadn't really thought things through. I knew about Oprah producing Color Purple--but not that she had deeper ties to Spielberg and AW. Judge Judy then? I guess the big O is not even daytime tv anymore, is she? Or may be she'd engineer a reconciliation between them like she did for Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields?

(Did that happen at all or did i just imagine it? I ask because I woke up this morning in a panic because two undergrads were stealing my daughter in a tote bag and i needed to cut the bag with the switchblade that had materialized in my hand without hurting her--so i'm not feeling very present right now.)

I don't really think either Walker would go on Jerry Springer either...

Blue said...

Oprah was a no-name until she got cast as Sofia in Spielberg's film version of Color Purple.

She got nominated for an Academy Award and her career took off. ^__^

Blue said...

Judge Judy and Jerry would both be fair game, though... and what about good ol' Dr. Phil?

Or Dr. Laura!

Maurice Reeves said...

Wow, that's kind of wild. It happens a lot though when you've got a parent who feels so strongly about a subject (be it God, feminism, whatever) and the kids chafe under that fervor.

On a personal note, when I was in college studying English lit, I was often one of only a few guys in classes and they would routinely devolve into men-bashing quasi-feminist rambling diatribes. I can't tell you how many times I heard people like Andrea Dworkin praised, and phrases like "Dead Men Don't Rape" repeated. It was that hostile environment that actually prompted me to leave school for a while.

I get frustrated just thinking about those times.