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Breaking! Anti-Feminist Memoir Turns Out to Celebrate Abusive Asshole!

[ 64 ] January 10, 2013 |

Nobody could have predicted that a Christina Hoff Summers-endorsed anti-feminist memoir would turn out to be based on an depressingly faulty premise. (See also.)

A Hollywood studio should consider a movie based on both the memoir and the post-memoir period, which would be an interesting alternative to the typically gender essentialist romantic comedy. Alas, they would probably prefer to lose who knows how many more tens of millions of dollars on the premise that women will find the latest sexist lout played by Gerard Butler secretly irresistible. I’m also guessing that it would have been a lot harder to get this memoir published if it told the whole story.

Comments (64)

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    • LeeEsq says:

      No, I think that Fifty Shades of Grey is going to make a lot of money. The books were a great financial success for the publisher. Its really hard to imagine that the movies won’t be similarly successful.

      Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, and the Feminist and the Cowboy are based on the same sexist point about women wanting to submit to a bad boy or rake of some sort. Its a common plot in a lot of romances. You rarely see a male lead in a romance aimed at women whose gentle and kind, especially after Cary Grant died. Sometimes women reject these plots wholesale and other times, like Fifty Shades of Grey and lot of Harlequins. I don’t think Gerard Butler’s movie bombed because of feminism. Fifty Shades of Grey should have been unpopular for the same reason.

  1. Vance Maverick says:

    The post is still here, though presumably not forever. It’s pretty depressing.

    (Though I don’t question the substantive truth of the claims, the text does read like “writerese”, a translation of whatever really happened into borrowed verbal and narrative forms. If the book is like that too, nobody should have believed it. I hope she’s OK.)

  2. SamR says:

    I’d hesitate before calling the guy an abuser based solely on what Valdes says. She’s changed her story repeatedly (and continues to do so, having changed her story to Salon about why she took her post down), and the story’s she’s telling now is bizarre.

    • Anon21 says:

      God forbid we believe bad things about some anonymous dude who faces no consequences whatsoever. Because the only thing worse than abuse is believing someone when she says she’s been abused.

      • SamR says:

        Yeah, I knew I’d get this response. I hesitated before writing anything, because I know how it sounds.

        Just read her versions of the events in the two links and in the deleted blog post. Forget getting his side of the story, just read the links and decide if what she is now saying happened is what actually happened.

    • sharculese says:

      Tell us more about the proper way for a victim of domestic abuse to behave. I’m sure it will be fascinating.

      • Murc says:

        I would imagine that “if you repeatedly change your story, people are going to come to regard it with skepticism and possibly demand proof they otherwise would not” is something that would apply to pretty much anyone, not just victims of domestic abuse.

        • sharculese says:

          I probably could have worded it better, but what I meant was that this response appears to be in the genre of “people who have just realized what they thought was a loving relationship was actually terrorism should display steely rationality at all times” arguments.

          • Murc says:

            Well, I sort of disagree.

            It’s true that there’s a lot of “well, this person isn’t reacting how I think they should react to a situation I’ve never been in and can’t conceive, so I’m going to say they’re lying” when it comes to allegations of abuse.

            But changing your story repeatedly in a documented way doesn’t fall into that category, I don’t think. If you keep changing significant details, you’re going to be doubted, and rightfully so.

            • sharculese says:

              I think a different set of rules should apply here but I’m open to the possibility that I overreacted here.

              I may have a hair-trigger on this subject from years of dealing with MRAs.

      • SamR says:

        They shouldn’t write and profit off a book that encourages women to seek out an abuser who will force them to “submit.”

        [Or in Valdes' case, multiple abusers (she's described her first husband, who she married, divorced, and then remarried, as a sociopath who abused her emotionally as well).]

        I guess you disagree, and think they should do exactly that. Interesting. Tell us more about why making money off telling women to submit to abusers is a proper way for anyone to behave.

    • STH says:

      As both links pointed out, readers were spotting the abuse in the book long before she saw it. And it also escalated after she submitted the finished book. So her story hasn’t changed, it’s just become more complete (and it sounds like her perception of it has changed a bit).

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Yes, this is the point. She was so eager to convince herself of gender essentialist nonsense that she overlooked underplayed a lot of things that were obvious to a non-sexist outside observer. Her “story” changed, but not because she was being dishonest but because she was viewing facts through a faulty lens.

  3. Thers says:

    I was having an argument with Molly about whether or not we should let the babies grow up to be cowboys. I say no! There’s not really a future in it, and also cowboys tend to be assholes. She says it’s better than letting them grow up to be lawyers; while this is reasonable, there are other options.

  4. Manju says:

    I’m going to defer judgment until Naomi Wolf weighs in.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Why not wait for real thinkers, like Camille Paglia and Ann Althouse?

      • The Dark Avenger says:

        That’s a typical conservative for you, waiting for the right thing to say from their moral inferiors before repeating it like it was their original insight.

      • Manju says:

        Why not wait for real thinkers, like Camille Paglia and Ann Althouse?

        Are they still allowed to publish, given Obama’s slide into Fascism?

        I tell ya, its a good thing Howard W. Smith isn’t alive to see this. Now there’s a feminist who really made a difference.

  5. JRoth says:

    Wow, I never even heard of that Butler movie. 4% on Rotten Tomatoes is pretty impressive.

  6. mark f says:

    Tracy Clark-Flory’s opening paragraph at Salon (the “(See also.)” link) is great:

    It’s a romance-memoir about a hardcore feminist who falls in love with a cowboy who teaches her to reconnect with her “femininity” — and to never talk back, open her own car door or walk on the street side of the sidewalk. The book, which features a cover image of a woman’s bare legs tossed high with a cowboy hat perched atop one foot, has been heavily marketed to the anti-feminist crowd, even earning a plug from Christina Hoff Sommers, who called it a “riveting tale about how a brilliant, strong-minded woman liberated herself from a dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying feminism.”

    That’s a stiletto between your ribs, Hoff Sommers.

    • sharculese says:

      Even if the book were completely and 100% true, for it to say anything about the wrongness of feminism would require assuming that women are some undifferentiated hive mind. We know this is not true because, for example, some women are thoughtful, intelligent, and interesting, and some women are Christina Hoff Sommers.

    • cpinva says:

      who decided ms. valdes is a

      “brilliant, strong-minded woman”

      frankly, just from what little i’ve learned of her in the intstant case, she strikes me as anything but a “brilliant, strong-minded woman”. in fact, she comes across as none too bright, with a painfully weak sense of self-confidence. while that’s obviously appealing to the righties, i find it sort of pathetic.

      • mpowell says:

        This story leaves a lot of room for saying some mean things about Valdes’ wisdom and judgement. What I can’t figure out is how this person was ever a feminist to begin with. Probably did not really have a robust understanding of the concept.

        On another note, isn’t a cowboy a terrible marriage partner for a non-feminist? I guess, sure, they might open your car do, but dosn’t their job pay for shit? You’re not supporting much of a household on that single income.

        • Ed says:

          It’s news to me that stay-at-home wives are by definition non-feminist, although I suppose some would say that.

          I suspect that Valdes was never much of a feminist in the first place and she seems to have a lot of personal problems that I hope she can work out. One one level I’m sorry for her but then again, I’m not.

  7. Chuchundra says:

    You know, Stella never really got her groove back, either.

    The crowing about Valdes’ cowboy leaving seems pretty rude and nasty. I guess being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to give up your inner mean girl.

    • L2P says:

      I guess being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to give up your inner mean girl.

      Maybe. But it certainly means you mock celebrations of male jackassery.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      The crowing about Valdes’ cowboy leaving seems pretty rude and nasty.

      You’re missing the point egregiously here. Nobody’s “happy” things worked out badly, let alone that he turned out to be abusive. The point here is that 1)she convinced herself to believe in gender essentialist horseshit that caused her to overlook a lot of bad things, and 2)there’s a much greater willingness to finance projects based on gender essentialist horseshit than stuff that actually tells the truth.

      • snarkout says:

        I dunno, Scott. I’m am sure nobody is happy that he turned out to be abusive, because abuse is never acceptable, but if it had only turned out that he was a control-freak jackass and not the love of her life I would be happy about it if I had heard of this book before today. Two reasons: 1) It’s nice for people to get away from control-freak jackasses and 2) I am still capable of identifying situations (picking up a hot pan with bare hands; getting romantically involved with an emotionally controlling jerk; drafting Tim Tebow) that I should try to teach my daughter to stay away from because they are very likely to turn out poorly.

      • Linda says:

        Personally, the only part worth crowing about is the momentary embarrassment that professional antifeminist/attention whore Summers might have about endorsing this book. But if she were capable of embarrassment, she would have gotten gainful employment years ago.

    • cpinva says:

      please provide evidence of said “crowing”.

      The crowing about Valdes’ cowboy leaving seems pretty rude and nasty.

    • spencer says:

      You know, Stella never really got her groove back, either.

      She should have looked harder. It was behind the couch the whole time.

  8. big momma says:

    Hey Sharculese, another LGM/Manboobz reader!

  9. Djur says:

    “She has a new boyfriend now and, she says, he “wrote the cowboy a thank you note, for having `tamed’ me and made me a better woman, which I totally agree with.”"

    Auugh. AUUUUGH. No no NO NO.

    RUN. RUN. RUN. Get. Away. From. This. Man.

    That is… that is just too sick.

    • This. In what was a very sad but very common story of “woman who falls for the wrong guy,” the new boyfriend’s thank you note, along with the fact that she is telling the world about it, struck me as the creepiest part of the whole story.

      • STH says:

        New owner writes note thanking former owner for getting regular oil changes, rotating tires, etc.

        Yikes.

        And, no, there’s no fucking way she was a feminist ever. This is the equivalent of the “ever since 9/11, I’ve been outraged over Chappaquiddick” schtick.

  10. FLRealist says:

    Maybe I’m cynical of my gender, but I have very strong feelings of doubt about this story. First, a few minutes of Googling will show that Valdes has made claims that she’s withdrawn later (being bisexual, and being bipolar). Second, she moves on to a new, younger man within a month or so after breaking up with the “cowboy”? Yeah, no.

    Personally, it appears to be to be a ploy to sell her book.

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