Sunday, March 15, 2015

Yes, let's.

I also like Phillip Roth. And Bret Easton Ellis. And Kanye. And Steve Albini. One of my first internet fights was defending Eminem as a songwriter. Not as a person, just as someone who has a talent for stringing words together, but I learned quickly enough that if the art of the person behind the art doesn't pass the feminism test, any kind of justification equals apologia.

Proclaiming to be a "bad feminist" common enough that everyone who identifies as a feminist has at some felt as though they weren't living up to the label. ( Indeed, Roxane Gay's book of the same title even made it onto the New York Times bestsellers list.)

Ellen Sofie Lauritzen, the author of the linked piece says:
One of the jobs of literature–not always, but often—is to make us uncomfortable. Fiction upsets, confronts and disturbs, it exposes all the irrational undertows of intimate life. Think of Lolita, of Hamlet, of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Think of the rise of TV’s anti-hero: Tony Soprano, Don Draper, Walter White. Moral ambiguity is the hallmark of an authentic character; we don’t have to like him in order to engage with him. It’s neither the writer’s job to be nice, as Roth has explained again and again, nor is it the reader’s job to befriend the characters. I would never try to set up Sabbath or Portnoy with any of my single female friends, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting my female–and male–friends to read about them, not for their smoothness, but for their complexity.
I like the embrace of the taboo, the "wrongness" of subversive forms of art or writing. I'm not attracted to bad boys as much as I want to be that bad boy. Not that anyone should want to be Patrick Bateman or Humber Humbert, but historically they're haven't been many outlets for female fallibility except within the context of "fallen lady." I wanted to write a short story with a female character who had a sort of a priori sexual agency -- not someone who came into her power through a lot of soul searching and women's studies classes. And when I reread it, I couldn't find a bit of "femaleness" there.  A lot of women's writing that's considered subversive falls within acceptable parameters --  she's not really bad, her circumstances made her that way -- and usually comes with a lack of power. The last book I read that subverts many of those tropes was Alissa Nuttig's Tampa, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me uncomfortable because it was so unrecognizable.