Friday, March 09, 2007

Early Registration

I learn a TON from Genni's posts here. Yesterday, I learned something I suspected anyhow, but which nevertheless made me sad:

We get this socialization about how not-the-same we all are (and somehow that's always explained to us in terms of what we can't, oughtn't, or mustn't do) EARLY.

Bean got it sometime in elementary school. Genni got it in the third grade. Lesley got it at seven. BBrugger, around the same time. Meryl is something of a late bloomer, not getting it until the sixth grade. But Bitey got it at five, and--me for the win!--I got it at four.

De-PRES-sing!

But, you know, fuck all that. There are other click moments, click moments when you go, wait a second: You mean it doesn't have to be this way? And that's the kind of moment I want to talk about.

Some of us seemingly slide out of the womb feminists--read Amanda's story and marvel at how early she figured it out. Sure, she notes that in a town like the one she grew up in, it could hardly have been any other way; but I was going to church every Sunday for three hours at a stretch, plus an hour every weekday once I got into high school, in a religion that taught (unofficially, but nonetheless all the time) that in heaven, men would have multiple wives--and I STILL didn't get it.

I was at the opposite end of the spectrum. I was real slow. I had a dozen or more this-could-be-a-clue moments that I just never followed up on. For example:

I was about 17 or 18 and I was working at McDonald's and I remember I was in the women's room, touching up my makeup. I have no idea how makeup works these days because I mostly don't buy the shit, but back then the thing to do was to get a little trio of eyeshadow colors, and I remember the one I had, the one I was using that day to touch up, one of my favorite ones, was made by Cover Girl. It had a beautiful rich bronze for the lid color, dark coffee bean for the contour color, and pale sandy beige for the highlighting color.

(Let me just interrupt myself for a second. If you do not know what I mean by lid, contour, and highlight, congratulate yourself: You are the proud owner of some pretty awesome male privilege.)

I was always in the women's room touching up my makeup, or back in the break room touching up my makeup, because working at McDonald's, especially a McDonald's in a suburb of Phoenix, was HELL on makeup. All that grease, all that heat--my makeup was always either smearing or fading or both. Plus, it was the 80s; makeup wasn't optional and the natural look was o-u-t OUT. I don't remember any of us girls ever saying to the other, "You're wearing too much makeup," any more than we'd ever have said, "You have too much mousse in your hair." There was no such thing. Or rather, there was, and here's how you could tell: You were wearing too much mousse in your hair when the nasty shit started flaking off all over your shoulders like dandruff.

You compensated for this tendency of mousse to self-destruct by combining it with hairspray and gel.

So I spent a lot of time "doing facial repair," as I too-cutesily referred to it back then--and when I think too much about this, I nearly cry. I was 18. I had been blessed with very little true acne in my teen years. I probably looked FABULOUS without all that shit on my face. Instead, there I was, doing facial repair every 15 minutes.

And that day in the restroom at McDonald's, as I raised the applicator to my eyelid crease to touch up the contour, for some reason, I suddenly stopped, and I looked at myself.

And I thought, "Ilyka, what the fuck are you doing?"

It just hit me like a train how many hours I was spending on it. And not just how many hours I spent doing it, but how many hours I spent WORRYING about doing it, about being able to do it: Would there be a restroom? Would it have good lighting? Had I remembered my powder, my concealer, my lipstick, my mascara? I never left the house without my makeup. No one I knew did. It would have been unthinkable. I rode a bicycle often back then, and I still made sure I had my makeup with me to touch up along the ride. You understand? I was wearing and maintaining and fussing over and worrying about makeup on BIKE RIDES.

Although, then again, I always have been a little on the obsessive side.

But, you know, I had that moment, and all I really did about it was back off the eyeshadow a little bit. And then a little bit more, and then a little bit more, until finally it was the 90s and eyeshadow went o-u-t OUT, just like the 70s natural look had done in the 80s, and I breathed a sigh of relief that I had gotten away with kissing off eyeshadow.

And then I set about earnestly buying lipsticks with that new enhanced staying power, 8-hour long-lasting, virtually all-day color--so you see, I really learned a lot from that moment in the restroom.

That is how it has usually gone for me. I am not kidding about being slow on the uptake.

(Of course, some people wear makeup like their face is a canvas and makeup is the paint. I love that. But I am not talking about that. I am talking about feeling like I wasn't enough without it. I am talking about being a makeup junkie. I am talking about not being able to accept my own face without makeup on it. That is not healthy.)

I really gave up makeup about three years later, when I was living with a guy who liked to belt me one now and again. As my wearing makeup or not didn't seem to affect the likelihood of his belting me one or not, I quit bothering, except to cover up the occasional black eye or bruised cheek.

It was about that time I started working with Kathie. Kathie was a counselor at the county AIDS clinic where I worked. I was a secretary--oh, excuse me, administrative assistant. It wasn't a bad job, actually. I had a boss who liked to delegate and who accepted that his grammar was lousy. He let me edit all his correspondence. Hell, he let me draft the contracts and the grant proposals. To this day I give good abstract. He was a good guy, as bosses go. And perhaps it sounds bad to say it, but working at the AIDS clinic was a lot of fun.

I got to know Kathie about three weeks into the job, when she asked me if I would mind giving her a ride home. On the way out to my car, she explained that not only had her girlfriend failed to pick her up--

(Her girlfriend?)

--but, but, her trauma didn't end there, because once she got home she would have to figure out some way to meet her girlfriend at the bar, and she really hoped her girlfriend would not be too drunk by the time she got there because her ex-girlfriend was also going to be there, performing for open mic, and--gack, it was just going to be so awkward--

I dunno how I kept walking, to be honest. I remember my voice went into auto-polite mode: "Oh, really? Oh, how terrible for you--" but like every paranoid hetero what I was thinking was, "Fuck, fuck--is she hitting on me? No, come on--she has a girlfriend and an ex-girlfriend, she's clearly got her hands full--okay, just don't freak out. DON'T FREAK OUT. Act normal. This is normal. NORMAL."

Because the thing was, another lesbian had hit on me a few years back and it had really freaked me out; I worried ever after that I had done something. Somehow or other, without my knowing it, I must have given off that lesbian vibe. When, really, I was lucky to be getting any attention from anybody, considering I was walking around with half of Drug Emporium's cosmetics section on my face. But I didn't look at things like that back then.

It took me awhile to get over my initial freakout at finding out Kathie was One Of Those. Initially, figuring I had to go along to get along, I mentally substituted "boyfriend" whenever she said "girlfriend;" but after awhile, even my dumb ass realized this was a pointless substitution, because it made no damn difference. Relationship problems are relationship problems. Her girlfriend wouldn't ever clean the cat box?--My boyfriend wouldn't ever clean the cat box! Her girlfriend was emotionally abusive?--My boyfriend was emotionally abusive! (And then some!) In fact, we were basically dating the same person, except Kathie's girlfriend looked better in men's dress shirts than my boyfriend did.

It turned out the weirdest, oddest, strangest thing about Kathie was not that she was a lesbian. The weirdest, oddest, strangest thing was that she was a feminist, a vocal feminist. She didn't think men were shit, but she thought you were probably safer so assuming. She had a Scandinavian last name that she'd had legally changed to end in -syn, instead of its original -sen. She had me type up her resume (on the sly, of course), and I boggled at the seminars she had attended: Who the hell was Starhawk and what the fuck were womyn? "Hoo, boy," I thought, "this is some wild shit."

But, you know, I was paid to type, so I typed. And formatted. And printed multiple copies on the good heavyweight cream-colored stock, after my boss had gone home. Your tax dollars at work.

Kathie read a lot. I had used to read a lot, but I had stopped, because my boyfriend didn't like it. He had grown up with a bookworm mother, and he told story after story about all the times she had failed to pay any attention to him because she was in the middle of a book.

"Oh, fuck him," said Kathie. "Grow UP."

And out loud I made excuses for him. But inside I thought, yeah, you know what? Fuck him. Had my childhood been all roses? No, it had not. But I wasn't telling him not to do the things he loved as a result of it, now, was I?

I broke up with my boyfriend and got my own apartment. It wasn't a real breakup; I still went over to his place every other night (he needed me! Besides, getting used to sleeping alone after sleeping next to someone can be tough.). But I had some space. I had 500 square feet for $365 a month and I could read books again, so Kathie started lending me some.

Actually, she lent me a lot of books.

The first one she lent me was Mists of Avalon. I objected when she made her pitch for it.

"Kathie," I said, "I don't LIKE King Arthur. My MOM likes King Arthur. She's totally into that shit. I grew up with Camelot on HBO every six hours. She loves Camelot. But I HATE IT."

"That's why you need to read this book."

"I don't even want to like King Arthur!"

"Honey," Kathie said, "this book isn't about King Arthur. It's nominally about King Arthur, but what it's really about is the women surrounding King Arthur."

"I don't know anything about them. I never read this stuff. I never made it through a full showing of Camelot, even. Look, it's just fantasy. Chivalry and knights and magic spelled with a 'k.' I don't CARE. I am not into that shit."

"Look: Just take it home, read a few pages. If you don't like it, bring it back tomorrow."

I didn't bring it back "tomorrow." I brought it back three days later, puffy-eyed and red-lidded from staying up all night to read just a little bit more, and then I didn't shut up about the damn book for roughly the next 10 years.

I recommended Mists of Avalon to everybody. It was unsafe to begin a conversation with me. Grocery clerks kept their distance. Given any opening at all, including "Hello! How are you today?" I would start in:

"Have you read Mists of Avalon?"

"What?"

"Mists of Avalon! Marion Zimmer Bradley. Oh, man, you NEED to read that. It will change your LIFE."

"Uh-huh. That'll be $46.83, ma'am. Cash or check?"

I bought a copy for my mother, the King Arthur fan. She unwrapped it, examined the back cover critically, and expressed skepticism that she might enjoy a book about the women of the King Arthur tales.

"Just read a few pages," I said, "and then, if you don't like it . . . ."

A week later she called me up sobbing.

"This is the best book! But it's so SAD! Oh, I can't stop crying, it's just so unfair--"

"I KNOW!" I said. "And it's so frustrating because all the time you're like, 'Morgaine, go HOME. Go back to Avalon. Viviane NEEDS you.'"

"Oh, Viviane, what they DID to her--"

"I know!"

Other books followed rapidly after that: The Stories of Eva Luna. The Bean Trees. (She kept telling me Pigs in Heaven was better, but years later I read it and I got so mad I threw it across the room. It is not good when I throw books across the room.) Summer People and Woman on the Edge of Time (remind me to write about Woman on the Edge of Time some day). Stone Butch Blues, which, again, I initially balked at, but: "Just read a few pages. And then, if you don't like it . . . ."

I didn't send Stone Butch Blues to my mother. I had my limits, and she had hers. Instead I cried my eyes out over it, and tried vainly to repent. Oh, how stupid we high school girls had been! "Poor Coach Adams, never gonna get a man looking like that"--yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, we'd been idiots. Coach Adams had the worse life for all the reasons in Stone Butch Blues and then some. But Coach Adams also had what we didn't: The ability to not give a fuck. You can't forget your makeup if you don't wear makeup. You can't bitch about a run in your new stockings if you don't wear stockings. And you can't worry that no man is ever going to love you if that's not how you're built to love in the first place.

None of which is to say that reading Stone Butch Blues will fill you full of envy for butch lesbians. If it does THAT, odds are you can't read. But it sure as hell did make me think a lot, and feel a lot.

I owe Kathie more than I can ever repay. Until I met Kathie I thought there were exactly two novelists who wrote about women: L.M. Montgomery and Betty Smith. The rest were all romance novelists, because that's what paid and who could blame them. That's how I had it figured.

But through all those books, the world got bigger and wider and it started to make a teeny bit of room for me. I started to think I could fit in it somehow, even without a bitchin' Cover Girl eyeshadow trio.

And it was at some point in the middle of all this relentless feminist indoctrination that I bought myself a book, a book I took a lot of shit about from my not-quite-ex-boyfriend, a book I tried to give to his mother, the bookworm, as a present: A book she sneered at, muttering something about how women were never going to get anywhere if they kept miring themselves in victimhood like that.

And that, my dear lurking Republican women, is why most of what you say is not only so familiar, but too familiar. And that is why I don't care to respond to most of it: You are raising old objections, objections that go back centuries, objections that are not new or provocative or innovative but simply old, old, old. You can work those objections out your own self, same as I did: Slowly.

Or, you can read your history. There is more to it than you think. Just read a few pages. And then, if you don't like it . . . .

29 comments:

gennimcmahon said...

I've been thinking lately that perhaps instead of my steady diet of science fiction and fantasy anthologies, I should try reading more substantive works. But Mists of Avalon does fit in to that fantasy thing, and, well, my given name IS that of a particular fictional Arthurian woman.

Now I'm wracking my brain to try and remember when I had that feminist awakening, but honestly, I can't really remember not being the one that drove everyone nuts with the feminism. Certainly, I've not always been as radicalized as I am now, but given that I was typically surrounded by women who thought that saying the "F" word was, like, way crazy, I always had that reputation.

I recall, say, nearly 20 years ago, when I started working at a dentist's office (having quit the first one I worked for because he liked to refer to my breasts as part of my usefulness in front of patients) where a friend of mine also worked. One morning, as I was collecting the day's instruments, one of the dentists in that office walked through the room and casually patted me on the ass and wished me a good morning. There was a frozen moment as he walked out, and the other women turned to me, and my friend said, "We've been just waiting to see what would happen when he did that to you. It's how he says good morning." And then she asked that I not get us all fired. So I held my tongue. I had just learned the hard way that I couldn't get support from the EEOC in a sexual harrassment case because a business was only bound if it employed a certain number of employees (50?) so screw those of us working for small employers.

That was part of the reason I went back to school; so I could stop being so powerless.

ilyka said...

a business was only bound if it employed a certain number of employees (50?) so screw those of us working for small employers.

The FUCK?!? See, this is where I wish I had studied Teh Law.

Dude, seriously, people like you and Amanda amaze me. Me, I am going to wind up being the woman who first got a clue at 4 and then took the next 30-odd years to work it the fuck out.

Slowwwwwwww.

Andrew said...

(Let me just interrupt myself for a second. If you do not know what I mean by lid, contour, and highlight, congratulate yourself: You are the proud owner of some pretty awesome male privilege.)
Um, yay.

Good post. Now I'm thinking I should read Mists of Avalon. I'd only heard of it when someone commented that they thought it sounded like the origin of the name Echidne Of The Snakes.

Sniper said...

Becky Thatcher. I remember being about 8 and wondering why she was such a boring character and why the boys got to do all the cool stuff. Come to think about it, except for Alice, most of the people who got to do cool stuff were boys.

And then I got to thinking about how teachers just assumed the girls were slower at math and weren't interested in anything cool like bugs and dinosaurs, and how my dad said, "good boy" because I was "doing the work of a boy". What the fuck? My two younger brothers were right there, screwing around as usual.

And then when I was 12 I found the local womens' center and started borrowing books - The Feminine Mystique, and (scary) The Woman's Room. My parents were afraid I would grow up to be a "man-hater", as if that were the biggest danger life has to offer.

Sage said...

We must be roughly the same age because I had that exact tri-coloured eyeshadow and loved mousse. You could put it on hair wet or dry!! Fabulous! To be honest, I secretly still think big hair looks good. I have very straight hair which took an hour to become a Farrah-mane, but still don't appreciate my, suddenly in style, long straight hair.

I haven't read Mists of Avalon, but I loved science fiction. And many of the book I read had strong female characters (Chrysalids, Wrinkle in Time, any Le Guin, etc.)

But even before that was Maggie Muggins. And let's not forget Pippi Longstocking!

Lesley Plum said...

"The Mists of Avalon" is awesome. I recommend almost anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley. "The Firebrand," which tells the story of the fall of Troy from the point of view of Cassandra is great. I remember reading "The Iliad" and thinking Cassandra was a really interesting character, but there just wasn't enough about her. For those who don't know, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam of Troy. She was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, but later cursed by him that all her predictions would be true but she would never be believed. He cursed her after she rejected him.

Also I love the Darkover novels, so anyone who loves sci fi fantasy should check them out. She examines a lot of gender-related issues in them, and her women are primarily all very capable and rational, even while being oppressed in a very patriarchal culture.

WRT my own feminist awakening, it was just instilled in me by my mother from birth. She was one of the earlier of the second-wave feminists. She would even refer to herself by her maiden name, which at the time was relatively unheard of.

My father was also pretty feminist-friendly. I'm not going to pretend he didn't suffer from entitlement. He absolutely did. But one thing he was very good at was never making me feel like there was anything I couldn't do because I was a girl. If I wanted to do something that was typically male-oriented, he would be very supportive. My father used to love to build and fix things. My brother never had any interest, but I did, so my father and I used to work on projects together.

My parents' friends were pretty much all hippies and artists anyway. Since my mother was a hippy and my father was an artist, this all made sense. So in my childhood environment, I was spared a lot more sexism and racism than most people.

In a lot of ways, I was very lucky. My parents were forward-thinking and upper-middle-class. I gained a lot of privileges from that. There was other shit that went on, as my father has a terrible temper and my mother's bipolar, so my childhood was not mostly roses and cookies by any means. I do, nonetheless, recognize the very good things that I got from my childhood.

GoddessCassandra said...

Yeah, Cassandra rocks :)

I read women on the Edge of Time and LOVED it. Too bad I can't get my guy-friends to read anything with women's stream-of-consciousness in it.

GoddessCassandra

Bitey said...

Awesome post, Ilyka. I've only just stopped wearing lipstick everyday. I'm still all about the BonneBell Dr. Pepper lip gloss, though (at thirty-two, no less). I also wear mascara whenever I go out, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon. See, because I have these nearly-blond eyelashes, and without mascara, my eyes don't look pretty, and my eyes have to look pretty because, uh. Yeah.

When I was about seventeen, my dad gave me a copy of Steinem's Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. In a sociology class once, the professor gave us a gender-assumptions test. There was a list of words, and we had to assign each to a category: Masculine, Feminine, or Neutral. One of the words was "hammer," which I put in the feminine category. My grandpa was a carpenter, and he taught my mom how to use tools, make repairs, etc. She taught me. Dad never did anything like that, unless he was helping Mom. I'm pretty proud of her for that.

cinnabari said...

I, like bitey, am still enamored of Dr. Pepper Bonnebelle lipstuff. At 34. Unapologetically. I own eyeliner. Sometimes I remember it, even. I have not the faintest idea of how to put on Real Make-up(tm). A friend taught me that 3-step eyeshadow thing, for prom, which was the only time I ever used it.

Feminist awakening: Princess Leia (gods help me). I was five. She mouthed off to Vader. She insulted stormtroopers. She sneered at her rescuers when they go all uppity with her. And she took the pistol out of their hands and DID stuff for herself. Even in that godawful gold lamé bikini in Jedi--she strangled Jabba by herself.

I have, since that day, had a tendency to mouth off to men who think they're my betters, and to seize metaphorical pistols and do my own rescuing and, occasionally, strangled metaphorical Jabbas. But no bikinis, thanks. And no makeup.

Lesley Plum said...

Makeup is one of those areas where I totally did not escape socialization. I don't wear much lipstick, as it tends to dry my lips out. I regularly use Smith's Rosebud Salve, because my lips are dry to begin with. I moisturize regularly too, because I hate it if my skin starts to feel the slightest bit dry and itchy. So my primary reason for the moisture isn't socialization.

However, I put on makeup every day. Foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow, and eye liner. I don't wear mascara except on the very rare occasion. I just don't feel comfortable leaving the house without it. Which absolutely sucks, but there you have it. Mine has always been fairly subdued. Working in a professional environment as I do now, anything other than subdued would be way frowned upon.

I totally escaped the big hair thing of the 80s, though, because for the first half of the 80s I was in my punk rock phase. I had a flattop and yellow hair. Punk rock makeup also meant very pale skin, dark eyeliner, and dark or vivid red lipstick. [I would have gladly died at the time to find out what brand and shade of red lipstick Robert Smith wore. In fact, I'd still like to know, because it's awesome.] It did not require the very vivid eyeshadow shades.

Bitey said...

I have to confess that I got a lot of benefit from a really creepy, disgusting source. I learned a lot from The Rules. It's weird, because just thinking about that nasty little book makes my lips snarl back from my teeth, but it's true. That book taught me that I don't have to be all servile and willing. Anyway, I don't want to hijack the thread, so I just blogged about it. Thanks for a great discussion.

ilyka said...

I'm reading your post right now, Bitey, and you aren't the only one that book helped.

I'm not proud, but it's true. That covert message got through to some of us.

ilyka said...

(scary) The Woman's Room

You know, I need to pick that up. I read it when I was about 14, I think, while babysitting. The family I was sitting for had it on the shelves. I remember being pretty shaken up by it, but not much else.

ilyka said...

But one thing he was very good at was never making me feel like there was anything I couldn't do because I was a girl.

Mine either, Lesley--most of what you write about your dad I could write about mine. That actually worked against me, though, in a way: As I got older and tried to communicate with men the way I'd always communicated with my father, it was a shock to find out that, hey! Not every man out there is cool like my dad! In fact, some of them are downright pigs!

Span said...

The Firebrand was the first MZB book I read and it was great! I read it for Latin (we had to pick a modern portrayal of ancient Rome, Greece, Troy etc and review it) when I was about 14 and it rocked my world. I was so disappointed when I read The Iliad a few years later and Cassandra was such a minor character. And do not even mention Troy the movie. Urgh.

Kristina said...

Don't feel bad: I just woke up, and I'm 30.
I love you blog. Thanks for the reading list. I'll get started ASAP.

Meryl said...

I really can't remember a single awakening moment. I suspect it came very, very early in my life, because my parents split up in a time when divorce was Not. Done.

My mother was a single mom before the phrase was inventeded. But I can tell you this: My younger brother cannot stand dependent women. He married a strong, independent woman who had no problem at all letting Dave stay home and take care of their son while going to school for a couple of years. AND he does housework. (He's a neat freak; I'm a slob. I wish I took after him.)

He's told me more than once that he's always admired me, and that I taught him a woman could do anything she wanted to do.

And yet, I was raised in an environment where girls were less counted. My brothers had no choice but to get their Bar Mitzvah. I quit Hebrew School in sixth grade (yeah, it was quite the year for me) and didn't get a Bat Mitzah, and it was no biggie to my mother or grandfather.

Sometimes I think I became a feminist because I kept getting pissed off at the privileges my brothers were given, but that I was supposed to earn.

E.L. Walsh said...

She kept telling me Pigs in Heaven was better, but years later I read it and I got so mad I threw it across the room.

* blinking in incomprehension *

Cassandra Says said...

This is a brilliant post. I think that's how it works for most women, really - no one moment of blinding revelation, just a series of tiny incidents that by themselves mean nothing much, but then they begin to add up, and then you start to see how they all fit together...
For me the first stirrings were when I was 9. I was living in Saudi Arabia. If that alone doesn't do it you may be a hopeless case. Anyway, my first "this is all so fucked up" moment was the first time we went to the swimming pool. Now, I love to swim, and so does my Dad. My Mom didn't like it - she had bad eyesight and couldn't tolerate contacts, so she swam in her glasses, with her head above the water...not much fun, really. So we went to the pool and what's the first thing we see? There are 2 pools, one for men and one for women. We are told very firmly that Dad cannot be in the woman's pool. So, he asks if I can come in with him. No, we are told, because it is not proper for men to look on the bodies of women not related to them. Remember, I am 9. We point out that I am 9. Apparently this does not matter, I am still a woman. After realising that arguing is getting us nowhere we reluctantly file into our separate pools. I have a miserable time without my Dad to race and dive for coins with. My Mom is visibly upset. I get the feeling that she is afraid for me - not surprising, since someone has just told her that her 9 year old daughter is considered an adult. By the time we get home, the first seeds of dissent are germinating. Then we start to talk to our neighbors, and my Dad's coworkers, we make friends...and at some point it is brought to my attention that the fact that a 9 year old is considered a woman has tangible results other than not being able to swim with your Dad. I learn that it is not uncommon for girls my age to be married. To men who really are adults. I imagine what that would be like, and I look at the Saudi girls my age that I pass in the streets. I imagine those girls who I see at the pool, with their pre-pubescent bodies and their childish mannerisms, being married. And then I get very, very angry.
Thus a feminist is born.

Cassandra Says said...

About your eyeshadow tri, though...I have no idea what "contour' means in this context or why my eyelids would be regarded as insufficiently contoured by themselves. As much as it is fashionable lately to sneer at the affection some of us have for the subcultures in which we spent our teens, I will say this - being a goth/punk kid probably saved me from ever owning an eyeshadow trio or having to know what the hell countouring was, and for that I am grateful.

mythago said...

"The Mists of Avalon" is awesome. I recommend almost anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

You must have read different Darkover books than I did. The 'feminists' in that world are caricatures right out of Greek mythology. Let's not forget the book where a rapist suddenly gets the point of view of all of his victims unleashed into his brain, and the reader is supposed to feel SORRY for him.

MZB made it very clear that she had nothing but contempt for feminists and felt that the sexism of the old-boy SF club just meant that women authors had to be specially good.

Isabel said...

(Let me just interrupt myself for a second. If you do not know what I mean by lid, contour, and highlight, congratulate yourself: You are the proud owner of some pretty awesome male privilege.)

I don't know what those things are either despite being a girl, but my mom was a badass feminist. I think she owns like three things of make-up (which is still three more than I own).

ilyka said...

Keep in mind this is outdated 80s style, but:

Lid color: You applied this from eyelashes to lid crease all the way across the lid, from inner to outer corner.

Contour: That went in the crease of the lid. This was always very tricky, as the crease is not always well defined on everyone's eyelids (it isn't on mine either), so some eyeshadow kits would give you a special pointed applicator to manage it. On the other hand, you didn't want an obvious hard line in the crease, either.

Highlight: Applied from just above the crease to just below the eyebrow. Intended to emphasize the brow bone. I sometimes skipped this one, though, because I have a small mole beneath one of my eyebrows and nothing looks dorkier than a beige-frosted mole.

There were variations, like using the contour shade to make a sideways "V" at the outer corner of the lid so that the "V" opened towards the inner eye, but that was more or less the formula you started with.

Lesley Plum said...

You must have read different Darkover books than I did. The 'feminists' in that world are caricatures right out of Greek mythology. Let's not forget the book where a rapist suddenly gets the point of view of all of his victims unleashed into his brain, and the reader is supposed to feel SORRY for him.

We just reacted to them differently. I never read her characters as being feminists. Just as women struggling through a patriarchal culture while being capable and rational. Plus I never thought you were supposed to feel sorry for that guy. Maybe that was her intent. I don't know. It's just not what I got from it.

It's rather how I read "Jane Eyre". I have no idea how Charlotte Bronte would react to feminists, and I don't think that Jane herself was a feminist. She was just a great female character. Intelligent, capable, but oppressed and struggling through her (recognized) oppression.

ilyka said...

Good points all, Lesley, and this is all why I take "but it's not feminist canon"-style criticisms of women writers with a grain of salt: I'm not sure there is such a thing as "feminist canon," for one, but for two, you have to start somewhere. Often something that isn't canonical has a better chance of reaching someone who's new to the idea that she's a human being than something that is.

Sniper said...

Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen both wrote about women who were human - go figure.

R said...

Stumbling into the discussion way late, here, but I just wanted to recommend an awesome anthology I recently read to Genni and anyone else who is into sci-fantasy anthologies. It's called Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, edited by Justine Larbalestier, and it's an anthology of notable short sci-fi stories by women, coupled with critical feminist essays discussing each story. Really awesome stories, and some very thought-provoking crit - definitely the best anthology I've bought for myself in a while.

Also, hi! I'm a big fan. :-D

nightgigjo said...

Very late, but still. :)

Sniper sed: "And then I got to thinking about how teachers just assumed the girls were slower at math and weren't interested in anything cool like bugs and dinosaurs, and how my dad said, "good boy" because I was "doing the work of a boy". What the fuck? My two younger brothers were right there, screwing around as usual."

And I called myself "the son my father never had" because one of my chores at age 12 was mowing the lawn. I did some of "the boy jobs".

ilyka said...

anyone else who is into sci-fantasy anthologies. It's called Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, edited by Justine Larbalestier, and it's an anthology of notable short sci-fi stories by women, coupled with critical feminist essays discussing each story. Really awesome stories, and some very thought-provoking crit

Damn, and I thought comments were dead on this post! I missed this, R, but thank you. I'll look it up.

. . . Oh, hey: That was easy!