January 17, 2013

Books and feminism (but only a little).

Let's talk about books for a second and, while we're at it, let's touch on feminism.

Before I rant, though, I'll tell you that I finished Welcome to Bordertown and watched Being Jane last night. 

I wasn't sure until the last twenty minutes, but I have definitely seen Being Jane before. It wasn't bad, but nothing terribly exciting happened, which explains why I couldn't remember it. I mean, Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy run around looking attractive (until the end, because old James McAvoy is kind of depressing looking) and there's a bunch of pretty dresses and fancy talk. There's no real drama, and certainly no gun fights or zombies, but I didn't mind it. My favourite part was during a scene where everyone was dancing a fancy dance that they all seem to know (like a British line dance) and all of a sudden the two characters have stopped hating each other and he gives her a friendly little knowing smirk. Um, swoon. Why don't men smirk at me like that? Someone go tell my husband to work on that.

As for Welcome to Bordertown it didn't really live up to all of my own hype. It wasn't bad and, because it's a collection of short stories, there were parts that I really enjoyed and some that I was impartial about. Call me a prude, but there was a lot of sex in it. I get it, teenagers hardcore enough to run away from home have sex, but I feel like it's not necessary to mention it in every story. I dunno, I guess that's part of my transition to 65 year old. I really enjoyed the last story, though, and the character that helped me fall in love with the series made a couple guest appearances so I was happy. They did a really good job of making the transition from a series started before I was thought of. I mean, Bordertown's been around for 26 years. All in all, I'm glad I didn't miss it, but it's not going down as the best Borderland work of all time. I still recommend the series, though.

I've been listening to Robert Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil for a week or so. I was excited about it because he's a pretty well known Science Fiction author, and I was going to be cultured. Plus, the book involves a brain transplant in a post-apocalyptic world. What's not to get excited about?

Well, apparently this book written in the '70s is a product of its time. Let's just assume for a minute that I'm an expert on everything I talk about and carry on. By the way, I don't recommend this book to you so I'm going to tell you what happens. Or doesn't happen.

I made it halfway through this incredibly lengthy audiobook before deciding that I really couldn't take any more. The kicker was when I was knitting today over my lunch break and listening to it. I realized that if anyone listened in on it I would be absolutely humiliated for bothering with such garbage. True story.

The premise of the book is that a 95 year old obscenely rich man wants to live forever and figures that a brain transplant is the only logical way to get it done. Long story short, he ends up getting his brain put into the body of his super babelicious secretary when she dies. It's very tragic and emotional. A man's brain in a woman's body? So much potential! The problem is, the story loses itself there as far as I'm concerned. Sure, he can communicate with the ghost/spirit/voice(?) of the woman whose body he's in and they're soul mates in a sense, but instead of being remotely interesting he just takes on her life. Kind of.

He tries to, essentially, be here. I gave up right before he impregnated his new body with his old body's frozen baby juice. It was just too much. I guess it was supposed to be a beautiful moment when the two of them decide to have a baby together, but it was too much. If I was a man transplanted into a woman's body, I wouldn't try to seduce the people she had seduced (my old man friends, for the record), and I wouldn't flaunt my sexuality like it was all that. I'd be freaking right out! I'd be adapting to my new body like it was the weirdest thing ever. I would be having an identity crisis like no other, and sex would certainly not be the first thing on my mind.

Most of the book was dialogue, too, which got tedious. There was a lot of "dears" and kissing everyone, but, you know, "innocently," like that's totally normal for women everywhere. People don't just kiss people because. It's not like that. I would also not be running around naked in my gorgeous new body, especially if I'd known the person it belonged to. I'd be trying to take care of it, but modestly.

So here comes the feminism. This book was SO obviously written by a man in a time of change in the world. Homosexuality is a really big topic in this book. It's understandable, considering, but instead of making it a real crisis of identity Heinlein just makes everyone so over-sexed (without, for the record, any actual sex happening) that there are no clearly defined sexual orientations anymore. Personally, if I were brain transplanted into someone else's body I would take a good long time before I addressed those basic human desires. I'd be too busy trying to figure out how to pee.

Also, I would not be immediately attracted to my best friend. Call me old fashioned, but I think relationships take a long time to develop, as do feelings, and as much as loving someone is a choice, I'm pretty sure that our taught emotions and practices don't just break over night, regardless of what sex the body we're currently inhabiting is.

That said, it's all very hypothetical, I know. But seriously. After going through a freaking brain transplant finding a future spouse would not really be a priority.

But, apparently, everyone is just really eager to get with each other, or at least they were in the '70s, and don't have time to worry about the interesting stuff. Instead I basically read a gender confused romance novel in which women wore painted on clothing to work. Because that's a thing.

Really, the whole book felt kind of like reading someone's fantasy about idealized gender roles. I mean, a man in a woman's body was fitting right in with what an ideal woman should be. Sexy, rich, and liable to get spanked if she doesn't behave. Give me a break.

And, uh, for the record, I'm not a crazy feminist, I just like living in a world where women have the vote.

In case I didn't already say it, I abandoned this book. According to Wikipedia nothing else interesting even happens. 

Yeah, I'm showing the world how much I care for women's rights. Go me.

1 comment:

  1. Your book reviews are seriously some of the best ones I've ever read.

    So from this I took away....Being Jane is take it or leave it, Welcome to Bordertown is okay except for the copious amounts of sex, and I Will Fear No Evil is flat out ridiculous.

    Sounds like I'd probably have all the same opinions as you. Where are the good, sex-and-weird free books these days?


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