Thursday, October 12, 2006

Where Have All the Sex Jokes Gone? Oh, And On G.W. Bush, The Taliban, and Vogue

I remember a time when the most widely circulated e-mails among my friends and colleagues were of the raunchy joke variety, and perhaps the odd chain mail or two (usually forwarded with an apology and an explanation as to exactly why the sender just couldn’t resist sending us this one).

Nowadays, it seems like every time I open something with an attachment, said attachment contains pictures of someone’s newborn offspring. This used to be pretty exciting. But, (and I say this at the expense of coming off as a cold-hearted biatch with icicles for feelings) not a week goes by these days when one of these doesn’t pop up in my inbox, whether from an old friend I’d lost touch with, a colleague I barely know, and yes, often from close friends or family.

It makes me wonder if we don’t have a baby boom on our hands. Of maybe I’m just at that age when this happens to most people and I’m the stubborn odd gal holding out, or am I officially a withered ol’ curmudgeony childless shrew?


While we’re on the topic (again – at least I spared you my latest baby shower rant), I finished Emily Giffin’s Baby Proof last week, and it was the first book in a looong time that I managed to finish in a few sittings. I enjoyed it quite a bit more that Something Borrowed, probably because it felt very timely to me.

It’s also one of those books that’s hard to categorize… the pastel yellow cover with the booties say chick lit, so does the heroine’s honesty as a character, but the tone is quite literary, the writing sparse and unpretentious. I can also see why the Amazon reactions to Claudia Parr, the heroine, were extreme – she’s a complicated character, but isn’t that what real people are like? Is she selfish? A bit… but so is everyone around her. I won’t give away the ending, but this wasn’t a book that left me with the all’s-well-with-the-world feeling that you would expect from ‘fluff’. Again, it just gets me thinking about the whole chick lit debate, and I wonder if maybe it’s time we dropped the label and the kitschy covers. Unless, of course, if the literary world snubs its nose at the likes of above-par women’s fic writers like Emily because, well, who cares about women’s issues when there’s war, environmental disasters, subversion of political rights and so on to worry about, then why waste our breath and energies on ‘women’s issues’?

The cool thing about blogging is that I get to answer my own rhetorical questions (ha ha) and hop on my soapbox whenever I feel like it. Here goes.

Women’s issues are WORLD ISSUES. In addition to representing just over half of the world’s population, women control 80% of household spending (at least in Western countries, who, let’s face it, hold 80% of the world’s wealth anyway). My mind about George W. Bush was made up a long, long time ago, long before he had a chance to offend his first diplomat or tear up his first environmental treaty, when Vogue (yes, the fashion magazine) interviewed him during his first run for presidency. Vogue, being concerned with women’s issues, asked the now American president how, if elected, he was planning to deal with the Taliban’s atrocious treatment of women in Afghanistan, a type of abuse not even closely rivaled by ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia where women can only travel with written permission from the male relatives, and cannot drive automobiles.

The Vogue reporter was not kind in her description of Mr. Bush’s reaction, which pretty much amounted to “Taliban who?”

So yes, while women’s issues can sometimes seem domestic on the surface, they’re a pretty good indication of the inner functioning of a society and what’s wrong with it at a grassroots level.


Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Dude, where are you? Post some pics of Grand Cayman and pina coladas so at least we can be jealous!

Anonymous said...

Great comment, Dona. Hey, if I know Nadine, she's sporting a fabulous tan and sipping on a mojito! Now that's something to be jealous about.

Hugs from snowy Utah,
Wendy Toliver