Feminist Writings Reviewed

As interesting as feminism is a review of two different books written from two different perspectives shows the changes from feminism’s first wave to the third incarnation of the movements ideologies is perhaps one of the more interesting methods to see just how much things have changed over the years, and how much they continue to remain the same.

The first book I’ll look at is “When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost”, the other the ‘female eunuch’ writting in 1971. Two distinct different styles, the chicken head book is a third wave feminist book aimed at converting African-Americans into conscientious feminists. Deals a lot with the writer’s conversion into hardcore feminism from conscientiousness, through the intellectual masturbation that is commonplace in the bourgeoisie, intellectual conversations from the “niggeratti”; former Bronx native moves from Harlem to Brooklyn. Aroused by the indifference of black males response to sexism, as evidenced in their response to the central park jogger case. Joan was then moved to write an article about the case, as her boyfriend of the time had connections at the newspaper.

Years later, in the mid-90’s, the writer makes correlations between hip-hop and sexism. Rappers who call themselves ‘niggers’ can do nothing better but to call females ‘bitches’ and ‘hos’ obviously something has changed from the 80’s when women were ‘fly-girls’. She ends the book talking about how ‘chicken heads’ which are basically women who use what they have to get what they want, do not prosper in the end. Points of interests include observations from her peers in the music industry, who she mentions by name. Despite all of the colorful language, this is an entry level manual aimed at women who aren’t already inductees into the feminist mystique. Readers looking for the creative reasons intellectuals delve into sexual politics, manifestos about how your sexuality fits into the larger context of not just interpersonal relationships with men, but power in the workplace, and society in general, need not waste their time. The language will be of greater interest to hip-hop purists, who like to track changes in the musical genre, to socio-political changes in the conscientious of the African-American community.

Joan Morgan does write a rather self-deprecatory piece, if indeed self-indulgent. She was obviously oblivious to the fact that women trick sex for money to begin with. The book is more of an exploration into how her own ignorance and fascination of everyday social behavior in the African-American community turned her into the conscientious individual that she is today. Despite her growing up in the Bronx, given some of her observations, you have to wonder how interconnected she was with her community, rather than her intellectual prowess.

The Female Eunuch is totally different. This early seventies publication is relatively straightforward and more accessible then material from say, Norman Mailer. Germaine Greer lays out a very, very convincing case for feminism, to second wave inductees that missed the train that Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan rode in on. Missing from this publication is the intellectual masturbation that intellectuals defer to concerning their own sexual perversions. This is middle ground, Greer chooses to explain how clitoral obsession leads to a metaphorical masturbation of sorts and objectifies a woman, whereas women should learn how to enjoy the totality of the sexual experience, rather than rushing to orgasm. Interesting quotes include one from a black man who sets the record straight about whites explanations as to why black men are obsessed with white women, as well as another from a prominent black women activist that suggests that the strong black female is the flip-side of that coin that the frail, needy Caucasian blonde woman sits on.

Greer is more interesting in exploring the psychic disconnect between the sexes, starting out chapters with statements like the fact that women do not, or cannot fathom, the depths to which men hate them. It gets unsettling at points, like her quote from a man explaining the brutal rape and denigration of a women who has been the focus of a train that included “40 to 50” men. But to keep things in context, this was the 70’s, and sensationalism was as prevalent in literature as it was in the movies, although allegorically and metaphorically, on the big screen and on the lp, such violence wasn’t as straightforward. But you have to look at the “feel” of what was published, and released at that time. Greer’s book was an interesting read, but despite the roughness and gritty aspect of her language, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a queasy stomach or a soft heart, as Greer uses her heavy hand to scare women into feminism, despite how convincing she is otherwise. Her indifference and angst at other political figures in the movement it’s self, her peers, is most interesting.

But like a lot of the figures of that day, Greer abandoned her principles in search of what must have been a series of orgies and other deviant sexual behavior, as well as other things. At the same time, Greer had never really preached abstinence, homosexuality or heterosexuality, just sexual consciousness and responsibility.

Still, feminists seem to be preaching to the choir. Despite Joan’s convictions, there may never be a mass movement towards feminism in the African-American community that was as well particularly or as politically entrenched as the one in the 70’s was. And even if there ever is, there is little, if any evidence to support the rationalize that one would really change the state of affairs to begin with. Sexuality, feminism, conscientiousness, as all for the taking, and each woman today takes that and disseminates and deconstructs those ideas into her own reason for being. Of course, a lot of third-wave feminists, out of angst, disappointment, whatever, encourage doing so, rather than following the feminist texts and conferences, whatever, stringently and methodically.

But this is a lot of the indifference that surrounds a lot of other ideologies, mindsets, such as what is happening with modern-day Christianity and Catholicism. At the end of the day, you have to decide between whether the intellectuals recipe for success is worth adjusting your own morals and ethics for. The only one that has to live with your decisions is you.

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