A new memoir, The Feminist and the Cowboy, by bestselling chick lit author Alisa Valdes seems custom-designed to enrage those of us committed to gender equality. As the Amazon book description reads:
Yet despite her professional success, Valdes hit forty-two a single mom and a serial dater of inadequate men in tweed jackets—until she met the Cowboy. A conservative rancher, the Cowboy held the traditional views on gender roles that Valdes was raised to reject. Yet as she falls head-over-spurs for him and their relationship finds harmony, she finds the strength, peace, and happiness that comes from embracing her femininity.
From their first date the Cowboy makes her pulse race, and she discovers that “when men… act like men rather than like emasculated boys, you as a woman will find not only great pleasure in submitting to them but also great growth as a person.” Told with plenty of humor and candor, The Feminist and the Cowboy will delight the many readers who made The Pioneer Woman a bestseller [emphasis mine]—not to mention every woman who dreams of being swept away by a rugged cowboy.
Writing on The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky manages to swallow the throw-up in his mouth and find a point to salvage, which is this:
The most frustrating part about Valdes’s memoir is that, beneath the pseudo-science nonsense, the boasting self-abnegation, and the simple-minded feminist-baiting, there is actually the glimmer of a point. It’s true that feminists from Julia Serano to William Marston to Luce Irigaray to Susie Bright have, in different ways, tried to figure out a way to create a feminism that embraces traditional femininity. …I’ve heard from several stay-at-home or homeschooling moms whose so-called feminist friends have dressed them down for choosing children over career.
Interesting. Certainly many of the women I interviewed for my book felt attacked or rejected by their peers for “letting feminism down” by giving up high-powered careers or focusing on domesticity. Because they perceived feminism as attacking their lifestyle choices, they often chose to reject the label of “feminist” as well. I don’t agree that the second-wave feminist movement of the 1960s-1970s actually had it out for domesticity, but this is certainly the popular perception: Betty Friedan killed home cooking, feminists hate stay-at-home moms, etc.
Also interesting is that, shortly after the release of the memoir, Valdes left the “Cowboy” because he physically and emotionally abused her.
Has anyone read this?