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>Post-baby boomer, riot-grrl inclusive, forcefed, puked up feminism

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>Section from the New Yorker piece about Naomi Klein, whose book I have not read:

“While Seth was the good activist child, Naomi always resented being dragged to demonstrations. She found her mother’s feminism repellent. “She really didn’t like the way I dressed,” Bonnie says. “My crowd at Studio D wore long skirts, schlumpy clothes.” Naomi recalled that when she was eight or nine she spent “an entire journey through the Rockies conducting covert makeovers on everyone in the car. My father would lose the sandals and get a sharp, dignified suit, my mother a helmet hairdo and a wardrobe of smart pastel blazers, skirts and matching pumps.” She fought with her parents all the time. “Since I was an impeccable liar and rarely got caught,” Naomi recalled, “our fights were less about actual transgressions than about my silence, my sullenness and, as my dad was always fond of putting it, my ‘refusal to be part of this family.’ ”

Naomi spent her adolescence in her room writing poetry or experimenting in the bathroom with makeup. Bonnie was appalled. She worried that Naomi was turning into a brat, thinking about clothes, spending time in front of the mirror. “I think we were overly concerned about the kind of typical teen-age stuff she was into,” Bonnie says. “She read Judy Blume! I was beside myself. I was a feminist—I wanted my daughter to be good at math.” “They had imagined themselves to be breeding a new kind of post-revolutionary child,” Naomi wrote in her twenties. “Hadn’t they diligently mushed their own baby food? Read Parent Effectiveness Training? Banned war toys and other ‘gendered’ play?” Bonnie says now, “I think she thought, ‘What’s wrong with having a good time?’ And there was something in us—although I don’t like to admit it—something of the overearnest, you know? We were always fighting something. There were always people who were the bad guy.” In fact, it was worse than that. Naomi suffered from a kind of spiritual claustrophobia: she had glumly concluded that any path she chose in life—conformist or rebellious, lawyer or itinerant poet—would be equally hackneyed and ridiculous. And so even her parents’ idea of a good time, which usually involved getting out into nature and attending to one’s bodily needs under artificially primitive conditions (“another ponchoed picnic”), was to her just more proof of their irredeemable cheesiness and the vast gulf between them and herself. “All my parents wanted was the open road and a VW camper,” she wrote. “That was enough escape for them. The ocean, the night sky, some acoustic guitar. . . . ”

Soon after she graduated from high school, two catastrophic events erased her animus toward her parents and their politics. First, her mother had a severe stroke that initially left her quadriplegic. Naomi quit her job and spent most of the six months that Bonnie was in the hospital at her side. Then, during her first semester at the University of Toronto, a gunman killed fourteen women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, declaring, “I hate feminists.” She decided to call herself a feminist from then on.”

Her feminism sprouts from shame, disease, hospitalization, and murder.

Written by alexgfrank

December 3, 2008 at 3:44 pm