Atlanta, Georgia- I missed the literary event of the year because I was reluctant to hear about death. The event centered around Jong’s new book is Fear of Dying. A continuation of the Fear of Flying saga.
The key note kickoff event was a conversation between Eric Jong and Roxane Gay. Jong who is a pioneer feminist who wrote Fear of Flying in the 1970s basically reaffirmed that it was ok for mainstream women to enjoy sex. Roxane Gay, who wrote Bad Feminist writes about the challenges of being soft in a world that expects her to be hard. According to written reports the two spat between the broader impact of women of color in modern feminist. Seems Jong was tone deaf to what the new wave of intellectuals like Gay were saying.
I did attend the lecture by Roxane Gay on the following day where before a packed audience she read from her works. I was the last one in the door, and was surprise to the full house turn out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I was not aware of Gay’s previous work.
Clip from Roxane Gay Decatur Book Festival Sunday’s lecture http://youtu.be/WyuMXAiRERE
As a first generation American, Gay is Haitian American, and was reared in Nebraska, she spoke to how she weaved between the world of the white, intellectual, and color. She is a robust woman at six feet and three inches and often worries from afar if some will confuse her a large black male, in light of Trey Martin, don’t shoot.
In her book, Bad Feminist, it is a collection of essays, on my list to read, but she deconstructs the sharp divisions in feminism and her inner conflicts. How can she be a strong woman but still like pink as her favorite color and shave her legs? How her path in academia made her sacrifice a relationship and how transitioning to the other side was not at glamorous as she imagine. What she read was open and honest.
As a first generation American I can identify with her words, how I weave between being latino, a southern, and modern alpha male with a sprinkle of rockabilly rebel. What are our roles in today’s society? We have emasculated the male and pushed the female to be more dominate that the lines are not well defined. This has resulted in a cohort that don’t make decision and focus on so much consensus that nothing gets done. I see it in my brother’s relationship where he and his wife and two daughters have a discussion for the most basic decisions like what they should eat for dinner. Growing up, my dad’s word was the law, now there is lawless where nothing gets set. I see my nieces have no independent compass.
Our society has become more integrated and complex. As we seek to get along we need to examine our own identity and how we fit into the bigger mix. Not be afraid to stand up with which tribe we feel we best fit.
I applaud Roxane Gay for her honesty and willingness to be a voice of intellectuals that enable us to begin a dialogue of how we will deal with era of change.