Dear Mr. President,
In my many years at various bookstores in various cities, I've encountered more than a few authors and politicians I disliked. Dick Cheney shopped at one store I worked in, which also hosted signings by conservatives like James Baker and Ann Coulter. Some authors are just rude- a historian I previously had nothing against once turned me off of his World War Two books forever by yelling at me over his book's not-quite-prominent-enough location. Glenn Beck was scheduled to do an event at my Seattle Borders, but luckily re-routed his tour and was unable to make it. I'm usually pretty good at staying calm even when I don't like an author's politics, or when they turn out to be completely arrogant and self-absorbed. For every Philippa Gregory or Alex Kershaw there are the Margaret Atwoods, Laurie Notaros and Don Cheadles, who have enough grace and good humor to make up for it. Tonight, an author who seems to make his money demeaning women was in my store signing for a huge crowd of frat boys and, sadly, more than a few women. I dont understand what women possibly see in this man's humor that would make them want his autograph. (I wanted to punch him in the face just for looking at me, but, luckily for him, it's a recession and my job is worth slightly more than that.)
I watched the line twist down the staircase, and between the large groups of (largely white) gym-toned and fake-tanned frat boys, I'd catch glimpses of the girls. They all seemed to be a variation on the same theme of long hair, heavy make up, too-short shorts or too-tight dresses with designer bags and long artificial nails. With impossibly thin limbs and shimmering highlights, they wore expressions of affected disinterest as they texted on phones in one hand and clutched copies of his books in the other. On the paperback of his first memoir, the author stands pointing at a blonde under his arm, her features replaced with the words "your face here". I've often longed to be more beautiful, but tonight, watching these lovely, sad creatures in all of their splendor, I have never been so happy to be homely.
While considering the mystery of this man's appeal, I came across this article on political misogyny. The recent popularity of anti-choice female candidates like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Christine O'Donnell has given me serious pause about my desire to see more women in high office. I would like my gender to have more representation in government- but not by the political equivalent of those tanned, bleached and very thin girls standing in line to meet Tucker Max. I'll fully own my nerdy plain girl's mistrust of those who make being pretty their full-time jobs, but I think that there is a significant difference, for example, in the politics of Senator Snowe and those of the Palin/O'Donnell crowd. American women are far too diverse to ever be expected to vote for the same party, but it is so difficult to understand women who don't stand up against the subjugation of other women. Women who don't even take themselves seriously, let alone offer voters reason enough to. I want to feel the bonds of sisterhood, some common struggle that connects me with women like this, but I just don't. Does that make me just as bad as Tucker Max? I think in some ways it must. I don't know what kind of feminism there might be that could possibly include all of us, but I know for sure we're never going to find it worshipping men like him.