Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Holding My Own in No Man's Land

1997, possibly first edition, from Oxford University Press
Molly Haskell
Holding My Own in No Man's Land: Women and Men and Film and Feminism
Original price $25.00, purchase price $12.50
Hardcover in good condition

Although there were times when I didn't feel like Haskell was being very clear, this does overall feel less confusing than her From Reverence to Rape (1974), ironically considering it's deliberately less focused.  It includes essays and columns from roughly 1972 to the-then present.  Much of it is interviews with Hollywood legends, from John Wayne and Doris Day to Meryl Streep and Liv Ullman.  But she also discusses television (quite a bit on The Carol Burnett Show, with quotes from Burnett's autobiography), literature (including Jane Austen's Emma), and some not directly media-related concerns, like make-up.  I thought the most interesting essay was "Rape: The 2,000-Year-Old Misunderstanding."  Since Haskell parts company with many feminists on some topics, I was intrigued by her belief (as always of course, not terribly well expressed) that when some women say "rape fantasy," they mean something more like a seduction, in which the man's/men's desire is what matters, while some men's "rape fantasies" more often emphasize the violence and domination.

It's telling that the glowing reviews on the back cover are from such definitely not-feminist men as Richard Schickel and Lionel Tiger.  But Haskell would likely say, as she does in her introduction, that this is because feminists don't understand her.  If you can get past the martyrdom of that attitude (as suggested by the title, which she admits swiping from Gilbert and Gubar although for a different purpose), she does provide food for thought.

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