Yesterday I suggested there should be a "Feminism for Dummies" book - as Rook and I had just been stunned into giggling incoherence by "Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies." Feminism for Dummies would sell quite well.
It was unfortunately inspired not just by the funny book in the game store but because at breakfast before Minnie's wedding, my dad and my cousin Tiffany asked me what the deal was with "feminist science fiction."
Dad: What is that... like, science fiction written by a woman?
Tifffany: Is it like.... what would be, like, feminist? Like, a tragic heroine?
I opened and closed my mouth like Bertie Wooster doing his best imitation of a goldfish for a little while... I began to hyperventiilate... Several realizations hit me at once:
- My dad apparently has senile dementia, or is deaf; we have been discussing feminism since I was about 10 years old. Lecturing from me, sure, but also real discussion.
- If I end up teaching community college I'm going to have to explain what feminism is to young women like Tifffany. I'll have to start at the very beginning. How to do this?
- The depth of misunderstanding I had just witnessed. Friendly... detached... slightly indifferent... polite social curiosity as to what feminism might possibly be? My reality is not their reality.
- I don't have a simple "what is feminism" explanation to give these people.
- The bitter laughter of despair. It seemed attractive. Moderated by heroic effort not to fight with my family, it came out as the nervous giggling of despair.
Rook then began to explain the plot of "The Left Hand of Darkness" to my dad in a slow, soothing way until we were able to get the hell out of there.
So: the point is - who should write "Feminism for Dummies" ? Debbie asked me this in the hallway when I brought it up, but I couldn't think who. Maybe after I sleep on it. Gentle readers... who?