Thursday, June 03, 2004
I wanted to comment really quickly on this article about Caitlin Flanagan, though. I could say quite a bit about Caitlin Flanagan, as I am one of those irrational feminists who finds her deeply annoying, but I'm pressed for time, so I'll only say this. I am particularly annoyed by the constant references to her "wit." These references seem mostly to come from male editors, and I'm pretty sure that they translate to "she may be dishonest, inconsistent, mean-spirited, classist, and possessed of a shocking sense of entitlement, but at least she's amusing, unlike those humorless feminists." And you know, while I don't think feminists are particularly humorless, and in fact know quite a few very funny feminists, I'm sort of confused about why feminists are the only political types who are derided for not being hilarious. Are anti-death-penalty activists routinely slagged off for their lack of humor? Do people listen to MLK's I Have a Dream speech and point out that there's not a single good joke? Would the New Yorker hire someone to comment on, say, race or globalization or the Middle East who didn't make a whole lot of sense but whose incoherence was awfully witty? If women's issues or family issues were considered particularly important, The New Yorker would never have hired someone who writes well but doesn't have much to say.
I should email the New Yorker and let them know this is why I let my subscription lapse.
I was interested to see that she's the daughter of Thomas Flanagan, though. It's been ages since I read The Year of the French, and I can't even remember if I read the subsequent books in the trilogy. But I did see an interesting article a while back in the Irish studies journal Eire/Ireland which suggested that the best way to read The Year of the French was not as a novel about Ireland in the 1790s, but as a reflection of Flanagan's profound ambivilence about the protest movements in Berkeley in the '60s. So I'm wondering if Caitlin Flanagan is being completely honest when she claims her parents were Berkeley radicals. Imagine that! Caitlin Flanagan being less than truthful! Shocking!