Ladies and gentlemen

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Is this true?

I grew up in a world, [a] very New Jersey, American, Dominican, immigrant, African-American, Latino world. And, you know, I went to school and it was basically the same. I went to college; it was basically the same, where largely I wasn’t really encouraged to imagine women as fully human. I was in fact pretty much — by the larger culture, by the local culture, by people around me, by people on TV — encouraged to imagine women as something slightly inferior to men. And so I think that a lot of guys, part of our journey is wrestling with, coming to face, our limited imagina[tion] and growing in a way that allows us not only to imagine women as fully human, but to imagine the things that we do to women — that we often do blithely, without thinking, we just sort of shrug off — as actually deeply troubling and as hurting another human being. And this seems like the simplest thing. A lot of people are like, ‘Really, that’s like a huge leap of knowledge, of the imagination?’ But for a lot of guys, that is.

(from an interview with Junot Diaz on NPR Morning Edition)

By true, I mean universal.

…look, bro, are you telling me that if I get all the women of the United States and gather them all together and then say, ‘Do you highly recommend American men?’ that you’re going to get, like, a sterling recommendation? That these women are going to be like, ‘Oh, yes, American men are fantastic! These dudes have done so well by us.’ I think that every culture, if you got all the women of that culture together and said, ‘Grade your men,’ I don’t think any country — even a place like Denmark, which has this famous sort of gender equality — would give their men anything higher than F as a collective. And that’s a reality.

I would probably give American men a higher grade than F, but this is perhaps the idealist in me, or perhaps I am disproportionately acquainted with many high-quality men who take for granted the full humanity of women. Is it possible that in order to get that way, they had to make the same emotional/perceptional journey that Diaz made? I can’t help but think that circumstance – perhaps the format of the interview, or because it was conducted by a man – left this really interesting topic underexplored. See, for example, this lengthy and fabulous interview with Diaz from the Boston Review (part one, part two), which I stumbled on courtesy of The Hairpin. It’s not explicitly about that journey, but demonstrates clearly, I think, where he’s landed.

Also today, there’s this about Patrick Rothfuss, whose first book I found engaging for the first half, then tedious, and yes, troubling vis a vis its portrayal of women.

Clearly Rothfuss is someone who did not succeed in overcoming his limited imagination.


2 responses to “Ladies and gentlemen

  1. This kind of made me laugh. Go Junot Diaz for being so blunt about it. Perhaps this is because I live in Texas, but I can’t really give a high grade for American women either.

  2. Ah, grading the ladies…I guess we all fall short of the ideal. Later that week, I heard a much better interview with Diaz by Maria Hinojosa here:

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