I’ve been in a bad mood for a little over a week. I think it’s because I’ve still got a copy of Backlash in the house. Every so often I feel compelled to give it another chance. I pick it up and flip through it. Oh, the Republican Party decided it wasn’t so much in favor of abortion rights, equal rights and equal pay for women, or NOW, after all. I can see how that would be disappointing, especially since it made future legislation more difficult. But is that evidence that US culture is now “backlash culture,” really? Or: Oh, in the late 1980s there were very few woman attorneys. But is that evidence that the number of woman attorneys was actually not increasing, or that by 2000 or 2010 we could still expect to see almost no more women working as attorneys than we saw in 1970? Or: Oh, here are a small handful of self-help books, summarized at length, that tell women how to attract men who want to marry them; and the writers think being a feminist or speaking your mind won’t do it. But are they so very different from the self-help books of any other decade? Are they even typical of the 1980s? Are they evidence that the feminist-inclined young woman of the 1980s is internally conflicted, demonstrating by her actions and beliefs that she’s under pressure to be less independent and more childlike than she feels is right? And what’s this “feminist psychotherapy” that the author keeps mentioning but doesn't specify? And: Why does she mention Moonlighting to talk about media coverage of on-set politics between the director and the stars, but doesn’t discuss the show itself, when (though it was awfully entertaining) it would be a better example of backlash culture than any she’s included? And how could anyone draw political conclusions from the data point, “male fashion designers aren’t very sympathetic to feminist ideas about fashion”?
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system . . . I’ll just mention that the second time I picked the book up, someone had said I should read it again, suggesting that there would be some payoff if I read it as evidence for a Marxian or quasi-Hegelian narrative. And I’ll just say that I tried all the permutations, but none of them worked for me.
I’ve also been grumpy about the bombings at the Marathon. I live a couple of miles from the marathon route, a couple more miles from the starting line, and like a lot of writers from Hopkinton, where the race starts, it feels irrationally like it hit especially close to home. Friday seemed quiet, though there couldn’t have been that much of a drop-off in commuter traffic, and apparently traffic on the main roads was still pretty heavy. Ungraciously, it occurred to me that if Boston and Newton weren’t opened up, people would have to come here to Framingham if they wanted a semblance of night life, and it would be even harder to drive anywhere or get a restaurant table. And as with the Newtown shootings, and the rape case from India right after it, I haven’t been able to put on NPR the way I like do at lunchtime.
So here are two clips of dances by Mark Morris. The first, “Dad’s Charts,” is of a solo performance by the choreographer from 1980. The second, from the Met production of John Adams’ opera Nixon in China, is “The Red Detachment of Women.” Both are pretty cool.