Monday, October 1, 2007

The political is personal?

The criticism and defense of (liberal, feminist) journalist Katha Pollit's new book of personal essays, Learning to Drive seems to be endless, at least within our particular culture. Seems Ms. Pollit has both pissed off the left and given fodder to the right by -- gasp -- voicing some less than "card-carrying feminist" insecurities re: men, dating, driving etc...

Gosh, hard work being perfect right? It's not enough I suppose that the woman regularly, insightfully and bitingly takes politicians and regressive programs and policies to task in a persuasive publication with (inter)national distribution. The problem seems to be that collection of essays gives away the dirty little secret that the personal and political do not always jive; we are all human.

Being human, it is possible to fight tooth and nail to overturn against the cultural insistence that women need to look a certain and yet feel lousy over gaining five pounds. It is possible to long for equity between the genders and yet feel awkward when the check comes on a dinner date. It is possible to know that some guy's not give you everything you need/want/deserve and still fall in love with him. And it's possible to fight for women's workplace rights and still love Desperate Housewives.

Some of us are close to living within our ideals while others of us struggle to reconcile our beliefs with their behaviors. And some, possibly Katha, accept that we won't -- can't -- always be consistent and it's precisely that complication that makes people so endlessly fascinating. I, for one, thank her for letting us know that it's ok for women to be strong yet imperfect.

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