The Well-Written Offensive

I picked up an article called, “The sexual fantasies of the working woman,” out of my father’s copy of the Toronto Star’s newspaper and was charmed by the writing style of Katie Roiphe; a sharp, intelligence and passion that was prominent but well-checked.  Class, sex and feminism – I couldn’t remember the last time I read a newspaper article that jumped on that much.  I reserved any judgment on her opinions about the new bestseller, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow.  Through the act of reading the article, I reviewed my own thoughts and feelings about those old debates.  However, at the end of the article, she completed her own thoughts so well, I felt no need to rebut her, in spite of my own.

I decided to ‘Like’ her article.  Thought it was a brilliant slice from a refreshing writer.  Feeling good about that, I decided to Google this artist.  And, wooo!  Quite a controversial career!  At first, I felt like I had ‘Liked’ a monster.  I should have suspected that a mind that good with words came from that highly academic background that sometimes went looking for prey.  After digging further into bio information, her writing, and the writing of her critics — and the critics of her critics, I again became accepting that she is what she is (like Popeye) – a writer sinking her teeth into her subjects throughout a lengthy and very upfront career.  This short cap fits the different positions throughout her body of work.

As much as I felt literary and feminist theory learned me good during my term in post-secondary, I never looked back at it once it was done.  I mean, with my recent talk about the sport of boxing, that world was exactly that.  So many pointy points needing to hit their mark.  And often it felt like the only progression was towards the next round.  Personally, and I guess proudly, I’ve learned to prefer having as many strong opinions as I want but, in writing, to leave the positioning to either the characters or subjects, unless speaking in the first person.  She is, though, much stronger than me.  It makes me curious what that strength has meant to her over the course of her career; the power of her words over her subjects – and herself.  The more I think of it, however, the more exhausted I feel.  Boxing is better, if you ask me.

However, that is not what I think is truly fascinating about this little explosion, as a result of taking my father’s newspaper.  The point that is stickin’ me in the eye right now is how strongly adverse I am to some of her earlier work but this doesn’t change my mind about the beauty in her writing.

I’m talking strictly about the writing.  Rhythm, tone, pace.  I love it.  Subject-wise, I even have to applaud the level of conversation her work generates on feminism which not too long ago I remember reading another article that suggested the term, ‘feminism’, was dead.

Regardless of offense or defense, I personally would love to see her writing reach a balance – a place that doesn’t have to be so punchy to be powerful.   Talent like this is beautiful when it comes full circle.  Perhaps the literary world really needs these punchy intellects to balance it or tip it over.  She is very good at it.

Monster writer, monster feminist, monster monster?  Whatever.  I’ll not judge a working writer.


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