Written: February 4, 2015
One thing about shopping at an indie bookstore is that you get books ten years old. None-the-less, unless you’re specifically looking for a 2015 point-of-view, this somewhat feminist book is till relevant, written by a Hollywood writer (Six Feet Under, never watched it) in an industry that fetishizes sexuality. Feminism is a big word that opens more doors of controversy and thought than most words around including racism, socialism, or hipster. The thing about feminism as well as racism is that you have to sort of untwine the relationship between oppressor and oppressed and race and gender. Being Korean, a people oppressed by their own race, the Japanese, is alcoholism more about being Korean or being an oppressed race? Is our infatuation with success and superficial beauty more about being Korean or being an oppressed race? Is diplomacy more about being a woman or about being an oppressed gender? Is modesty, including sexual modesty, more about being a woman or about being an oppressed gender? The 60’s sexual revolution resulted in what may be considered a big favor to men. Men got to sleep around like crazy minus the social repercussions, that is, paying for and taking care of their own kids. When women slept around so much, men could legitimately claim that there was no way of knowing whose child she bore. It therefore seems sexual modesty was not so much about the oppression of women’s sexuality but rather something that actually helped them out. Now young women are just not having full intercourse as much as more anal and oral. However, why then do women persistently use the derogative “whore” as a put down, more so then men? I have yet to have a conversation with my male friends and one warns me, “Oh don’t sleep with her, she has a reputation as a whore.” Guys really don’t care. I’d just make sure to wear a condom and I wouldn’t consider her marriage-material.
I believe the answer is multiple. In a new age where women cannot get pregnant so easily, the disadvantage of sleeping around for women has been significantly reduced. We should not criticize women for sleeping around or being very open sexually. However, and this is a big however, hundreds of thousands of years of evolution cannot be so easily overturned. Women still have a lower sex drive than men, and women still have a basic repulsion toward overt sex-talk in the company of men. In fact, when men talk openly about sex in front of women, especially at work, it is still viewed as a form of sexual harassment. Should we change this?
Certainly, for some women, they have strong sex drives and some just don’t mind talking openly about sex with guys. But the vast majority, I believe, don’t. So it is also okay for women to be shy about sex and not enjoy being so open about it especially in the presence of men. Sometimes, I feel that women try to undermine their own basic nature in an attempt to be more “feminist” or exude more equal status with men. They may think, by talking openly about sex and being sexually aggressive, I am demanding equal status with men. By mimicking male attributes and even oppressor attributes like selfishness, aggressiveness, and outright cruelty and abusive behavior, I am demanding equal status with men. I think this is a mistake. As a racial minority, this would be like supporting colonialism, imperialism, and the extraction of wealth from weaker and less powerful nations. There are the oppressors, the oppressed, but there is also an increasingly large group in the middle, the merchants, the scientists, the middle class, the doctors, the professionals, the ones who don’t have to accumulate wealth by exploiting others but rather through trade and craft. How do they behave? Throughout life, I have met them and learned their ways, and in my mind, they focus a lot on personal responsibility, social relationships and trust. While the oppression of Koreans have led many to become obsessed with materialism, alcohol, and cosmetic surgery, many Koreans have found the good life, working hard but not too hard, raising a good family, and not getting trashed drunk every night. Likewise, many women are also finding that balance between sexual oppressor and sexually oppressed. They don’t sleep around to prove their sexual assertiveness. They work hard, but they compromise. They may or may not have a family and kids. They are assertive but neither aggressive or passive. There is a balance.
However, this book is not about sex. The three introductions are useless distractions and misguiding. One of the best advice I received as a writer was, you can basically throw away the first chapter you write, most all writers warm up, and the warm up is usually stupid and sucks and unnecessary. This book is not about sex or even feminism for that matter. Being Jewish, you could even argue, it’s more about being Jewish. It’s semi-autobiographical, mostly about dating and tons of self-reflection. I sometimes think I’m part Jewish. I narrate and over-analyze and question everything. But this is more a reflection of oppression as mentioned above. Let’s imagine you’re a rich WASP kid. You know there are poor people, but you feel sorry for them, blah-blah-blah. More importantly, you know that you’re in a gifted position of great status and fortune. Why would you rock the boat? Why would you question or doubt anything? Why are Oreo’s just black and white? Why not blue and red? Who cares? They taste great? Why ask? But if you’re being oppressed, you should ask questions. Questions lead to knowledge and knowledge is power and can change things and possibly lead to overcoming the oppression. Sometimes I feel fortunate to being Korean, because I do question everything, and that is a great way of getting more knowledge and also living a much more interesting life. It may not be as good or successful or full of wealth and love as say a rich WASP, but then again, I may just have selfish bias. It’s my life, so why wouldn’t I rationalize it as a great life? The author’s initial inability to have a long, meaningful relationship is the same as mine, and the answer is quite simple. Part of it is that we don’t want one. Part of it is that we don’t believe we deserve one. A long, meaningful relationship also does not need to be scrutinized, questioned, or analyzed. It is. It is not perfect, but it is. Sometimes when you don’t question things, you allow them to be, and in that, you give them as much meaning and value as when you tear them apart to see each part separately. Seinfeld, ever the Jew, has an ongoing joke where he meets women, but he can’t overcome that tiny thing about them that turns him off, whether big hands, an awful laugh, the half-face that sometimes looks ugly, or the one with the boobs that might be fake. Boy did he ever screw himself on that one.
The author does find a love and has a child and at the end it therefore gets boring. The appendices are actually a lot more useful than the introductions. She provides a bunch of advice for aspiring Hollywood writers. It is interesting to note that being a TV producer is not what you think. It’s like a bank Vice-President. You’re a mid-level writer or in the case of banks, you’re a mid-level manager. Only executive producers are the big fish, and when you get there, you can become incorporated, like David Letterman has Worldwide Pants. Not sure the advantage, because as the author notes, you now need a business manager and pay business taxes. Interestingly enough, you start out making $2K a month (at least in 2005), and you stay there pretty much forever until you become an executive producer. It’s not a bad wage of course minus the high cost of LA living. The real perks are simply hobnobbing with the famous actors and being invited to their parties. While I would agree that the successful people in Hollywood work hard because as she says, “it’s an industry not a lottery,” it is actually both. You can be the hardest working production assistant in Hollywood, but it also takes being on the right show and at the right time to hit it big. I usually don’t like books that is mostly monologue, but somehow Soloway pulls it off. She is a TV writer after all. Only after 200 pages do you get a bit tired and she also settles into her boring family life. http://www.amazon.com/Tiny-Ladies-Shiny-Pants-…/…/0743272188