So begins the story of one sassy, authoritative and somewhat confused Alisa Valdes in her recent memoir, The Feminist and the Cowboy.
Valdes, a lifelong rallying feminist, had no intention of redefining her beliefs. She, a true child of the ’70s, was raised to question all the rules of modern-day society and reject the social norm. Her parents, a Marxist Cuban father and a hippie trophy wife mother, made it a goal of theirs to make sure their child was not shackled by the chains of traditional femininity.
Such an upbringing eventually caused Valdes to lose sight of her femininity until age 42 when she met The Cowboy. In this account, Valdes writes her own story of how one person caused her to question all her beliefs and as a result, rediscover her womanhood.
In her journey with the Cowboy, Valdes finds she is not content with her fierce feministic beliefs and stubborn pride anymore and has found they have caused her more grief than joy. She also finds she is more in tune with herself and her womanhood when she lets the Cowboy take charge of their relationship. To sum up, Valdes learns to become more accepting, to better control her emotions and to understand she does not have to be the only person responsible in a relationship.
She gives up her second wave feminism and adopts difference feminism, a belief that men and women are different for the purpose of being biologically programmed to be attracted to each other with men being the stronger, masculine type. However, this should not be confused into thinking of them as the better sex. Men and women are different, but they are also complementary, which is exactly what Valdes says in her book.
“Men and women were not designed differently so that we could battle one another for dominance in a patriarchal paradigm; we were created differently so that we could complement, care for, respect, love, support, and honor one another in a human paradigm.”
In short, men and women are two peas in a pod.
Being a modern feminist, I thoroughly enjoy reading literature regarding the many tribulations women face. This book was no exception.
This book was especially interesting to me because Valdes believes in everything I do. Before reading this book, I never knew there was a name to that type of feminism. This book validated all my philosophies.
However, even though I consider myself a difference feminist, I cannot say I entirely agree with Valdes’ opinions, and more importantly, I do not agree with her choices. Remember those nights when you’re home watching a horror movie and all you can think is to yell at the screen saying, “No don’t go in there. What are you doing? You’re walking right into a trap!”
Those were my thoughts exactly when reading this book. Yes, the cowboy is charming, manly and handsome, but those are not good enough reasons to be treated like a dog. (And that isn’t me talking; Valdes herself makes the comparison to animals in the book too.)
Though I have to be honest, after having attended a book-signing where author Valdes admits the Cowboy became abusive; there was no way I was going to freely enjoy this book.
I did not give myself the opportunity to trust this book because I simply could not bring myself to trust this man. My preconceived notions of him did not allow me to read at leisure. I was always on my guard and searching for the clues that revealed his abusive behavior.
Though I heartily agree with difference feminism, I found this man, this cowboy to be mean and undeserving.
From the very beginning, I took notice of all his controlling ways. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a leader and wanting to be in charge. But there is a difference between being commanding and being demanding. And this man, boy was he demanding.
Valdes makes an excellent point in stating women are attracted to the strong, masculine type. Unfortunately for her, she fell for the wrong one.
While reading this book, I found myself shaking my head in disappointment and frustration, but also nodding in agreement. It was interesting to see Valdes making so many new discoveries about herself, the world and life in general.
I do believe this book was more upsetting than it was cheerful. It left me feeling sad and confused. I would love nothing more than for Valdes, and every woman on the planet, to find the right, compatible partner.
However, we all have to be honest with ourselves and understand it may not be that simple.
But that’s how life is sometimes right? We can’t just write the good and ignore the bad.
If readers get only one thing out of this book I hope it is this: there is still time to change. If we strongly believe in something but find that belief is making us miserable, then we need to reconsider. We only get one life in this world. We should spend that life happy.
Kudos to Valdes who never gave up on finding happiness.