Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jack Kerouac: Feminist

No, Jack wasn't a feminist. That title was to get you to read this post.

I have officially had it with criticism of Jack Kerouac as an anti-feminist patriarchal misogynist, such critiques always leading to explicit or implicit pleadings to therefore shun his writings. If we are not allowed to read anything by a writer with flaws, then we may as well commence our cessation of reading right now.


We know that! Anyone with a brain knows that. Or even half a brain.

Man! I'm just pissed off about this.

FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO SPEND YOUR TIME ON. Did you ever hear the phrase, "beating a dead horse"? I guess not.

We who love beat literature love beat literature and that's that. Your sophomoric attempts to persuade us otherwise with your novel (not) and withering (not) critiques of beat literature because it wasn't feminist enough are not going to work.

Here you go. Read this article by Dr. Audrey Sprenger. She's way smarter than I'll ever be and puts the matter to rest quite well.

I'm going to read what I want and I'm going to love the authors I choose. Did Jack Kerouac meet today's standards where a feminist perspective is concerned? No. Do I wish he did? No! It was the 1940s and 1950s. Our culture was what it was. He was a product of and a describer of the culture at that time.

Pick on someone else for a change. The beats are too easy a target where anti-feminism is concerned. How about looking into the U.S. Senate as an example of a current patriarchy? Write about that and maybe someone will listen.

What's really going on here is jealousy. Some people just can't get their heads around beat literature or its popularity, and reverse anachronistic potshots are the best they can manage for a critique.



Anonymous said...

I see... so anybody that critiques the things you like should just shut up. Very enlightening blog post.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

That wasn't my point at all, but opposing views are welcome on The Daily Beat.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to be a total jerk, but there were plenty of feminist and feminist sympathizers during the 40s & 50s, too, so let's not let him off too easily.

You can go ahead and enjoy his writings- choosing to look over every other paragraph that demeans women... I'm sure there's feminists who can enjoy the writings of Pat Buchanan, too, if they're into political literature. I mean, he's just a product of the 90's.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Did I suggest letting him off? I acknowledged the marginalization of women in beat literature. My point was that it's so well-established that it is unnecessary to keep going there. Every other paragraph in Jack's writing is demeaning to women? You exaggerate greatly. And what about his many passages that show compassion and respect for women?

Anonymous said...

Tolstoy died in 1910 and he had progressive views about women's rights.

AV said...

Perhaps people wouldn't feel inclined to reiterate his flaws if others did not constantly glorify him.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Anonymous and Courtney make valid points. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Lol, that's what I was thinking...

I mean, I don't personally think there is enough mainstream criticism of Beat literature. In fact, we tend to romanticise it as if it were flawless. I think it's extremely important that, while young people read and enjoy the novels of the time, they do so with critical minds.

Anonymous said...

Great point. I think that's why the criticism is needed; we do glorify his writings, and ignore or pass of the sexism and misogyny as simple signs of the times. I think it's important to enable women's voices to be heard in response to literature that demeans them, especially when the literature is so popular and placed on such high a pedestal. I like the book, but I will never NOT discuss it's flaws.