RARA-AVIS: Misogyny

Mark Sullivan (ANONYMEINC@webtv.net)
Mon, 13 Jul 1998 14:10:32 -0400 (EDT) Several have commented on Willeford's misogyny. I'm not sure that that
is fair. Yes, most of the men in his books are misogynistic, but it's
not like they come off any better, themselves. Many (most?) of his
protagonists exist in a man's world where they suffer women only for
what they can get from them, never bothering to see them as anything
other than a reflection of their own needs. For instance, the four men
in Shark Infested Custard treat women horribly, but I don't think we are
supposed to approve of this.

It's almost like Willeford is writing an expose of the worst tendencies
of men. Still, I don't get a sense that he is dealing with gender the
way Ellroy sometimes seems to deal with race and sexual
orientation--it's almost like Ellroy sets his books in the past so he
can spout bigotry and homophobia with impunity, but with the escape
clause that "it's not me, it was the times." And on those few occasions
where Willeford's men are forced to see women as people, they don't know
what to do. In the later Mosleys, when Hoke is living with a women and
two girls, he hasn't a clue.

Also, many (most?) of Willeford's non-Hoke (and even Hoke in Grimhaven)
protagonists are sociopaths who look at all people, male and female,
from the perspective of what they can do for them. I don't think that
Wileford's matter of fact presentation should be taken as endorsement.
Are we to think Willeford approves, or expects us to approve, of
Figueras's other actions that don't relate to Berenice?


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