In News from Train Wrecks (apologies to HelenK), I give you Alisa Valdes, author of the just released memoir The Feminist & The Cowboy. The book is the story of how a hyper-masculine dude tamed all Valdes’ feminist-sewn issues with distrust and self-hatred. Except maybe not:
The book, which features a cover image of a woman’s bare legs tossed high with a cowboy hat perched atop one foot, has been heavily marketed to the anti-feminist crowd, even earning a plug from Christina Hoff Sommers, who called it a “riveting tale about how a brilliant, strong-minded woman liberated herself from a dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying feminism.”
But now the author, Alisa Valdes, a prolific romance novelist, alleges that the man who taught her to “submit,” and to enjoy it, turned out — after she wrote this love letter of a book about him — to be an abuser.
Yesterday, Valdes published a blog post claiming that after she turned in the manuscript for “The Feminist and the Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story,” said cowboy became emotionally and physically abusive, and during one fight “simply dragged me down the hall to the bedroom, bent me over, and took me, telling me as he did so that I must never forget who was in charge.”
The deleted blog post is an excruciatingly painful read. It tells of an unplanned pregnancy that causes the cowboy to leave her, a miscarriage and then a reconciliation. What follows are several scenes of brutal violence, including one in which she allegedly jumps from the cowboy’s moving truck because she’s afraid he will kill her (“he’d hinted at it”).
Via The American Conservative, we get some of the actual text of Valdes’ now-deleted post (but none of the juicy parts):
I believe very firmly that the truth is the only currency a writer has, and that if there is any hope of redeeming this book and making it meaningful it lies in the full story of my relationship with the cowboy and not just in the candy-coated version that appears in the book.
The book was true, when I wrote it. But life changed. I didn’t try to fool anyone, or to exploit anything. Rather, I believed in a man who didn’t deserve it. I fell for the incredible charm and manipulations such men are capable of. I failed to see what women who are wiser than I was are clearly seeing as they read my book — that this man was “a jerk,” as one reviewer said. I didn’t know. Worst of all, I wrote about my love and my flexibility and compromises in so glowing and beautiful a way as to secure a book deal from a wonderful publisher, an elite publisher, and now the same publisher is treating me like I have the plague, all because, I feel, I have saved my own life. I didn’t set out to deceive them. No one wanted the fairy tale more than I did! Ironically, being “punished” by the publisher feels a bit like the abusive emotional stonewalling the cowboy would do to me when I didn’t knuckle under and do what HE needed me to do for HIS needs…it’s familiar territory, only now it’s being done to me by a progressive woman in New York. I’m not a commodity. I’m not an object. I’m not a thing to be sold. I am a human being, a writer, an artist, a work in progress, and real life is messy sometimes, especially when it comes to love and abuse. I am deeply wounded by the stonewalling from my editor, as wounded as I ever was when the cowboy did it to me…
Thus, I had to come out of my hibernation module to declare that it’s not a lack of complimentarian rhetoric or feminism itself that’s the problem, Ms. Valdes. The problem, my dear, is you. I haven’t even read the book, but I can tell from your words here, and what I’ve read of the reaction to your book and your reaction to the reaction that, while you claim to seek and love the truth, you never actually ask the hard questions to find it. You suffer from the same problem so many women in my generation and younger do. Question everything! Except for what I agree with. Don’t you know a good critical thinker always starts questioning their own assumptions first? No, clearly you did not.
Feminism served you while you needed it. Then, when you were staring down the last days of estrogen, you decided you hadn’t quite had it hot enough yet, so you went out and found yourself a mechanical man to ride and wrote off all the bullshit you swallowed along the way to your wild Latina heart and the failures of feminism. Even now you make insulting jokes about “being tamed.”
When confronted with the fact that you lied to yourself and misled yourself and put yourself in danger, you did not take responsibility. You added The Cowboy to pile of blame to be sorted. He may deserve his fair share, but so do you. So do so many women who don’t understand their own biology and who subscribe to some of the coolest, ergo stupidest, shit around.
Feminism is awesome. What today’s women–and publishers–do with it, however, is a fucking tragedy. If you believed it was about man-hating and avoiding marriage–which you clearly want, since you’ve jumped into a relationship with the man you think you’ll “probably spend [your] life with” a mere four months after you ditched The Cowboy–you clearly weren’t subscribing to feminism. You bought a brand, not an ideology. Think deeper, honey, and question more. Because feminism is what we make of it. Right now you’re making it a mess.