Sunday, 8 January 2012

"Girls From Planet 5" - aka, the MRA training manual

You may remember me posting about this little gem I stumbled upon at the Toronto Public Library's book sale:


Well, I finished reading it. One thing I enjoy about books like these is that they're usually pretty short and therefore easy to consume while in the bath or on the subway, etc. They're like brain candy, and I honestly think I'm addicted. Don't arrange an intervention, yet, however. My next book is The Little Country, by Charles de Lint. Because that's how I roll.

The book was published in 1967 and is quite the gem. Starting from the tagline on the front cover, "When the beautiful invaders took over, only Texas fought back!", the book really doesn't fail to deliver. It lives up to all the gender stereotypes and the geographic stereotypes of northern Americans being wimps and the "good ol' boys" in Texas being the last remaining manly men in the country. It even covers the trope of women being afraid of confrontation and being too bureaucratic to get things done (because wimmins created the bureaucracy, amirite fellas? Enh? Enh?).

The story follows Dave as he gets mad at his girlfriend for getting a promotion to being his managing editor and dumping her to move to Texas. While there he meets gorgeous aliens, starts falling for one because she's beautiful and doesn't talk back like his ex, becomes more Texan, his ex comes to town and likes him better because he's all manly now, and him and a few other Texans defeat the aliens since the women who took over (were democratically elected into) Washington are inept.

No big shockers to be had, although I was quite pleasantly surprised that this book wasn't grotesquely rapey. That's always a plus. Sexist and misogynistic, sure, but in a patronizing and insulting way, not violent and horrific. Win!

Another cute feature are the five short chapters entitled "Vox Pop", which follow the hijinks of a house husband who starts off henpecked with an over-bearing wife, and ends up standing up for himself and getting his wife pregnant so he can resume a more "manly" role. It's funnier than what I've described. Here's one of the chapters:

"VOX POP 
THREE
   JOAN TYPIKA shuddered at the image on the triveo screen and moved closer to her husband on the couch. She put out her hand. George took it in surprise, then patted it comfortingly.
   There's nothing for us to be scared of," he said. "They're terrible creatures, of course, but look how slowly they move. Remember, the closest ones are way up in Minnesota."
   "All the same," Joan said, "I don't like it. I don't see how anything could stop them. They've smashed everything that's stood in their way so far. Smashed and killed. They're man-eaters. Oh, it's horrible!"
   "I didn't know they'd eaten anybody," George said.
   "Oh, yes! The ones who couldn't get out of their way. Invalids and the lame and - and babies!"
   "Babies! I hadn't heard anything like that."
   "Well, I have, and I'm more likely to hear about it than you are. You do lead a rather sheltered life, you know."
   "I've got the triveo," George said. "And there's our weekly poker club, when Charlie and the rest of us get together and talk."
   "Poker!" said Joan. "You told me it was bridge!"
   "Well, it isn't," said George complacently. "We play poker, and smoke cigars and - and even drink a little whiskey now and then."
   "George!"
   "That's right," he said. "Any objections?" He looked at her half-aggressively, half-prepared to retreat to a less daring position.
   She seemed to be seeing a George she'd never known before. She didn't know quite what to do about it. She wasn't sure she liked him this way. On the other hand there was something about him . . . a kind of thrill she'd never experienced . . .
   "Why - no, George. You have a right to relax once in a while. I know what a strain home engineering can be, and . . . "
   "Housework!" George snapped. "It's housework! It's about time we stopped using euphemisms. A spade is a spade and housework is housework no matter how many gadgets and certifications there are. Let's stop looking the facts in the back of the neck. We both know my so-called 'salary' is just a baby subsidy and that my 'research' and 'reports' are just devices to salve my pride, what little I've got."
   "Why, George!"
   "'Who, George,' indeed!" he shouted. "I've begun to see myself lately and I don't like what I see. There are going to be some changes around here. I don't know what they'll be yet but they're going to happen. And if you and the rest of you in Biddyland don't like it, it'll be tough, that's all. Tough!"
   He talked on, loud and confident, and she watched him in fascination and just a bit of alarm.
   "There'll be some changes made - by George! By me, by George!" He laughed, a little wildly. "I don't care if that is redundant. By George, by George!"
   She laughed, too, now. "George, you're wonderful. You really are. Come here so I can kiss you!"
   "No!" he roared. "You come here and I'll kiss you!"
   He did. Thoroughly. 
Not sure what kind of rating system I should give to books like this, so I'll have to work on that.


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