Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?" - Review and Author Q & A

Idgie Says: 

I call this book "Snarky with Insight".  Gina has a lot of deep thoughts that she shares in her essays, but  at other times she's just sharing things we all think in our minds, but never come out and say.  The titles to her essays are hysterical:  "Sex Talk in the Park"; "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions"; and "The Female Orgasm, In Her Own Words, Explains How She is Not Elusive" are just a few of them.

I have a Q& A Below along with an example selection of Gina-isms.  


"If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?": 
 Questions and Thoughts for Loud, Smart Women in Turbulent Times  
March 29, 2016
St. Martin's Press

Gina Barreca is fed up with women who lean in, but don't open their mouths. In her latest collection of essays, she turns her attention to subjects like bondage which she notes now seems to come in fifty shades of grey and has been renamed Spanx. 

 She muses on those lessons learned in Kindergarten that every woman must unlearn like not having to hold the hand of the person you're waking next to (especially if he's a bad boyfriend) or needing to have milk, cookies and a nap every day at 3:00 PM (which tends to sap one's energy not to mention what it does to one's waistline). 

She sounds off about all those things a woman hates to hear from a man like "Calm down" or "Next time, try buying shoes that fit". 

 "If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?'" is about getting loud, getting love, getting ahead and getting the first draw (or the last shot). Here are tips, lessons and bold confessions about bad boyfriends at any age, about friends we love and ones we can't stand anymore, about waist size and wasted time, about panic, placebos, placentas and certain kinds of not-so adorable paternalism attached to certain kinds of politicians. The world is kept lively by loud women talking and "'If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?'" cheers and challenges those voices to come together and speak up. You think she's kidding? Oh, boy, do you have another thing coming. 


Here's the post from Gina.  Gina's site is: ginabarreca.com.

 Almost as soon as she became part of it, my mother wanted to get away from the weight of the Sicilian tribe into which my father had dropped her. My mother's ideas of becoming an American included fantasies of a place to call their own, not just a room down the hall where she shared a bathroom with her husband's mother and grandmother. It took her years to get away from them; her sense of exile and tense longing for a space of her own has stayed with me my entire life. Years after her death, I've discovered myself rehearing and rehearsing my mother’s anxieties and desires.
We moved from my grandmother’s house on a fiercely cold, grizzled winter morning. My uncles drove from Brooklyn to Long Island with the heavy pieces of furniture lashed to the open beds of their trucks or else tied precariously onto the tops of their cars.

It was in early December and to this day, fifty years later, my brother and I swear to each other that we’ve never seen a better Christmas tree than the one we had that year.

“Remember that tree?” we say, and out of hundreds, there’s only one tree we mean.

But this was no Hallmark holiday. This was no Rockwell painting. This was no “Miracle on 34th Street.”  Instead it was the circling of the wagons.

This was not some Christmas gift horse; this was war.

I don’t remember all that much about the big move except the outlines, stenciled in block patterns the way decorations depicting snowmen ands stars were stenciled onto the windowpanes with Glass Wax: What I remember from the days proceeding the move from Brooklyn was chaos.

I know my grandmother was against it, wanting to keep my father, the favorite of five sons,  under her roof.  She’d relinquished him when he was drafted by the U.A. Army to be a waist-gunner and a radio-operator in a Liberator Bomber—he was the only one of her children to fight in World War II—and she didn’t intend to lose sight of him again.

But his little French-Canadian wife he’d brought into the family had different ideas.

Almost as soon as she became part of it, my own mother wanted to get away from the weight of the Sicilian tribe into which my father had dropped her, like an insurgent behind enemy lines who arrives with plans for an escape.

My mother’s ideas of becoming an American included fantasies of a place to call their own, not just a room down the hall where she shared a bathroom with her husband’s mother and grandmother, neither of whom spoke English let alone shared her own native Quebecois brand of French.

She didn’t want to sit in dark living room with the votive candles flicking in front of religious statues, or else sip coffee in the basement kitchen where my father’s sisters cooked vats of food, endlessly steaming.

The older women reigned in flowered-print aprons and heavy black stockings, speaking a dialect from the outskirts of Palermo where they’d left a life of sulfur mines and abject poverty for their own version of a new life.

My mother taught, in contrast, herself English by watching American movies and by listening, illicitly and probably illegally, to international telephone conversations as she worked a switchboard for Bell Canada-- a job she’d held since she leaving a convent school at age 13.

(That both our parents were operators, essentially connecting invisible parties from one end of a line to another while being left out of the conversation themselves, is something else my brother and I have discussed over the years, right along with the tree. They were conduits, our mother and father, working lines of transmission; they listened carefully and were good at remembering as well as keeping secrets.)

While I don’t know it for a fact--because in my family nothing was ever known for a fact--I suspect what forced my father to leave his mother’s house and agree to my mother’s demands was her discovery that he was having an affair.

I certainly didn’t know the word “ultimatum” but my brother and I could feel it in the frozen air. My brother and I would sneak out to hallway in my grandmother’s house and listen to my parent’s argue.    

One day the arguments stopped. Soon after that the uncles came with their vehicles. I remember, vividly, my grandmother giving me a dollar bill and kissing me on the head while she cried as we waved good-bye.

We were moving all of twenty-five miles away. But it wasn’t the distance that mattered. It was the altered boundaries.

That first year, the four of us graced by that glorious, unmatchable blue spruce, was the happiest we’d ever know.

We were together, gathered around our own family tree. My mother triumphed. She made her own home. ###