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« Palpitations | Main | More thoughts on Senatorial fiction »

October 27, 2006

Is Election Day here yet?

In the latest he said/he said tit-for-tat in the VA Senate race, George Allen's going after Jim Webb's fiction-writing. (I'm not going to reprint the offending passages -- you can Google that for yourself.) From Drudge:

The press release, as provided by the Allen Campaign:


The Author’s Disturbing Writings Show a Continued Pattern of Demeaning Women

Some of Webb’s writings are very disturbing for a candidate hoping to represent the families of Virginians in the U.S. Senate.

Many excellent books about the United States military and wartime service accomplish their purposes, and even win awards, without systematically demeaning women, and without dehumanizing women, men and even children.

Webb’s novels disturbingly and consistently – indeed, almost uniformly – portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these. In novel after novel, Webb assigns his female characters base, negative characteristics. In thousands of pages of fiction penned by Webb, there are few if any strong, admirable women or positive female role models.

Why does Jim Webb refuse to portray women in a respectful, positive light, whether in his non-fiction concerning their role in the military, or in his provocative novels? How can women trust him to represent their views in the Senate when chauvinistic attitudes and sexually exploitive references run throughout his fiction and non-fiction writings?

And I'll end the excerpt of the press release there. But please, remind me again, what are the public policy issues at stake and these candidates' stands on them? (Hint: I'm being sarcastic, not actually asking.) Or are we just next going to hear what little Georgie said when he was 12 and what little Jimmy did when he was 11? Is Election Day here yet?

P.S. This issue is getting plenty of play at The Corner too. As one reader wrote to Kathryn Lopez:

I'm going to be holding my nose and voting for Allen, but it will be a pity if he only wins because of Webb's fiction. Sure, those scenes are sick, but that doesn't mean they are wrong, either morally or as literature. Flannery O'Conner wrote disturbing stuff, and she did it for God (and was fairly explicit about that motivation, as I understand). More recently, Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons was loved by conservatives, but it certainly has some parts that aren't exactly Sunday school material. Well, unless said Sunday school actually reads the Bible, which is crammed with perverse stuff. Lot's daughters, anyone? Without more context it's impossible to tell whether those scene's in Webb's books are are wrong (a la Lolita, which is a horrible book, regardless of what Derb says) or right (as in the examples above) or somewhere in between.

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