Susan Isaacs's witty imagination has peopled the world with brave dames in films like Compromising Positions and full-bodied novels such as 1998's Red, White, and Blue. The slender and interestingly ornery essay Brave Dames and Wimpettes is part of the monthly Library of Contemporary Thought series, whose most fun title so far is Carl Hiaasen's Disney-bashing diatribe Team Rodent (now available on audiocassette).|
So, what's a "brave dame"? "They're passionate about something besides passion," Isaacs writes. Take Jo March, Elizabeth Bennet, Katharine Hepburn, and Roz Russell, who prove "women are as competent and brave as the next guy." Her fave dame, Jane Eyre, "had high moral standards, stood up to injustice, and was willing to leave civilization and face the wild, even death, rather than do wrong."
Wimpettes, who outnumber dames in pop culture, believe in masochism, subterfuge, betrayal of women, and deriving identity from their man. "The world stops at the white picket of their fences.... larger causes--racial equality, justice--are left to the guys."
The book is a romp through books, movies, and TV, as Isaacs puts dozens of women in their place on the dame/wimpette spectrum. Anita Hill? Feh! "This über-wimpette testified before Congress how she endured vile sex talk from a superior rather than (1) report him for harassment ... or (2) tell him to shut the hell up." Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Frances McDormand in Fargo are dames; Ally McBeal and Anne Archer in Fatal Attraction are wimpettes. (Note, however, that Ethan Coen told Amazon.com McDormand is the bad guy in Fargo and Steve Buscemi the good guy.) Julia Roberts is a wimpette in My Best Friend's Wedding but a dame in Mystic Pizza and The Pelican Brief.
Ideally, Isaacs's book should start a lot of excellent arguments. Don't wimp out!
Source: Tim Appelo, Amazon.com