What Reading Bukowski’s ‘Women’ Taught Me About Men

mjp

Founding member
Over 5000 posts
#3
Criticizing a book like Women in 2017 for misogyny or insensitivity when it was written 40 years ago is kind of like lobbying to remove all the instances of the word "nigger" from Huckleberry Finn because society has changed and casual racial slurs like that aren't accepted anymore.

There's a value in having outmoded ideas or schools of thought available to young people so they can get a sense of history and how society has changed. And really, when someone is criticizing Women, it's more about how we would like society to change. Because misogyny and sexism still rule the day, even though a lot of the high-profile rapey kinds of guys are getting the axe right now for that kind of behavior.

As a poet once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Ignoring or removing or whitewashing ugliness on the pages of old books doesn't serve anyone.

Not that I think that's what Cassandra Baim is proposing, that Women - or books like it - be wiped off the face of the earth. Her approach was pretty open-minded. I think she says it all when she says she's not reading any more Bukowski because she just doesn't dig his style of writing.
 

d gray

tried to do his best but could not
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Over 1000 posts
#4
Criticizing a book like Women in 2017 for misogyny or insensitivity when it was written 40 years ago is kind of like lobbying to remove all the instances of the word "nigger" from Huckleberry Finn because society has changed and casual racial slurs like that aren't accepted anymore.

There's a value in having outmoded ideas or schools of thought available to young people so they can get a sense of history and how society has changed. And really, when someone is criticizing Women, it's more about how we would like society to change. Because misogyny and sexism still rule the day, even though a lot of the high-profile rapey kinds of guys are getting the axe right now for that kind of behavior.

As a poet once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Ignoring or removing or whitewashing ugliness on the pages of old books doesn't serve anyone.
couldn't agree more! well put...
 
#8
(Comment on the article.) "“Chinaski having sex with women without their consent” as in raping them. Rape. Yeah. That is only one reason I feel no need to read Bukowski and also that I believe Bukowski not only feeds into the disfuctionality in men this author claims attracted her, but serves to perpetuate and excuse it. It reiforces disfunction that I have never found attractive. It allows men who do such things to enter the club.

There are many realities I can find on the page. I do not have to consume them all. Baim doesn’t want to read more. I also have no plan to read any more at all beyond what I have already read. I am not missing a thing."
 
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#10
I belive Adorno has an essay on how prejudicial it would be for the schools, for the books, for the media to avoid talking about Nazism and Fascism, since we can't pretend that it never happened and people has to deal with it, face it, know it.

when the lady that I quoted says that Buk's book is an excuse to men to do things as rape, "to enter the club", I think she misses something important: people will do it if they read Buk's book or not. Calling the guilty over the book seems the same as blaming a raped girl for using a short skirt.
 

mjp

Founding member
Over 5000 posts
#11
Comments on the article aside, women (the humans, not the book) are trying to teach us something these days, about the reality they've been living with for the last 100,000 years. If they want to talk about the many very real dysfunctions of men in general, it doesn't serve us as men (the humans, not the stick figures on the public restroom door) to pick apart their protests. It just reinforces their point.

As for the article itself, I'd just add that I'm sure Baim could have found more than one popular contemporary male writer who engages in the same misogyny (and probably more than one female writer - the sad and creepy Ann Coulters of the world come to mind). I just think that would have made for a more powerful statement.

But I don't know. Young dudes still read Bukowski, and here we all are making the case for reading him, so is Women a contemporary novel? I guess it could be considered one if you choose to look at it that way. It feels like a relic of a different time to me, and it has since the first time I read it, more than 20 years ago.
 

Pogue Mahone

Officials say drugs may have played a part
Over 1000 posts
#13
At the end of the day, Bukowski really screwed the pooch roughing up Linda Lee in the Bukowski Tapes. He left it out there (for all time) that he was capable of slapping a woman. No one (Jesus, Gandhi, Roy Moore, etc.) can defend that.

But when I first saw it, I was embarrassed because he was soooo insecure. He wasn’t acting like a Big Pimp -- he was acting like a little boy. Don’t get me wrong: If he was acting like a big tough guy beating a woman, I would still have had a different very bad reaction. But it was his own insecurity on public display that made me feel different about him.

In any case, I think if someone put out a book of Buk poems with zero references to women, women might have a different prospective. “I saw a tramp last night” would be a good poem to lead off.

I need to read the Linda King books – because I’d like to understand how isolated this behavior was. I find her a relic too, but she was a woman living in a very different time as well.

P.S.: Blaming your ex-boyfriend for you hating Bukowski is getting pretty old. I understand why you investigate, but it leads to a very biased result: In Reality your boyfriend was probably just a dick, and you were probably just a jerk.
 

mjp

Founding member
Over 5000 posts
#14
he was capable of slapping a woman.
He didn't slap anyone in The Bukowski Tapes. He kicked Linda off of the couch. For what it's worth, she has said that he never hit her and wasn't a violent man. But you're right, the clip will be on YouTube forever, and it's indefensible as it is.

I seem to recall that Linda King did say somewhere that he slapped her, but I only skimmed her book once a long time ago. I also don't believe everything she says in there, because as I recall, she has a habit of supposing and inserting herself into his thought process, and that kind of blows the reliability of the story out of the water for me.