Thursday, May 10, 2007

From the Projection Booth

(Note: I originally wrote this for my personal blog, but as I finished it up, it seemed at least moderately appropriate for this forum. Hopefully that explains some of the tone.)

When my buddy Dave and I were in college together, we had a running joke, a joke that I may not even be able to explain. But heck, I've blogged about my exercise routines, about my days at work, and even about my dreams--seems like blogging about an old you-had-to-be-there joke isn't completely out of place.

The joke was this: Take something that you want somebody else to do for you, and then invite them to do it by saying "I may just be projecting here, but..." in front of the thing you want them to do. I think it started with something like, "I may just be projecting here, but shouldn't you shut up?"

Now that I think about it, I think the joke was mostly at my expense, a joke about the fact that I used to say, "I may just be projecting here..." in front of all sorts of things I wanted to say.

All of which is by way of introducing this:

I bought Men in Feminism online, used, and it came in the mail yesterday. (Thanks to Andrew for the recommendation.)This isn't a new book, but I hadn't heard of it until I read about it on Andrew's blog. Seemed like something I ought to read. I opened up my new-to-me-but-used-copy and on the front page was the following, written in pretty, almost cutesy handwriting:
Happy Birthday Justin!
I love you!
Jen
2-9-88


And my first thought was: that is the saddest thing I have ever read. Some woman gave Justin this book about men and feminism, gave it to him for his birthday, and what did he do but give it away? I imagined for a moment that Jen got Justin all wrong, and feminism wasn't for him. I imagined that perhaps Justin was one of those "nice guys" who pretended to be into feminism because they thought they could get some points with feminist women (did guys like that exist in 1988?). I imagined several scenarios involving Justin being hurt, Justin being a jerk, it all ending in tears.

And then I realized. This is a book about men and feminism from 1988. Maybe, just maybe what happened is that both men and feminism have moved on since then. Maybe there is lots of good stuff to be mined from this book, but maybe it's just a foundation, and now feminists of all genders have moved on enough that Justin turned to his good friend/lover/wife/fag hag/whatever Jen and said, "You know, I just bet some feminist guy who isn't as steeped in feminism as I am might appreciate reading this book," and Jen turned to him and said, "I'll just bet you're right. You should put it up on half.com."

But maybe I'm projecting.
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