Thursday, January 31, 2008

Scarlett does Racial, Gender Politics

There is an interesting piece on NPR about the likeability of the character of Miss Katie Scarlett O'Hara, which I find very intriuging, mainly because I feel like this sort of problematic "choice" between one's identification as "black" or as a "feminist" directly relates to the Democratic campaign for President.

The author of the piece is a black woman, who, at the age of fifteen upon reading Gone with the Wind for the first time, finds herself admiring Scarlett. "Frankly, my dear, I found her unabashed self-interest delicious."

Of course, it's not difficult for yours truly to relate to Scarlett. I'm white, I'm Irish, I come from Georgia (as does my mother's side of my family), a place so seeped in the history of the Civil War it feels as though it happened days ago. The first time I read Gone with the Wind, I thought Scarlett was a total brat, and I couldn't understand her fascination with Ashley the pansy. But it was when I finally saw the epic film adaptation and watched Vivien Leigh take out that nasty yankee on the stairs that I finally realized Scarlett might have more grit and substance to her than I thought. In fact, Scarlett came off as . . . well, as a feminist!

I can't imagine what black female voters will do when comes time to vote in the primaries and choose a side. And as much as I'd like to say "we shouldn't incorporate gender and race into our decision as to who to elect to run this country," I think, unfortunately, that for many people, the ability to ignore those things is near to impossible.

But perhaps this piece suggests otherwise, if this author and other black women found themselves drawn to Scarlett for her hardheaded determination to survive and persevere no matter the costs (and to have a good time doing it, occasionally), then maybe there's more to this Presidental race than the ideal of a black or female President. Maybe it's about electing a dynamic person who's qualified for the job.


Mary-Laure said...

Gone with the wind! So many memories are associated with the book and the movie as far as I'm concerned.
And of course Scarlett is a feminist. She stands her ground, she's bold, she can do anything - run a company, drive back to Tara in the middle of a war, get the work done. I love her.

Snobber said...

I love it when her sisters refuse to do work on the farm because it will ruin their hands, and Scarlett's out there, like, chopping wood.