I liked Text Me When You Get Home very much. Unlike most nonfiction books I read, I actually read the introduction (I usually skip the introduction or preface because they are usually written after the entire book is done and often the author is over the subject matter and has moved on to new ideas so an introduction can ruin the tone of the actual book). This introduction was masterfully written. If you don’t have time to read the entire book, read the introduction. It brought tears to my eyes.
Kayleen Schaefer does two things in her book. One, she gives us a history of her relationship with the girls, teens and women she’s known throughout her life. Second, she examines a variety of topics from how female friendships are depicted in the media to the many ways and reasons female friendships alter and sometimes end.
The chapter that really got me was the one entitled, “All About the Boys.” Specifically, Schaefer discusses how Claire Vaye Watkins captured something both women had been doing their whole lives, “watching boys do stuff.” This struck me so strongly as something I had been doing, too. Religion. Sports. Movies. Newsprograms. History class. Great literature. Art. The vast majority of it was watching boys do stuff. I am 45 years old and this was the first time someone had articulated what I had been doing all my life. Watching boys do stuff. Watching men do stuff. My formal education had been closely examining what men wrote, painted, sculpted, built, burned down, built up again after they decided they’d had enough of one particular war. Until they decided to have another. There were women here and there. Jane Austen. Maya Angelou. Sojourner Truth. Abigail Adams. Fragile Sylvia Plath and shrill Hillary Clinton.
Thank you to these two women, Kayleen Schaefer and Claire Vaye Watkins for not only noticing but writing about what so many of us have been doing. Watching boys doing stuff.
I don’t know what to make of this new thing I have learned but I know it has changed the way I think about what I interact with. I used to love watching baseball but now I watch it and think, “Why have I spent so much of my life watching something that by custom shuts out half the population?” And I don’t like it as much. Is that a loss to me? No. Now I read more and the tickets to the games are too expensive for me anyway. Also, I am (was?) a Dodgers fan and I don’t have Time Warner cable so I can’t watch the games without going through a complicated online thing because a few years ago rich men signed contracts to help make them richer and now I can’t watch my home team play a game that won’t let my gender play anyway so, you know what? I am tired. Many of the things I enjoy are problematic and I understand that there is no need to to abandon them. So we’ll see.
Maybe I’ll start watching the WNBA. I know zero about basketball but it’s one of the major sportball sports so there are probably all sorts of resources to help me learn.