Monday, March 9, 2020

Who Is Sarah Smarsh?

What? You’ve never heard about Sarah Smarsh. What’s the matter with you? She’s a journalist from Kansas. She wrote a book that was nominated for the National Book Award. She has written for numerous publications, among them the New York Times.

Now, in the aftermath of the flameout of the Elizabeth Warren presidential candidacy, Smarsh tells us how she feels. Because if there was one thing you wanted to know in this world it was: how does Sarah Smarsh feel about Elizabeth Warren? 

After all, serial prevaricator Warren could not even garner support from female Democrats. This tells us that sexiam might not have been the issue. And yet, for Smarsh it’s about sexism; it’s all about sexism. Apparently, it’s the only thing her political sense knows anything about. Aside from feeling deep feelings, of course.

Her title tells the story, and certainly deserves an award for incoherence. Assuming that she wrote the headline-- not self-evident in today’s newspaper world-- she tells us that she is”burning with grief and fury.” Now, don’t you feel better, or should it be worse, to know that Sarah Smarsh is burning with grief and fury. One understands that it is plausible that someone is burning with fury, but however do you burn with grief? You cannot.

Someone will tell me that’s a figure of speech, an inspired metaphor, or some such, but in fact, if it pretends to be a metaphor, it’s a clumsy metaphor.

But then again, Sarah Smarsh is burning, with rage and perhaps with passion. Don’t we most often associate burning with the fires of lust? Or did I miss something?

Of course, we appreciate the fact that Smarsh evokes fury, and not the rather pedestrian trop of female outrage. Better fury than impotent rage. As it happens, Fury is one of the Greek goddesses called the Furies, the Erinyes, who exact vengeance and retribution for injustices… or some such.

But, do you or does Smarsh really consider it a grave injustice that Liz Warren was rejected by Democratic voters? Perhaps it was just justice. Smarsh says nary a word about Warren's many lies. Was her mind so overheated that she could not see them?

Anyway, Smarsh launches a litany of complaints. She does not sound very furious, but whiny. In so doing she reveals a basic truth. Allow me to quote her opening lines:

Consider every moment, since the dawn of woman, when a female aspired but to no avail. She asked to attend school but was denied. She raised her hand but wasn’t called on. She applied but wasn’t hired. She enlisted but wasn’t deployed. She created but wasn’t credited. She ran but wasn’t elected.

Imagine the sadness and frustration of every such instance as a spark, their combined energy the size of many suns. That is the measure of grief and fury I felt rise inside me as I watched Elizabeth Warren’s bid for the Democratic nomination wane.

For my part I like the reference to “the dawn of woman.” It reminds me of the “rosy-fingered dawn” of the Iliad. Besides the Erinyes also appear in the Iliad, so we are in the right time zone.

Anyway, the first paragraph lists a series of non-accomplishments. It has that slightly nauseating feeling of paranoia, because it does not offer up a single accomplishment It makes excuses for non-accomplishments.

Have women never accomplished anything that is worth mentioning? Or are they just victims, forever silenced and suppressed until the Furies rise up from the bowels of the underworld to exact vengeance? In all honesty, it feels a bit emotionally overwrought. Surely it is not a reason to vote for Liz, or to overlook the multiple occasions where she, with all manner of sincerity, lied through her teeth.

In her second paragraph Smarsh waxes poetical and agglomerates all the instances where women have been suppressed and oppressed and repressed. She flings together all the sparks and produces a massive amount of energy, with the power of many suns. Or perhaps, many stars, twinkling off in the ionosphere. Sounds pretty powerful, don’t you think. Were it not for the fact that the sun is a god and not a goddess, we would be quaking in fear.

The notion that an adult woman would believe that the best response to the manifest failure of Elizabeth Warren, she of Cherokee cheekbones, is to throw an epic tantrum, wrapped in a basket, not of deplorables, but of mixed metaphors… evokes our pity, and nothing else.

To be fair, one can only wonder in amazement at the vision of Smarsh’s “waning” hopes turning into omnipotent suns, the kinds that will apparently become the vanguard of a movement to overthrow the patriarchy. There’s nothing particularly powerful about anything that wanes. 

As though that were not enough, Smarsh trots out her family, good Kansas stock, both her grandmother and her father… to explain that Elizabeth Warren represented the last, best hope for a female president. In our lifetime. In the course of human history. For eternity....

Naturally, Smarsh does not mention the fact that Warren was herself a scrawny twerp who hectored audiences, turning most of them away from her candidacy. She does not know that Warren failed because she could not attract women voters. How many of them looked at her and asked whether she had an eating disorder? Note well, that women asked the question. Men did not much care.

Anyway, Smarsh is an abortion activist. She speaks at Planned Parenthood events. She thinks that if women lose abortion rights they will forever be destroyed. As always happens in these discussions, procreation seems to be out of the feminist question.

So, she tells how she was reading a book on the beach. For the record, it is generally not a great idea to read on the beach-- the sun’s rays do a number on your brain and compromise your concentration.

Anyway, Smarsh explains:

Two weeks ago, when she placed fourth in the Nevada caucuses — in spite of thoroughly winning a Las Vegas candidates debate and pulling in nearly $3 million in donations the next day — I was on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I had just given a keynote address at a Planned Parenthood fund-raiser. It was the first time I’d ever toed the line of journalistic ethics by speaking on behalf of a peripherally political organization because, well, these are desperate times for women’s rights….

After the fund-raiser and after watching Ms. Warren’s dismal returns on a hotel television, I spent the next day on the beach with a Geraldine Brooks novel I’d randomly purchased at a bookstore on Sanibel Island. The book, it turned out, was about a bright girl in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who is indentured as a servant in Cambridge to pay for her brother’s academic studies. Along the way, she tends the miscarriage of a girl whose rapist goes unpunished.

I looked out at the sea and considered that, for all our advancing on gender matters, the novel’s story is alive today: A woman must step aside as a man ascends to the presidency, and a “pro-life” activist would sooner bomb an abortion facility than let a raped girl cross its threshold.

Surely, these things have happened. Surely, we are all appalled to see that they happened. Just as surely, the Anglo-Saxon world has led on women’s rights, from Queen Elizabeth I to Margaret Thatcher to Theresa May. They have not all been rousing successes, but ignoring the achievements of women does not improve Smarsh’s arguments. It shows that she suffers from blinkered vision.

As her red-hot tears are scalding her cheeks, Smarsh can console herself with the thought that the first American female president is most likely to be a Republican named Nikki Haley. 

Hopefully, it will make her feel better. Hopefully, it will calm her fevered nerves. Otherwise, she can try a cold bath. Surely, we all hope that the Haley candidacy will save us from yet another emotionally overwrought screed. 


trigger warning said...

I bask in the blazing heat of her fury.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Lots of words, Sarah. Here’s Warren’s core problem, in three words:

She’s a scold.

That’s aside from being a compulsive liar.

Sam L. said...

"Imagine the sadness and frustration of every such instance as a spark, their combined energy the size of many suns. That is the measure of grief and fury I felt rise inside me as I watched Elizabeth Warren’s bid for the Democratic nomination wane."
It is NOT POSSIBLE that Warren was not an outstanding politician. Or candidate. No no no no no! IM-POS-SE-BLE!!!!!111111!!!!!

"As her red-hot tears are scalding her cheeks, Smarsh can console herself with the thought that the first American female president is most likely to be a Republican named Nikki Haley." I suspect she's a full-on Democrat and would hate, Hate, HATE Nicki Haley.

UbuMaccabee said...

Some big brain should write an algorithm based on Sarah Smarsh, and then profile wahman based on either how close, or far away, they are from Sarah Smarsh. Sarah is everything a man, a friend, an employer, an institution would not want to come into contact with. Sarah is the typhoid Mary of modern wahman.

370H55V said...

I thought the PC term was "womon", plural "womyn".

Anonymous said...

I'm a woman and I don't care when or if a woman ever becomes president. I don't buy that this Smarsh lady cares, either. And I doubt that she was cheering for Sarah Palin.

UbuMaccabee said...

Nah, wahman is correct.