In my life, I’ve written plays, movies, magazine articles, stories, poems, speeches, a musical comedy, travel essays, program notes, limericks, movie reviews, book reviews, comic book reviews, humor pieces, a book, skits, radio commentaries, and of course endless numbers of jokes, japes, and fakes for a particular radio show.

And none of that has gotten anywhere near the response inspired by a three minute rant I wrote last Monday night instead of working on my taxes.

I’ve received 50+ personal emails, plus the comments you see here, plus more letters sent to Wait Wait, plus even more sent to All Things Considered. It inspired 400+ comments on a post on Jezebel, and even a news article. I guess by the standards of the modern Internet blogstorm that’s not much, but I’m still stunned.

There’s no way I can write back to everyone personally, and still have time to, you know, spend time with my daughters, so if you’ll allow me, a few general comments here.

First, I am grateful and humbled by all the people who wrote to tell me that they were cheered or encouraged or amused or moved by what I had to say. It means a tremendous amount to me that you took the time to let me know, and I thank you.

Second, I do know that there are a lot of wonderful stories, and even movies, featuring strong women in the central role. My kids know and love the Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films, and I’m looking forward to showing them “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” when they get older. Much older. And our copy of “The Paperbag Princess” is well worn, believe me.

Third, many of you approvingly called me a “feminist,” and while I guess that’s true, in the old bumper sticker sense that I believe women are people too, I have a feeling that if we talked at any length, you’d find I have opinions and attitudes that committed feminists would find appalling. For me, this wasn’t about politics or gender theory, and it wasn’t about righting historical wrongs. It was about a movie, and my reaction to it as a father of daughters.

Fourth, I was particularly struck by how many women wrote to me to say how emotionally powerful it was for them to hear a father stand up for his daughters. It makes me sad, I must admit, to think that such a thing is so unusual in so many lives.

And lastly, I know, I know, it’s just a kid’s movie. And maybe I should lighten up about it. But it’s hard at this point not to be glad I didn’t.

Thank you all again, for a remarkable week. If you had never heard of me before, may I recommend taking a listen to my radio show, which this week won a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, and also my book, available in bookstores now, or the usual online retailers.

9 Responses to Overwhelmed

  1. Marvalo April 4, 2008 at 3:42 pm #

    I’m pretty mad at Dr. Seuss, too.

    Why does the main character need to be an elephant? Why not a dolphin? It just boils my water, I’ll tell ya what!

  2. Amanda April 4, 2008 at 7:35 pm #

    I have two daughters and expect a third in about three weeks. Your piece pierced me in the way I know that it echoed some of my husband’s own thoughts. A father of daughters, a man facing pity for his third child not being a son, and a man who is mystified by why other people wouldn’t understand why all he truly wanted was another daughter. Thanks, from a mom, wife and daughter.

  3. BikeMonkey April 5, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    “committed feminists” (whatever that is?) would probably find some of my attitudes appalling too. so what? You had the right call here. Hermione, Leia and Drew Barrymore got screwed. As Dr. Jekyll reminded me, so did Nala. no problem enjoying the movies AND noticing that this is the case in my book..

  4. mcm April 5, 2008 at 1:16 pm #

    I’m pleased to be able to tell you that there are feminists out there who also think prostitution should be legal – and some who don’t – and some who have never given the matter a lick of thought. This is the case with many, many subjects – there’s no feminist handbook that tells us what to believe. For an amazing take on this issue, I suggest checking out Sarah Bunting’s amazing essay, “Yes, You Are” at http://tomatonation.com/?p=677. In the meantime, I’m going to keep thinking of you as a feminist, if that’s ok with you, and I thank you whole-heartedly for your awesome rant!

  5. BetaCandy April 5, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    Hang in there. Nothing angers people like pointing out the sexism that sometimes gets served up to young kids in the form of animated movies. I don’t mean to self-promote, but I run a website that has been reviewing hundreds of TV shows and movies in terms of how women and girls are represented, and the post that drew thousands of angry people over was about Disney’s “Ice Age.”

    Movies made for young kids tend to be more careful to preserve 1950′s gender roles than other movies. Why people get so enraged when you point this out, I’m not sure. Maybe they grasp on some level how important that early indoctrination is, so it doesn’t worry them to think about 25 year old women watching BSG and suddenly realizing girls don’t have to stand on the sidelines… but if we start teaching grade school girls they can be heroes too, things really will change.

  6. Alex April 6, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    I agree that a lot of the power of your rant stemmed from the fact that you are an unusual voice for those sentiments. You are not the overlooked daughter, or the tomboy, or the mother worrying about whether her daughter’s future will be better than her own.

    It wasn’t any less true coming from you. But it did come from an unexpected angle.

    And it was particularly well don.

  7. squirrel April 7, 2008 at 2:55 pm #

    There are a lot of committed feminists in the world, with a lot of different opinions, and often enough one committed feminist finds the opinions of another committed feminists appalling, even if we’re putting aside the murkiness of whether some self-proclaimed feminists have any legitimacy to that claim.

    On the prostitution count, some ‘committed feminists’ will disagree, some will agree. C’est la vie.

  8. Bob April 18, 2008 at 9:13 am #

    I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not, but you seem to have inspired Kareem Abdul Jabbar (yes, really) to write a blog post with eerie similarities to your own (see http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/kareem/2008/04/horton-hears-a.html#comments )

    Of course, this could be a coincidence, or perhaps he’s not Kareem, he’s actually Roger Murdock, but as the original author you should check it out.



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