Lindy West and Nihilistic Feminism

shrill-book

“If you live today, you breathe in nihilism…it’s the gas you breathe,” Flannery O’Connor wrote in a letter in the mid-1950s. Such nihilism is now pervasive, inflicting enormous cultural destruction. For many people, those venerable notions of the good, the true, and the beautiful now seem nonsensical in the age of Snapchat and Tinder. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but wonder what O’Connor, were she alive today, would have made of the people this worldview has produced—someone like Lindy West, for example, the author of Shrill, a memoir of the whatever-comes-out-of-my-head-is-justified genre. The book consists of pages and pages of unrelenting, tedious self-obsession—when it’s not wallowing in amoral grandstanding, that is.

Lindy West is overweight, you see. And, as she repeatedly tells us, she has been badly damaged, stigmatized, and persecuted throughout her life by her condition. “Please don’t forget: I am my body,” she writes at the beginning of one of many rants about the totalitarian nightmare that women, and especially fat women, experience in contemporary America. “When my body gets smaller it’s still me. When my body gets bigger it is still me. There is not a thin woman inside me, awaiting excavation. I am one piece. I am also not a uterus riding around in a meat incubator. There is no substantive difference between the repulsive campaign to separate women’s bodies from their reproductive systems—perpetuating the lie that abortion and birth control are not healthcare—and the repulsive campaign to convince women that they and their body size are separate, alienated entities.”

Well, for the sake of argument, let’s grant that Lindy West is not a “uterus riding around in a meat incubator.” Her later claim that “I knew I was smart, funny, talented, social, kind” is tougher to accept, given the contradiction between this warm perception of herself and her violent rhetoric.

West criticizes contemporary culture for dehumanizing and fat-shaming her, but when it comes time to talk about her abortion—she’s responsible for the viral “Shout your Abortion” campaign—she has no trouble dehumanizing people other than herself. Indeed, abortion raises no moral issue whatsoever for her. After her own abortion, she “went home, curled up in bed, and called the clinic (which had some vague, mauve, nighttime soap name like ‘Avalon’ or ‘Dynasty’ or ‘Falcon Crest’) still wobbling on the edge of hysteria,” she recalls. “Not for all the reasons the forced birth fanatics would like you to think: not because my choice was morally tortuous, or because I was ashamed, or because I couldn’t stop thinking about the tiny fingernails of our ‘baby,’ but because life is fucking hard, man.”

West says that her only qualms about the whole affair is that anyone would dare to have a moral view of abortion. “The truth is I don’t give a damn why anyone has an abortion. I believe unconditionally in the right of people with uteruses to decide what grows inside of their body and feeds on their blood and endangers their life and reroutes their future. There are no ‘good’ abortions and ‘bad’ abortions.” She sneers that her abortion was no more significant than the time she had a tooth pulled: “It was, more than anything else, mundane: a medical procedure that made my life better.” To the extent she offers a justification, it’s that having a child would have prevented her from going on TV—kept her from “becoming myself.” And nothing—certainly no non-baby with tiny fingernails—will stand in the way of the triumph of this gal’s will.

As for her weight, West wants to “reclaim her fatness,” and demands that the world find fat beautiful. Yet she also says obesity is the government’s fault, which seems like an acknowledgement that being overweight might be a problem. Among the purported public policy failures she discusses in her book are the existence of “food deserts,” unsafe sidewalks and parks, and an insufficient minimum wage. These seem dubious explanations for Americans’ expanding waistlines, but West’s main point is to deny any personal responsibility for her condition. She is a victim.

The aptly titled Shrill is yet another depressing example of the nothing-is-private school of vulgarity that Lena Dunham has peddled on her HBO series, Girls. (Dunham blurbs the book, thanking West for her “bravery.”) We’re treated, for example, to West’s graphic descriptions of her menstrual travails and puerile references to her defecations, as well as a supposedly harrowing account of an incident on a plane in which West was tormented verbally by a passenger who was irritated by her fumbling to get a bag in an overhead compartment. The person’s sin was that he evidently muttered, “Say excuse me.” West’s response? “I froze. Was someone being a dick to me? In person? At seven a.m.? In an enclosed space?” Rest easy, though. Our heroine defends justice by kicking his chair later in the flight and sarcastically saying, “Excuse me.” Rosa Parks has nothing on Lindy West.

But please refrain from offering any judgment on her behavior. Like the many pathetic college campus cry-bullies that now dot the landscape, West is ferociously intolerant of anyone who disagrees with her. She has blocked all conservatives and libertarians, at least the ones she has been able to sniff out, from following her Twitter account, seeking to create a comfortably safe space from which she can her issue offensive opinions without rebuttal or disagreement. Because she’s a victim, remember? A victim who, despite her supposed persecution by society, was somehow able to land book contracts, magazine columns, and television appearances, and is really only interested in one subject: herself. Ultimately she is more devoted to grievance mongering than to offering any real insights into what it’s like to be a woman today.

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  • whatever

    Did really reprint her jezebel column about the airplane here? Makes me wonder how much of this material is just rewarmed gawker. But regarding the airplane incident, it is amazing she republished that considering the first time it came out, even her gawker fans told her what a cretinous bully she was.

  • Gringao

    I find it interesting that, having dispensed with God and the idea that Mankind was created for a purpose and embracing the “science” of Darwin, the fascist Left now refuses to recognize the consequences of saying “A”…you must then say “B.” Yes, Miss West, you are simply a meat incubator with a uterus, and you made yourself into this garish beast.

    • Dragblacker

      They didn’t embrace the science of Darwin. They embraced the “religion” of Darwin as a cudgel against Western religion and culture. They’re not real scientists, but have turned Darwinism into a form of paganism.

  • bpbatista

    Obviously her abortion was traumatizing for her and she does indeed recognize the moral repugnance of abortion — why else would she expend so much time, effort and rage to rationalize it? The fat lady doth protest to much.

  • Steve Skubinna

    Real victims, that is, people actually undergoing hardship, spent very little time loudly proclaiming their victimhood. People who are actual victims looks for ways out of victimhood, or at the very least ways to mitigate or minimize it. They don’t get book deals. Well, not entirely true – they sometimes get book deals once they escape or triumph over their victimhood (q.v. Ayan Hirsi Ali).

    Here’s a tip – if you achieve celebrity status for nothing more than being loud, you’re not a real victim. If you monetize your claims to victimhood, you’re not a victim.

    • werewife

      If you go out of your way to be demanding and unpleasant, and regard it as unforgivable that sometimes you don’t get your way, you’re not a victim – but you are pitiable.

      • Propertius

        Funny, I don’t pity her at all.

    • Melissa Cain

      Out of all the comments, you were the only non name-calling oink intelligent response that was lucid & made sense. I don’t know why I insist on reading through these things, then I come across something intelligent, it is true, I’m always loudest about the things that don’t matter while over on the other side I’m slipping someone a dollar where none is looking. My oldest & youngest sons have caught on, but most others, just see a big, fat loud lady making noise … never a victim, only volunteers.

  • rennyangel2

    Maybe she is just another leftist cretinous maroon.

    • ThewlynOh ✓certifiable

      Maybe?

  • Chance Boudreaux

    Her life can’t be that hard given how calorie-privileged she is.

  • Mark S

    She’s a female Michael Moore, and the punishment for being Lindy West is . . . being Lindy West. A horrific penalty.

  • “Drunk with choler”, as Shakespeare would say.

  • patriarchal landmine

    nihilistic feminism. one word too many.

  • Bernard Hassan

    Under no circumstances should we attempt to contravene her attitude towards aborting cells in her meat refrigerator lest, horribile dictu, she decide to breed. Let her perdure in her solipsistic darkness.

  • dave72

    OINK!

  • Boyd

    Anybody needs me I’ll be in my bunker cleaning my guns.

  • Boyd

    I yearn for the days when she would simply have been dismissed as a bitch.

  • Tanuki Man

    To paraphrase Dean Wormer: Fat, stupid and self-absorbed is no way to go through life, girlie.

  • ThewlynOh ✓certifiable

    Angry narcissistic fat chick, what a miserable waste of O2

  • ToursLepantoVienna

    A fat girl should avoid repeated use of the adjective “repulsive”.

  • BooBoo75

    She sounds repellant and abhorrent. The nihilism of modern feminism is grotesque. However, her and her oinkish ilk cant help but betray the farcical comedy they are engaged in. If their positions were morally defensible at all they wouldn’t have to produce never ending streams of hostile palaverous diatribes full of tortured rationalizations and insults to justify their choices/opinions.

    Why would anyone give one shit what this horrible horrible thing has to say?

    • SteveHorth

      Only to validate their own (otherwise indefensible) shit.

    • Blackhat

      At some point we men need to stop being simps and fight back. If she on tv call in and complain, write to the retailers that sell her sexist diatribe. It will be the first step to stopping these cowards.

  • Ugggghhhh

    After reading about her, I am thinking abortion needs to be made mandatory.

  • Diggsc

    Is it wrong for me to be so happy that such a person as her is so fantastically unhappy? Or that it’s best that she’s not passing on her psychoses to a child?

  • random_observer_2011

    I don’t know what that bit about her and her body actually means, but abortion and birth control surely are health care. The real question is whether they are health care that should be provided at public or employer expense. Most of the world’s single-payer systems even try to prioritize.
    Job one of any health care system, all the more so at public expense, is the care and healing of the sick and injured, and care of the dying. Abortion enters this category in cases where the health of the mother is implicated. Birth control doesn’t, really.
    Job two is the prevention of sickness and injury. Abortion also fits here, again when the health of the mother is implicated. So might birth control, if pregnancy poses a greater than baseline risk to an individual woman.
    Beyond those things, abortion is elective surgery and birth control is the equivalent of any prophylactic measure for anything that can be had over the counter at a cheap price.