F&LILV Question #7: The Women of the Story

by Hunter S. Thompson

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Endora
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Unread postby Endora » Tue Sep 13, 2005 12:10 pm

Liz wrote:
Endora wrote: Sorry about the rambling, it really is a very disturbing question.


I agree. That's probably why I'm vacillating so. I don't really want to have to contemplate it. It makes me feel icky.


Exactly. But then again, that's what makes it an interesting question, and worth spending some thoughts on. I'm glad I could read all the points above, they certainly helped.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Sep 13, 2005 12:11 pm

He certainly inspired loyalty, in some women at least. I am at work and do not have the Rolling Stone tribute article written by Sandy but it is beautiful, as is Laila's and Anita's. Of course what we see his is public and literary persona and not his everyday life.
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Unread postby fansmom » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:10 pm

Liz wrote:It makes me feel icky.
And when I read that, Liz, it made me think of SW, which in turn made me think of our first discussion here on the ONBC. Isn't it interesting that when we were discussing SWSG, we never questioned whether Stephen King had a bunch of dead wives buried in the yard of his house in Maine, but we have to question Hunter's relationships with women? Is it just that what King is writing is so clearly fiction, when Hunter makes his writing seem autobiographical?

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Unread postby lumineuse » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:15 pm

fansmom wrote:
Liz wrote:It makes me feel icky.
And when I read that, Liz, it made me think of SW, which in turn made me think of our first discussion here on the ONBC. Isn't it interesting that when we were discussing SWSG, we never questioned whether Stephen King had a bunch of dead wives buried in the yard of his house in Maine, but we have to question Hunter's relationships with women? Is it just that what King is writing is so clearly fiction, when Hunter makes his writing seem autobiographical?


That was pretty much my point. I don't think you can judge Hunter's relationships with women by reading his novels.
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Unread postby Sands » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:18 pm

I think there is a difference though as FALILV is clearly to some extent autobiographical and the charaxters are based on Hunter and Acosta. He's never claimed they weren't.
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Unread postby QueenofKings » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:32 pm

dharma_bum wrote:I’m certainly not going to be a dissenting voice tonight. Hunter and women… for understanding so much about how the world works, he didn’t “get” us. Or, he got very few of us. And even the ones did “get” (Chenault in the Rum Diary) he couldn’t fully make sense of them print. I also agree with many of you who thought Duke (by default Hunter) was an equal opportunity abuser. He didn’t seem to modulate his behavior for either gender.

No one has mentioned Breakdown on Paradise Blvd., which I found wickedly funny. If it was meant to be a comment on the blissful ignorance of the underclass, it came across as borderline cruel—what does that say about me? Ironically, although the characters were women, the roles could have been interchangeable with men.


I put off posting about this for a while because it's been a long time since I've thought about this issue. I think dharma_bum is correct in the assessment about Hunter and women, "he didn’t 'get' us. Or, he got very few of us." But I know that a large part of that comes from the time period in which this is taking place.
Some years ago I was blessed with the chance to be a part of a forum concerning women and their treatment during the Beat Movement and the "Hippie" years. One of the people I got to speak with about this in depth was Mountain Girl Garcia (MG). She lived with Kesey and had his child, and went on the bus with Neal, so she'd been in the thick of it all. What I learned was a bit disconcerting to my, at the time, idealized view of the '60s. Although women did participate in some of the music, art, decision making, and fun stuff, it was marginal to a great extent. A few select women were part of the inner circle; most were not. Women were were still chiefly diaper changers and bottle washers, so they went off and had their own political discussions away from the men. A lot of the guys thought that the women should be keep-our-home sex goddess earth mamas -- and a lot of the women were just that for a long time. It was only in the '70s that things began to change. This makes me think that some of the treatment of women depicted in the book (especially how they rid themselves of Lucy) is just a product of how lots of guys treated women in those years.

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:36 pm

Yes, Sands and Fansmom, I think that is it. It is somewhat autobiographical--Gonzo Journalism. It brings me back again to what Frank Mankiewicz says in regards to Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: "I've said before and I'll say again.....that book is the most accurate and least factual of that campaign." So we're left wondering what was factual and what wasn't.
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:40 pm

Interesting QoK! :cool: Hunter hung out with Kesey and Mountain Girl during his Hell's Angels period. I've been curious about that woman but just haven't had the time to research her further.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:45 pm

QofK that is probably quite true. When I was a junior or a senior in college, early 70's, the womens movement was really catching fire. Ms. magazine was first published, etc. The Sixites were not a time of huge change for women in the context of liberation. However I do believe that decade certainly lit the fire and set the stage for what was to come.
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Unread postby abigail » Tue Sep 13, 2005 3:32 pm

I've tip-toed around this thread for a couple days now. I really have nothing new to add here; everyone has contributed great thoughts on the subject. I especially agree that the time period has a lot to do with it. I guess it bothers me to think about it because the only scene that bothers me is the diner scene. It's the only scene lacking humor. Apparently I can be bought off by humor and I am willing to overlook bad behavior because of it. :yikes: So what does that say about me? :freaked: :blush: I feel like a jerk as a woman! I love a strong female literary character as much as the next woman, yet I seem to accept otherwise a little too easily. I guess that I, like some of you, am willing to take the bad with the good where Hunter's work is concerned. The good is TOO good to pass up.

lumineuse wrote:I'm not sure it's fair to judge Hunter's opinion of women based upon two novels. For example - he may have objectified women in FALILV in order to show how drugs de-humanize those who abuse them. In the Rum Diary, women were treated in a manner similar to how they would have been treated during the time frame of the book. However much of FALILV is true, much of it is not, and it is imporatant to remember that it is a well thought out, well crafted novel, and Hunter's portrayal of woman may have been deliberate rather than a reflection of his personal views.


I quite like this theory Lumineuse. Somehow I don't want to believe that Hunter was so unevolved that he'd actually truly feel so negatively about women. Maybe I'm naive and self-indulgent to think that way. I don't know. :-/
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Wed Sep 14, 2005 12:32 am

abigail wrote: Apparently I can be bought off by humor and I am willing to overlook bad behavior because of it. :yikes: So what does that say about me? :freaked: :blush: I feel like a jerk as a woman! I love a strong female literary character as much as the next woman, yet I seem to accept otherwise a little too easily. I guess that I, like some of you, am willing to take the bad with the good where Hunter's work is concerned. The good is TOO good to pass up.

I’m right there with you, Abigail, and I do wonder what it says about me. I think my easy acceptance of this stuff might be a reflection of the period when I came into the workforce. In the early 80’s greed was good. Women competed with men by talking trash and playing in the mud right along side them. I’m proud to say, I never owned a “power suit,” but I did build up an awfully high tolerance for testosterone.

Lumi and Fansmom… you are right to caution speculation about Hunter based on the characters he created, however I think every writer leave little pieces of himself/herself in everything they write, fiction or not… So, although I wouldn’t suspect SK of burying bodies in his garden, I would bet that he and Mort share a similarly wicked sense of humor. What is it they say about children (which books are in a way), the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
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Unread postby abigail » Wed Sep 14, 2005 3:37 am

dharma_bum wrote:I’m right there with you, Abigail, and I do wonder what it says about me. I think my easy acceptance of this stuff might be a reflection of the period when I came into the workforce. In the early 80’s greed was good. Women competed with men by talking trash and playing in the mud right along side them. I’m proud to say, I never owned a “power suit,” but I did build up an awfully high tolerance for testosterone.

That's interesting dharma bum. I think my problem is simply due to how I was raised. (Gee, isn't everyone's? :rolleyes: ) I come from a long line of oppressed women, is what I mean. I was much like you described yourself: having a high tolerance for testosterone. I could dish out insults as fast as men could in the male dominated places at which I've worked. It never occurred to me to think differently until a few years ago. I sort of did a 180 and for a time I was terribly offended by the slightest chauvenistic comment. Somehow I've sort of swung back the other way a bit. I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle - a disappointing place for my inner feminist.

Jeeze I should quit posting tonight, I'm tired and I sound like an idiot. :dunce: I'll regret my 2am posting tomorrow. :lol:
"A man must funtion in a pattern of his own choosing. For to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life - The definitive act of will, which makes a man an individual. "

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Unread postby shame_about_rasins » Wed Sep 14, 2005 3:53 am

abigail wrote:I've tip-toed around this thread for a couple days now. I really have nothing new to add here; everyone has contributed great thoughts on the subject. I especially agree that the time period has a lot to do with it. I guess it bothers me to think about it because the only scene that bothers me is the diner scene. It's the only scene lacking humor. Apparently I can be bought off by humor and I am willing to overlook bad behavior because of it. :yikes: So what does that say about me? :freaked: :blush: I feel like a jerk as a woman! I love a strong female literary character as much as the next woman, yet I seem to accept otherwise a little too easily. I guess that I, like some of you, am willing to take the bad with the good where Hunter's work is concerned. The good is TOO good to pass up.


Only just read this thread..my exams are over.. It is a very interesting question, and hard one to aswer, I am not sure wheter it is sexism or not, but really no one is treated that well, women or not. I don't agree that if it is sexist it is necessarily a bad thing, it is a comment on the society at them time, Duke and the Gonzo are hardley painted as angels or role models, we are not made to think everything they do should be copied or is the right or moral height. Abagail said she was willing to overlook the bad behaviour for the good story. I believe all the behaviour in the book is quite bad, but entertaining. So even if it is sexist behaviour, which I don't doubt it might be, it is just another insight to the culture of the place.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Sep 14, 2005 9:38 am

abigail wrote: I sort of did a 180 and for a time I was terribly offended by the slightest chauvenistic comment. Somehow I've sort of swung back the other way a bit. I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle - a disappointing place for my inner feminist.


I think any cultural force that swings off the chart one way, in either direction, will eventually find an equilibrium somewhere in the middle. Nevertheless society will have been changed in some fundamental way by it's force.

sar wrote: I believe all the behaviour in the book is quite bad, but entertaining. So even if it is sexist behaviour, which I don't doubt it might be, it is just another insight to the culture of the place.


sar, hope your exams went well! :hope: You have a point about their behavior being a reflection of the place. Las Vegas is certainly over the top!
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Unread postby Liz » Wed Sep 14, 2005 9:41 am

shame_about_rasins wrote: I believe all the behaviour in the book is quite bad, but entertaining.


And I wholeheartedly agree, whether I approve of it or not, that it was very entertaining.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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