Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fire From the Heartland: Can You Feel the Sisterhood?

I have never been one for sisterhood or feminism or girlie time.  On balance, I tend to like men as a sex far more than women.  I have a handful of dear, very dear, girlfriends, but a gathering such as a women's retreat with my church or some sort of girls-only webring would most likely bore me to death.  I have never seen The View, nor have I watched an episode of Oprah since I was in high school.  Once, when I was having a conversation with my stepmom, she mentioned something about, "Well, how do you think being a woman affected your position within the company?"  I stared at her a moment and said, "I really never think about things in terms of my 'being a woman.'  I'm just who I am." 

I am currently reading a fascinating book called Passionate Minds about the poet and playwright, Voltaire, and his love affair with a math genius and general 18th century French hottie named Emilie du Châtelet.  In this book, Emilie is constantly drawn to male companions, primarily because most women are far too silly for her.  Now, I am no genius -- math or otherwise -- but I can surely relate to her quandary.  Fortunately for me and other women of the non-silly variety, we can find our sort of people far more easily in this digital age.  Were Emilie alive today, she, too, would have had the opportunity to meet up with such amazing women as Flicka and Arielle and Joelle and the vermonster, etc (one or more of whom might very well be a math genius -- and, if you happen to be, ladies, please do not make me feel too stupid).

And I write all of the above merely as a prelude to this revelation:  I have found the sisterhood.  And it is conservative.  And it is awesome!

I really wanted to watch Fire From the Heartland for the first time with my best friend; Flicka, dear, I'm sorry, I just couldn't wait until my next trip to the Great Lakes region.  We'll watch it together soon and have a good bawl fest.  Last night, though, hubby was still at work, Sadie was napping after a traumatic encounter with a flu shot, so I lit a fire and then some candles, curled up on the couch under my favorite raggedy green blanket (the nice throw that Flicka got for us is decorously adorning the fancy couch upstairs), and watched the DVD.  It was a lovely time.

I think I have always been a conservative at heart.  When I was younger, I was a pretty active libertarian.  Then, as I was consecutively saved and became more religious, I started to re-think some of my more radical views.  My big 180° was on abortion.  The first time I ever voted Republican was in 2000.  From that point on, I began to identify more and more as a Republican until finally, in 2008, I just gave in an embraced the Elephant.  But, like many conservatives, I have never been fully enchanted with Republicanism.  Always, always there was a wishy-washy here and a squishy-squashy there to cloud my political complacence.         

Sarah Palin was a nice burst of joy in 2008 -- JOY!  My dad, who grows ever more conservative along with his daughter, said just the other day that Sarah Palin's heart is just obviously and overflowingly joyful -- that that is her most attractive characteristic and, ultimately, the thing that draws people to her.  After the elections of 2008, I wanted to crawl into a hole for the next four years.  But, Sarah Palin didn't.  So, she didn't.  As the attacks against her not only did not abate but seemed to grow fiercer -- more persistent, more desperate, more ludicrous -- she just seemed to grow stronger, more positive, more confident, more grounded.  And, rising with her on this tide of patriotism, concern, strength, confidence, and joy were the women portrayed in Fire From the Heartland.

Now, it didn't just start with Sarah P.  No.  She may have breathed a fresh life into it on the national stage, but conservative women seem to have always been the backbone of America.  You just know that if Caroline Ingalls were alive today, she'd be packing up boxed lunches for her four girls and Charles and driving the wagon to the nearest Tea Party rally.  Fire From the Heartland showcases conservative ladies of the past (Clare Booth Luce, Margaret Thatcher, Phyllis Schlafly), present (Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michele Bachmann, et al.), and future (I'm thinking here of the pic of Sonnie Johnson's adorable daughter that flashed on the screen, along with the Tea Party activists who, I think, are just getting started).  In fact, Rep. Bachmann probably had the most time on screen and a story so absolutely compelling and uplifting, it's hard to believe that any person with even a vestige of decency within them could throw mud at her.  Probably, my favorite interviewee was Sonnie Johnson, of whom I had never previously heard, but from whom I expect to hear plenty in the future.  She has such a raw honesty about her, combined with a most charming sense of wry, self-effacing humor.  I loved the part when she said that she went and voted for Al Gore in 2000 (and -- wow! -- I cannot believe how thin Al Gore was in that clip they had of him!) and then went home and actually read about his positions and then realized that she did not agree with any of them -- such a delightful recounting of conservative awakening.

All in all, Fire From the Heartland is a warm and fuzzy movie.  If you are a conservative woman -- or a man who likes conservative women (hubba! hubba!) -- you will surely like this movie.  If you are a liberal woman or man, I like to think that this might improve your opinion of conservative ladies.  I don't know; I'll have to try to coax my most liberal friend, Holly, to watch it with me and give me her opinion.  I would have liked to have seen a wider pool of interviews.  Maybe some business leaders and teachers thrown in to mix it up.  Of course, had they scored an interview with Sarah Palin, that would have been nice.  A little more Ann Coulter screen time with a lot more snark would have been a bonus (her columns are one of my semi-guilty pleasures).  Had they found this super-funny, feisty lady, it would have been a fiery addition.  These quibbles aside, I can hardly wait to view it again with my BFF.  Oh, I'm coming, Flicka -- make sure you have popcorn on hand!

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