At Salon, Tracy Clark-Flory has the story of Alisa Valdes, the author of The Feminist and the Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story, which is "a romance-memoir about a hardcore feminist who falls in love with a cowboy who teaches her to reconnect with her 'femininity'—and to never talk back, open her own car door or walk on the street side of the sidewalk."
It's a big hit with the anti-feminist crowd, even though, as some critics have rightly observed, the Cowboy was not so much "teaching" Valdes as "emotionally abusing" her. Yesterday, Valdes published a blog post reporting that, after the completion of the memoir, the Cowboy became physical abusive and raped her.
[D]uring one fight [he] "simply dragged me down the hall to the bedroom, bent me over, and took me, telling me as he did so that I must never forget who was in charge."There is a lot to unpack here, but my primary reaction is this: Did Valdes' agent, editor, and publisher really have no idea of the brewing trouble behind this memoir? Were all of them totally incapable of seeing the pattern of emotional abuse at the center of this story, which is patently evident to reviewers who do not even personally know Valdes?
Come this morning, the post was gone. In an email, Valdes tells me that, although she doesn't dispute the truth of what she originally wrote in the post, she removed it at the request of her publisher. (Update: Valdes now says the request came from her agent.) Speaking of her publisher, in the blog post in question, a cached version of which is still searchable online, she claims that her publisher has "essentially shunned" her as a result of the inconvenient real-world demise of her written fairy tale and writes, "I am deeply wounded by the stonewalling from my editor, as wounded as I ever was when the cowboy did it to me." (I have yet to get a response from her publicist at Gotham Books to an email request for comment.)
..."[W]hile I set out to write a memoir that was a love letter to a man I was deeply in love with, a man who challenged me in myriad ways, a man who changed my life profoundly, a man I respected and honored greatly at the time, what I actually wrote was a handbook for women on how to fall in love with a manipulative, controlling, abusive narcissist," she writes.
...[Valdes' relationship with the Cowboy] finally ended in September of last year. "I do think the relationship continued longer than it should have in part because I wanted to make it at least to the publication date," she explains. "I eventually had to recognize that this was not a good reason to force something that didn't work."
Valdes will be subjected to a metric fuckton of criticism for ignoring or tolerating abuse (which, I will observe, was at the hands of a man who had been explicitly grooming her to ignore and tolerate abuse), and for having what is a pretty gross agenda in the first place, but she didn't make this happen on her own. There were people who ignored signs of abuse in service to an anti-feminist agenda, to make money from the work of the women enduring that abuse. That seems worth a mention, too.