Just last week, Alisa Valdes' memoir The Feminist and the Cowboy hit bookshelves (and three weeks ago we addressed the anti-feminist nature of the book, a sad departure for Valdes author of The Dirty Girls' Social Club). Today, Valdes has basically disavowed the thesis statement of the entire memoir in a blog post that has since been removed—at her agent's behest, she told Salon in an email—confessing that "cowboy" Steve was actually a verbally and physically abusive shitbag and she feels really terrible about the whole thing. They've split, thank God.
"[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 explicitly made clear that the sinister undertones of the chick-littish memoir, about the "liberation" he gave Valdes from her stifling feminist values and her total submission to him, are worse than anyone possibly could have imagined. During one fight, she said, 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." In the book, episodes like this are glossed over and touted as totally hot submissive sex, but it's clear now that Alisa knew it was a violation.
There's more: for fear that he would kill her, Valdes at one point jumped from his moving truck and cut herself on some rocks. Rather than calling for help, he said that he wanted witnesses just in case she claimed he had hurt her himself. She also miscarried her child (no mention of whether that was a result of abuse at his hands).
Valdes also wrote that her editor and publishers have "essentially shunned" her since she publicized her not-so-fairytale ending. To be honest, neither the book's biggest fans or its biggest detractors (specifically, feminist critics and its anti-feminist champions) have reacted to this news too favorably. It certainly must have put its right-wing fans in their places—writer Christina Hoff Sommers, for example, who called it a "riveting tale about how a brilliant, strong-minded woman liberated herself from a dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying feminism."
But on the flip side, Kat Stoeffel at The Cut points out, rightly, that the book's critics seem to be patting themselves on the back for calling the relationship abusive before Valdes came forward with her blog post. I mean, we all called it, but it's never appropriate to react to domestic abuse with cavalier self-contratulation regardless of the circumstances. Personally, I'd much rather have been wrong.
Perhaps the most disturbing end note: Valdes' current boyfriend, she says, "wrote the cowboy a thank you note, for having ‘tamed' me and made me a better woman, which I totally agree with."