Kentucky Derby, Feminism, What Does It All Mean?

by LAUREN BELSKI · May 5, 2008

Jessica Simpson, Nick LacheySo, being a novice wannabe Southern socialite, I decided to adopt the Derby lifestyle this past Saturday. I put on my best floppy hat. I sipped my mint julep delicately, letting that sweet bourbon flush my not-yet-sun-kissed cheeks without the use of rouge. Everything was perfect. Even my feminism could be held perfectly in tact, thanks to 8 Belles, the only filly that made it to the big boy race—a comparison I couldn’t help but liken to old Hill’s run for the Democratic nomination. Truthfully, I’m an Obama girl, but as a feminist kid, I always tended towards the feminine—whether it was a contestant on Jeopardy, or a character study of Susan B. Anthony—which is why, naturally, my money went on the filly.

Well, the race started, and the track was flooded with brown steeds, and, of course, before I could figure out which one 8 Belles was, it was over. She didn’t win. She came in second place. And then she died. Her ankles broke, and she was euthanized. Dead? My feministic aspirations were confused as to how to process this in my universe. What? Death? Just second place, fine, I could have had plenty to gripe about. But giving her life for second place? Sigh. What does it all mean?

I don’t know if I’ll get over the shock of having the first and only horse I ever bet on kick it. My guy friends were taunting me for this overly emotionally, “feminine” reaction, but look, I’m a girl. I get emotional sometimes just from looking at the stock wedding photos at the frame store. I can’t help it. I think I’m going back to the old fashioned, rock-paper-scissors kind of bets. Sure, usually they only get me out of taking out the trash—there’s no promise of a trifecta—but at least I don’t have to carry the strange weight of life on my shoulders. It’s too much for my mooshy, girly heart.