book review · non-fiction

Did They Change The Meaning Of Warrior When I Wasn’t Looking?

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Warrior Princess

My Quest to Become the First Female Massai Warrior

By Mindy Budgor

Published  June 4th 2013 by Skirt!

288 pages

WARRIOR PRINCESS is the funny and inspirational memoir of Mindy Budgor, a young entrepreneur tired of having a job to have a job, who decides to make changes in her life. While waiting for her Business School applications to go through, she decides to volunteer in Africa building schools and hospitals in the Maasai Mara. While there, Mindy asks the chief why there are no women warriors. He responds simply and derisively: because women are not strong enough or brave enough. Mindy immediately realizes her calling and thus begins her amazing adventure to become the first female Maasai warrior. As a result of this training and advocacy, the Maasai in Loita, Kenya, are leading the charge to change tribal law and allow women the right to become Maasai warriors. Mindy as a tribe member is ready to return to stand with her fellow-warriors against whatever opposition they might
face—be it lions, or elephants, or Western-influence. (Synopsis from goodreads)

Let me start with some background, first off I hate these types of stories , second this is the first one I have read.  So how can I like something I have never read? Well that’s what someone asked me and I didn’t really have an answer, so I decided to read one. I guess what I meant was I hate the idea of a story like this.  To clarify this is one of those I had to go find myself books. It’s along the lines of Eat Pray Love, (saw the movie skipped the book) and Julie and Julia ( saw the movie also skipped the book) . These books tend to feature white women in their 20’s and 30’s, highly educated, financially well-off, and doing pretty well in life overall. Why they are so lost and need to find themselves is so beyond me.

I bet you can guess how I felt about the book already right? Now I went into this trying to be open-minded. I thought it could be the book to change my mind and maybe convince me to pick some more of these kinds of books up. In short it did not. Mindy comes across as spoiled, a bit self-involved, and completely unaware.. I think she actually thought what she was doing would be good for the Massai. Not in an altruistic this is for you way, but a you should be happy I showed you the way, way. I am no expert on the Massai in terms of culture, traditions or customs, which is why I have no right to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do. Mindy thought she had that right, the privilege embedded  in that  is outrageous.  When Mindy asks why women aren’t warriors she is told because they aren’t “strong” or “brave” enough. Her reaction was to flashback to all the times someone told her she couldn’t do something. As though being the only girl on the hockey team is the same as becoming a Massai warrior.  She equated thousands of years of custom, with ice-hockey, really I’m not making that up. Her reaction is then to decide that she should become a warrior to show them it could be done. She never says she is in love with this culture or even mildly interested in it.  She never comes across as respecting the Massai and actually seems to see them as caricatures instead of people.All throughout he warrior quest she  blatantly refuses to listen to the Massai about things she knows nothing about. She would deliberately do things she was told were dangerous and framed them as her being independent, and seemed proud of it.  In fact she spent  quite a bit of her time questioning  the Massai about their culture in a way that came across as disrespectful and down right rude. You don’t go into a group of people who are living in a culture that is thousands of years old and tell them you know what’s best for them. I think she thought it was independent and strong of her, I found it pretty disgusting, and so full of white privilege it nearly choked me.  Mindy never really becomes a warrior she was there for less than 2 months, she traveled with Fredric Fekkai shampoo, a cell phone, and nail polish. Yes she does drink goats blood but she throws it right back up, I am guessing real warriors don’t do that.  She never seems to truly immerse herself in the culture, never learns the language, never comes across as even liking the Massai culture/traditions/customs. In fact it all comes across as a marketing ploy. Early on she mentions that one of the Massai could go on a speaking tour called “How to find your inner warrior” she cites her western marketing mind for coming up with that little gem. Mindy is actually trying to work with some kind of clothing company during her trip. She wants to use the trip as a way to test this certain clothing brand for durability.  Those 2 things gave me a feeling that this whole thing might be a marketing ploy. I found myself questioning the real reason Mindy was trying to become the first female Massai warrior. She says it started because she was told she couldn’t, then became about the other female Massai. I think it had more to do with her “western marketing mind”, and all the things that go with it. What better way to sell a book, get publicity, work on a brand than this? That might sound cynical but that is the way she came across to me.  Overall in case you hadn’t already guessed I really disliked this book. I couldn’t even enjoy the bits about the Massai because I am not sure I can trust what Mindy has to say. Oh, and no I won’t be picking up another one of these books anytime time soon, or ever.

Until Next Time

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