Josh Marshall mentioned this book on Twitter. It took me a while to believe it was real:
Warrior Princess! Inspiring new book reveals how a fashionista from Santa Barbara swapped Gucci for goat’s blood to become the first female Maasai fighterWarrior Princess is impervious to parody. Three whole months to become, not just a Maasai warrior, not just the first woman to ever qualify as a Maasai warrior, but a Warrior Princess? Astounding! After such mighty feats as these, who can say what an affluent, attractive, self-deluding 27-year-old American woman may not achieve?— Mindy Budgor, 32, from California, left her comfortable life behind to live with a Kenyan tribe for three months
— Her book tells how she had to ‘learn the ways of the lion’ including drinking goat blood and throwing a spear
— Mindy’s determination paid off and she was the first woman accepted to be a ‘moran’ — a Maasai warrior — opening the door for other females
— But she never went without her Chanel Red Dragon lipstick to carry her through the hard times
Mindy Budgor actually thinks she’s scored real achievements, and worthy ones to boot.The book she wrote about her experiences has been published by Globe Pequot. The sales copy calls it “inspirational.” Amazon’s “look inside!” option lets us get a look at the introduction:
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, helping build schools and hospitals in the Maasai Mara. When living and working with the Maasai, Mindy asks the chief why there are no women warriors. …Uh-huh. I’ll bet all the Maasai women have her picture hanging on their walls, to help inspire them to try harder.
Mindy immediately realizes her calling and thus begins her 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 to allow women to become Maasai warrior. 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.
The Booklist review, which is otherwise depressingly positive, says “Because it was written so shortly after the unique experiences she chronicles, there’s little reflection …” Not surprised there.
More to the point, @NancyGoldstein (one of Josh Marshall’s Twitter followers) observes that for decades the Maasai have been hard hit by HIV, poverty, and land politics, and “have survived accepting $ from creepy spiritual tourists.” I’d been aware of the plastic shamans and spiritual tourism circuit in North America and the Amazon Basin. Call it a failure of imagination on my part that I hadn’t realized woo-woo culturally exploitive tourism exists in Africa as well. I expect you can find it all over the world. And if I had kids who were going hungry, and I belonged to a cultural tradition the affluent West finds exotic and intriguing, I’d be cooking up my own version of heat-and-serve woo-woo prepackaged spiritual tourism right now.
For your own further spiritual enlightenment, I recommend the nineteen one-star reviews the book has gotten on Amazon. To quote a few:
Jackson R. Pope III: Budgor combines American arrogance, millennial entitlement, cultural imperialism, white privilege and new age superficiality with a zesty dash of self-righteousness.Mindy Budgor doesn’t swallow, and will never make Khaleesi.
Tami “pinkboxcutter”: For all the people applauding this book, do you have ANY appreciation of how destructive and disrespectful the practice of using another people’s culture as a fun-cessory is? “Exotic” people do not exist to help you get over your first world existential crisis.
Nanette: Ms Princess went on a little set-up adventure and then confuses it with life. Then has the utter gall to claim she is doing Maasai women a favor and will change an ancient culture with her little vacation adventure. Ugh.
George “Hombre”: Barf. This sets the bar so vilely low. Join the Peace Corps. This is why the world hates us.
Ryan Caulfield: Please refrain from using indigenous brown people as a receptacle for your rich entitled existential crises. Has anyone checked the “facts” of this woman’s story? Her experiences can be purchased by anyone for about ten grand.
Y.: White appropriation at its grossest and most opportunistic.
Queen Mo: In case any American ever is perplexed why so many in other countries find us arrogant and ignorant…here is a perfect example. I despise the Americans who inject themselves in cultures like this is a Disneyland ride, and get as much out of it.
Schuyler V. Johnson: Mindy writes: “The blood was still warm as it slid down my throat. I furrowed my brow, curled my toes, clenched my butt, and continued to drink, while holding back the vomit. It took every ounce of my being to hold back the bloody throw-up. It felt like drinking warm whole milk, which I’ve always refused to do not only because of the obscene amount of calories — but also because I have always had an aversion to thick liquid substances.”
“She couldn’t stop herself and fell to her knees, buried her face in the tall grass and vomited it back up again.”
I expect ol’ Mindy will either stay this stupid, which is its own penalty, or she’ll get smarter and more aware, and will consequently spend the rest of her life being hideously embarrassed by this book. I’m hoping for the latter.
Commenters SoManyBooksSoLittleTime and John Arkansawyer have spotted an article, The #Bullshit Files: Mindy Budgor, ‘the first female Maasai warrior’, and two interesting comments on the article by Maasai women, at Africasacountry.com.