Saturday, October 24, 2009

Searching for Unicorns

Meg Wolitzer’s book, The Ten Year Nap, is filled with stay-at-home mothers who can’t seem to decide what they want in life, but can’t seem to stop complaining about how they aren’t achieving it. They all float along in bubbles of self-absorption and self-doubt. They cannot make a single decision for themselves. They are completely unable to operate without being told how.

When did strong and sensible SAHM become the modern-day equivalent of the unicorn? Why do female writers continue to perpetuate the notion that a woman who gives up her career is also giving up her brain? When did our options narrow down to either stay at home and be unhappy or go to work and be happy? Nothing in life is that simple. The author does a grave injustice to all women by putting complex and difficult choices into neat little boxes.

To add insult to injury, the author not only simplifies their inner lives, she can’t seem to fill in any real details about their outer lives. Characters live “outside Philadelphia” or in the “suburbs of New York City” as if there aren’t incredible distinctions between neighborhoods in the Delaware Valley or the tri-state area surrounding Manhattan. In fact, all locations and details have been fictionalized. Was the writer too lazy to do a Google search to even find the name of a legal software program? Even Stephanie Meyer put in enough effort to locate Forks on a map (though she never visited it and, well, if I start on that series, this post might never end). Lazy writing and lazy characters make me angry.

Am I taking a nap from my life as the title implies? Are you kidding me? I may not be actively living in the corporate world, but my days are filled. All the women I know realize that life is not simple, that choices can change, and that happiness is not an either/or option. When will female writers learn the same?

1 comment:

  1. I think you are forgetting that most people do not want to read about reality - they want an escape from what they are already living. They want to hear about a better/different life so they have something to look forward to or feel superior about.