Thursday, June 2, 2011
When It Rains...
Today I finished Unless, by Carol Shields. It was urgent to do so, as I was wrapped up in the story and also in the sad, stark view of the persistence of inequality, silencing, and subjugation of women in the world today (in a novel set at the dawn of the 21st century), despite so many advances.
Of women and of women writers.
This was exacerbated--my sad urgency--by an article about VS Naipaul in the London Evening Standard, posted by Ren Powell on Facebook. Naipaul's comments about women writers strike me as appalling, tactless, and representative; his opinions are his own, of course, and from his own cultural standpoint, but are clearly shared by many. I leave you to it.
What I hoped for in the book was some kind of generous, subtle, nonviolent triumph--some brilliant resolution of all the strands that was more than any neat tying up of loose ends, after the necessary tight knot and its unraveling. I got what I came for, and leave you to that, as well. I do recommend this mother-daughter story that has women and men in it, in all kinds of engaging ways.
The blurbs on my green paperback include this: "Lives may have cracked asunder, but wry comedy leavens the tale," from the New York Times Book Review. Very wry, I'd say, and not obviously comic. If this is not on that list of 250 books by women that men should read, it should be.
So I'd say some things balance out in these areas. If women can be discussed as sex objects, so can men, and it can be done gently, with good humor.
But for women to continue to be routinely dismissed as lesser, sentimental, weak, and so on, after all this time, whether as humans or as artists, no, I can't shrug that off.
Vive le différence! as the saying goes, in comic and tolerant appreciation, but let's get rid of the inequality and constant judgments, please. No more salt in the wound.