Gone Girl and Bad Feminist

One of my favorite films of 2014 was Gone Girl and of course I’ve read the book by Gillian Flynn as well. Both have attracted criticism for allegedly being misogynist and Gillian Flynn has been accused of being one of those whackadoodle feminists who hates men.

This article makes no such accusations, but is an example of the discussion happening in the media about the film http://www.vulture.com/2014/10/yes-gone-girl-has-a-woman-problem.html

That article hits the nail on the head that this book is not misogynist because it is about the actions of one specific screwed up sociopathic women. Yes, her husband is pretty pathetic and her old college boyfriend is a creep, but none of the men are portrayed as being as seriously out of control as she is (well maybe Desi, and somewhat ironically both are out of control in their desire for complete control over every aspect of and over the people in their lives). And not all of the women in the film are portrayed as destructive man haters. Nick has a devoted sister Margot and the lead detective, Rhonda Boney, ends up on Nick’s side and wants him to give evidence against Amy and he refuses.

Gone Girl is solely about one woman’s worst impulses and how she gives into them to get out of her boring suburban marriage. The only aspect of the book (which is also in the film) that truly delves into feminism is the “Cool Girl” monologue which can be read in the article I linked to above.

It is absolutely true that women go out of their way to take an interest in what men like, but rarely do men do the same. There is no male equivalent of the “cool girl.” I am guilty of it myself and so are most women. I have no idea why more men don’t do the same aside from the fact that women are conditioned to please people and men must not feel the same desire to do so. Obviously that is a gross generalization. There are many good and thoughtful men out there and stereotyping men harms feminism and leads to the concept of feminists being manhaters.

That brings me to Bad Feminist, the 2014 book by Roxane Gay. The title pretty much says it all. It’s a collection of essays about not living up to the ideal of being a perfect feminist. We are all flawed human beings and it is impossible to live up to one’s ideals and convictions one hundred percent of the time.

I consider myself to be a bad feminist because I have pandered to the interests of a man although in my defense I wouldn’t go so far as to completely lie about having an interest in something. I have also allowed a man to make me feel bad about the clothes I wear, I have allowed a man to dismiss my feelings, etc. I have also been inconsiderate of a woman’s perspective and feelings and for that I am sorry.

Sometimes I do stand up and say something, sometimes I feel it’s not worth it to argue, sometimes I just don’t know what to say. All I can do is try to be better, not beat myself up over past mistakes, forgive those who may have inadvertently upset me and try to understand where they may have been coming from.

As to how Bad Feminist related to Gone Girl, I think part of being a bad feminist is not understanding that women can have angry feelings but it does not mean that they hate men or anyone else. I have been called hateful for having complex feelings toward a person which I found very hurtful because it is ok for a woman or anyone else to feel upset or angry about a situation. Those feelings do not equal hatred.

In essence, I just have to say that I love how film and literature inspires these discussions. And I enjoy seeing complex non stereotypical female characters in movies and reading about them in books even if they represent our very worst selves.

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