Boys Writing About Girls
October 25, 2011, by Aja Gabel
The other day I was telling a friend that I thought maybe Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot was a kind of feminist novel. As a reminder: Madeleine, a senior at Brown University, is trying to reconcile her adoration of Victorian novels that employ the marriage plot (an antiquated courtship narrative) with the changing landscape of literary criticism. In the midst of her academic consternations, she gets involved in a love triangle of her own with the enigmatic but depressive scientist, Leonard, and the geeky but tender religious studies major, Mitchell. The beautiful heroine, Madeleine, must choose between a man of science and a man of faith (a familiar plot trope we’ve seen as recently as the television show, Lost). I don’t want to give anything away about the ending of the novel, but Madeleine releases herself from that love triangle with a surprising epiphany that feels more third wave feminism than anything else.
How nice, I thought when I read it and closed the book. A novel where the heroine “wins” in spite of the men who love her, though not at their expense.
So I was telling my friend this and she asked if I’d read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom last year. I haven’t, but I know what it’s about—the troubled girlhood and college life of the character of Patty, and the love triangle she’s a part of. My friend thought it was interesting that both Freedom and The Marriage Plot are both recent celebrated novels about young women finding their way through romance and contemporary life, but that both of them were written by men.
We wondered over our brunch if the same praise would be lauded if women had written those novels. In fact, Ann Beattie’s latest new work (the novella, Walks With Men) is a chronicle of the love life of the twenty something Jane in 1980s Manhattan, and tackles similar issues: how to be young, how to be in love, how to make sense of the world. But Beattie’s novella wasn’t given nearly the same attention. It was, however, given a bright pink and black cover bearing a photograph of a woman’s naked back.
I don’t mean to say I think The Marriage Plot is doing anything wrong. I think it’s doing so many things right. Not only did I enjoy reading it, but I also thought it was smart. Really smart, unashamedly, thrillingly smart. I’m excited that it exists. I’m also excited to see someone like Jean Thompson or Joy Williams or Mary Gaitskill write the same kind of novel and get the same kind of consideration.
I think it is pretty refreshing for a man to write a novel where the heroine is depicted as a strong, independent, and capable young women. As a man, I am a feminist. I strongly believe that women are prefectly made to live on their own. They do not need a man to make them complete or to fulfill certain parts of their lives. While I have not read either one of the books that were discussed in the blog, I am sure they are fine pieces of literature. On the issue of the attention a woman gets on writing on the feelings and accomplishments of another woman, she has the responsibility to ensure that the account is accurate and not come off as man-bashing or dehumanizing her gender by appearing weak in every aspect. I could be off, but that is how I feel…
I think that a man writing about women is a very interesting thing to do. I do not believe women are the only ones that can write about women. These days there are many men that are raised only by their mothers and many men can speak about women in a way of showing their true strength. I think that when you write from a different point of view when it comes to anything it can be very inspiring and it can also be very raw and open. I think that a woman could have easily written either one of these books. I do not doubt the intelligence of women, I simply find it interesting and fresh to have someone of the opposite sex write about a woman. I also think in a situation like this maybe a man going into it is now clouded about women as maybe a woman would be, they could be more open to exploring the character to its fullest.
I think it is great concept that these two male authors are showing that they can also write about women without depicting as bitter, weak creatures. It would be safe to say that these gentlemen are trying to show that women have to find there focus in life, love,and relationships as well as men. I think we need more male authors to write about women to show that women aren’t the only ones who can write about women.
We have lots examples of the authors, who write about female gender. Usually, they write to indicate that how women are being the victim of sex, society, politics, and religion. They, always, wish to see this scene – the scene where the women are treated as a heroine, not something the male possess. Eugenides is the one of the authors who gives the importance the women deserve. Also, this work shows that the dream have come out true – the women can sing their ownsong.
We have lots examples of the authors, who write about female gender. Usually, they write to indicate that how women are being the victim of sex, society, politics, and religion. They, always, wish to see this scene – the scene where the women are treated as a heroine, not something the male possess. Eugenides is the one of the authors who gives the importance the women deserve. Also, this work shows that the dream have come out true – the women can sing their own song.
Boys Writing About Girls
I find this blog unique in how these stories are comparable. The two young women find some type of love in a triangular relationship. Madeleine, the star of Jeffery Eugenide’s “The Marriage Plot, and Patty, center of attention of Johnathan Franzen’s “Freedom”, both run in to this situation while in their college years. It is not mentioned how Patty comes out, but Madeleine somehow manages to end her relationship at her own expense. Each book parallels in that they were written by men. Since they wrote such a novel, I have to wander if either of these writers go through this in their own lives.
Men writing about women is nothing new, but it is still nice to know that men are still writing on them. But I do wonder if a woman was to write about men how would the work be recieved by peers?
I find it wonderful that men and women can write about each other in such refreshing ways. People tend to think that only a man/woman can really give the true insight into their own gender, but more and more authors are showing the cross over. This rings true for this work and these two authors. Their concept is rather amazing. They give you something totally surprising, they show women who are not weak yet strong.
It i so surprising to see a man celebrating woman’s stength and independence!!! I am really enjoying reading that from man’s perspective who seems to have high respect to women. To my opinion a man who treats a woman as a princess is someone who used to live as a king. I wish this sort of writings will be on the rise as it will give women more confidence in men in general.Also, it will teach men who do not believe in woman’s success how to treat them equal to them.
With all the recent discussion of gender roles in the media, it is very interesting to see this discussed from a literary standpoint. It is not unusual for men to write about women, but viewing them in a heroic light is quite refreshing. Because of traditional gender roles and common associations with the female sex, women are often portrayed as subordinate characters that rear children, or delicate fragile creatures that often need rescuing. These authors prove that not everyone views the female as such, and I am glad they are willing to go against the grain and give the female a true leading role in their literature.