Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trainwreck by Sady Doyle *****

"If you are a woman, and you make yourself visible in the world, they will always...insult you back into silence."
Trainwreck by Sady Doyle presents two conflicting ideas: (1) society conspires to exclude women, and (2) progress is being made. The first idea is supported with historical and contemporary examples. I found these examples so awful, that I could only read small sections at a time. The second premise is more an expression of faith.

Doyle suggests that people are considered to be trainwrecks because they are women, and to exclude them from power and influence. "We wreck people because they are women."
"Mental illness and addiction ruin women--make them sideshows, dirty jokes, bogeyman, objects of moral panic--but they only seem to add to a man's mystique."
The list of men and women to support this hypothesis is lengthy on both sides, convincing, discouraging, and depressing.

If you have to courage to read this book, it will give you a view of the subtlety and pervasiveness of misogyny. It shifts the blame from the obvious troglodytes--abusive husbands, predatory employers, pimps, and rapists--to all of us, men and women, with our unconscious assumptions about women.

Women who are reviled in life are often revered in death.
"...death neutralizes them. It removes them from the public eye, definitely and permanently. And it shows, as last, they shouldn't have taken those risks, done those things, said those words, lived that life. By dying, a trainwreck finally gives us the one statement we wanted to hear from her; that women like her really can't make it, and shouldn't be encouraged to try."
This book was released in September 2016. Given its dismal prognosis for women, you might have expected it to foresee the November 2016 election results in the U.S., but no.
"But in all the fury, the conspiracy theorists and angry men seem to miss one of the strangest facts about Hillary Clinton: Gravity works differently on her. You can trip her up or knock her over, but when Hillary falls, she falls up."
In retrospect, like the other attempts by the author to contradicts her dismal observations, this seems to be more of an optimistic prayer, than something related to the lived reality.

As Dante said, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

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