Sunday, January 5, 2014

more on unlikeable women you don't want to root for who are not nice

I complained about this essay before (you say "pedantic" like it's an actual criticism!), but this part of it is pretty neat:

Lessing’s own complexity and flexibility—though it may have occasionally looked like perversity or simple crankiness—was her best asset. She was cynical, unsentimental, and possessed of a frighteningly keen eye for dishonesty and self-delusion: a brilliant woman whose greatest talent was calling bullshit. You could argue that this made her “abrasive,” sure. Or you could describe her in terms we tend to reserve for equally opinionated men: Bold, brave, iconoclastic, uncompromising, daring, self-possessed, strong. 

But whatever set of adjectives we use for Doris Lessing, the fact is, the world needs writers—particularly female writers—like her, who are willing to swim against the current. The mainstream narratives our society faces are still dangerous and harmful, and women, who spend their lives being indoctrinated with the “feminine” traits of sweetness and politeness and general un-disruptiveness, need strong willpower to oppose them. As the publishing industry changes and becomes ever more dependent on clicks and self-policing sectors of interest, there’s an increasing amount of pressure to simply reinforce what readers already believe, and to echo what they come to the table wanting to hear.

- Sady Doyle