I am currently feasting on chick lit for a series I’m going to affectionately, bitingly, call Feminism is Fun. Hilary Winston, author of My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me, had me at this:
This book is dedicated to anyone who has ever had their heart broken. And dreamed of getting the tiniest slice of revenge. And didn’t do it because they were worried they’d look crazy. I’m taking this bullet for you. You’re welcome.
Winston’s decidedly nonfiction confessions are a response to the book written by her ex; a book in which Winston is labeled the “fat assed girlfriend.” Winston’s stories are brutal, hilarious and incredibly comforting. If I could go back to the girl who once sat in my kitchen digging oreos out of ice cream, angry at the world’s insensitivity (I’m looking at you, too, C), I’d tell her to put the spoon down. I’d tell her that until she dated someone who exploded at her for interrupting a scene from Stir of Echoes with an attempt at affection, she really didn’t have any right to be upset.
Winston joins a chorus of modern women speaking up about lackluster relations with the opposite sex who have inspired in me this ethic of “equal or lesser value.” Translation: no one accepts your dating disasters as currency unless they are of equal or lesser value to the most horrendous story currently in circulation. When in the throes of chaos, it’s sometimes beneficial to have a point of reference that overshadows, and helps make manageable, your beast of a situation. That said, I have to stop and ask: what on earth are we doing to ourselves? Has feminism spawned a pissing contest for the title of “best victim”?
Some might take issue with labeling a successful author a victim. The critical question is not whether an author is a victim. It’s how many other women and girls aspire to join the ranks of the few/the proud/the jaded because emotional tragedy can be traded as currency in the market for authentic femininity.
I can’t travel back in time and tell the girl with the quick draw spoon to buck up. If I could, I might also tell her that dating isn’t really all that important, even if it seems to consistently be the only thing women are expected to care about. If it’s not how to impress a potential partner, it’s how to dump or get over being dumped by an existing one. I’m going to finish Winston’s book and thoroughly enjoy it, but then I’d like to suggest an alternative topic of conversation for a while. Maybe this?