American woman, get away from me

Everyone loves to hate Eat Pray Love. The New Yorker did a looong review of the movie version which basically consisted of many paraphrases of “AVOID THIS CRAP”. They already slammed the book version when it came out, as far as I remember, so why did they even bother discussing the movie? Did they think a Hollywood adaptation with Julia Roberts would give the material more intellectual depth? The Slate Audio Book Club devoted a show to Gilbert’s book, too, and again, they hated it to varying degrees.

I read the book, found it a bit vapid and disappointing (in the sense that I felt Gilbert could not really convey her own psychological and/or spiritual breakthroughs). The woman seemed nice enough, though, and isn’t it the point of a memoir – a book about yourself, after all! – to be egocentric, that is, centered on yourself, your own problems, however irrelevant to the world at large they may be?

Yes, it’s about a white upper middle class woman who has a midlife crisis. She gets over it by taking time off, traveling, and doing some “spiritual” stuff somewhere in Asia. Then she meets a guy, he proposes, The End. It didn’t contain big philosophical revelations (most books don’t.) Yet some of the criticism was just completely over the top. How dare this woman, who is, after all, just a white upper middle class woman from America, talk about herself at that length? Everyone knows white upper middle class women from America are the epitome of BORING and IRRELEVANT!!!1!1 And how dare people find her interesting and buy her book and turn it into a bestseller!??

People, ignore the superficial writings of these People Who Cannot Know The World Because They Have Ovaries. Listen to the neurotic, egocentric, self-absorbed rants of white upper middle class men, instead – the sages and savants of our age. Read whyJonathan Safran Foer worries about sausage, ponder Jonathan Franzens take on dysfunctional families (My parents forced me to finish the rutabaga and that’s why I like sniffing furniture!), or let yourself be enlightened by the philosophical insights of Lester Burnham: “I have lost something. I’m not exactly sure what it is but I know I didn’t always feel this… sedated. But you know what? It’s never too late to get it back.” –  That’s some real, deep wisdom right there, man.

4 Responses to “American woman, get away from me”

  1. ilse aus Minga Says:

    that’s my girl! sock it to those mysogynistas!

  2. cohu Says:

    “It’s hardly reasonable to demand that every woman who wishes to better her life be poor, or nonwhite, or in some other way representative of diversity in order to be taken seriously.”
    Yes, my thoughts exactly.
    “… But Eat, Pray, Love and its positioning as an Everywoman’s guide to whole, empowered living embody a literature of privilege and typify the genre’s destructive cacophony of insecurity, spending, and false wellness. ”

    Hm. I think this whole approach is so deeply inconsistent it hurts. Women (or men) telling women what lives to lead, what books to read and what things to buy or not to buy will never constitute feminism. That’s what’s wrong with Ms. Gilberts book, Oprah and… this article. Although (if I may add) Ms. Gilbert’s book is much less judgmental than these ladies’ very specific instructions as to what social movements I should join, what kind of life I should lead and what values I have to share in order to be rewarded with their True Feminist Honor Badge. How about we just stop dissing on other women, period?

  3. Ralph Says:

    “Women (or men) telling women what lives to lead, what books to read and what things to buy or not to buy will never constitute feminism.”

    Yes. And there are so many of these demigods on stilts around.

    They usually have good intentions, though. Makes it easier to forgive them.

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