The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer, author; Rebecca Lowman, narrator
Although the novel was probably meant to illustrate the abuse of women and to support a change in that environment, I did not feel it accomplished that goal, nor did I feel that it was authentic in its approach. There seemed to be too much of an effort to present the liberal agenda regarding sexual expression, language and opportunity for all. Most of the characters appeared to have some kind of a dysfunction, or they were selfish, self-absorbed, and self-serving to some degree. Those that weren’t were out of the mainstream or emotionally unstable for a time.
I found few narratives with pure causes or appropriately moral behavior. Of course corporate greed was a major villain in the book, but so were the people who ran feminist organizations once they entered the mainstream market. Most of the characters were flawed. Many of them were willing to compromise ethics in order to serve their own needs.
While reading this, I questioned why so many female authors seem to feel they have to pepper their books liberally with filthy language, unacceptable under most circumstances, and sex that veers close to what once was called pornography. It diminishes their credibility in my eyes and diminishes the quality of the book. When a book masquerades as an important piece of writing, but is really a political message, using low class language, it is disappointing. I do not feel that I have to use my mouth as a toilet in order to compete or to be strong or acceptable.
At times, I found the dialogue defied reality in its innocent simplicity when it came from the mouths of supposed geniuses. In order to satisfy the needs of the current PC culture, the author included all sorts of liberal themes. The reader is confronted with words like cisgender and trans. There are lesbians and homosexuals. There are Latinos, and of course, they are super moral and hard-working, but poor; there are inappropriate jokes about Jews and race, however, and completely inappropriate language is used in normal conversation. Personally, I have no interest in homosexual sex or in women who are portrayed as weak and mindless, unfeminine and loud. Frankly, I am tired of the progressive agenda infecting all of the literature that is being produced today. When it is not overt, it is hidden in the various messages and themes that are subtly presented. I am being bombarded with a belief system I do not necessarily support 100%.
The “heroine” worship of the characters portrayed as feminists, coupled with their dysfunctional personalities, only made me wonder why the feminist movement ever even caught on. It felt as if in order to participate in the movement, one had to exhibit some kind of anger, disappointment or dysfunction of personality or goal. I wondered, what did feminists really want? From this book, I got the impression it was fame, fortune, and, as a by-product, perhaps more freedom for women. Did the end justify the means?
Abortion, of course, was front and center, portrayed as a magic bullet or cure-all for the world’s ills. Women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, LGBT issues, gender terms, sexual freedom, misogyny, an unjust judicial system when it came to adjudicating the abuse of women, and drug abuse are major themes introduced but not all are broadly developed; some seemed as if they were introduced as propaganda. Filial devotion and responsibility, parenting or lack thereof, and parent/child relationships were more heavily developed with the emphasis on maturity moving the characters to be more accepting of their own mistakes and the mistakes of others.
The main character is Greer Kadetsky. She is disappointed with her parents’ parenting skills. She wants more attention and discipline than they are willing to provide. Her parents are very much into their own personal satisfaction and pleasure. Greer’s parents are atheists who were often high on marijuana. They are left over hippies. Her best friend, Zee, is a lesbian. She may be Jewish, judging from her name and residence. She comes from Scarsdale, a suburb of Westchester heavily populated by people of the Jewish faith. Both of her parents are judges. They are the stereotypical Jewish family, educated and people of the book. She is portrayed stereotypically as financially solvent, as well. She is wealthy, but unsatisfied with her life which feels meaningless. She tries to please her parents rather than herself. She identifies happily as female but prefers females to males. Both Greer and Zee come from “white privilege”. Greer’s boyfriend is a Latino who has hard-working parents who pay attention to his needs. They are sterling examples until a tragic accident alters all of their expectations and futures. Faith Frank is the woman that Greer idolizes. She is a fraternal twin, from Brooklyn. She is not close to her brother. She is portrayed as aging and self-serving, but also as a great communicator. She is a prominent activist for women’s rights and Greer winds up working with her.
Regarding sexual abuse, many of the women perceive it in varying proportions, from groping to rape, with all intervening stages as almost equal in injustice. They are very offended by what they perceive as bad behavior in most men, however, they sometimes seem to encourage the poor behavior and to tolerate it for the sake of their own advancement. This makes them somewhat complicit in my eyes. I think the book fails in its attempt to adequately promote the causes women wish to highlight. Also, there are men who are abusive to women, who have unreal expectations of what liberties they are allowed to take, but they are not in the majority, in my experience. In the book, the reader is made to feel that every man has the tendency to take advantage of a female.
I did not feel that the author authentically presented this issue of women’s rights. She became too embroiled with reproductive rights and the PC culture, which was to the detriment of the issues in the workplace environment and injustice to women in general. Too many of the feminists were unhappy and sexually confused and the men who supported them did not seem masculine, as if someone with masculine tendencies had to be driven by his sex organ, not his brain or his heart. The ending was too much like a fairy tale with everyone finding their nirvana.