Written in Ink
Written in Ink

Last week I was bitching to my local bookshop owner that I was tired of reading yet another Scandinavian thriller in translation. She suggested "Gone Girl" to me. I'd never heard about it and didn't know it was a "Really Big Thing" until people in cafes and such started going ga-ga and asking me what I thought about it when I was reading it in public.

So, while I don't usually write about "thrillers" I've read I figure this is a good one to write about - particularly because it's the most offensive book I've read in a long time and makes "Twilight" and "50 Shades Of Grey" seem particularly progressive.

It starts out great. We get chapters that alternate between a husband's view of his marriage and his wife's view of the same events in his marriage. It's a fascinating way of looking at different gender expectations and interpretations of events in a relationship. And it shows that both the husband and wife are miserable in their marriage because they are trying desperately to conform to what the patriarchy wants them to be as a part of a married couple and both are failing at it.

It hits on elements of misogyny and misandry in marital politics in a really interesting way. And, what's awesome about this start is that it's clear that both the husband and wife are unreliable narrators, so it's up to you to figure out what the truth is about their relationship (which, when it comes down to it seems to be that both of them were way to immature to be married in the first place.)

But at about the halfway point the novel does a complete reboot. It stops this interesting structure and debate and heads into some of the most extreme misogyny I've seen in a long, long time.

We suddenly get pages and pages telling us that:

Women lie about who they are because they have to get a man and what does it matter if he finds out the truth once you've locked him down.

That all women hate blow jobs, titty fucking and anal sex but that most do it at the begining of a relationship in order to get the man's attention knowing they can stop giving head and all other types of "distasteful to women" sex once they have him locked down.

Faking pregnancy to get a man to love you is completely normal.

Once you've done that to get his attention oopsing him into a real pregnancy will get him to commit to you if he's not already willing to do so.

That the problem with many women today is that they were "raised by feminists."

That men only really care about blow jobs, anal sex and titty fucking and once you stop doing those things - even though you should stop doing those things if you don't want to be a bimbo - of course he'll cheat on you unless you do the baby thing to trap him.

That even women who are complete geniuses will fall for and forgive a man if he simply tells them often enough that he loves them, even if it's an obvious and complete lie.

That, of course, if you put on weight as a woman your husband will fuck other women.

That, of course, men lose sexual interest in women after they reach age 40.

That lying about being raped is an acceptable way to make sure a man who has scorned you will become a good man eventually and that threatening to complain that he raped you is a great way to make sure a man doesn't leave you.

The list could go on, but you get the general idea.

Now, in a regular thriller this stuff wouldn't bother me that much. Psychopaths often say/do awful things in a thriller. But this is not a thriller. It is from the very first paragraph meant to be a book about gender constructs and how gender works in modern marriage. And that's what makes it a problem.

I have no problem with the male and female psychos who spout bullshit in stories where it's just supposed to be clear that you are having a fun ride reading about how nutty these people are. I have no problem with Lisbeth Salandar. I can deal with Patrick Batemen. None of those characters exist in a book that is clearly trying to be a study of how gender works in the current zeitgeist.

Gone Girl, on the other hand, while written by a woman, ends up coming off as a book written by a Men's Rights Activist about how dangerous women are and how they want to trap men, take away their rights and know that by doing so they'll get the relationship of their dreams.

If this was a niche book it would bother me less, but the fact that it is insanely popular is terrifying.

Illustration for article titled Gone Girl - Popular Misogyny

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