I’ve tried to avoid Tsing Loh’s articles just because they are so damn depressing. Weil’s piece was fascinating in that trainwreck way, when people air their dirty laundry, and there’s nothing dirtier than sex and love. (Everything else flows from there.) But Tsing Loh’s piece that’s the subject of Brown’s post suffers from the fact that it’s ALL ABOUT HER—a problem with lots of opinion “journalism” today, falling into bloggy traps. She has some good criticism, some interesting larger points (sussed out by Brown), but most of it is long and way too self-involved for a feature in the Atlantic. And it’s supposed to be a review! Please.
But every time I read these sorts of things—this, or Tsing Loh’s last Atlantic article, about her affair and divorce; Elizabeth Weil’s New York Times Magazine article about working on her marriage, and all the bloggy disccusions around it; books like Against Love and A Vindication of Love, both railing against modern “companionate” marriages in their own way; all these late-boomer and Gen X women at once enchanted and neurotic and furious with our current exemplars of marriage or motherhood or monogamy—I am left wondering (and depressed) about what fights we Gen Y (and beyond) women will face in this realm. So much of the current angst seems to be a reaction to the 1970s woman’s reaction to the 1950s woman’s lifestyle/dilemna/ideal … it frustrates me. I’m tired of those battles; they seem silly and cliched and obvious.
But our battles are going to have to be a reaction to these. Or a backlash. And what will that look like? All I know, when I read these things, is that I don’t want to be any of the women in these essays. I don’t want their problems, don’t want their lives. I wonder how they possibly got there, and then can see myself getting there. I think the avoidance of all that will all be so simple, but then they, as women in the 70s and 80s, probably thought the same thing about that 1950s woman.
But Brown’s got the real point, something that I think of whenever I read an article of that type: I sure as hell don’t want to be any of those women…but I could so very easily fall into that trap, as could many of my friends. Ugh.
But quote of the day goes to Tsing Loh for this:
To be a mother—even simply to be a woman—in today’s world is to be made exhausted and resentful by a role or set of roles that we don’t recall deliberately choosing.Somehow we always end up falling into something. Sometimes our situations demand that we fulfill some role or archetype that we don’t want. We don’t rebel enough.