Lifestyle guide? Or book to be burned?

As an English student I rarely write an essay without including some form of feminist theory.  I have read enough Mary Wollstonecraft and Julia Kristeva to want to chain myself to the railings of St Salvators chapel and join the campaign for women’s rights.  However, once I’m home from the library and away from the stacks of feminist theory books  on my desk, once I’ve had my supper and settled down to some desperate housewives, once I’m showered and snuggled up in the arms of my boyfriend, it’s easy to forget my feelings of rage towards all men. And I don’t think I’m alone.

One contemporary feminist expresses her shock at the popularity of Bridget Jones among women today.  Stella Duffy sees Bridget as epitomising the needy and dependant woman that feminists in Britain have been trying to free for centuries.  Miss Jones joins ranks with Carrie Bradshaw and her clique, their perpetual search for the love of a man uniting their forces and identifying them with millions of western women seeking domestic bliss. Does this make us ungrateful to those who came before?  Are our desires to become the ‘little woman’ stamping heedlessly all over the women who fought for our rights and our freedom? Well, hopefully they don’t think so.

Whilst western women might appear to be regressing back to the times of our oppressed and silent ancestors, back, perhaps, to the kitchen and the nursery, I find the idea that we should abhor the likes of Bridget Jones and her pals incredibly narrow minded.  In fact, idolising a woman who is searching for love and happiness doesn’t seem all that bad. Yes, it’s true that much of the love and happiness she feels is underpinned by a man, but what’s so wrong with that? If Bridget isn’t happy without a man then why shouldn’t she be allowed to look for one? Surely the victory lies in her being allowed to look. Our heroine isn’t forced into an arranged marriage, isn’t deemed a spinster forever and isn’t sent to a workhouse or a nunnery for lack of an ideal marriage. Instead, like all women in western society today, she has the right to do what she wants. She has financial independence and with that comes the power of choice.

Surely Duffy’s angry words might be better directed at oppressive masculine forces in countries less fortunate than our own than at women who identify with heroines who exercise their right to seek out happiness.

 

Louise Gundry