I will be the first to admit that I was one of many to read Gone Girl. Sure, it was a last minute, crap-forgot-to-buy-a-book-before-vacation read. It turned out, however, that my sun soaked days were spent engrossed in Gone Girl. I mean, yeah, I thought it was well-written, and the suspense was just right for my scaredy cat bones.
But … then I saw The Girl on the Train last night in the theaters. I didn’t read the book, mainly because I heard it was similar to Gone Girl, and, well, I already read Gone Girl. I didn’t walk in with any expectations other than this might actually creep me out a little bit. Of course, I had my expectations met, as well as a small trigger of frustration upon leaving.
I went and saw this with my husband and two other guy friends. It was interesting to hear them digest (yet another) Crazy Woman Narrative. They mentioned the last scene and how two women behind them were cheering it on. (If you’ve seen it, you know.) Not only did that weird me out, but I slowly began to wonder when we women started moving into this acceptance of an emotionally volatile mindset. At what point did we look at words in a book, scenes on a screen and wholeheartedly agree with such violent actions being in line with our emotions?
As a woman with many deep, at times uncomfortable, sweeping emotions, I don’t know that these books and these movies represent us well. I think there is one thing in being beautiful and confident and saying Hear Me Roar, and another thing to be taken by the hand by a trusted companion for an emergency mental health examination. I mean, each of those fictional women should have been in counseling (with a healthy therapist!) from the onset.
However, that’s not what is portrayed lately. What is played out is that same old myth that we women are nothing but emotional beings on the verge of crazy, completely socially unacceptable actions. Sure, you, me, and the rest of us have encountered this girl at one point in our lives. Check any bar bathroom at around one in the morning. Maybe we have been her once. But we weren’t created to live in that space, harbor unhealthy emotions so violently or feel like that’s who we need to be in order to be heard.
Here is what I know to be true, though:
We can take up for ourselves. We may still be called a bitch, but that’s because unhealthy men (and sometimes women) reject the idea of a strong-willed woman.
We are allowed to feel the depth of our emotions, but also align them with what is true about ourselves.
We live in a constant state of checks and balances. There is such a human tendency to take awful situations, hurtful words, criticism and absorb it. I think men and women alike share in the anxiety to be Good Enough. However, how it plays out is always different.
Some men are terrified of women’s feelings that are “too much” for them. It’s a sad thing to encounter, because there’s so much more at play than just a woman’s emotions. Open your own closets, men!
I believe all men and women are created to be emotionally whole. When I meet a man or a woman who is in counseling, acknowledges emotion in all that is around them, speaks to the tender parts of themselves — I know that’s when I’ve met a whole human being.
My best friend and I often joke when we’re at the height of our emotions. We joke about how we feel “crazy,” or how our anxiety from a situation has us spinning and gripping our fists. There is something so helpful in seeking out validation about how you’re feeling, especially – in most cases – from the same-sex. But she and I also know we’re each other’s safe person. We can say these things aloud and trust it stays with us. At the same time, though, we would, in a heartbeat, drive each other to the hospital if need be. I’m not kidding.
Per IMDb, The Girl on the Train book is the fastest-selling adult novel in history. I don’t know how true this is, but it does scare me. It’s not a healthy, awe-inspiring book on women forging ahead in a male-dominated world. What is represented in that book is what I hope to reject in my own life.
Women, we are in the midst of so much history-making. No matter your political views, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for President. That is something awe-inspiring. Even so, this won’t demolish the cultural narrative that women are overly sensitive, too-emotional beings on the verge of something crazy. I truly believe that The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl don’t help this narrative. They may validate something within you, but they certainly don’t speak truth of who we are. Don’t make the mistake in getting distracted by those violent narratives.
We were created for so much more. So much depth and purpose and breaking glass ceilings and pushing for equality and rejecting sexism. There is a roar, but remember: we are the lion.
“The only redeeming character in that movie was Lisa Kudrow.
And that is just the theme of her life.”
– B on The Girl on the Train