READ FOR FILTH: THE FEMALE PERSUASION
We're talking our latest book club pick, Meg Wolitzer's THE FEMALE PERSUASION. We'd tell you to beware of spoilers, but like nothing happens in this book. Still we read the whole thing so: spoilers.
ADRIENNE: Jeremy, I have one word for this book: contrived. When I found out at the end that the main character had a book on feminism on the NY Times bestseller list for “over a year,” I laughed my ass off. I’ve read better insight into feminism and gender politics from a status update than this girl had in THE ENTIRE BOOK. What original thoughts did she have? I can’t even tell you what her unique feminist perspective is! Every single character felt contrived to make some point about feminism in the early aughts, but like, WHAT WAS IT? I found this book super frustrating - nothing ever happened and if you’re going to make contrived characters so you can focus on theme or idea, there better be a fucking idea. What say you?
JEREMY: LOLOLOL… I love your outrage. You’re just going right for the BIG FINISH. LOL. First I just wanna say I tried to read The Interestings when that came out because everyone was losing their minds over it. My husband was basically sleeping with that book under his pillow when it came out. I read like 25 pages and was like WHAT IS HAPPENING I DON'T CARE ABOUT THESE PEOPLE AND NOTHING IS HAPPENING. Uhhhh… I got into this one easier, but can we talk about this plot? WAS THERE ONE?
ADRIENNE: Jeremy, NOTHING HAPPENED. Here are the main plot points: College student meets feminist leader in bathroom. College student gets job where she writes some things that we never see so we can't really understand them. Little boy dies (we don’t see it happen), a whole mess about a turtle with an uninspired name. College student breaks up with grieving boyfriend. A LETTER OF NOTHING. College student quits job and then apparently (we don’t see this actually happen) writes the next best book on feminism and marries boyfriend. All the things that could be actual plot happen off screen. But seriously, what were we supposed to learn about feminism here?
JEREMY: Yeah, it felt to me like there were these characters and all we sorta (SORTA) saw was elaborate back stories told to us in a mist of remembering? I don’t know if that makes any sense, but that’s how I experienced the book. It’s like you put the plot together yourself because most of it didn’t happen in real time on the page.
ADRIENNE: Completely. Mist and contrived are the words for this book.
JEREMY: OK AND ALSO. Well, now I’m fired up. The inciting incident? This jerk she meets who’s an ass at a party. ZERO comes of that. I was expecting more. Not only does she not fight that situation… it just fucking disappears from the book entirely until we’ve got like 30 pages left and we find out he’s still a jerk. When it came back, I didn’t even really remember who that dude was and it felt like a joke almost because WHAT.
ADRIENNE: GIRL, YES. I was like, WHO? That whole thing, it was like, this is what it’s like to be a woman in college. Yes, ok, fine. But then their feminist actions against that dude don’t work and they forget about it. And then Loci doesn’t work. So what, feminist advocacy doesn’t work? But then there’s Zee, making a difference in a small way. So, is that what she’s saying, we can make a small difference in our communities if we try? But then Greer writes a book and it’s a bestseller? So we need to get the message out? WHAT IS IT.
JEREMY: I forgave the book thing because I think she’s saying that Greer is becoming Faith. You’re right it’s sorta ridiculous that this girl would write a bestseller like that, but I did like the idea that she was taking over and is the new voice… EVEN THOUGH … it’s not super clear what that new voice IS.
ADRIENNE: Oh yes, I got that whole women continue the work of women and carrying torches vibe. I just don’t buy these characters in these situations. I mean at the end I'm supposed to believe that Greer is Roxane Gay, and, girl, I do not believe that. I’m still really not all that sure what Faith does. The most interesting character is the chick in Vegas who has the back alley abortion and then becomes a conservative Senator. Like write about that, there’s some pathos.
JEREMY: I AM LAUGHING OUT LOUD AT YOUR RAGE AS WE MAKE THIS REVIEW LOLOLOL! I feel like I need to hide this book from my girlfriend Roxane Gay.
ADRIENNE: I think I’m so mad at this book because it has a huge platform. An established author, a ton of press, a mainstream audience. And it’s like what the hell is it saying to women about Feminism? And besides message / theme, I want some story for my $24. I couldn't read more than like two pages before snooooooze.
JEREMY: YES. TOTALLY. I think that reality has sorta the SAME PROBLEM that the book has. Maybe the folks that started the Women’s Movement have lost the plot a bit? Like… as much as I enjoyed the book (and I did ps)… it feels like she doesn’t really know what to say? Am I way off?
ADRIENNE: I’m going to have to know what you enjoyed about it.
JEREMY: CACKLE! I have a thing about mentorship. I had a college professor that I loved and adored and it maybe was unhealthy? MUCHHHH like this one. She sorta dropped me like a hot potato at one point and I don’t know if I’ve ever really recovered. The book reminded me of that a little. Just… I liked watching someone navigate that time in their lives… that college I’m learning to have and use an LOL “outside voice” as a person in the world.
ADRIENNE: I mean mentorship is great. But if we’re talking about mentorship in a workplace, even The Devil Wears Prada has a better example of that. Don’t even get me started on Loci, Jeremy. Like I have a professional job, I have a feeling this author has never worked in an office ever, this shit was so implausible. Like there’s no way that no one in Loci would have not known that an entire mentoring initiative just whoops never happened. WHAT THE FUCK. Like talk about suspension of disbelief. Like what, we’re supposed to believe that the hedge fund just farmed it out to some chick in South America and there was no point person in Loci? For their entire PR project? Like, um, it would be a lot of work to set up a mentorship project -- like wouldn’t Faith want periodical updates???? PLEASE GAWD.
JEREMY: Yeah. Loci… which WHAT THE FUCK is that name? Every single time I read it in my head I got annoyed because HOW THE FUCK do you pronounce it. I did NOT like how some sloppy ass mess was happening. It’s not hard to believe that to be true in the age of Trump, but that feels like a pretty lazy way to destroy all the work they were doing. Like is Faith that stupid? I wouldn’t think so. Wouldn’t she be vigilant? She knows that working for a billionaire dude is already problematic, so you’d think she’d be standing with a shiv waiting for somebody to even TRYYY to fuck up. AND THAT DUDE. DUDEEE… he’s a billionaire… is he really gonna just be lazy like that too? Just farm some shit out and let it ride? I don’t think so. And ok, so fine. It happened. Greer is just going to drop that hot potato? If she is really the feminist she thinks she is … NAHHH I don’t think so.
I call bullshit.
ADRIENNE: I want my MFA thesis advisor to read this book except he’d probably have a stroke over all the logical fallacies.
Also, let’s talk about the letter. Has a stupider fight between friends ever existed?
JEREMY: OHMYGOD. That letter. OMGOMGOMG. As soon as it came up the very first time, when Zee gave her a letter to pass to Faith I was like… OH SHIT… this is not going to go well. No way could she give that to Faith. I’m fine with Faith for calling her out with that crap at the end because people do crazy stuff when they’re angry. HOWEVER. I don’t think Greer would say another word about it. I just don’t buy that she would confess to Zee. She already quit the job, she’s not famous, nothing is coming of it… so what does she get by hurting the only friendship she seems to have?
ALSO? WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF NAME IS ZEE. (ok, now I’m full of rage)
ADRIENNE: I’m just like if one of my college friends came to me years later and confessed to not giving a letter I wrote to their boss of their first job outta college I’d be like, oh yeah, no worries. Because 21 year olds are idiots and don’t know what they’re doing. And to think this is the big jab Faith has got for Greer -- this is your big fuck up you terrible person -- it’s a lot to hang on a silly letter and a mistake of a 21, maybe 22, year old. Like really Faith would remember this? I mean obviously Wolitzer is trying to make a point about women helping women but this storyline is weak.
JEREMY: Yeah. How much time has passed? Like 3 or 4 years? I’m not running a Feminist Foundation, but I can tell you I don’t remember a single thing that happened 3 years ago. LOL ANNNNND… yeah… I do think she’s trying to make the case for women helping each other climb the ladder OR NOT… and how messy that can be… BUT AGAIN… maybe I’m done with hearing about what feminism is or should be or might look like or how it gets screwed up from Baby Boomers. Zee already has a job and a life and is the real hero here, she doesn’t need that shit, so quit it. It’d be fine if Faith said something about the letter I guess, but to bring that back to Zee? Nah, girl.
ADRIENNE: I mean these small issues were the entire plot of this ENTIRE 600 page book. I will sell my copy of this book for $1. That's like a 99% discount from what I paid. Fine, you can have it for free, come get it. Anyone!
JEREMY: One last thing and I swear I'll shut up. Girlfriend get REAL WEIRD when she talks about sex in this book. You know I love dick. It's my favorite, but I've never had one enter me and touch my inner soul and shit. WHAT IS THIS QUOTE. Ain't no dick THAT magical. NONE. Not one. Have I said I love dick yet?
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