The matter-of-fact way Nick states that his mother died which we are supposed to believe is what first makes him out to be unsympathetic is exactly how I would state it. The nightmare way Nick is believed to be callous therefore suspicious is nothing compared to how those same character traits are painted in women.
This mother’s day, I am thinking about Amy more than my own dead mother. Amy would surely know what to do in this situation. Amy always knows what to do, even if it’s horrifying, painful, scary, and so audacious, cruel, or callous it would never even occur to complacent people like me who have gotten used to their own mediocrity. I could even see being convinced any use anyone has for me is better than my being good for nothing, if the thought of being forced to have children weren’t so deeply, grossly distressing to me.
To Amy, children are …well, whatever it is she happens to need at the time. Insurance. Blackmail. Safety. Something to control. Maybe even an assurance of love.
Of course, Amy, as a possible Narcissist, is also very likely to tell me not to worry about something that won’t really affect a white woman with savings. But she also at least appears to understand how even white cishetero exceptionalism is subject to change at the whim of men. I’m also fairly certain she wouldn’t waste any time assessing how unsympathetic any request for autonomy would be coming from someone like me.
First of all, I am aging. Peope will begin telling me I am either so old I should not expect to become pregnant (and they probably will not take any variance in my cycle seriously) or so old that if I am pregnant, it’s a miracle from Jesus God himself I probably do not deserve, as I wasted so much life on something which has not yet justified the time I sacrificed for it.
If I were commercially successful, it would still be expected that I should want to have children but at least I might be able to get away with saying my characters are my children (that hippie dippie, Stevie Nicks kind of justification for not performing my female duty).
Speaking of womanhood, I also don’t really believe in it. I mean, I recognize that there are persons who feel connected to a gender and I don’t think that is bad or wrong but I myself do not believe in even bioessentialist paganism … which is why I had to rewrite the dystopian monster novel for a nine thousandth time. (Now, anyone who would like to enter into a human/creature symbiosis can do so regardless of gender. I mean, they are magic! They are probably linked to the fae in some sense. They can do that if it’s something that you want, choice being the only real requirement for them.)
But I get that once u use ‘the they’ on mother’s day (ho ho hey hey no they on mother’s day)? You are cancelling womanhood and motherhood! So generally, I really try and just shut the fuck up on mother’s day, which makes me feel even lonelier than I already did just knowing that, though I was dependent on my mother for support, she hated me for being mentally ill. For being a problem. For not being able to easily secure the things that just fell to her.
I mean, I’m sure she also loved me but since I had failed to be the special and exceptional child she told everyone I was, she switched right over to ‘dealing with a mentally ill child on top of everything else she did and excelled at’ pretty quickly. Being and having an exceptional life was important to her. Being an independent woman forging a new life in the great Alaskan! wilderness. In a sense, I sometimes felt I was there only to be part of that exceptionalism which I really did not ask for. Now, I mostly just want to buy VHS tapes and maybe some expensive (used) sunglasses and eat fruit gelatin cups until I die or am killed.
Continuing the list of why I am an undeserving of autonomy:
I don’t dress that well and when I do, it’s weird. I have no concept for being low maintenance or casual while at the same time, I do not really care what my hair or nails are doing. I do not consider hair or nails to be part of an aesthetic? I mean, I put the outfit together. Can’t u just ignore the hair? Or if not, I’ll just put it behind me or under a hat.
I don’t care about other people’s kids though I have managed to factor them in when I think about reproductive rights, something I never bothered with before, possibly because I had pretty severe depression for a very long time and couldn’t think about other people. Also, my mother perhaps did not set the best example as she often expressed a deep contempt for women she did not consider good enough to have children (and that seemed to include an alarming number of women of color or poor women).
She did not seem aware she was born into a bubble of generational affluence. Maybe part of the problem was, it looked like we were poor (or poor enough that my mother could easily lecture others on not being just handed anything in life). Our car had holes in the floor. My dad worked at the mill. I attended head start. We had one TV and when it broke, we had to get rid of cable to afford a new one. Our house was not properly insulated. We didn’t have finished windows. All our furniture came from the dump. So did my first bicycle.
Yet, I had insurance for most of my adult life. We owned our house. I went to summer fine and performance art camps. I went on class trips. I went to college for four years and my parents just paid for it.
My mother told me constantly that she would not take care of a child if I were to have one. She implied I was too sick and too poor to have one. She made it clear she would not help me.
But I am going to have to insist on a more complex narrative than just an evil feminist mother who poisoned my mind against wanting kids. I also didn’t want them or like them. I had no desire to take care of them or a boyfriend, or girlfriend, or parent. I have mostly lucked out in that I have only had to care for my bf’s cat a few times.
I used to think I could relate to Amy’s sense of entitlement to a reward for her effort. Yet, five years of rejections from lit agents has stripped off any idea that trying hard enough is good enough and I don’t have the energy for plots or revenge or pettiness. I am not special. I am not really anything. Except deeply, deeply tired.
What’s interesting is how Nick is finally given a bit of insight into what it’s like having to present a constructed life, something he has never had to consider before. It’s also interesting he could be the dude that wrote that you shouldn’t ever date a woman with no female friends because they have not been schooled in proper female behavior.
He could be the dude who wrote many, many articles about avoiding high maintenance women. I have read those articles when trying to figure out if I’m just repellent to men yet my problems and in a way Amy’s are pretty minimal compared to a lot of people who can’t fit the mold presented here even if they wanted to. Comparatively, the ‘death’ Amy describes just feels overdramatic. Being ignored is not the worst thing in the world and Amy does expect a lot from Nick. She wants him to earn her love the way men are often encouraged to make women really work for exclusivity, for respect – but this should be examined on all levels because the people I love, I love them because I do. It’s nice when they do nice things for me but it isn’t a condition.
I also do wonder how much weight emotional neglect should really be given when Gone Girl, a fictional novel, is often brought up as a real example of women who lie about abuse to get what they want.
Yet, still other analyses dismiss Amy for being willing to play games which I believe completely ignores the real, harmful aspects of society which are far harsher on women who refuse to package themselves in a palatable or relatable manner.
But the truth is, I’m not like Amy. I have a lot of hate and mistrust misfiring within me but I don’t feel like people have to treat me like a perfect and incomparable creature or else. I just want to be treated like a person. I want to be allowed interests. I want to be loved (or let go if you find that impossible). I want to be who I am.
But I know that will disgust a lot of people and I’m scared. I wish I had a mother who could tell me what to do. How to convince people who will see me as dangerous or deluded to just leave me alone.
Now, this type of ‘revenge’ appears like a game very entitled people who don’t think anything of lying (I have met many people who lie compulsively, male and female) would do in some alternate dimension for entertainment. Funny how back in 2014 it almost appeared like freedom.