And by things, I mean EXAMPLES. I am in no way referring to women as “things.” I recently noticed this article, you see, and thought–8 Beautifully Feminist Characters You Need in Your Life? Hmm. Might as well check that out. And so on I went down the list, thinking something like this:
Mulan? Sure! I haven’t read the 6th century poem, but this says she still went to war to spare her father. Elizabeth Bennett and Jo March? I’m a fan. I haven’t read The Hunger Games, but I saw the movie, and I can see how Katniss could be a role model–protects her younger sister, doesn’t want to kill for gain (although I did read an interesting article disputing the idea that she’s a strong character at all). Hermione Granger? Heck yeah! Scarlett O–WHAT?
I need Scarlett O’Hara in my life?
Here’s the blurb about Scarlett:
“Scarlett was a spoiled and self-centered sixteeen year old, but that all changed as she endured the Civil War. Scarlett is nothing if not a survivor, sometimes at all costs. She single handedly manages to keep the family home when other Georgia families are losing theirs.” [sic]
I’m struggling to believe that Susan Swann has actually READ Gone With the Wind. I admit that my own reading was over two decades ago, but I do remember some salient points.
1)Scarlett O’Hara never stopped being spoiled and self-centered. She believed herself to love Ashley–and then Rhett–but loving someone requires you to sometimes think of the other person before yourself. I can’t remember a single instance of her doing that. WITH ANYONE.
2)Okay, she’s a survivor–dang straight “at all costs.” She does NOT, however, single-handedly manage to keep the family home. In order to do it, she needs money, and so she fascinates her sister’s longtime beau into marrying her and giving her the money. This is supposed to be admirable? She lies and steals to get what she wants, because the only thing she truly does love, in the course of a 1,034-page book, is Tara.
3)I suppose, if you use the worst possible definition of Feminism, she’s a perfect feminist. She manipulates men into proposing to her and marries them as means to an end; she gives birth to MULTIPLE children that she ignores, even when the other parent is dead; she makes her choices without regard for anyone else’s wishes, feelings, or just deserts. I need her in my life?
The rest of the list barely registered with me, honestly; I’ve read Alice in Wonderland, but I don’t remember Alice as being terribly memorable (maybe because the book was all political satire that is no longer relevant in our society), and while I like Eliza Doolittle, it took an exceptional teacher (a male teacher) and a great deal of money to make her reinvention possible. Mostly, I couldn’t get past Scarlett’s presence on that list. At the risk of alienating any Gone With the Wind lovers among my friends, well–Scarlett is strong, yes. So are most bullies. She’s a survivor, yes–because she looks out for herself, not caring who gets trampled along the way. The only thing she does single-handedly, however, is attract and manipulate men who have the means to help her. She certainly does that very well. Let’s just be honest about the kind of friends women who hone that skill usually are to the people around them…which is why she is most definitively NOT a character I need in my life.