Hello my lovely readers! Sorry for the relatively smaller amount of reviews this week. I’ve finished a few books, but didn’t have the time to write up the reviews yet. This just means next week will be full. :-)
I have a relatively serious topic I want to talk about today. You guys know that I take health and the obesity epidemic seriously. One argument that I’ve heard a lot of unhealthy women make is that they put on a ton of weight to avoid men. They weren’t comfortable with the attention, etc… I remember thinking, when I, at the time, was overweight myself, “How bad could it really be?” Turns out…..pretty bad.
Over the last year, I’ve gone from a size 16 to a size 10. Over the last month, I’ve had more encounters with men who feel entitled to my body than I had over the entire two years I was overweight. I know correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but in some cases it does.
I’m a single lady. I date. I go places where single people hang out to try to meet new people. I do what single people in cities do. I dress attractively, because I WANT to, but also because I’ve worked damn HARD for this body, and I’m proud of my work. I’m not saying I’m Miss America, and I wouldn’t want to be, but I definitely look happy and healthy when I go out. Much more so than when I was overweight. I get hit on. I get asked on dates. This also happened when I was overweight. The difference, though, is that now when I dare to say the word no a much higher percentage of them get downright angry at me.
He’ll say something like, “Do you want to go on a date?” I say, “No, thank you.” He says, “WHY?! Think you’re too good for me?!” or “Well you shouldn’t dress that way if you don’t want attention” or “Please, you obviously need a good fucking.” (I am not exaggerating. These all have been spoken or texted or what have you to me).
Worse, though, is I’ll go on a first date. Usually dinner or drinks. I have a nice enough time, but I can tell we wouldn’t work long-term, and I want a relationship at this point in my life. He leans in for a kiss, and I turn my cheek or he asks me for a second date and I say no I don’t think it’ll work out. The reaction generally is, “You owe me, I bought you dinner!” or “How can you possibly know after only one date?!” or “Well, I thought you were ugly anyway.” (That last one, btw, makes zero sense since he ASKED ME OUT TO START WITH).
What really aggravates me about these interactions isn’t their disappointment that I said no. Obviously, that is flattering. What is bothersome is the evident sense of entitlement over MY BODY that they have. I’m pretty and single. They’re available and have a penis, ergo, I must want them or I’m a horrible woman. Since when did my body become the possession of every straight man in the greater Boston area?
Oh yeah, since I started glowing with health.
It’s draining. It’s enough to make me not want to go out some nights. It’s enough to make me want to stick my earbuds in in public and ignore everyone. Of course, I’m me, so I’m not going to do these things. I’m going to keep being my awesome self and feminist hulksmashing the douchebags (verbal smack-down, folks, not a physical one), but. If I didn’t have such a strong personality or had personal issues or WHATEVER I could totally see this being a thing that would make me stop working out, stop eating healthy, stop it all and just hide to protect myself.
Do you see where I’m going here? This misogynistic entitlement to women’s bodies is a poison to our whole society. A POISON. Every time you police a woman’s body or act entitled to her or watch it happen to a woman and not stand up for her, you are essentially watching the cook poison the food and then serve it to the dinner party without saying anything or trying to stop him. It hurts everyone, and it is not ok! It is just as bad as those cultures (that I know Americans judge) that say, “Women need to cover up because they tempt men.” Our cultural impetus is the opposite. “This woman is young and healthy and available ergo I deserve her body.”
No. You. Don’t.
I vow to say something any time I hear this attitude happening, and not just to me. I vow to encourage all women to remember that our bodies are ours and our health is about US and not about THEM. I hope you all will do the same.
Julie Stratford’s father is a retired shipping mogul who now spends his time as an archaeologist in Egypt. He uncovers a tomb that claims to be that of Ramses the Damned, even though his tomb was already found. Everything in the tomb is written in hieroglyphs, Latin, and Greek, and the mummy is accompanied by scrolls claiming that Ramses is immortal, was a lover of Cleopatra, and can and will rise again.
I’m a fan of Anne Rice. Her Vampire Chronicles are a lovely mix of social commentary, lyrical writing, and all the best tropes of genre fiction, so I was excited to stumble upon a cheap copy of The Mummy in the second-hand section of the bookstore. I wanted to love it. I really did. But whereas the Vampire Chronicles contain valid social commentary, this is so stereotypical of mainstream romance a la The Titanic that I was sorely disappointed.
Again, the language is lyrical and gorgeous. Rice without a doubt is incredibly talented at putting together sentences that read like a rich tapestry of old. There is no rushing to get the story out as is so often found in more modern writing. It’s fun to indulge the senses and oneself in the scene.
The plot, though, ohhhh the plot. It’s so mainstream romance it hurts. And yes, I know I read and enjoy (and write) paranormal romance, but the difference is that PNR is oftentimes tongue in cheek. It knows it’s ridiculous and over the top and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s meant to be fun and ridiculous. Rice is being serious here, however, and that’s why the plot bugs me. Let’s look at it for a second, shall we?
Girl is engaged to the perfect guy but she mysteriously does not think she loves him. Girl meets immortal man who is so hot he would be voted hottest man alive every year forever. Girl immediately “falls in love” with immortal guy. Girl ditches perfect guy for immortal guy. Girl and immortal guy have lots of the hot hot sex. Immortal guy causes a series of unfortunate events in pursuit of his ex-lover. Girl insists she still loves guy but cannot forgive him. Girl decides life is pointless without immortal guy. Girl attempts to kill herself. Immortal guy saves her. Girl forgives immortal guy. Girl agrees to become immortal too. Yay happily ever after.
Like….just……there are SO MANY parts of that that piss me the fuck off. So. Many. The main female character (Julie) is a shallow douchebag in spite of claiming to be a modern, progressive woman. She does not “fall in love” with Ramses. She falls in lust with him. He gives her tinglies in all the right places. He ditches her to pursue his ex-lover (Cleopatra). She, at first, rightfully tells him she can’t forgive him for that. But then she TRIES TO OFF HERSELF. OVER A GUY. And the only reason she doesn’t succeed is douchebag saves her. I just….wow. Not a plot I can respect. Not a plot that gives us anything different from the patriarchal rigamarole so often forced upon us. Anne Rice. I am disappointed.
Then there’s the odd eurocentrism at work in the narration. Even though Julie’s father loves Egypt and Ramses is, um, Egyptian, for some reason everything modern and European is what is impressive to everyone. I suppose I could maybe (maybe) forgive that, but then there’s the fact that the elixir that makes people immortal also for some mysterious reason turns their brown eyes blue. So nobody immortal has brown eyes. I don’t think I need to unpack why that’s offensive for you all. I trust you can figure that out for yourselves. Unlike Rice.
So, essentially, The Mummy is a beautifully written book that is destroyed by a kind of offensive, all-too-common plot and Eurocentrism. Even beautiful writing can’t overcome that.
3 out of 5 stars
Source: Harvard Books