Monday, January 18, 2016
Little Tales of Misogyny (Or Ladies Can't Win)
Little Tales of Misogyny by Patricia Highsmith is a collection of very short stories of women. Each story highlights some "type" of woman: a prude, an artist, a middle-class housewife, a mother-in-law, etc.
In every story, the life of the woman goes very wrong and she usually, but not always, ends up dying in some bizarre fashion. That's not to say that these stories are heartbreaking or sad. They are so exaggerated that the endings are silly and laughable. Take The Artist for example. The artist spends time all her time in art school making bad art and ignoring her husband. She dies in an explosion, furiously playing a piano as it flies through the air.
These stereotypical women are recognizable. We've all heard about some variation of them before, usually by some grump complaining that "women are all alike." Not so, according to Patricia Highsmith, we're varied in our terribleness! Even when a woman struggles against type, it goes badly for her. The Mother-In-Law tries not to be like the stereotypical mother-in-law by being silent and accommodating and gets grief for it from her children. Poor lady. These women are dismissed, forgotten with a shrug as soon as they die.
Little Tales of Misogyny is a nasty piece of satire written in 1975 that's still relevant today. Middle-Class Housewife reminded me of Kate Beaton's Straw Feminists in the Closet. Unfortunately some things never change!
For fun, read the Goodread reviews of this. They are as entertaining as the book.