“Gone Girl” and the Reality of Domestic Violence

gone girl 2 I’ll stop you right here if you haven’t read the book yet. Spoilers are one of the worst things on this planet so if you want to read Gillian Flynn’s best selling novel: Stop! Go no further! I would hate to ruin someone’s perception of the novel.

The book did that for me by itself.

“Gone Girl,” published in 2012 (I know – I’m late. Wanted to read it before I saw the movie) is a novel of stomach turning twists, meant to make the reader go through a roller-coaster of emotions. Gillian Flynn had me in her palm until the major plot twist surfaced less than half way through the book.

Nick Dunne finds his wife, Amy, is missing and is quickly suspected of murder. The readers know early in the beginning that he is lying to the police, but about what, we don’t know. The readers get to know Amy through a series of diary entries, dating back to when she and her husband first met. We are instantly on Amy’s side, especially when we find out that Nick has been cheating on her. And then – plot twists of all plot twists – we find out that Amy is not who she claims to be.

A conniving, vengeful woman, Amy faked her death and is framing Nick for cheating on her. We thought we knew Amy – but we have no idea.

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne is the newly released theatrical version of "Gone Girl"
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne in the newly released theatrical version of “Gone Girl”

I understand wanting to write an interesting book. I understand taking true crime, a topic so focused on in American media, and turning it on its head is a great way to sell a novel.

But the reality is: this isn’t reality. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Women are more likely to be killed by their partner and every year, 1 in 3 women who are a victim of homicide is killed by her current or former partner.

Even though Amy’s character turn made me keep reading, it also made me a little sick and even annoyed. When Nick realizes his wife is framing him, he fantasizes about ACTUALLY killing her. I was furious. At first, I disliked Nick and liked Amy, then I disliked Amy and liked Nick (at least a little) and then I ended up hating both of them.

This could have been Gillian Flynn’s plan all along: create two characters so miserable that readers can’t stand either. It is different, I can give it that. But when I think about all the women who are currently being abused, women like Laci Peterson who was killed by her husband in 2002, I am angered and saddened that this book trivializes domestic violence.

Last week, my fiction writing professor applauded a peer for writing about a controversial topic. “Not everyone is going to like what you write about,” he said, “but with fiction, you have to be unapologetic and write what you want to write.”

Fiction may not be real, but there are plenty of real people who may read a story and think “this is okay.” And that terrifies me.

What do you think?

What are you thoughts on Flynn’s novel or the upcoming film?

“Who is this “Harry Potter” girl? And why is she speaking at the U.N.?”

So stated EmmEmma-Watson--UN-speech-jpga Watson herself on September 20th, delivering her speech on the “He For She” campaign.

But what Ms. Watson and observant people around the world know, is that actors, musicians and the rich and famous have an incredible amount of influence on the average person.

Mark Ruffalo is known for his acting and activism for sustainability and clean water. He garners a huge following on Tumblr, a blogging site whose age demographics range from 16 to 25. He reblogs and chats with fans, revealing personal insights on his humor, relationships with co-stars and his values and loyalties. How many young people are being swayed toward these important issues because Mark Ruffalo actively supports it?

As a member of the Tumblr community, I can tell you. It’s a lot.

And if there’s one “fandom” that Tumblr users worship, it’s Harry Potter. For a lot of women between the ages of 16 and 28, Emma Watson was constantly in our lives and on our TVs and movie screens. We know she has talent, we know she is intelligent and now we know that she is a self-proclaimed feminist.

What does Ms. Watson’s statement and the He for She campaign mean for us? Hopefully, the spreading of information and understanding. Feminism promotes equality of the oppressed and oppressors, which includes men and women. What many don’t realize and what Ms. Watson brought up is that men can benefit from feminism just as much as women.

“I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho”—in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49 years of age… I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.”

There has been both supportive and negative reactions to this speech, but Ms. Watson’s campaign will leave a positive and lasting impression on many. One can also hope that it will create a spark in this modern movement, pushing men and women everywhere to fight for equality.

 

What do you think?

Even though feminism has a dictionary definition, it includes a lot besides the equality of sexes.

On radical feminism: Should Emma Watson even have included men in the discussion?

On white feminism: Should she have also mentioned others who are being oppressed daily – people of color, of different religions, the LGBTQ community, the disabled community?

How to Stand Up to Every Day Sexism, Racism and Problematic Issues

When I entered my freshman year of college in 2011, I was put into a Women and Gender studies class. I had, of course, learned about women’s rights in high school, but this class was different. This class opened my eyes to everything I had been overlooking my entire life.

One of the most eye-opening lessons I remember is when we went over unpacking the invisible knapsack. If you’re white, have you ever stopped to think about the fact that “nude” colored bandaids and panty-hose only match your skin color? If you’re white, have you ever been asked to speak for all of the people of your “racial” group?

Now in my senior year, I constantly see the injustice that happens in our world. Whether it’s in Hollywood, the local community or within my own family. Sometimes, standing up for what you believe in can be hard when there are people who oppose you.

Here are three things that helped me transition from closet-feminist to capital F-E-M-I-N-I-S-T, thank you very much.

1. Read, Read, Read

If you want to speak up, read up. Knowing everything about a subject gives you an edge when someone wants to counter your argument. If you’re like me, you might get flustered when someone spits back a “Not all men!” and continue to defend every guy who hasn’t done anything to offend you. Being confident with your feminism facts can aid your conversations and maybe even motivate someone else to change their attitude.

2. Open Up To Those You Love

My friends, family and boyfriend are my best listeners! I am lucky to have two amazing, intelligent sisters that are just like me. We exchange ideas and stories and educate each other whenever possible. When my parents say something “old fashioned,” I ask them to see my point of view on a subject. My boyfriend lives on a college campus where sexism and misogyny runs rampant, even within his own group of friends. When I see something, I say something to him. He has even spoken up to friends when he knows what they’re saying or thinking is unfair. If you’re comfortable talking to your friends and family about feminism, soon you’ll be able to talk to other people about it, too.

3. Don’t Laugh, Ask Why

So many ignorant ideas and jokes rely on someone else’s pain. I remember sitting in a crowded movie theater waiting for my film to start and listening to two teenagers, a guy and a girl, talk behind me. Whatever “joke” he was telling had to do with shaming women for being less than men. And the girl with him laughed! I often wonder if girls know that they are openly accepting misogyny when they laugh at a joke that is intentionally sexist. If you hear someone make a joke, you don’t have to call them out on it if you’re not comfortable doing that. Instead, you can either not give them the reaction they want (laughter) or ask them why it’s funny. Because it won’t be funny when they try to explain that inequality is hilarious.

Feminism isn’t just about women. I support the many people of color who are victims of racism and racial profiling, the LGBTQ community who can’t be who they are, the people who are seen as “abnormal” and are forced to be the butt of ableist jokes. To support, we need to speak up.