The Weekend Binge

mage by Public Co from Pixabay

Last weekend, I tried to binge read three books–actually I tried to listen since these are audible books–but only managing to finish two, with the third one about half way through.

The three books are “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow, “She Said” by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey, “Burning Questions” by Margaret Atwood. The reason I want to binge read them is that they are all about women’s issues and I am afraid that they are all going to be very sad. They can still be entertaining, but usually the sadness overwhelms and obscures everything else. So this is why I want to quickly finish them all so that my spirit will not be affected too much.

Another reason I want to binge read them is that I feel that it is my obligation to read these books. I have almost all the books by Atwood, except her new poetry book “Dearly”. However I only read less than half of them. So reading “Burning Questions” is my duty. For the other two books, I feel that I really don’t know much about the MeToo movement, since the Asian immigrant community here doesn’t care this topic very much. This is probably due to the fact that as immigrants we work too hard with very little energy left for other activities, or we are more worried about financial solvency and survival, which makes other worries seem too insignificant, or our jobs are the least glamorous and the least coveted, which are not worthy of enduring any harassment at all. So reading the other two books feel like obligatory too since I want to know what is happening.

Whenever I read books about women, I always feel that I want more. I always feel that the books are great, but still they haven’t really make me completely satisfied or entertained. I don’t know why I feel this way, but I always feel this way. I think there are several reasons for this:

The first one is that I feel that the ultimate goal for women’s life is not romance or conquest or triumph over a jealous competitor, which are the well acknowledged goals for men’s life, or at least for men’s life portrayed in a story or a book. But they are not for women. Even though many women writers write or wrote in the same way, it doesn’t follow that they should be women’s life goals. When women writers write this way, it is because everybody (including both men and women) is educated in men’s style, men’s goal, men’s interests. It is a familiar way of writing.

In my opinion, the goal of women’s battle should be their own well being, their children’s well being, their family, their friends. Each is important and there is no ranking among the four goals, which are not as glorious as romance or conquest, but it can’t be helped.

The second one is that I feel that many books about women are too sad, too didactic, too complaining, which miss the point that women are good fighters too and women’s fight can be very entertaining and many women enjoy fights. Even though women don’t have the muscle strength of men and women are not biologically programmed to be warriors, women enjoy fights as much as men. Women fight in different ways. Just look at my narcissistic relatives–almost every one of my female relatives is a fighter. Every one of them mixes bitterness with love, stirs antagonism with sweetness, supports something she secretly hates, and creates a familial environment as confusing as possible. For what purpose? Well, for the purpose that she will exert more control while others are lost in bewilderment.

I have always imagined that if my narcissistic female relatives use their fighting prowess on something positive, contribute to the good of the family and society, forge real and constructive relationship, they would be the real women I would love and respect. I want to see real women enjoying life’s fight and exploring life’s possibilities.

The third one is that I feel that I haven’t seen books that explore the complexity of women’s friendship and women’s relationship with their mother and grandma. These are extremely important things to women’s life and the relationship dynamic can be very interesting and even explosive, including a lot of ups and downs, battles and reconciliations, curses and praises. Women are capable of love and capable of grow their love throughout their life through very difficult situations. This essential part of women’s life is completely missing in most of the books and is probably something that will never be explored.

23 thoughts on “The Weekend Binge

  1. I think women have never been able to be as physically or openly aggressive as men due to social norms. So they have found other ways to fight in a more subtle manipulative way. I’ve seen this multiple times myself.

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    1. So true. Women can’t be as forthright as men as far as anger release is concerned. However emotions need outlet. And women end up using other methods. And women are very good at using these other methods.

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    1. Yes, women try so hard to do unachievable things; failing that, a lot of us feel frustrated. It is so much better to start to love oneself and make doable goals in love and relationship and be happy with it.

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  2. Just to clarify (!) The vibe I get from women is that – while they have impersonal interests – they don’t want to totally escape from human relationship concerns in the way that men do. They regard that as wrong in some way.

    But I am conflicted – because that goes against my other belief that we are all just “human beings” responding to the human condition.

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    1. Very true. I do think I’ve met several female scientists who are more interested in impersonal interests than human relationship. Even they want certain kind of human relationship. I don’t think total escape is wrong if somebody wants to choose it for himself or herself, although I think maybe women think that it is wrong because they are afraid that men would choose it and become asocial.

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      1. Another observation on this from a male perspective ….. Women will often ask men to express their feelings or thoughts – and men will often tend to remain silent because they see this as a trap. They suspect that the woman only wants to hear the positive stuff and not the negative stuff! Also, in an emotionally charged situation, they feel that saying anything is just adding fuel to the flames. It’s not that they don’t have any “emotional intelligence” – it’s more that their emotional intelligence is telling them that it’s wisest to keep quiet in the current situation!

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        1. You are sooooo right. I often feel that men and women just can’t be honest in their discussions. Men are afraid of women and women are afraid of men. And both are afraid of repercussions, traps, agendas and many other contingencies. I somehow feel that it is the social structure that boxes men and women in. Men feel that their freedom will be clipped if they are honest with women or their words, once out there, will be used against them later on.

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  3. I should, of course, have added hobbies and sport to the above list – though the latter doesn’t interest me at all. I’m also aware that my list of escapes is culturally dependent. Perhaps for Asian men/people their business is their escape?

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  4. A lot of men (probably most) are interested in impersonal matters – philosophy, science, geography/travel etc. For men these are an escape from what they regard as claustrophobic human relationships and petty concerns. My default view is that we are all human and the “human condition” applies to us all – male or female. ie You may feel that have certain emotions “because you are a man” (or because you are a woman) but it may just be “because you are a human being”.

    So according to my theory many women ought to be using impersonal interests in the same way as men. I’d be interested to hear about that.

    It strikes me as rather analogous to the British attitude towards a “sense of humour”. Many British people believe that only the Brits (in Europe) have a sense of humour. The truth more likely is that a sense of humour is part of being human – but we think it is exclusive to us because we only know what it feels like to be us.

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    1. I have to say British humor is rather distinct, judging from the Britcoms I watched on TV in the past. For impersonal interests, I guess very few women prefer impersonal interests over human relationship. Wait, I did meet one math student in college–she likes math more than anything else and was very awkward during conversations and didn’t really enjoy it. I am awkward myself since I can be very nerdy and can be focused on certain topic without the ability to get off it, but I am far less awkward than her.
      Social media gives women a great outlet for connection and bonding online. Like the online poetry, which is almost completely powered by those young women who feel that written words of the past don’t represent them.

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  5. I have often wondered about the potential of turning brilliant negative energy into something constructive because the risks seem less and the rewards greater on the positive route. You use the example of narcissistic female relatives. I think of mafia leaders who are so skilled at creating powerful and profitable organizations. Why not go into a legitimate business where you can still be ruthless?

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    1. So true. I’ve never thought about this, but you are right. Why not go into legitimate business? Wait, actually I did hear a rumor about somebody in the community here. It is said he is afraid to go to NYC in case he meets his enemy there. It is said he used to be a mini-mafia with his father and uncle. The whole family. Then somehow they switched gear ten years ago and now they are legitimate business men running legitimate business.


        1. Yes, that’s what I thought too. There must be an advantage when they started out. I heard of stories of young people, like decades ago, in south Jersey (where the show The Soprano was based on) who couldn’t find economically viable jobs and they became a member of a mafia just because it was the only job available in the vicinity.

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