Richson: Gone Girl’s lessons for feminists


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It usually pains me to read a book that it seems everyone and their mom is reading, but when that book is turned into a movie that I want to see, I have to make an exception. I have a rule that I never see a book-turned-movie before I actually read the book cover to cover.

Cue deep, cinematic voice: Gone Girl, the fall thriller everyone is talking about.

Spoiler alert: Read no further if you will send me hate mail for ruining the plot for you. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, is about a sulky Midwestern type-B male, Nick Dunne, who comes home one day to find that his wife is … you guessed it … gone. Sliding into the ever too easy “the husband is innocent until proven guilty but not really” narrative, Nick’s hometown and the national media quickly turn against him.

Now, I cannot speak for the movie adaptation yet, but about halfway through the book, readers are clubbed over the head with the revelation that Nick’s elusive wife, Amy, is actually alive … and somewhat well, aside from being a psychopath set on watching her husband’s unraveling from afar.

Entirely dissatisfied with her marriage, Amy seems to represent a mutated form of feminism that, when combined with her pathological tendencies, is totally contradictory to modern feminist principles.

The reason that Amy is so set on her husband’s ruin is that she believes that he stopped working at their relationship, which he so eagerly had done at the beginning. Were Amy a true feminist, I would bet that she wouldn’t feel the need to be doted on … she would relish the hours Nick spends at the bar he owns and find her own niche in his hometown rather than basking in the lukewarm water of a stale marriage.

However, in the book, Amy goes on a memorable diatribe against the “cool girls,” the girls who she essentially says are down with the guys, or at least pretend to be … burgers and beer and lighthearted misogyny and all. This heat stems from her knowledge of her husband’s affair with a young, wide-eyed brunette nonversion of prim, blonde Amy.

We could debate if Gone Girl as a whole is a play on dark misconceptions of feminism, of the need for dominance at any cost, but I do think that the novel touches on an important reality of our modern generation: that, as much as women want equality, we also love to hate each other along the way. Although I am obviously not advocating complacency in the face of a marital affair, it is interesting that Flynn chose to identify the tension between Amy and Nick’s mistress as bitter and washed-up versus naïve and willing, two clichés common in any love triangle.

Ultimately, Amy goes back to Nick, as the ultimate means of control. But the hatred among women in the novel is something worth pondering … feminists and non-feminists can’t shame each other without being caught in the crossfire.

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