In Defense of Rory Gilmore

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Alexis Bledel as ‘Rory Gilmore’ in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”; photo taken from Hypable 

I wrote the following after seeing multiple posts on blogs, Tumblr, and legitimate news sites basically slut shaming Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” for decisions she makes regarding men.  Some of it isn’t actually slut shaming, some of it is simply die-hard fans who, like me, have probably watched the original series many times and have a romanticized idea of what Rory is like and how she should behave; they are disappointed, these fans, that thirty year old Rory isn’t making the same decisions as twenty year old Rory.

I think there are many factors to consider before judging Rory too harshly.

First of all: it’s been ten years.  No one dates exactly the same way they did ten years ago.  She’s in her thirties now, she’s less inhibited, less shy, more open to experiences.  As humans grow, we change, see things differently.  Rory is going to have a different mindset at 32 than she did when she was nineteen.

Secondly: We don’t know what her dating experience has been since leaving college.  Previous relationships have a great affect on how a person treats future romantic partners.  It’s possible she’s had one too many terrible boyfriends since Logan.  Also: Rory’s a bit of a nomad, it’s difficult to maintain exclusive relationships when you’re constantly moving.  Believe me, I know.

Thirdly: As a person ages, she becomes less idealistic.  Young people often have a rigid sense of morality, Rory certainly did.  This is why kids will often (foolishly) write off friends for not meeting a certain moral standard (see Veronica Mars).  But as we age and mature, we realize there’s a lot of gray in the world, and we are not the ultimate voice of right and wrong in the universe.  So we sleep with that guy we met at that party, and we drink the tequila, and drive to NYC to watch an SNL rehearsal and get a hot dog just to turn around and drive home again the same day.

Fourth: People also become less optimistic.  Which seems strange considering people become less cynical (unless you’re Louis C.K., or a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker) as they get older, but when it comes to relationships and dating, single, straight, American women seem to become more pessimistic about relationships.  Consider this Garfunkel and Oates song.

Fifth: We don’t know what sort of relationship Logan has with this French woman.  Maybe it’s an open relationship?  Maybe he has the same deal with her as he has with Rory?  The French are way less puritanical about sex than Americans.

We, especially those of us who grew up alongside Rory, want her to be a sort of moral beacon since she’s just like us only better, but really she’s not.  Rory is just as flaky as we are, she’s just as confused, just as meandering, just as flawed.  She is searching for her place in the world the same way we are.

And, as with all things, the viewer brings his or her own experience to the story.  All my girlfriends who are married, engaged, or in long term relationships had the same reaction: “Rory has had ample time to find someone new, loving, and stable, why is she back with old boyfriends and making these decisions?”  While all my fellow single girlfriends in their early thirties looked at Rory and said: “Yeah, nope, that’s exactly right!”

This post is edited slightly from the original post on Tumblr.

Well? Do you?

“The Shortening Leash” | Jessica Grose and Hanna Rosin | Slate Magazine

This explains a lot for me.

I am the youngest of five siblings born between the years 1971 and 1985.  All my life I’ve listened to my brother and sisters’ stories about walking to school and working paper routes and going out with their friends at an age that for me was tinged with fear of leaving the yard when I played outside because I wasn’t supposed to.  My oldest sister walked to school as a six year old with only our nine year old brother to ensure she got there.  When it came time for me to walk to school (between the ages of ten and thirteen) I was pointedly walked by my mother.  The supposed fear being I wouldn’t make it on time because I was so slow. The reason I was so slow was mostly because I didn’t want my mother to walk me to school, I’d rather be almost late and need her to drive me so my peers wouldn’t see me, the kid, walking with her Mom (not that I didn’t like my mom, but my Middle School cred was so low already, I didn’t need that albatross hanging over me).  I always felt as though I were capable and if I didn’t make it on time, then that was on me, I figured.

Also, I always felt safe walking.  Even alone.  I didn’t understand my mother and oldest sister’s attitudes that something terrible might happen to me if I were to walk alone somewhere.  Whenever I snuck out and walked somewhere alone (or walked through the path in the woods – which wasn’t allowed – on my way home from school – which was allowed) I never ran into anyone unexpected, sketchy, or otherwise.  Literally the only times I ran into “questionable characters” in the “unsafe” paths through the wooded areas of our suburban neighborhood was when my mother was with me.  Never when alone, which led to never feeling unsafe when I went somewhere on my own.  But wasn’t for a minute going to admit to my mother I’d nipped down to the shops when left home alone.

What I got at the store was decidedly kid stuff – a soda, an ice cream, stick-on tattoos, gum – it wasn’t about the stuff, the thrill was going there on my own.  Like the girls in my stories.  Ah, books!  My mother’s mistake, she taught me how to read.  All the kids in my books were allowed, at younger ages than I, to walk to their friends’ houses alone, or to the market, or to school, or to just be out riding bikes, or hunting with their dogs, or playing games with neighborhood children.  There weren’t many neighborhood children when I was young, none I was friendly with, so that didn’t bother me, but there were shops and bikes and friends who where, technically, within walking or biking distance, and I did not understand why, unlike the kids in my books, couldn’t do these things on my own.

I always figured my siblings could have, if they had wanted to, at my age.  And they probably could have.  But I was born during the height of the Reagan administration, and, apparently, The Fear.  (Until today I didn’t know the missing kids on milk cartons started in the 80s; I always assumed it was as old a tradition as milk cartons themselves.)  As the fifth kid there were many things my parents were more lax about with me than my siblings, as well as more strict.  We’d always assumed it was because they’d figured out the “kinks” of parenting by my time, but, despite growing up alongside the Internet, I’d never figured on the increased hysteria over child safety before.  I was taught not to speak to strangers, don’t take rides from people you’re not expecting, don’t talk to people in chat rooms who’s names you don’t know.  And I was always disgruntled as a kid because I knew the rules, but I was never allowed to live by them.

I didn’t know mass media was telling my mother it wasn’t safe for kids to go out alone.

It’s ten p.m…. 

Link

5 Reasons You Should Live With Your Coworkers: Scenes from a Start Up

While these fellas make some very good points about co-habitating with coworkers (especially the following: “You might think this would be a recipe for conflict, but a tradition of radical honesty keeps tempers cool.”), it’s also important to remember a few things about living with the people you work with.

  1. It can create an insular society; one that is both a part of traditional society and outside it.  That can be a troublesome and difficult dichotomy to undertake.  People in this sort of situation create their own rules and value system and usually adhere to them exceptionally well, but they are also expected to stand by the normative societal roles.  Something that is acceptable within that bubble might not be acceptable in the outside world.  “Radical honesty”, for example, might not be taken in the manner it is intended by someone how does not live within the bubble.  That could lead to larger problems depending with whom one chooses to be “radically honest”.
  2. Relationships can get dicey.  Spending that much time with someone can be detrimental.  Even with boundaries, even with separate living spaces, spending that much time together can break down bonds that were once strong and eventually cause their deterioration.
  3. When Sex gets involved.  I begrudge no one their private life and believe they have the right to do what they like, but sometimes when people live in that close proximity to one another and sex gets thrown into the mix it can upset the apple cart pretty quickly.  Personal lives and Professional lives mixing like this cause them to often directly impact the other and it is important that the people pursuing a sexual or romantic relationship keep that part of their life as far away from their professional lives as possible.  Those two crossing can affect the entire “office” and things said in the “office” can affect things in the bedroom.  (This is not easy and therefore ought to be approached with extreme caution.)
  4. Falling into “roles”.  As in who cooks dinner, who cleans up, who scrubs the tub.  If one person loves taking a toothbrush to the grout in the bathroom, so be it.  But if one person is always cooking and never gives anyone else who might want to an opportunity, there could be tension and resentment.
  5. Which brings me back to “Radical Honesty”.  This is the most important thing to remember when existing in this sort of situation.  One of the best managed co-habitation with coworkers experiences I have ever had was, in part, to the agreed upon house rule of “No apologies”; we could be brutally honest with one another and, if we hurt each others’ feelings, we talked it out.  But it only truly worked when everyone was on board.  If one person isn’t on board with this basic understanding, tension will grow, and it will be bad; like dumping water on a Mogwai.

This sort of lifestyle is fascinating and mind boggling to those who have never experienced it.  And there are plenty of reasons to pursue this sort of situation, like the original article says.  As with everything, there is also a downside.  But as long as everyone agrees to certain house rules and doesn’t just say they do when they really don’t, and everyone is passionate about the work they are doing, then this is a wonderful way to operate.  Some very strong lifelong friendships are made and, if people haven’t learned them yet, you gain some valuable experience about living with other people.  I would recommend doing something to this effect at least once in your life, even if you lived in a dorm in college, this experience is one I wouldn’t trade for the world.