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.

Perspectives.

One of my sisters (I have a few) recently expressed her frustrations about when a male author “tries” to write from the point of view of a female character.  She claims that they never get it right and they don’t understand women and therefore she doesn’t buy their female characters.

Now, I believe that this is true… sometimes.  I have read books and laughed at how absurd the women are.  Sex scenes written by men are, in particular, ridiculous.  But I disagree with her blatant generalization that there isn’t a single male author out there who can write believably from a female perspective.  That’s got to be crap.

Also, the logic would mean that women cannot write believably from a male perspective or about men.  And that can’t be true either (especially since I am currently writing about a male protagonist).  I mean, J.K. Rowling wrote a coming of age saga about a boy to wild applause; Coraline is thoroughly believable; Silas Marner has the wisdom of a man who has lost everything to gain the world (metaphorically speaking, of course); and Sally Lockhart is really only unbelievable in the context of her times, not because of Philip Pullman’s manly bits.

Conversely, there are plenty of examples I can point to that don’t make any sense.  The girl in Richard Greener’s The Knowland Retribution, for example; her, I don’t buy; or, Jeffrey Eugenides’s Madeleine in The Marriage Plot.  But that doesn’t mean that no woman can write about men or no man can write about women, does it?

Can a writer write convincingly about the opposite sex?

What is wrong with Jonathan Franzen?

I have never read anything by Jonathan Franzen, novels, essays, press releases, so I can’t comment on him as a writer, but his opinions are fucking everywhere these days!  He hates e-readers and people who read “silly novels”; he apparently can’t stand women and women writers; and god forbid he have a female readership.  Does this man like anything?  Does it matter?

I’m baffled by this man.  (“Baffled” might just be Bexes Word of the Winter.)

In the past month he’s written an article about Edith Wharton for “The New Yorker” and inexplicably discusses her looks and implies that she wanted nothing more than to “run with the big boys” of literature.  Suddenly Franzen is every editor that turned away Jo March without a second thought.  Wharton’s desire to be friendly with Henry James (ugh) is not unexpected or out of the realm of reason.  They were authors in the same social circles, living in the same city, writing about the same things (in fact, sometimes I forget which one wrote which book), and an intelligent woman seeking out people who think about the same things as she does is not insane.

As for her looks…. fucking a…. if this were an article about Charles Dickens, or William Faulkner, or Leo Tolstoy, Franzen wouldn’t even have flirted with the idea of discussing how attractive they were or weren’t.  He wouldn’t think it was relevant.  But because Edith Wharton was a woman its all about a pretty face.  If she were pretty would that have made her a better writer?  Because Franzen thinks she wasn’t does that really mean that Lily Bart and Ellen Olenska is just Wharton “getting back” at the pretty girls?  Is there really any evidence that Wharton was shallow or bitter?  Or is this just Franzen’s own misogyny rearing it’s sexist head?

Why is it that whenever its a woman, or “women’s issues” things are suddenly belittled by Intellectual Men?  Why are they less than important?  Why are they reduced to shallow topics?  Why are women spoken about as if they aren’t worth anything more than their appearance?  Are men really wired this way?  They trust a pretty face, they’re sympathetic toward her, they trust her doe eyes and pouting lips so much more than they would a less attractive woman saying the same things?  Are men actually this shallow?

I want to say ‘No’, but experience has me sadly saying ‘Yes’.  Men seem to be swayed by a hair flick, or a fruity scent, pretty eyes or a large rack.  If she’s attractive, she’s worthwhile.  If he doesn’t find her attractive, she’s not worth his time.  But a man can be ugly, angry, bitter, foul, nice, jocular, charming, kind, vile, disgusting, lazy, drunk, sober, handsome, funny, stoic, boring, foppish, gay, straight…. and as long as he’s well-read, smart, intellectual, and articulate, Intellectual Men fall all over themselves to love and admire him.  But a woman, she can be well-read, smart, intellectual, and articulate, but it would be nice if she were easy on the eyes as well.  “No Uglies or Fatties Allowed in the Intellectual Elite, please.”