The Open Post

Time again to hear from you. What’s on your mind this week?

On Saturday night Kristin and I went out to the movies. Fun. We saw Evening, based on the book by Susan Minot. The screenplay was written by Minot and one of my all-time favorites, Michael Cunningham (author of The Hours). The film is chock full of stars: Meryl Streep, Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richardson, Dame Eileen Atkins, Ebon Moss-Bachrah, Glenn Close, and newcomer Mamie Gummer who is Streep’s daughter in real life.

The story is about a woman on her deathbed looking back to one weekend when she was young and she fell in love with a man who she ultimately did not spend her life with. It’s about regret and mistakes and what matters in the end. As usual, the book is better than the movie. At times the acting seemed forced, but there are some real zinger scenes in there.

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7 Comments

Filed under celebrity, Evening, Michael Cunningham, movies, Susan Minot

7 responses to “The Open Post

  1. annamcclendon

    I also saw a movie this weekend… Micheal Moore’s Sicko! I expected a movie bashing the greedy, money mongering US health care system. Which, yes, M. Moore did well with humor in tact. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the later message of the movie, “Can’t we all just care about each other?” In M. Moore’s examination of socialist health care systems, the selfish, financially motivated US health care system is put to shame… while I dreamt about moving to France.
    Ahhh… free health care with brie and wine on the side.

  2. happy birthday stacey!!! hope you have a wonderful day.

  3. aadc

    hi Fussbucket readers,

    wondering if anyone else has read this week’s Salon article about Katie Roiphe? http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2007/07/09/katie_roiphe/index.html
    you might remember Roiphe from the early 90’s when she got a lot of attention for being a young woman who wrote a book arguing that date rape is really just what women call bad sex that they regret the morning after. this Salon piece is partly about Roiphe’s new book, and partly about how her approach to life/the world/social criticism have changed. no question she leaves more room for other viewpoints to be valid than she did when she was 23 (don’t we all!), but I still found a lot of what she has to say infuriating.

    I’d really love to hear reactions from parents to this passage:

    [In Roiphe’s latest book, she] writes about the “dreary debates about marriage” that can “be entirely summed up in the question of who has cleaned up the smattering of Legos scattered across the floor of the baby’s room.” Roiphe wonders, “Why should there be so much fury attached to the most insignificant drudgeries of domestic life? … Why when women have so many choices, are we still as angry as gloved suffragettes hurling bricks through windows? What unmitigated bliss, one does wonder, were we expecting?”

    Here still is Roiphe’s seductively low-pitched murmur, a signal tuned precisely for the ears of men who are sick of being hassled about the fucking Legos already. “This endless conversation about who is doing what in terms of house responsibilities and all that,” said Roiphe wearily. “To me it goes back to that great Joan Didion essay: We are mired in the trivial.”

    But, I replied, citing Linda Hirshman’s “Get to Work,” which argued that the division of domestic labor is precisely where feminism has failed, we worry about the Legos because the person to whom it falls to pick them up (or to cook, clean, do the laundry and childcare) is the person who has less freedom to make money and live an independent life. And that person is often a she.

    “How lucky we are that that should be our biggest issue,” deadpanned Roiphe. “You’ll find that it actually doesn’t take that long to pick up the Legos. What really takes a long time is the three hours of rage and resentment about it.”

  4. I guess my response is this: if it were only about picking up Legos, I doubt anyone would be fighting for three hours. There is a stunning amount of work that is required to keep a house with children from fallen into total chaos. Most of the work is tedious and tiring. It frazzles your nerves, aches up your back, and bores you to tears. And there is so much of it. I think people fight about it because it is so hard to manage. Children make a lot of messes. Wherever they eat, play, bathe, walk…there’s a mess. If I spent my whole day trying to take care of the cleaning, cooking, laundering, etc that has to go on, I’d never hang out with my kids. So that means that a good part of it gets taken care of at the end of the day when both my husband and I are home and the kids are asleep. Neither one of us particularly wants to dive into the housework then, but it has to be done. We’re lucky in that we view it as a shared responsibility and generally don’t fight about it. But Roiphe is being disingenuous (or she doesn’t have kids) if she acts like it’s only about Legos.

  5. katie roiphe reminds me of caitlin flanagan. both of these women have obviously benefited from feminism with their excellent college educations and successful careers. they’re smart. they must know that, right? so that leads me to think those inflammatory anti-feminist ideas they bandy about so flippantly are calculated to piss us off, get us to read their articles, buy their books and give them professorships. in some ways, i guess they’re doing a social service. raising issues like division of domestic labor, pressing our buttons, stimulating national debate and conversation about the dynamics between women and men. hey, maybe they’re actually genius superfeminists!

  6. dcslugabed

    Curious after I read this post and the Salon article it references, I googled Katie Roiphe to see if she has kids. It turns out she has a daughter who is about three years old. I found an article she wrote recently in the New York Times about her life post-divorce–that everyone expected her as a recently divorced woman with a child to be devastated and having trouble coping when in fact in some ways divorce had opened up her life again in ways that were positive. It was a very well written and interesting article, if anyone feels like looking it up.

    However, I still have a lot of problems with her polemical side. Regarding the picking up of legos issue, I believe most people’s arguments are mired in trivial issues because we are mired in the trivial — that for most of the time, life is about being mired in the trivial. Sure, there are moments when you are not mired in the trivial: our nanny friend whose 19-year old daughter was just diagnosed with complete kidney failure and has to go on dialysis until she can get a transplant–during the immediate moment of this crisis, she was probably not mired in the trivial. However, that state could not last very long: she now is mired in the logistics of taking care of her daughter, getting in enough hours of work to make the money she needs to support her family, getting her daughter to and from dialysis, dealing with the buraucratic paperwork at the hospital to figure out who is going to help her pay for all of this care, and on and on. I think it’s pretty much impossible not to be mired in the trivial. When our nanny friend gets furious at the social worker at the hospital because she has just told her she needs to fill out another form, she is misdirecting her anger towards the trivial–after all, it doesn’t take that long to fill out one more form and it would be much more efficient for her to fill out the form and get it back to the social worker so she could process it and move along the process of figuring out her daughter’s care . But the ultimate subject of her anger is not trivial at all. It is about love and life and death and fairness and income disparity and immigration policies and this country’s health care system and social network, to the extent that there is one.

    I don’t want to psychoanalyze Katie Roiphe too much, because what do I know, but I suspect that whatever elements led up to her getting a divorce, at times the anger or disappointment or sadness or whatever mix of emotions were there, came out over something as trivial as who was going to pick up the legos on the floor. Eventually, she or her husband or both stopped fighting over whatever it was they were fighting over and took the action of getting a divorce. Maybe, in Roiphe’s perfectly efficient world, women who are angry about the power dynamics in their home would instead of being angry, just pick up the legos and move on –either decide to suck it up and keep picking up the legos without being angry because, after all, there are worse things in the world, get a divorce (in which case she will still be the only one picking up legos, but at least the responsibility will be clear), or get a better paying job so she can hire someone else to pick up the legos. But when none of these choices are satisfactory or possible, women struggle on with the trivial with the hope, perhaps, that anger will somehow lead to incremental change that could potentially be more satisfactory. Maybe it’s not the most productive way to live. But being mired in the trivial is a fact of life; to say that it is pathetic for women who are frustrated with the power dynamics in their households or at their places of work to take out this anger on a trivial issue like who picks up the legos is, to me, to miss the point.

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