Just finished what I would term a super light summer read "Scarlett Letter Society" which weirdly enough posed a lot of deep questions. The basic premise is that this group of friends get together and read books about famous adulteresses and they are also all ones themselves. I am not going to give it away but some are only so in their heads.
To me the best part of the book was the discussions on the books that were about adultery, which they often did not read - in each one the men usually get off fairly unscathed and the women let's see;
Gets to wear the letter A on their chests and are an outcast - poor Hester (Scarlet Letter)
Loses everything must throw self under train - Bye Anna (Anna Karenina)
Kills herself - rip Mme Bovary
Gets STD - really Judy Blume even you who so well treats growing young women until Wifey
If you go through modern or classical literature this is pretty much always the theme - woman is in a marriage or relationship that is not satisfying her emotionally or sexually (ooh I know women actually may like sex - break out my red J) finds that satisfaction elsewhere - the end of her life as we know it. It annoys the women in the book and it sure annoys me too. All except maybe for Fear of Flying which they also read - I read that for a college class, personally did not love it found it bit dull then but then again in college I was reading Stephen King and Jackie Collins (judge me not it was easy between classes and having to study).
It got me thinking of re-reading some classics and about the fact that even in our more "modern" societies we still do not want to hear about women's physical desires - without punishment. Even our newly bazillion books sold Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is about a virgin and lucky for her he came along.. seriously?!!
Now I am not advocating that all women go out and get lovers but I am going to say as a woman and as a mother of boys at some point we need to let our children know that their bodies and the pleasure they get from them as they get to be adults are are important to nurture as their emotional well being. That if we start to treat women not as breeders whose bodies people try to regulate by laws but as people who make good and bad choices based on their needs, ooh radical kind of like men do, then it can only help our societies become more equal and thrive.
So let's write slightly different endings to the above books;
Hester - starts own clothing line of monogramed shirts - the letter can be your name or the thing you desire - is super successful - throws over Puritan fundamentalists -- becomes famous fair trade company that still exists - starts minimum wage and 3 day weekends that will define the US
Anna - takes that train and leaves it all behind to go to another city where she successfully meets a new lover who is also a judge and gets her son back for her for joint custody with her husband, who then has to have monitored visits since he cannot stop bad mouthing Ana and is seen as unstable influence on child. She then meets Trotsky and they come to power instead of Lenin and eventually they create a Sweden like socialism instead of what it was
Emma Bovary - is taken in by a church in town where kindly nuns teach her how to become a doctor herself - starts Doctors without Borders and has lot of lovers all over the place - never remarries
Sandy (Wifey) - has lover wear condom, misses STD and leaves dentist husband to become dentist herself - after many condom wearing relationships finds one man who actually does not bore her and marries him - heads Dentists without Borders
Let us empower women to be ok with who they are, not feel badly for what they want and ensure their partners give it to them equally to what they provide to them. More sex and less violence .. now that is a novel.