I just finished the chilling and razor-sharp paperback thriller that is Gone Girl. Out of all the plot twisters the book had to throw at me, the speech that one of the protagonists, Amy Dunne, gave about women and their place in this world struck a chord with me and had me contemplating the feminist message this book was trying to convey.
For those who haven’t read the book or watched the movie, Gone Girl tells the story of the couple Nick and Amy Dunne who initially are a textbook example of the perfect power couple. However, on the day of Amy and Nick’s anniversary, Amy mysteriously goes missing, the house where Nick and Amy live is completely wrecked, and Nick is accused of murdering his wife. As the story (which is told partly by Nick and partly by Amy) unfolds, the viewer realizes that both Nick and Amy are both unreliable narrators, for Nick (who initially comes off as a normal husband who loves his wife) is revealed to be misogynistic and selfish, whereas Amy (who sets up this persona of being a perky, optimistic, and loving wife in her diary entries) ends up being a psychopath who is determined on seeking revenge on her husband for rejecting her the minute their marriage wasn’t perfect anymore –just like many men have done to other women.
When Amy is revealed to be a vengeful psychopath, she makes a speech about the “Cool Girl,” the girl who likes what her man likes, always manages to look hot, and is always willing to overlook her man’s mistakes.
The speech goes as follows:
“Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker… and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl… he wants a Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every … thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain.”
After reading this, it seems as if Gone Girl is essentially feminist by empowering women to rebel against this idea that we have to be someone we’re not in order to please men. Amy Dunne acted like the “Cool Girl” her entire life. She had to be the amazing, overachieving daughter for her parents and the laid-back wife for Nick. Therefore, going through this whole journey of framing her husband for murder was a necessary rebellion for her; she needed this to gain control of who she was and to put an end to this life of pretending to be what other people want her to be.
However, more importantly, this passage brought up the question: Is this basically today’s version of misogyny in America? At the end of the day, is the ultimate goal of a women still to just please men? In many ways, isn’t Amy right? We as women do try as hard as we can to be the “Cool Girl” instead of being what we actually want to be. Instead, media and men implicitly send us messages of who we should be, what’s considered attractive, and how we should work ourselves tirelessly to achieve this ultimate status of being the all-around perfect woman.
However, don’t men have something similar to attain to? While we court men as the “Cool Girl”, don’t they court women as the “Charming Guy” who is witty, funny, and chivalrous? Therefore, while the book does highlight how women are still subjects of a man’s will to this day, it seems to ignore the fact that men play this game too. Society expects them to be dominating to an extent and that’s the image men like Nick have to live up to.
Therefore, while Amy’s outrage for being pushed aside and neglected as millions of women have is somewhat justified and her statement on women is eye-opening and thought provoking, she fails to recognize that there are gender roles for all of us and that she’s not the only victim of this. Despite how much we believe that our society have moved on, the truth is is that gender stereotypes are deeply entrenched in how our society functions, and who knows when we’ll ever overcome it, if at all.
Featured Image: Posted by Global Panorama on Flickr