August 26, 2010


It’s almost a month away, but I can feel autumn in the air. Mostly the reminder comes in the form of magazines chock full of information about sending youngsters back to school. Advertisers are busy too. I guess they’re hoping for an uptick in sales as parents think about backpacks and lunch pails and new outfits for their children.

I haven’t been to school in a long time, not even as a teacher, but fall makes me take inventory too. I read more as the days get shorter. A fair amount of time I spend cruising the bookstores or asking my friends to suggest titles.  

The other day an acquaintance recommended a movie based on a book she’d enjoyed. I agreed to go with her to the film and if I liked it, I’d consider buying the book. 

The film was entertaining to a point. The acting was well done and the settings pleasing to the eye. Who doesn’t like faraway places like Italy, India and Bali? But I came out of the theater feeling hollow, the way I did as a child when I’d eaten too many chocolate Easter eggs. All that sugar left me feeling unsatisfied. 

I drove home wondering if I’d gotten too old for romance or if the film revived old feelings about what a woman should expect from life. Certainly, neither the book nor the film meant to give offense. The story is too pedestrian. A woman is unhappy in her marriage. She asks the question: Is this all there is? The next two-and-a-half hours we watch her search for the answer. In the end, she sails off into the sunset with a new lover.

I don’t know why I’m supposed to believe the story ends happily. Maybe it’s because the older women in the film keep telling the heroine she’s nothing without a man in her life. It’s a very 1950’s message and I’m surprised to see it surfacing again. 

I’ve listened to discussions by young women who think we bra burning broads are passé. They contend women are liberated and can return to their softer side. Wonderful, if true, but I don’t see a lot of evidence to support this view. Many women on the planet live in subservience to their husbands in patriarchal societies that consider them chattel. Women in this country struggle to raise their children alone on wages that are below the average paid to their male counterparts. Women are 51% of the world’s population. How many have attained true leadership roles? We have 3 women on the Supreme Court now. Great! How about 5? Despite the anti discrimination laws on our books, the majority of working women are relegated to lower level management positions, at best. Let’s talk Wall Mart as a recent example. 

I’m not sanguine about the future for women who take the achievements of their seniors for granted. I’m not big on books or films that hearken to the values of the 50s either. This old dog wants to howl when I see these tired themes being passed off as modern.