An Open Letter to Jennifer Weiner
Can I call you Jen? (Do you go by Jen?) It’s so much more “adult” than “Jenny,” who sounds like the girl next door with blonde pigtails and a banana-seat bike, a perpetual red kool-aid stain on her upper lip, the one who asks “Do you wanna play?” or who, when she asks your mom if you’re home, you hope won’t see you hiding behind the curtain.
But I digress. You are certainly no Jenny. Jen? Jennifer? Hmm.
Dear Ms. Weiner,
I read the recent (ok, the-sitting-on-my-bedside-table-long-enough-to-collect-dust-but-I-promise-I-wanted-to-get-to-it) article by Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker.
I think I was supposed to be struck one way or the other on your feminist stance re: the-genre-formerly-known-as-chic-lit. And, I was, and I’ll get to that later– but first, what I, The Sassy Spinster, woke up reflecting on the next morning: your marriage.
Forgive me; that’s personal.
But as one feisty modern female to another: F–K!
Because what I noticed in the article was a husband who couldn’t handle his wife’s success; once again the male ego ruins love, gets in the way of a relationship, is the big ugly ogre between two people.
Excuse me a moment. Mr. Ex-husband of Jennifer Weiner: do you know how wimpy you appear?
Ok, ok,ok. One scant paragraph in the entire article was dedicated to a brief summary, and it takes two to tango, and, really, I have no idea what happened in the Weiner household preceding the divorce. Oh, and also the small detail that it’s none of my business.
But! But, I do know about the male ego. Boy, do I ever know about the male ego.
Though men are so insecure– even about their own insecurity– that they prefer to call it “pride.” (Lovely little euphemism, that.) And isn’t it true that the general philosophy of this pride is that no woman may excel over him in any thing: in debate, in love making, in money earning, in roof mending, and (dare I say it?) novel writing.
Women: if you want to keep you man, never excel at anything.
Unless, of course, he’s not interested in it. Knitting is probably a fair bet– as long as he’s allowed to mock your interest in an activity that’s so clearly uninteresting. (Yes, we are living in America 2014, not Victorian England.)
I hope my advice drips with derision.
I feel it only fair to point out that, though this letter is addressed to Ms. Weiner, she has in no way endorsed my writing to her, or its content. (Her lawyers are working to disavow her from me as I write.)
You know me by now, dear reader. Would the Sassy Spinster give such advice in earnest? (Whilst we are talking of things quaint and Victorian.)
The point is this: Sincerely, I believe in a woman’s right to be herself. Man or no man. And so my authentic advice is as follows.
Women: if you want to keep your soul, be who you are; do what brings you joy, and satisfaction, and meaning.
Following this advice may (as seems to be the case for me) stave off men for decades, who are afraid of your will power, your resolve, your determination.
But, no matter.
If a man isn’t willing to accept me, nay, love me for who I am, frankly, I don’t want him. Good riddance. Bye Bye. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Because if a man doesn’t have the maturity to see for himself that his male ego, his “pride,” is just insecurity, that insecurity is something we all possess, that it’s part of what makes us human, and that we all–regardless of gender– are capable of ultimate foolishness if we allow our pride, our ego, our insecurities, to get in the way of what really matters, I’m not interested.
I think this pride problem is why so many Ancient Greek playwrights made hubris the downfall of the protagonist. This all-consuming overtaking pride is destructive, and once unleashed, pollutes the lives of everyone around. Beware, this drama tells us, beware.
We have no current cultural equivalent. In a post-Freudian world, the ego (a term Freud himself coined) seems to have free reign, and not only that, its free-reign seems to be encouraged.
I’ve been to churches whose doctrine– the main thrust of what they spend the bulk of their time teaching from the pulpit– in summary, is: Women, don’t ever challenge your husband. Hold your tongue. Let him do all the talking, all the deciding. The male ego as religious doctrine. Huh. Go figure.
Now, I could refute this theology with theology– and I probably will some day. But this is a letter to Ms. Weiner.
Ms. Weiner, I’ve also read in the aforementioned article that you have a boyfriend. Not that you need or want my opinion, but I’m glad for you. You are someone I admire as a strong, intelligent woman and as a writer. I hope that this time you have found someone who can value you for the money-making, determined, smart woman you are. You deserve it. We all deserve to be loved sincerely.
And for all of us, as we look towards Valentine’s Day especially– a day dedicated to romantic love– may we not let the human ego, our own pride, get in the way of loving the precious people in our lives as best we can.
The Sassy Spinster
PS I didn’t forget that I said I’d talk about the chic lit/literature conundrum. I save that topic for another day.