Germaine Greer’s nasty little piece in the Guardian on the recently-passed Betty Friedan suggests that a new genre of essay has arrived. Call it the “obitchuary.” The most entertaining recent example I came across was Terry Castle’s hilarious memoir of Susan Sontag.
Nothing, of course, excites the male libido more profoundly than a cat fight. What I find bewildering is why women — especially those who have dedicated their lives to fighting the patriarchy — should willingly participate in such a spectacle. The essays confirm the worst stereotypes of women: vicious, backstabbing, calculating, gossipy, bitchy. (Leave aside Greer’s bizarre attempts to recreate Friedan’s accent: “Whuttzes extra trip they’ve laid on for tomorrow?” Yes, Germaine, we know — Friedan was an American Jew. Thanks for playing to your audience’s prejudices.)
Like mud-wrestling, these essays are essentially theatre for the male gaze. By the way, I loved them.