Happy Tuesday, internet people! This week, I’ve hopped back on the nonfiction train by listening to Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck on audio (see what I did there?). The book’s full title is Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why? so naturally I knew I was getting into some heavy stuff with this one. Choosing to read it simultaneously with Roxane Gay’s Hunger was a decision I do not recommend outside the cheer-making sunshine of summertime.
So, this book. It’s been on my TBR for a while, and a friend mentioned it to me again, so I decided to put it on hold pronto. It examines the phenomenon of the female trainwreck, the most famous example of which is, of course, Britney Spears.
What I didn’t expect was to learn how far back the practice of scrutinizing, mocking, and throwing hate at women in the public eye really goes. Did you know Mary Wollstonecraft (of “Vindication of the Rights of Women” fame) was once regarded as a scandal? Or that Charlotte Bronte wrote embarrassingly desperate letters to a lover who old-timey ghosted her? I sure didn’t!
This book was full of fascinating stories of the trainwrecks that have been redeemed in our modern eyes, as well as the trainwrecks we’re still glued to watching. For some reason, I thought that the practice of treating women this way was a new phenomenon as the media became more widespread and easily distributed, but in some ways women who defy our expectations have always been regarded with hatred, mockery, and, yes, even fear. I mean, it makes sense–just look at the Salem Witch Trials.
As a woman, it feels a bit weird to say I loved this book, but I did. It breaks my heart the way we treat women in the public eye differently from how we treat men (whose scandals so rarely break their careers–can I say Johnny Depp?). But the book is compellingly written and fascinating to read, in spite of how frustrating it is. It made me re-examine my own perception of women like Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes and re-consider my self-perceptions, as well.
I think this book is an essential read and that you should stop reading this blog post and go read this book.