I don’t believe artists have an obligation to produce feminist work. Even feminist artists. But I’m getting tired of reading literature and seeing movies that only contribute to the stereotypes the feminist community is working so hard to dismantle.
I don’t mean to pick on you, Ms. Atwood. Cat’s Eye was written in 1989. And, sadly, you’re far from a pioneer on writing about the ways in which girls hurt each other. And you’ve written much more complex, much more responsible, much more feminist things since then; Siren Song is a tiny piece of genius. But Cat’s Eye is yet another book on Mean Girls, and I am fatigued by that bullshit. Did you really need to write an entire novel about a nine year old who was contemptuous of other girls before and after she was bullied by some of her female friends? And who then spent her entire life looking down on other women? If you were writing a “slice of life” novel, congratulations. You succeeded. But why was that an important perspective to represent?
I know girls are mean to each other. Everyone knows that. Why they are mean to each other, especially in the grade school years, is the important question. But Cat’s Eye does nothing to examine why young girls might feel competitive, or pressured or even expected to be cruel to each other.
There are so many feminist issues. They may all be traceable back to sexism and misogyny at the root, but to dismantle stereotypes and truly empower women, feminists need to fight a million small battles every day. This is one of the ones I’ve chosen to tackle. Given the pervasive influence of the media, it seems essential to counterbalance this trend of women as catty, manipulative, weak and cruel*. I’m not a prize-winning author, so I’ll be waging war the only way I can: by hurling one tiny pebble of feminist reality into the seemingly endless well of trite stereotypes.