“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
― Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood was born November 18, and is a poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher and environmental activist. Among the seventeen books of poetry, sixteen novels, ten books of non-fiction, eight collections of short fiction, eight children’s books, and one graphic novel, Atwood is perhaps best known at the moment for her novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale” and it’s adaptation as a tv series with Hulu.
There are a number of reasons why the quote at the top is relevant today, and tomorrow there will be even more examples. Whether that means another shooting at a yoga studio, or a rapist gets off because of his victim’s clothing, or a rapist who let his victim die while he played video games gets off because he had no prior record, or, or, or, or…..
While its become one of the more popular and visible Atwood quotes, I thought to share it since it was fresh in my mind because of a podcast I’ve been listening to, ‘Happy Face’.
It’s produced by the daughter of the Happy Face Killer, Keith Jesperson, who raped and murdered eight women, and only turned himself in because two other people had been convicted of his crimes. He wanted the credit. While in prison Jesperson did interviews and spoke calmly and thoroughly about his victims, about how he raped and murdered each woman, and how he disposed of their bodies. And he spoke about how it was ultimately their fault he killed them. If only she hadn’t spoken that way about men, if only she hadn’t provoked him, if only she hadn’t made him do it.
If only she hadn’t laughed.
A few weeks ago marked an important day in literary history when, on June 7, 1933, Max Eastman published “Bull in the Afternoon”, an article reviewing and poking fun of Ernest Hemingway and his nonfiction work, Death in the Afternoon.
This would prove noteable months later when Hemingway would confront Eastman over the article. Specifically, it seemed Eastman’s criticisms of Hemingway’s insistence on an overblown sense of masculinity and a constant need to show off his chest hair caused the great author some distress.
Hemingway demanded Eastman read his critique aloud so that he might berate the man for his opinions. When he refused, Hemingway smashed the book into the critic’s face proving that there truly are fewer things more fragile than a male ego. This may never be so true as when it concerns a man whose reputation and self worth was based so much on the idea of a superior masculinity.
Hemingway later inscribed the book he had broken on Eastman’s face with, “This is the book I ruined on Max (the Prick) Eastman’s nose, I sincerely hope he burns forever in some hell of his own digging” which the critic kept in his personal collection for years.