Their interaction creates one character (Ana) who is impossibly whimsical. The book goes on and on about her various concerns and emotions and thoughts. Then, suddenly, she makes some absurdly impulsive decision.
For a long time, I thought one of these characters might be her rationalization hamster. Eventually, you realize that she doesn’t have one – she’s fully modern in the sense that she’s progressed beyond the need to even rationalize her completely emotional, directionless decisions. The inner goddess wants to be whipped, the subconscious thinks maybe she should go on a real date first, and the body just does what it’s feeling at any given moment.
Behold, the modern woman fully unleashed!
This calls to mind an article written some time ago by Rebecca Hagelin. I meant to write about it at the time, but I got busy with other things and did not. Anyway, Hagelin, in review of a book titled Happily Ever After, wrote:
In her new book, The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After (Regnery Publishing, 2012), Elizabeth Kantor provides some answers. She writes, “Of course it’s no secret that modern mating rituals have gone badly wrong.” And indeed they have: the number of cohabitating couples has doubled in the past twenty years, and the marriage rate has dropped precipitously. Many singles find themselves on a path to lifelong singlehood, not necessarily by choice. And even within relationships, time-honored ideals---like fidelity—increasingly fall by the wayside. (A recent Match.com survey found that only 62% of men believe that sexual fidelity is a “must have” in a relationship. In comparison, 80% of women say fidelity is a must for a successful relationship.)
Happily Ever After offers a thought-provoking, encouraging, and often witty take on what’s wrong with today’s dating patterns. Even better, Kantor draws on the wisdom and insights of Jane Austen’s heroines to mark out a confident path for young women who want a good man and a relationship that will deliver a lifetime of happiness—and love—in marriage.
Here’s a question: why do we need a book providing marital guidance for women? Why is it that it women of this modern age find it more difficult to find a good husband than did women of, say, sixty years ago?
The answer is here:
For a girl, Dad is her personal ambassador from the Planet Male. If she has a good relationship with him, she's unlikely to settle for less from the other males in her life, or allow herself to be manipulated.
The problem that Foseti identifies—the modern woman fully unleashed—the problem that Hagelin is trying to address with a book review, is, ultimately, the absence of fathers. Women who act impulsively, following whatever tingles they feel, whatever fleeting emotions they feel cross their heads, or whatever impulses flow through their prefrontal cortex are women who lack the stability of a having a man in their life.
It was a commenter at Heartiste’s blog who wrote, a couple of years ago, “You need to be the rock on which her waves of emotions crash, but you stay un-moved and strong.” Women, when left to their own devices, are short-sighted, impulsive, and ultimately self-destructive. It is up to men, as Vox noted, to civilize women (or, as Shakespeare might say it, it is up to men to tame the shrews). While this duty ultimately belongs to husbands, it begins with fathers. Fathers need to be the first rock upon which the waves of their young daughters’ emotions crash. Fathers need to begin the process of civilizing their daughters, of teaching their daughters to control and master their emotions, and not become slaves to their emotions.
Fathers need to stand strong and tall for their daughters. Fathers need to be a rock for their daughters. Elsewise, their daughters will simply be slaves to their tingles, emotional and undirected, and easily manipulated. Their daughters will be, in a word, modern.