Oh, Jonathan Franzen. More than anyone else on the literary landscape today, he is the author that feminists (including myself) love to hate. I have nothing new to say about his many misogynistic statements, including his displeasure at his Oprah’s Book Club selection because only women would read it, that feminists only hate him because they “need a villain,” and, of course, an entire essay about Edith Wharton’s perceived ugliness. But with all of the hubbub about his personal sexism, relatively little has been said about sexism within the pages of his novels. And it’s there. Oh, is it there.
And not only in his latest work, Purity, which at times sounds more like the incoherent ramblings of your alt-right uncle at Thanksgiving dinner about those “damn feminists” than an award-winning novel. It includes, among other things, a feminist character who forces her partner to sit down while he pees to “atone for his maleness.” No, seriously. Continue reading “Jonathan Franzen’s novels are almost as sexist as his interviews”