Why No Female “Resurrection”?

There are many literary treatments of the theme of the redemption of a male criminal or a male nogoodnik. Tolstoy’s last novel comes to mind. What does not exist, as far as I can think, is any treatment of the redemption of a female misanthrope, egotist or monster.

Why might this be? For a start, male writers – and women writing for a masculine society – may tend to view a female’s need for redemption solely in terms of her chastity, so that they see only the arc from say hooker to housewife. This is an ancient notion, informing the medieval concept of marrying a prostitute as a meritorious act and the locution of “saving fallen women”. The assumptions here are bound to be contentious and opposed by many. Being a hooker is not the same thing as being a monster, in both directions.

Is there another reason for the absence of female redemption in literature – if we exclude the question of whether she charges for her sex by the hour or by the lifetime? If males are hung up on sin-equals-unchastity, why do not female writers deal with an arc from moral evil to moral recovery without involving the terms and conditions of rumpy-pumpy? The obvious answer may, alas, be that women writers do not believe in, or at best are not interested in, the very idea that a female could suffer from moral monstrosity and be in need of redemption.

A man might show a male child murderer, for instance, growing into humanity; a woman only wants to argue that his female accomplice or enabler was coerced. If two-legs-good, three-legs-bad, then there can be no plot arc other than a vessel of original perfection being dominated and then escaping the inherently evil sex. If the concept of misanthropy be refined to mean hating, not everybody, but everybody different from oneself, then perhaps the reason no one does literary treatments of female misanthropy is that nobody writes about the wallpaper.

Posted on January 7, 2012 at 10:59 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Hark, I Hear The Canon Roar!

Leave a Reply