Gone Girl is an MRA’s wet dream.
Look, I enjoyed much of the novel. Gillian Flynn writes a highly readable sentence, and the text is a masterclass in the use of the unreliable narrator. I enjoyed David Fincher’s film interpretation of it, too, even though I already knew where its plot twists would lead. Watching it on the big screen on Saturday night, however, just crystallised all my problems with it: Gone Girl is so sexist it hurts.
Reviews of the novel have focused on its criticism of contemporary marriage. That two people could bring out the absolute worst in each other instead of the best is perfectly good fodder for a thriller. I’m certainly not against revenge narratives by women scorned, and I absolutely think that terror and fear can inhabit the domestic sphere just as much as they can linger in any dark alley or gloomy forest. But did Gone Girl really have to pander so perfectly to such bullshit tropes? Amy Dunne is everything that Men’s Rights Advocacy fedora-wearing douchebags believe of women, eg:
- Women fake rape allegations;
- Women lie about what they want from men;
- Women use sex as a weapon;
- Women will fake a pregnancy purely to manipulate a man;
- Women will create an actual pregnancy purely to manipulate a man.
Amy is so into fake rapes that she constructs at least two of them, jabbing herself in the snatch with a wine bottle to make it all look ‘real’. As for her lies, oh, she’ll pretend to be into a guy — she’ll play Cool Girl so well you’ll actually believe she’s legit — but when husband Nick slacks off and isn’t quite the Prince Charming she thought he would be, she turns on him like a viper. And then there’s her manipulation of consensual sex, which in Fincher’s film, is taken to the extreme: Amy kills Desi while he’s actually fucking her. She makes herself pregnant with her husband’s sperm sample to keep him from leaving.
And then there’s just the plain old MRA-optional sexism, because when women are unhappy they become nagging bores, so who can blame a guy for cheating? And if it just so happens that he starts up an affair with his perky 23-year-old creative writing student, it’s understandable, right? He’s just a man and a man has needs. He’s just a victim in all this. And if you’re not on his side when you find that out, you’ll definitely feel sorry for him when his wife does.
I know, not all the female characters are so vile. Boney and Go are smart, sensible, and grounded, but Gone Girl isn’t their story. And the woman at the centre of this story is such a hideous creature that when she finally reveals herself, it seems almost as if she was created simply to justify the anti-feminist’s worst, most misogynistic fears.
The worst part is, in the beginning, you believe her. You believe in the romantic haze followed by a domestic relationship that becomes all too realistically strained by circumstance and familial obligation. You believe in the breakdown of the marriage, the perfunctory sex, the emotional nitpicking, and the descent into domestic violence. You believe it because it’s common enough to be familiar, and familiar enough to make you uncomfortable.
And then, Amy kicks you, the reader, and your sympathies in the face. Because bitches be crazy.