January 23, 2015
Review of Women by Chloe Caldwell
I am a cisgendered white male with blue eyes writing a review about a woman in her late 20s who meets a woman around age 40 which leads to the younger woman having her first lesbian experience. I don’t know why I did this? Am I trying to prove something? Am I cool?
Why is this book called Women?
This book is about first lesbian experiences, I want to share mine: When I was 20 years old in the year 2001 I went to Eugene, Oregon to spend the summer with friends before I went back to college. I went to Eugene and found a room in the newspaper, it was with a 45-year-old lesbian named Laura, she owned her own house but was out of work and needed money. At that point in my life I had very few experiences with adult homosexuals, I had lesbian and gay friends in Ohio, but no adults. Laura was amazing to me, she was a total butch, she owned a green Chevy pick-up truck from the early 70s, did home construction, had a rock garden where she would tell you about each and every rock, what kind it was and where she got it. She walked around naked, never shaved any part of her body, would wipe her period blood on the plants in her garden, had copies of Nausea and Ram Dass on her book shelf, was very caring and forgiving and was totally different than the 45-year-old women living in Ohio. She was the first adult to ever take my thoughts and feelings seriously, she was one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met, and she has always stayed in my heart. That was my first lesbian experience.
The lead character in the novel moves to a city because she is a drug addict and wants a change, the lead character obviously suffers from addiction problems. She assumes that if she stops taking drugs the addiction will disappear, because it is a common belief that drugs are addictive but television and love and candy and shopping aren’t. But all these things are addictive, because we live in a culture where “cheering ourselves up” is a moral value, everyone has the duty to “cheer ourselves up.” We can’t just sit and breath and walk around looking at trees, we have to feel as if we are in a panic all the time, happiness is an emergency, that there is no time and we must resolve all the pressures surging in our bodies immediately.
The lead character gets a job at a library, she likes to read, she is intelligent and well spoken and bipolar. The lead character meets a lesbian named Finn, I have this theory that she named her Finn because the lead character is Jim, enslaved in her straight self, which Finn frees her from. (I could be wrong.)
Finn has a girlfriend, the girlfriend is never named or seen in the novel, this makes the novel so weird to me, you have one cheating person and a bird dog (If people don’t remember what a bird dog is, it is a person that romances other people’s girlfriends.) This makes the novel a lot better, because the premise of the two lead characters is that the lead character is a drug addict who romances other people’s lovers and Finn is a chronic cheater. The novel deals with the lives of extremely imperfect people. Seems odd how imperfect we all are, when I reflect upon my own life, I’ve never killed anyone but I have had some amazing imperfect moments. Everyone is so imperfect, thank god we have the ability for forgiveness.
I really liked on page 22 when the lead character says, “I want you so bad. Where did it come from? Since when I had wanted her so bad? Why had I not been conscious of it.” The lead character didn’t reason out here behavior toward Finn, it flowed from her, grew from her, the way a branch grows toward sunlight. I like that theory, it is more zen and human. I just remembered Cupid and Kamadeva though, Americans know Cupid from Valentines day, the little winged creature that shoots lovers with arrows, Indian mythology contains the same concept in Kamadeva, an invisible person that shoots lovers with arrows. I like this metaphor, a human walking around peacefully going abouttheir business, and a sniper shoots them from a distance unseen, the arrow hits them, they look down and say, “Oh shit, I’ve been shit, I didn’t expect this to happen today.”
After there is a short break up between Finn and the lead character, the lead character goes on dating sites and has a period of rampant dating to fill an emotional void. I’ve seen this several times in my life, I don’t have statistics only anecdotes but I’ve seen women after a break up have a three month period of promiscuity. I always kind of viewed at punishment toward the ex-partner, but I think now I was wrong, maybe it is freedom, filling a void, or maybe just distraction, or trying to replicate the old love. The song Habits by Tove Lo seems to be about this. I personally don’t know and accept there is no clarity to the answer. But I think as a male I will stop viewing it as punishment or spite, but just natural behavior.
The lead character has a bipolar meltdown which leads to a lot of amazing chapters about the nuances of being a bipolar in a relationship, I am actually bipolar or whatever that means. Bipolar people can get really annoying in a relationship, because they get obsessed with a single idea and want to follow it to the end without regard for the consequences.
Bipolarism is great if you are in college, writing a novel, or trying to get a promotion, you set your mind on a goal and get manic and accomplish your goal. But when the manic sets their goal on a fellow human, then it gets annoying and even creepy, because humans aren’t like promotions you don’t win them, humans aren’t like writing novels because you can’t write another person’s novel, everyone has to write their own novel.
At the end there is no clarity, things did not turn out the way the bipolar person wanted. Life didn’t turn out at all, everyone was a woman at the beginning of the novel and they are still women when the novel fades out, they are emotionally altered a little, but the woman remains.