Why we all need to be feminists

Michael Rowe shared this on Facebook with the following comment: “I can’t help but wonder what it would look like if a male author who had sold 30 million copies of one book (in this case, THE THORN BIRDS, which was made into the second-highest rated miniseries of all time) was eulogized as being “plain of feature and certainly overweight,” especially in the first paragraph of his obituary. I’m still wondering, because I just can’t picture it happening. (Photo by @vanbadham, via Twitter.)

Thanks Peter K for sharing.

12 thoughts on “Why we all need to be feminists

  1. Anonymous, first, that sentence didn’t appear until the 4th paragraph, 2nd, the obit was written by his wife. It was not the opening paragraph in the obit of a famous person who lived a fascinating life with two brilliant careers. Plus, that “nevertheless was woman of wit and warmth” is a real kicker. At least the “but” after Mr. Saxe’s continues to refer to his appearance, not “nevertheless he was smart”.

  2. Anonymous, first, that sentence didn’t appear until the 4th paragraph, 2nd, the obit was written by his wife. It was not the opening paragraph in the obit of a famous person who lived a fascinating life with two brilliant careers. Plus, that “nevertheless was woman of wit and warmth” is a real kicker. At least the “but” after Mr. Saxe’s continues to refer to his appearance, not “nevertheless he was smart”.

  3. I’m not sure why that’s a difference that makes a difference, Merry. I just found it funny that, the very day someone here says “I can’t picture it happening” to a man, it happened to a man. That very day.

    But now the challenge is to find an obituary of a famous man who lived a fascinating life with more than one career, written by someone who is not the spouse of the deceased, and that contains a critical description of the appearance of the deceased in the first paragraph. Tall order, but here’s one that comes to mind immediately:

    H. L. Mencken’s obituary of William Jennings Bryan, Baltimore Evening Sun, July 27th, 1925:
    “It was plain to everyone, when Bryan came to Dayton, that his great days were behind him — that he was now definitely an old man, and headed at last for silence. There was a vague, unpleasant manginess about his appearance; he somehow seemed dirty, though a close glance showed him carefully shaved, and clad in immaculate linen. All the hair was gone from the dome of his head, and it had begun to fall out, too, behind his ears, like that of the late Samuel Gompers. The old resonance had departed from his voice: what was once a bugle blast had become reedy and quavering. Who knows that, like Demosthenes, he had a lisp? In his prime, under the magic of his eloquence, no one noticed it. But when he spoke at Dayton it was always audible.”

    Of course, it’s hard to find others now. If you Google “obituary” and “insulting”, all you get is hundreds and hundreds of discussions and reports of the single obituary you mention. Everyone’s talking about it. Saxe and Bryan and all the other men criticized for their appearance in their obituaries are SOL.

  4. Anonymous, do you happen to know whether, given Bryan’s hair loss and quavering voice at that point, he nevertheless had no trouble attracting women? Since Saxe’s obituary was written by his wife, he must have attracted at least one woman despite his baldness.

  5. I’m not that Anonymous, but I know Bryan was able to attract some women.
    But he didn’t talk about it in interviews.

  6. Hi, Susan.

    Being ‘plain of feature and certainly overweight’ didn’t stand in Colleen McCullough’s way, any more than it stood in Bryan’s. Her husband fell in love with her when they met in middle age, and she married him in 1984 at the age of 47.

  7. Anonymous @7: Google “obituary insulting -McCullough” to exclude any entries mentioning McCullough.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.

  8. I thought Bryan met his wife, who became an attorney, when he was still fairly young. I don’t know about any other women who might have found him attractive in his advanced years. I haven’t read many interviews with him so I don’t know whether he discussed his attractiveness much. I suppose it’s possible that if McCullough hadn’t wanted an obituary that led with comment on her ability to attract men through wit and warmth, despite being plain and overweight, she wouldn’t have commented about those things in response to any interviewers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s