Fear of Flying – Erica Jong (8/52 books challenge)

Fear of Flying

Well, this was a big deal back in the days and it’s supposed to be a “feminist” book. So, I felt that I had to read it, being a woman and not being afraid to admit I’m sort of a feminist. So…

…well, I am not certain what this book is about. About a girl who wants to have sex, would be my first thought. About a girl who cheats on her husband, would be my second. Third would be, about a girl who’s obsessed with fucking and with men. Is this really what feminism is about? Is this really what I think of when I say “I’m a feminist”? Or I just should remember over and over again the times when it was written. It was not normal (I assume, since I wasn’t alive back them) for a woman to tell about her sexual needs. So, for that I understand the hype it got.

I also understand the hype it got because of aspects I enjoyed myself. While Isadora, the protagonist and narrator, wasn’t obsessing about having sex, she was actually having some interesting thoughts. Like the one about not every woman being up for having a baby. Or that a marriage is hard, but women get married because they are forced to believe a single woman has it even worse. And so on. So, for that, I can give it a plus.

For a plot, though, it get a big, big minus from me. For the first 100 pages or more, it seemed like it didn’t have a plot at all. I am all for retrospection and philosophical overanalyzing, but not when it’s what takes almost all of the book, and nothing else happens. If I wanted that, I’d read a psychology book. A feminist manifest. A hooker manifest. Or something. Not a novel.

Another minus is for vulgarity. I’ve read vulgar books before and they didn’t get a minus for that. Probably because it served some other purpose – like, it was a sign of rebel of a teenager. Or it was just supposed to be funny. But in Fear of Flying, I felt like the author was vulgar, just for the sake of being vulgar and shocking. Again, maybe in the times it went out this was something that had to be done, today, for me, it seemed a little much.

Sometimes reading it I felt that Isadora is actually telling us that yes, we women are emotional to the point of being irrational and we can’t be trusted to make logical decisions. Which made me angry. But of course.

Another minus for chasing after guys. I mean, what kind of a feminist chases after men for her whole life? And has such a big obsession about guys, as if she – GASP – can’t live without men, and a lot of them? Just doesn’t seem right, but setting feminism aside, again – I think it was a bit much. The affair is one thing, but to be that sexually active and that obsessed with fucking, is another.

But then I think to myself, did it bother me? Did it make me uncomfortable? No, not really. It just made it not interesting and of no literary value, but I wasn’t shocked or disgusted. I am pretty sure it would be for a lot of people (both man and woman) in my country. This as much as some of the “freedom ideas” the author presented. So, maybe, as a cultural-social-feminist thingy, it’s not so outdated, after all. But for me personally, it has one big minus – it was boring.


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