Bloody spare me, will you? You see, I wrote about the heinous Bridget Jones as an ‘everywoman’ back in February, but such is my rage at the latest pre-publication pimpage of the next novel that I need to do it all over again. Yup, Helen Fielding has knocked out Mad About the Boy, where Jones is single with kids, and once again the nation has to endure the character being foisted upon it as if it’s a blueprint for womankind. Well, you know what? I despise Bridget Jones and not just because she is as irritating as fuck but because far from being a modern woman, really she’s one big-knickered stereotype.
Seriously, the anti-feminists of the world must be shitting their pants with excitement at the next Bridget Jones novel hitting the shelves, not least because it proves their theory that all women really are self-absorbed, neurotic, hysterical, weight-obsessed, narcissistic men-chasers. That’s because Bridget Jones is an even greater stereotype of what is allegedly a woman than anything they could imagine themselves. It’s no wonder we women are still enduring cat-calls in the street and an inability for millions of men to take us seriously. It’s because the novel that has apparently been written for women undermines us so completely by making us look like creature who are incapable of even the most basic sentience.
I don’t just blame Fielding though. In fairness she has previously admitted that the column upon which the first book was based was of her own experiences, which makes the character of Jones about one woman. So why in the fuck is every Bridget Jones novel touted as being about all types of women? You see, Jones doesn’t even vaguely resemble me and she as sure as shit doesn’t resemble any other women that I know. Yet in the next few months the media will tell me time and again that this is what I am really like, that these novels are insights into the female psyche and that it must be the one and only book that I could ever interest me.
And you know why? It’s not because Jones has any shred of likeability – she doesn’t – it’s because it’s easier for society to insist that women are ditzy, indecisive, useless, man-grasping and out of control than to admit that, in reality, the personalities and traits of women are many and varied and therefore cannot be pigeonholed. Which means that Jones satisfies society’s need to stick to the age old stereotypes of women rather than get off its fat arse to start treating women like equals. In fact, the media’s response to the next Jones novel is the equivalent of a collective sigh of relief that women aren’t really trouble-making equality-demanders after all.
And it doesn’t help that the latest in the Jones saga is leaping into the grave of Anastasia Steele, the female protagonist in Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s another nail driven into the coffin of women’s rights then. First Steele tells the world that all women want is to be flogged and tortured by a man with the personality of a Styrofoam cup before Jones arrives to announce that once the bruises have faded the panic du jour is about calorie counts and younger men. And this is modern literature for modern women?
Worse, this never seems to happen in any other type of literature. When was the last time you saw a novel written ‘for men’ where the media descends upon the entire gender to insist that they live up to the protagonist therein? I seriously can’t think of a single male character who is pushed upon men in the way that Jones is pushed upon women. For some reason men are allowed to identify with any fictional male from Jack Reacher and Frodo Baggins to Stephen Dedalus and Abraham Van Helsing. Yet women are told over and again that if there’s one character they should identify with it should be Bridget bloody Jones.
And yes there are many more female characters for women to identify with in modern literature but they never, ever get the type of airing that Jones does. It’s the equivalent of women being told that they can be scientists, artists, chief executives and athletes as long as they never forget that, underneath it all, they are clumsy, idiotic and hormonal.
Which is why I would rather read the small print on an estate-agent’s knackersack than go near the next Bridget Jones novel. Believe me, there are enough people in the world telling me I’m too hormonal to know my own mind or too female to be successful without me reading about it in bed too. Some women might identify with Jones but I as sure as shit do not and that’s exactly why the media’s love affair with the woman has to end.