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Fay Weldon: An Equal Opportunity Feminist

1800 words - 8 pages

Fay Weldon, born Franklin Birkinshaw, started out life in a state of ambivalence. She “took out library books as Franklin and read them as Fay” (Weldon). “What I do have to do is be faithful to what I see around me, whether I like it or not. My role is to look at the world, get a true, not an idealized vision of it and hand it over to you in fictional form” (Fay Weldon). This is how Fay Weldon defines her writing. Although the role of women in society has vastly changed in the last fifty years, there is still a great divide amongst the sexes. It is Weldon’s fresh and sophisticated style of writing, alongside her feministic views, that make her novels spectacular.
Weldon writes with a wicked sense of humor and, often times, outrageous plots. Her point of view and narrative style are a unique mix of exaggeration and realism. “Weldon’s interest in the experience of women, her perceptions about their sexuality and friendship, her intelligent view that women’s lives are of necessity different from men's make her a most valuable contemporary novelist for the committed feminist and for the general reader who is curious about women. But Weldon’s novels are appealing even if one does not share her feminist insights” (Krouse).

Weldon takes an objective approach to relationships, but she is not necessarily always on the women’s side. “[...] Weldon does not heavy-handedly use her female characters to hammer out a simplistic thesis about nasty men and victimized women. Through point of view and tone, her vision of women's relationships with men is more satisfyingly complex” (Krouse). In Weldon’s novels, women are not infallible, they make mistakes and are often times found to be at fault. Weldon often portrays the man as the open-minded, responsible, and reliable part of the couple. Weldon aims to show women that with great power comes an even greater responsibility.
Weldon’s heroines have roles other than simply being objects of men’s desires. They want to be equal, or at least they try to be. Her characters are thinking, analyzing and then deciding. “Weldon’s fiction often mirrors the insights of feminist theorists about the nature and situation of women: love does not last, marriage is not happy, motherhood is not serene. Her multiple female characters function particularly well to make convincing a fictional world which indirectly questions many traditional assumptions. The experiences of her characters complement each other and, therefore, validate each other as well” (Krouse).
Though Weldon states that she chose her lifestyle before the height of the feminist movement, she works with topics highly demanded from the woman’s point of view: love, infidelity, oppression, abortion, sexual initiation, divorce, career, stereotype, patriarchy, and motherhood. “A feminist novelist like Fay Weldon is never in any doubt that the relationship between the sexes is primarily a matter of power politics [...] Weldon writes with a light touch that cannot disguise...

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