Is mysoginism the main theme?

Use this forum to discuss the October Book of the Month "McDowell" by William H. Coles.
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Is mysoginism the main theme?

Post by cristinaro » 01 Oct 2018, 01:04

Apart from Hiram McDowell’s domineering personality, there are many ex and current wives, mistresses or daughters in the novel.

Carole Mastriano is McDowell’s third wife and she has to put up with both his condescending attitude and his infidelities.
Tasha is his stepdaughter who is shown no sympathy when she gets pregnant with McDowell’s son, Billie.
Rima is a nurse from Nepal who accepts to be McDowell’s mistress with no expectations to commitment.
Although unrelated to McDowell, Paige is a woman journalist who needs to fight the abusive behavior of her boss.

Considering all these and more, is mysoginism the main theme of the novel? Is it also the source of conflict and a reflection of an attitude still very much present in society?
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Post by Ruba Abu Ali » 01 Oct 2018, 09:51

My personal opinion is that mysoginism is strongly present in McDowell's. Is it still present in society? Yes, and its repercussions are, unfortunately, present in society.

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Post by BookReader+6 » 01 Oct 2018, 11:38

I think there's also an element of narcissism in the book!
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Post by Dolor » 01 Oct 2018, 11:44

Misogynism was one of the flaws of Hiram McDowell. The book was centered more on personal and familial issues. I don't think the main theme of the book was misogynism.

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Post by MagensWife1995 » 01 Oct 2018, 13:29

BookReader+6 wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 11:38
I think there's also an element of narcissism in the book!
What makes you think this? I have not read but a few pages so far. Can you give an example? where in this book you see narcissism?

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Post by Eva Darrington » 01 Oct 2018, 23:00

I am noticing some misogyny, both in the characters and the narration. Part of misogyny is a hyper-focus on women's body sizes and physical appearances. The author writes about three women in a row, and comments on their weight and appearances. Carole was "flabby now" and wasn't exercising; "Tasha teetered on the cusp of overweight with legs like ice cream cones," then he wonders if she would "splat" another cheerleader; And of Sheryl, "He didn't like the size of her nose with dark deep wells for nostrils. She was a little overweight...." This is just the first few pages of Chapter 1.
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Post by gen_g » 01 Oct 2018, 23:02

From the examples listed, it does seem like misogyny is present in the novel. However, I suppose there are other factors to consider, such as the social and the economic. I'm definitely not condoning such sexism - although I have to say that sexism is still prevalent in society today, but in a more insidious manner IMO.

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Post by gen_g » 01 Oct 2018, 23:03

Eva Darrington wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:00
I am noticing some misogyny, both in the characters and the narration. Part of misogyny is a hyper-focus on women's body sizes and physical appearances. The author writes about three women in a row, and comments on their weight and appearances. Carole was "flabby now" and wasn't exercising; "Tasha teetered on the cusp of overweight with legs like ice cream cones," then he wonders if she would "splat" another cheerleader; And of Sheryl, "He didn't like the size of her nose with dark deep wells for nostrils. She was a little overweight...." This is just the first few pages of Chapter 1.
This type of writing honestly puts me off - and in Chapter 1, no less! It's definitely obvious that the narrator/author sees women as objects, and that's rather gross.

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Post by Eva Darrington » 01 Oct 2018, 23:09

gen_g wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:02
From the examples listed, it does seem like misogyny is present in the novel. However, I suppose there are other factors to consider, such as the social and the economic. I'm definitely not condoning such sexism - although I have to say that sexism is still prevalent in society today, but in a more insidious manner IMO.
I think I feel more forgiving about issues like misogyny in literature if it is a character flaw that is written into a character for a purpose that serves the narrative. This is just feeling like an indulgence, if you know what I mean. I haven't finished the book but I'm not sure yet that I want to at this point.
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Post by gen_g » 01 Oct 2018, 23:27

Eva Darrington wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:09
gen_g wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:02
From the examples listed, it does seem like misogyny is present in the novel. However, I suppose there are other factors to consider, such as the social and the economic. I'm definitely not condoning such sexism - although I have to say that sexism is still prevalent in society today, but in a more insidious manner IMO.
I think I feel more forgiving about issues like misogyny in literature if it is a character flaw that is written into a character for a purpose that serves the narrative. This is just feeling like an indulgence, if you know what I mean. I haven't finished the book but I'm not sure yet that I want to at this point.
I agree with you - I would be more forgiving if it were written in for a purpose, which does not seem to be so in this book. I did hear of the naĂŻve/native mistake that is present in the prologue, so I don't think I'll be picking this book up! :eusa-think:

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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 02 Oct 2018, 00:35

Hiram is the center piece of this book, and everything that occurred around in this read revolves around him. Gross related details reflects the true nature of a person's character. In saying that, it's important to note that people like Hiram do exist.
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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 02 Oct 2018, 00:36

gen_g wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:03
Eva Darrington wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:00
I am noticing some misogyny, both in the characters and the narration. Part of misogyny is a hyper-focus on women's body sizes and physical appearances. The author writes about three women in a row, and comments on their weight and appearances. Carole was "flabby now" and wasn't exercising; "Tasha teetered on the cusp of overweight with legs like ice cream cones," then he wonders if she would "splat" another cheerleader; And of Sheryl, "He didn't like the size of her nose with dark deep wells for nostrils. She was a little overweight...." This is just the first few pages of Chapter 1.
This type of writing honestly puts me off - and in Chapter 1, no less! It's definitely obvious that the narrator/author sees women as objects, and that's rather gross.
Author may reflects this but that doesn't mean it's not true. William H Cole reflects the reality in man who is a sexist.
Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are :techie-studyingbrown: - Mason Cooley

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Post by a9436 » 02 Oct 2018, 04:21

It is definitely a major theme in that it seems to be embedded in every aspect of McDowell's life. I have not finished the book and am curious if McDowell reforms himself in this way later on, after re-evaluating life after a fall from grace.

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Post by FictionLover » 02 Oct 2018, 06:47

Eva Darrington wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:00
I am noticing some misogyny, both in the characters and the narration. Part of misogyny is a hyper-focus on women's body sizes and physical appearances. The author writes about three women in a row, and comments on their weight and appearances. Carole was "flabby now" and wasn't exercising; "Tasha teetered on the cusp of overweight with legs like ice cream cones," then he wonders if she would "splat" another cheerleader; And of Sheryl, "He didn't like the size of her nose with dark deep wells for nostrils. She was a little overweight...." This is just the first few pages of Chapter 1.
I noticed all that too, and it completely cemented my opinion of not only the character of Hiram, but also of the author. I noticed a similar fixation on women's body size in Mr. Cole's The Spirit of Want, but I think it is much more obvious here because those comments come so close together in chapter one.

Conspicuously absent: a physical description of Hiram.

:(
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Post by FictionLover » 02 Oct 2018, 06:50

Sahani Nimandra wrote: ↑
02 Oct 2018, 00:36
gen_g wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:03
Eva Darrington wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:00
I am noticing some misogyny, both in the characters and the narration. Part of misogyny is a hyper-focus on women's body sizes and physical appearances. The author writes about three women in a row, and comments on their weight and appearances. Carole was "flabby now" and wasn't exercising; "Tasha teetered on the cusp of overweight with legs like ice cream cones," then he wonders if she would "splat" another cheerleader; And of Sheryl, "He didn't like the size of her nose with dark deep wells for nostrils. She was a little overweight...." This is just the first few pages of Chapter 1.
This type of writing honestly puts me off - and in Chapter 1, no less! It's definitely obvious that the narrator/author sees women as objects, and that's rather gross.
Author may reflects this but that doesn't mean it's not true. William H Cole reflects the reality in man who is a sexist.
Read the sample for The Spirit of Want. He does the same thing in that book, comparing two sisters to each other followed by a drunk driving scene. Just not my type of 'literature'.
"I love reading another reader’s list of favorites. Even when I find I do not share their tastes or predilections, I am provoked to compare, contrast, and contradict. It is a most healthy exercise, and one altogether fruitful." T.S. Eliot

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