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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Re: Is mysoginism the main theme?

Post by Laura Del » 21 Oct 2018, 13:55

This makes me really not want to read it now. I'm just not into all that. It's overplayed.
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Post by Samisah » 21 Oct 2018, 16:37

I do believe that the author's intention was to promote all the themes in equal measure. He did devote enough time to explain most of them too.

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Post by Life In Books » 22 Oct 2018, 08:11

I do not think so. Rather the story is based on the life of the interesting character of Hiram McDowell and different aspects of his life including self-realization.

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Post by dtb » 23 Oct 2018, 12:39

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.
I don't mind physical descriptions that are not of beauty, but I don't enjoy reading those kinds of judgmental comments. It can be done to show a character's flaw and sometimes it is done in such a way as to imply a flaw of the author's.

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Post by Rosebella » 23 Oct 2018, 13:30

I think it was. Strong willed women who were able to voice their opinion of Hiram were far and few in between.

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Post by gen_g » 23 Oct 2018, 19:20

dtb wrote: ↑
23 Oct 2018, 12:39
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.
I don't mind physical descriptions that are not of beauty, but I don't enjoy reading those kinds of judgmental comments. It can be done to show a character's flaw and sometimes it is done in such a way as to imply a flaw of the author's.
I agree that descriptions of physical attributes are common and I certainly don’t mind reading them. My concern is that these descriptions have obviously tipped over into the objectification and sexualisation of the female body, and if I’m not wrong, this same thing has happened in more than a single book of the author’s, seeming to indicate more than just the author’s desire to portray a character flaw. I will have no issue if it is done intentionally on the author’s part to portray a character’s flaw as such. My opinion is therefore dependent on the author’s intention itself. In other words, if the novel shows that the author deems appearance as an indicator of a woman’s worth, that’s sexism.

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Post by Kishor Rao » 24 Oct 2018, 00:58

I don't think that misogynism is the main theme of the book. I agree with all the things that you pointed out but there were rebellious characters who thought otherwise. Sophie is the best example for this. She changed Billie's mind about Shrishti and stopped him from committing yet another mistake after Tasha. And even Billie, though have had lost the touch after being away from Tasha for a very long period, still wanted to get back and take care of his wife and children. These are just a few points to name but these counter the theme as well.
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Post by Theresam » 24 Oct 2018, 11:00

I think misogyny is a main theme of the book. Both in the way the female characters are described physically and treated by the main character. I think it speaks more to the type of character the author created in the main character but I’m a little put off by how bad it is in some parts. Overall I think it furthers the story but it’s prevalent throughout the book

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Post by dtb » 25 Oct 2018, 09:54

gen_g wrote: ↑
23 Oct 2018, 19:20
dtb wrote: ↑
23 Oct 2018, 12:39
gen_g wrote: ↑
01 Oct 2018, 23:03


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.
I don't mind physical descriptions that are not of beauty, but I don't enjoy reading those kinds of judgmental comments. It can be done to show a character's flaw and sometimes it is done in such a way as to imply a flaw of the author's.
I agree that descriptions of physical attributes are common and I certainly don’t mind reading them. My concern is that these descriptions have obviously tipped over into the objectification and sexualisation of the female body, and if I’m not wrong, this same thing has happened in more than a single book of the author’s, seeming to indicate more than just the author’s desire to portray a character flaw. I will have no issue if it is done intentionally on the author’s part to portray a character’s flaw as such. My opinion is therefore dependent on the author’s intention itself. In other words, if the novel shows that the author deems appearance as an indicator of a woman’s worth, that’s sexism.
I agree and I think your point is sadly applicable in way too many cultural offerings.

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Post by Lunastella » 25 Oct 2018, 19:25

I can't say for sure if it's the main theme, because redemption and other themes are also basic in the story. However, I think it's Hiram's most annoying characteristic. I can empathize with a lot of flaws but I can't stand misogyny, which probably speaks more about me than of Hiram. I hated him from the start because of it and I was never able to fully empathize with him.
But I think it's a great theme to approach because it's still happening in society and books like this one get us talking about that, which should be the first step towards eradicating the issue.

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Post by Farida Bali » 25 Oct 2018, 22:47

Yes, there was a lot of misogynism from McDowell and Rosenthal. The only women McDowell didn't treat horribly were his daughter, Sophie and Maud. Rosenthal was ready to kick Paige Sterling out of her job for a younger model he was sleeping with.

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Post by Sweet Psamy » 27 Oct 2018, 11:52

Yes it appears to be one of the salient themes in the novel but not a major theme. It is also a reflection of an attitude still very much present in today's society as you said.

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Post by KnightReader » 30 Oct 2018, 01:00

I think misogyny is one of the issues discussed, but I think it is not the main thing to be taken from the story. Hiram has done a lot of morally questionable things like his lust for power and even murder.

The only seemingly redeeming thing about him is his children and perhaps his attempts in changing himself. And in the end, we could ask ourselves that if all of us has both good and evil capabilities within us, would we be capable of all the bad that Hiram did in the right circumstances?

More likely no, but I always thought that if I was born as Hiram McDowell, and had his experiences in the same manner, would I have done the same? Is it nurture or nature?

Perhaps other readers took away something else very different from what I have garnered from the story. However, this is simply my take on things.

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Post by writer808 » 30 Oct 2018, 02:46

i agree with this statement that this book does have the touch of misogyny.

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Post by Radiant3 » 30 Oct 2018, 12:20

Misogynism was not the main theme but there was definitely a strong pattern throughout the book, for example, the way Hiram treated some women, like Maria.

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