It is no secret that we consume books like starved people looking for a better world, a method to escape reality, or simply inspiration. However, there are some ridiculous notions we – especially, females – come across whilst turning pages that either have us believing in the impossible and unbelievable, or raising an eyebrow at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.
A few issues that need to be addressed in the books we read today are gender roles, standards and expectations, and hope.
Addressing the gender roles before all else, does anyone remember the fairytales they were told as children and we’re speaking of what few children in Pakistan were indeed raised on fairytales rather than child labor and poverty?
The most popular fairytales were diluted Disney versions of the Grimm Brothers’ works and in most of them end somewhat like this:
“…and they lived happily ever after.”
No, they did not live happily ever after. Someone died of sickness, murder, or left their significant other because their relationship was built on a castle of sand meant to be brought down by the calamitous sea. Capitalism caused them to sell their mighty castle and settle for a little house, where they were forced to raise five kids on barely above average wage because they weren’t given sex education either. Poverty inspired someone to walk out, become a sex worker, and get drunk. Their children were taken away by social services and then were abused in orphanages and foster homes.
Mental illness hit them really hard and they could never come out of it. Someone committed suicide. The people who married on a whim because they hit it off so well divorced, or cheated on each other. Somebody’s heart got broken, and somebody didn’t care to make it work.
Point is some people never experience happiness in their entire, short lifespan. Others experience happiness so brief that it seems something out of a dream, in another lifetime. Some rarely leave their own bubble of existence, much like the Prince and Princesses we read about. Therefore, we need better literature that does not involve damsels in distress waiting for miracles or ogres to bail them out of their high towers. Miracles don’t happen, and we need to learn to pull ourselves together if we really want to change our lives. Disney has a ton of problems.
Another issue is the high expectations we develop from the men around us; this is for the ladies engrossed in that BDSM/historical/romance/sci-fi novel.
Contrary to the treasure that is Tony Stark, men will always live below and beneath any expectation, women have from them. So, the next you read a steamy erotica and hope your boyfriend will be great in bed, remember that he will most likely not even be able to kiss you right, much less anything more along the lines of tying you up, and having his wicked way with you. As for the rich, hot, billionaire playboy who is taken with you to the point of obsession and plans on whisking you away to his private island on his own helicopter; it isn’t happening, sister. Besides, who wants a man dominating and controlling your every move?
Apart from these unrealistic expectations in the bedroom, a lot of literature promotes toxic masculinity. How many times have we read about the sculpted jawlines, the rock-hard abs, striking eyes, glowing skin, hair made of gossamer and silk etc. in descriptions of men? All of these men are charming bachelors who have a dark past and socialize as smoothly as a baby’s bottom.
Whatever happened to social anxiety, the terrible economy, acne, awkwardness, and soft bellies, which are unfortunately not carved by the Greek gods themselves? This infatuation with skin-deep beauty has forced us to overlook compatibility and personality.
As for the woman; there’s always a flawlessly beautiful lady who doesn’t know it, has several skills including cooking, cleaning, always saying the right thing, transforming a cannibalistic serial killer into an upstanding and socially acceptable citizen, and at least one form of art. These roles and standards are impossible to meet. We must comprehend that humans are flawed creatures and it takes time, patience, and experience to work anything out whether it’s a career or a relationship.
Last but not least, we have hope.
Hope breeds eternal? Yes, eternal misery.
These high hopes from people and the world will only cause more pain and suffering. It’s why we grow up. Children hope because we protect them from the world by almost deluding them of reality. It’s when you realize the world doesn’t have much to offer without taking on all the gloom and doom when you truly grow up.
In conclusion, we need better authors who will take non-fiction to realistic levels. Who will not romanticize death or abuse, and will not capitalize on exaggerations. More importantly, we need better stories for the children because no one wants to grow up with tales promising a happily ever after when the reality is vastly different.