Movies Opinion

Eat Pray Love: Giving Women Permission to be Selfish

The quest of a woman to define her own role in life. | katkoot / Flickr.com
The quest of a woman to define her own role in life. | katkoot / Flickr.com

A divorced writer named Elizabeth Gillbert decides to take a year for herself and live in Italy, India and Indonesia for four months. This is the book that was in my slightly shaking hands as I made my way through airports past smiling flight attendants.

In retrospect, the only conscious thought running through my mind during the hours it took me to devour this memoir was I can do that? This woman was doing everything that I had been secretly dreaming about for months: traveling, learning a new language, and being completely self reliant.

These were things that I had been raised not to want by omission. I was supposed to find a steady job and stay in one place, not be a writer and travel the world. Why, I thought. Even Elizabeth Gillbert was told she was crazy for doing this, and she certainly turned out all right in the end. Why is everyone so quick to point out that things won’t work, even before anything happens?

I am not a feminist by any means; I’m just a stubborn girl who does not like being told what to do. Does it matter that I don’t want what conventional society tells me I should want: to be a selfless mother who should marry the first person who asks her (because without a family there is nothing)?

I have a family, I just don’t have to potty-train them. What Elizabeth Gillbert decided to do by traveling the world was to heal herself on her terms by doing the thing she loved most: traveling. Why does that make her crazy?
As noted in both the novel and the film, if a man said that he wanted to travel the world, there would be no one questioning his sanity; but a woman says she wants to travel the world, and there is an uproar of criticism.

Yes, the world is not as safe as it used to be, but Tampa is no Singapore either. Just because a woman is thinking about her own needs rather than what society thinks she should want, it does not make her crazy. It means that she is strong for going after what she wants. That’s a good thing, remember?

Elizabeth Pichette can be contacted at epichette@spartans.ut.edu

2 comments

  1. Hi Jason C,

    Gosh, you’re such fun to talk with and so encouraging, too. You really make me wanna go out and live my dreams and serve my society by fulfilling my ideals.

    Men are as grotesque as women. The sickness of consumerist greed affects us all. Just sayin’.

    I’m glad we had this talk.

    Hi Elizabeth Pichette,

    I don’t begrudge you your urge to travel.

    Are you sure you won’t reconsider your position on feminism?

    Oh, and Jason C does have a good point, it’s just that he’s sexist, too.

    Like

  2. I love the title, but the content is vapid. Why any woman thinks they can go on hedonistic, consequence-free excursions funded by someone else strikes to the heart of the sense of entitlement that a lot of women seem to feel.

    However, this author takes it a step further and shrugs off the few responsibilities that society might ask in return for living such a life void of self-reliance contrary to the facade of independence this author would have you believe.

    The effort required to sustain the life of what amounts to a self-absorbed, narcissistic, spoiled-little brat requires resources. I don’t see how you can be self-reliant when nothing about you is self-sustaining. Your whole life has been made possible by others sense of obligation to you. This essay proves how you only feel obligated to yourself and your sense of entitlement is disturbing.

    Really, this book is the latest installment in a series of self-serving novels that elucidate the hollow, unfulfilling lives that some delusional women lead while thinking it can be fulfilled by becoming raging Tom Cruisesque egocentrists.

    The idea that every woman is a princess waiting for her knight in shining armor that is really a were-wolf hunting vampires is a delusion only some women can afford. This fantasizing leads to a disdainful perception of reality when real male figures don’t want to put women on the high and mighty pedestal they think they deserve.

    Sorry, but the sun does not revolve around you.

    Like

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