“Jane Austen Must Die!”

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That’s the title of a column by Jennifer Armstrong exhorting women to demand more from literature, television and movies than yet another Austen-like story. Here is an excerpt:

… God knows we’ve progressed in so many ways, but even though women are the clear majority of readers, we still, apparently, allegedly, don’t like our female protagonists to have faults — any of real consequence, anyway. Honest memoirs about real women’s real sexual adventures (like Cindy Guidry’s forthcoming The Last Single Woman in America ) are dinged as “tawdry” in some reviews. Meanwhile zaftig-narrator-confronts-minor-problems books have pretty much formed their own subgenre of chicklit because, of course, overweight = relatable flaw that women can handle. If you’re wondering why Sex and the City continues its stranglehold on the entire female population of America — we have — it’s simply because it’s one of the few major pop-culture touchstones that come close to depicting stuff we’ve actually gone through, even though it still makes a lot of us squeamish to admit it. And if those still wildly unrealistic Manolo-wearing, movie star-dating, dirty-talking girls are the closest our culture can stand to get to our reality, we haven’t come very far at all, baby. …

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