The central characters in both “Gone Girl” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin” are smart, acerbic New York women—successful writers, amazing cooks, lovers of European culture—who are somehow unable to find happiness with their apparent male counterparts. (This parade of weird, milquetoast intellectuals is best summed up in the character of the billionaire, Proust-reciting Scrabble buff played, in the “Gone Girl” adaptation, by Neil Patrick Harris.) Both women marry salt-of-the-earth, all-American types, manly men who know how to fuck a woman’s brains out and then take her to see the fence that Tom Sawyer whitewashed. Both are relocated by their strong, manly husbands from fantastic Manhattan apartments to suburban McMansions, where they are given to understand that the time has come to set aside frivolous pursuits and have children.
Both books restage marriage as a violent crime—an abduction. An independent, expressive single woman is taken from New York; her beautiful body is disfigured, or threatened with disfigurement; and her accomplishments are systematically taken away or negated, rendered worthless by comparison to that all-trumping colossus of meaning, childbirth. (Clearly, many women find happiness in much this way; but, equally clearly, many of them don’t and can’t.) These narratives speak less to the specific challenges of having a sociopath for a child or a spouse than to the pathology of the unstated assumptions that we all pass along and receive. They speak to the revelation lying in wait for women when they hit the ages of marriageability and childbirth: that their carefully created and manicured identities were never the point; the point was for it all to be sacrificed to children and to men."
- New Yorker (via acodetojoy)