Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Elizabeth Edwards stands up for herself amid tragedies and humiliations

Elizabeth Edwards: Why so much hate from the media?
May 12, 2009
by Tina Jordan

I have been following the whole flap over the new Elizabeth Edwards book, Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities -- you know, the one where she talks about her death of her son, her cancer, and the affair of her husband, John -- and I'm stunned by the negative media reaction to it. Maureen Dowd wrote in the New York Times, "Now Saint Elizabeth has dragged [John] back into the public square for a flogging on Oprah and in Time and at bookstores near you. The book is billed as helping people 'facing life's adversities.' But it's just a gratuitous peek into their lives, and one that exposes her kids by peddling more dregs about their personal family life in a book, and exposes the ex-girlfriend, who's now trying to raise the baby girl, a dead ringer for John Edwards, in South Orange, N.J." Then, in response to Edwards' appearance on the Today Show yesterday (embedded below), Daily Beast editor Tina Brown wrote a piece under the headline "Elizabeth Edwards fed herself to the Vultures" that said, "If she had stuck with her health and her loss, Edwards might have held on to our sympathy. But her insistence on belittling to Oprah the dreaded 'other woman,' Rielle Hunter, was so embarrassingly self-righteous it almost made me feel sorry for the Democratic twinkie John." Huh?

I guess I’m not sure I understand all this venom. And I certainly don’t agree with it. Elizabeth Edward’s reasons are her own, and she’s justified to make them. Who are we to sit in judgment? When Gloria Allred and Tina Brown appeared on the Today Show this morning to discuss the whole thing, Brown said at one point that she didn’t think Elizabeth needed “to parade her lack of resolution to the cameras.” Meredith Vieira seemed visibly annoyed, saying at one point, “Why is she the one being judged when she’s the victim in all this?” I never thought I’d find Gloria Allred the voice of reason, but I sure agreed with her when she said, “I think she was giving an honest reaction that she has every right to give. She is looking at the good and the bad and the ugly, and giving weight to all of that.”

Elizabeth Edwards: the Green-eyed Monster?
Caryl Rivers
May 12, 2009
Huffington Post

...Edwards, I believe, is seeking something more profound than mere vengeance. It's about who owns her story, and through that narrative, herself.

One of the major themes to emerge from the second wave of the women's movement of the 70s was the desire of women to be, at long last, at the center of their own stories. They no longer wanted to be somebody's mother, somebody's wife, somebody's victim, somebody's muse, or the object of somebody's desire.

In those days, the idea of women as actors in their own right, uncoupled from the Male Gaze, was a radical one. Joseph Campbell, the famous scholar of mythology, was once asked if women could have a quest, a journey of their own. He said no, because women were the objects of quests by men. "Women don't need to make the journey. In the whole mythological journey, the woman is there. All she has to do is realize that she's the place that people are trying to get to."

Elizabeth Edwards wants to present her life on her own terms. She wants to tell us of a life that mattered. She doesn't want history's picture of her to be the one we've seen so often with political wives. They stand beside their straying spouses, mute in support, and then shuffle off into the shadows of politics and history.

Edwards' breast cancer has metastasized into her bones. She knows she is coming prematurely to the end of her life. She doesn't have many years ahead of her, as Hillary Clinton did, to forge her own story and triumph in her own right...

As the late critic Carolyn Heilbrun pointed out, "above all other prohibitions, what has been forbidden to women is anger, together with the open admission of the desire for power and control over one's life ...Because this has been declared unwomanly, and because many women would prefer (or think they would prefer) a world without evident power or control, women have been deprived of the narratives, or the texts, plots, or examples, by which they might assume power over--take control of--their own lives."...

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