I have a friend who makes a good point about rereading: he compares it to music, saying that he wouldn’t listen to a song or an album only once, so why would he only read a book once. He is right, but I’ve still never been much of a re-reader, with one exception – I like to read translations into Spanish of books I’ve previously read in English. Hence: Miedo a volar.
Erica Jong’s, Fear of Flying: the 70s Feminist classic. I remember reading it first when I was about 16, and – reading it now, as an adult – I can see that it informed a lot of my ideas about relationships, or perhaps the ideas had already been sown and the book added fertiliser.
Even 43 years after publication, it felt extremely liberating to be reminded that our (women’s) relationships do not have to define us, a precept that I’ve certainly lived my life by up until now, and I’m grateful for the part this book has played in that. However, I have had a different reaction this read-around, to when I was a teenager. This time I found the novel less relevant, which isn’t so much a reflection on the novel, more a reflection on where women now find themselves and the things that we are faced with in society and in relationships. For example, the expectation, the pressure to get married and have children has abated (at least where I’m writing from, in Western Europe), but other pressures have emerged to take its place.
For me, as a woman in 2017, what preoccupies me are issues such as: the total colonisation of our physicality by the media and global cosmetic companies, the fact that actively choosing not to be in relationship (for the very first time in my adult life, I might add) evokes confusion, pity and flurries of match-making (which is not the experience of my male counterparts), or the difficult balance between sexual liberation and intimacy, which doesn’t even begin to touch on the everyday sexism, wage-gaps, objectification, invisibility, or domestic abuse, to name just a few.
This rereading served to remind me of how far we have come, but at the same time the vast VAST distance we still have left to travel.