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Tag Archives: literate women

(In response to You Should Date An Illiterate Girl)

It’s not so easy being a well-read woman, either, Charles.

You are right about women who read. We want dialogue; we want plot. We want a life that follows a well-charted path, a life full of rich characters and poignant moments, a story that leaves an impact on its audience. We want climax, yes, in every sense. We want a denouement, too – a happy ending that neatly ties the threads of our lives together in a way that leaves us satisfied in our golden years. We understand syntax, and rhythm; word choice, too, and we know how to read between the lines and guess where this story arc will take us.

A well-read woman cannot be swept aside in a minor plot and easily forgotten. We are not content with mediocrity. We are not content to be filler: part of the faceless crowd, part of the setting, suppliers of background noise. We know that we are responsible for our fate – that if our story is dull and uninteresting, it is because we are not playing our part as the central character of our lives.

The modern world is cruel to a literate woman. Her heart aches for a hero, and for adventure. Ask any literate woman if she sometimes wishes someone – anyone – would slay dragons for her. No matter what her lips reply, you will hear her heart whisper a broken, unfulfilled yes. It is a secret wish every literate woman carries deep within herself; one this world has no intention of granting.

There are no battles to fight that would win a woman’s heart. Instead, men fight wars; bloody, impersonal, and cold, fought for greed or power. A woman’s beauty does not move a man to risk his life, not anymore. Our modern world has cheapened everything – romance boiled down to sex, battle simplified into killing, adventure stripped down until it is merely a vacation. Queens and kings are politicians.  Knights are now soldiers. No one sings of the valiant deeds of heroes; poetry is written by angsty, pimple-faced teenagers with a rudimentary grasp of imagery and no concept of the term cliché. Chivalry has been mortally wounded and left for dead.

Is it any wonder, then, that a literate woman dreams of something better? Can you really fault her for wanting more than you’re willing to give? A well-read woman does not want a safe man, a man who will do the dishes and the laundry when asked, a man whose greatest battle consists of putting on his tie every morning and facing another soulless day at the office to put bread on the table for his family. That man deserves all the love his wife can give him, yes; but if she is a literate woman, she will spend her life yearning for danger and adventure. Her heart will waste away within her, wishing she had been born in a different time and place, wanting the kind of love found only in books and fairy tales, dying to be the heroine of her tale. A literate woman not only wants to make something of her life, but she longs for someone to share it with; someone who would guard with his very life the beauty and power she yearns to find within herself.

Literate women have need of steel-hearted heroes. There is no room in our story for a man who would tuck tail and run at the first sign of danger, nor is there room for a man who prefers the gray monotony of mediocre drudgery because it means avoiding the terrible risk of failure. If there is nothing to be lost, then what do you stand to gain? A literate woman needs someone courageous; someone who can gaze unflinching into the gaping rawness of a woman’s unfulfilled and broken heart, and stand resolved to heal it, no matter what the cost.

If this seems too difficult for you, Charles, then do us a favor and date the illiterate girls. This world has spawned an abundance of them. Live your meager, average life, and die your unremarkable death. But do not hate the well-read woman and blame her for your fate. It is not her fault you failed to be the hero.

Patton Oswalt

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