Emma Cline on bad men

Emma Cline took a shallow, yet harrowing dive into the Hellraiser-like horrors of the MRA reddit in order to write her new book of short stories (that we will be ordering today) Daddy. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, when I was still writing short fiction, I wrote an entire book from the perspective of various terrible men: rapists and rape apologists, pseudo-pedophiles, abusive misogynists, homophobes, murderers, racists, etc. It was a deeply uncomfortable experience, and even though I had an offer to publish it with a major house, I declined because I thought: what am I missing here? I didn’t have anything to fear from these guys, really. It was an academic exercise for me, this searching for the person inside the monster. Given how awful it felt writing it myself, I can only imagine what it must feel like for someone with something to actually lose. Funnily enough, I recently thought about those stories and decided that I can’t revisit them because now that I have children, I actually do have something to lose. Bustle has the interview:

You’ve spoken about how as a culture we spend so much time considering the inner lives of men who would never do the same for women. What made you want to give them a collection’s worth of consideration?

It’s something that the culture has forced upon us anyway. Just the amount of time and energy people spend trying to understand what is going on in Trump’s mind. Or when you read these Me Too stories where an entire workplace had to translate the actions of this one man. The amount of fallout from one person’s interiority and moral compass is interesting to me. With Harvey [Weinstein] for example, there was this intense focus on him as this villain. I think news stories by necessity have to kind of flatten people into archetypes just because they’re telling us what happened. It’s not the place for exploring their motivations. But what I think is more frightening than them just being a cartoon villain is that there’s someone who probably thinks of themselves as a good person.

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