The regularity with which people casually cite really big writers at any given time, the regularity that list will be all-male or nearly all-male, in the United States, is astonishing. Even from afar, when people write in Britain who the great writers are in the United States, without forcing themselves of being mindful and trying to think of some women, they’ll rattle off a bunch of men. That is discouraging. I don’t know why it’s worse in the U.S., but it is. … I believe in the United States, the Great American Novel translates to Big Fat Novel Written by a man. It is, by definition, by a man. That term is never applied to a woman. It’s not as if women just sit around writing about recipes! Plenty of women write about the state of the country and have some scope to their work. But they will not invite that term. There is just a persistent impression in the U.S. that the pantheon is populated by men.
My personal opinion, my own emotional perspective, unrelated to the film, is that we hold unrealistic standards for human behavior in this society. That in and of itself is a problem, but there’s a chain reaction that that brings about. If a mother doesn’t feel internally that she is fulfilling an emotional standard of, say, loving the idea of a child growing inside her, already she is at odds with social convention. So even at a very basic, early stage, she lacks a forum to negotiate with and deal with what is happening, which is a rather irreversible process after so many trimesters. And at that point, you have someone who doesn’t have a way to be understood or heard — I feel like that is the most dangerous and most horrific scenario. In these situations in which we hold these unrealistic standards for human behavior, people can’t express when something is going slightly off of that course, when something has derailed from that pre-negotiated track. At that point, you have a wicked, vicious cycle of not being able to discuss [those feelings] openly, bringing it harder upon yourself internally which is just going to further the condition inevitably.