‘I give off sparks’

Emma Brockes interviews Jane Fonda for The Guardian:

Fonda53257Her memoir, My Life So Far, has been seized on in pre-publicity for its chapter about her marriage to Roger Vadim, the French film director, who, she reveals, coerced her into having threesomes with prostitutes when they lived in Paris in the 1960s. It was not her intention to be salacious. The book is honest and humorous, but the memories are couched in a language you don’t hear much these days. The reason she went along with Vadim’s demands, she says, is that “when I met him, I was on a search for womanhood. I was terrified of being a woman because it meant being a victim and being destroyed like my mother was.”

Fonda’s discursive style was forged in the late 60s and early 70s, during those huge waves of activism when “paradigms of hierarchical patriarchy” were all the rage. Although she wryly observes in the book that she might have toned it down a bit – that she made herself unlikeable by banging her drum so loudly – there is nevertheless something affecting about her refusal to soften, to flirt with neo-feminism’s more digestible language. When I suggest that the word patriarchy is an anachronism – that, while no one would deny inequality exists, lots of women would bridle at the suggestion they are victims of a patriarchal system – she fires back: “Part of what my book delineates is how misogyny is internalised: the need to be perfect, to please, to be malleable. And that this is true for otherwise strong, successful women like me. No, Emma, patriarchy is very much alive and well, and we have to do something about that.”

Read more here.