Not as wild as you might think

Some background on Cheryl Strayed, the woman who wrote the book that has been turned into the film, Wild, starring Reece Witherspoon:

Strayed married Marco Littig on August 20, 1988. They were married for six years. In 1999, Strayed married filmmaker Brian Lindstrom. They have two children and live in Portland, Oregon. Her daughter, Bobbi Strayed Lindstrom, played the younger version of Strayed in the film adaptation of Wild. A long-time feminist activist, Strayed served on the first board of directors for Vida: Women in Literary Arts.

Conventional as her life may seem, I take it then that the film is intended to portray a feminist icon, although I must confess to having been quite shocked by the way the story went. I am a first-stage feminist going back to the 1960s. The moment the word “zipless” appeared, I knew exactly where I was. Indeed, I am a nineteenth century feminist, in that probably the greatest influence on my thinking has come through John Stuart Mill and his The Subjection of Women.

Still, what astonished me about the story was the role that men played in saving her at each of the main turning points in her life, at least as portrayed in the film. I won’t say where, but you can watch for it. The final moments, when a group of chaps tell her the trail name others have given her – something like Queen of the PCT (that is, Queen of the Pacific Crest Trail where she was hiking) – was due to the way everyone had bent over backwards to help her out as if she were royalty, made me think this was supposed to be a parody of the self-contained, independent woman. But it’s not.

One final point. Her mother dies of some unspecified form of cancer, but in the actual account she dies of lung cancer, and had presumably been a smoker. Not mentioned, nor do I recall seeing her mother with a cigarette. In Hollywood, positive characters are not permitted to have negative characteristics.