Colleen McCullough, one of the Down Under’s most famous authors, died at age 77 last month. She became famous in the 1970’s for her best-selling book The Thorn Birds, which was later made into a TV mini-series that is, to this day, the second highest rated mini-series ever. Her last book was published in 2013, and she wrote and published many in between, including a couple that were made into movies. I’ve read several of her books myself, along with millions of other people. She’s won some awards, including a Ph.D.
You’d think she might have earned some respect, wouldn’t you?
And yet one obituary, published in Australian Photograph described her as “plain of feature, and certainly overweight,” and continued that she was “nevertheless a woman of wit and warmth.”
So nice to know she was smart and friendly in spite of her unsightly appearance.
Lately I’ve been considering unfriending someone on Facebook. Every time I post something about women and sexism, he comments that men have it just as bad. Everything. Body image. Unfair pay. Dating. And today, he commented that the “D” word is just as bad as the “C” word. He said once a woman called him the “D” word, so he called her the “C” word, and she never called him that again. If it’s the woman I suspect it was, the next “D” word he probably heard was “divorce.” If I were to post this obituary, which certainly would never have been written about a man, he would somehow make it about men and how badly they are treated in the press.
I will concede that men have their problems. Men probably have 99 problems. Obituaries like this are not one of them.
I didn’t know Colleen McCullough, so I can’t say whether she would have been offended by these words. Maybe her hide is tougher than mine. I can say that I’m offended on her behalf, because I’m as sick as most women of being judged by my looks and not by my accomplishments. (OK, to be fair, nobody talks about my looks in the media, but I’m sure I made my point.)
Those words are cruel and unnecessary. I’m glad she didn’t have to see them. I wish I hadn’t seen them too. Not unexpectedly, the obituary went viral and people started tweeting their own examples of similar obituaries. Look for #myozobituary or check some of them out in this ThinkProgress article.
What do you think? Can you imagine someone writing an obituary like this about a man? If so, do you have an example?