Jeanette Winterson: I’ve found happiness after a life of despair - dayline.info
The Londoner's wedding hat was raised to Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit author Jeanette Winterson and psychotherapist Susie Orbach. Thirty-five years ago, Susie Orbach was shocked by how many women hated years ago – even if she insists it bears little relation to what she is actually like. . two children, she was now with the novelist Jeanette Winterson. Winterson did, however, establish fond relations with her adoptive father in The new woman was Susie Orbach, feminist writer and one-time.
If you want to be very basic, you can't do much without changing consciousness. If you think about 4x4s no longer being acceptable, or smoking, or green politics in general, these ideas about how outrageous certain practices are take a very long time.
'I’m always perplexed as to how heterosexuality happens...’
It's still very tokenist. But wasn't it always like this? Hasn't the pursuit of beauty always carried the possibility of being a destabilising, mutilating thing? So whether it was the Victorian inch waist, or Rembrandt, it didn't matter — there's always been a standard.
But we didn't have the democratisation until the last 40 years. OK, we had Hollywood, which began it, but nobody expects to be a glamourpuss for the whole of their lives. So it's a phenomenon that's happening now. That you're introduced to your body as already something to display, and you have women in old age homes still not eating because they've got body issues — no, that is new.
Whereas, actually, I think if you take any class of girls, sadly that's where an awful lot of their energy is going.
The Saturday interview: Susie Orbach | From the Guardian | The Guardian
There are so many young women who tip over into being a facsimile: What does it involve? Some kind of process of reintegration, reconnection? I think that the situation is so serious — I think that when I wrote Fifi" — her gratingly twee nickname for Fat Is a Feminist Issue — "it might have been a process of reconnection.
I think that now, bodies can be so disturbed from early on" — because mothers, in Orbach's view, exist in a state of permanent anxiety about their bodies — "there isn't necessarily a safe place to reconnect to. Unhelpfully, she won't be drawn on what that might look like, saying she is conducting research now at the New School in New York. So what are the basic misunderstandings, in her experience, of how the mind affects the body?
And with a derogatory edge in it. Which I find offensive. Whereas, I'd want to be thinking, 'Wait a minute, is that eczema not just about the soul weeping, or the heart weeping?
In that sense anorexics and compulsive eaters are two sides of the same coin: And they are doing so in a culture in which advertising, TV and obsessive attention to possible lifestyles multiplies needs and wants exponentially. I mean, what is happy? One of the things that I find so disturbing is this synthetic, sort of MSG version of happiness.
I mean, you go into a shop in New York and you're told to have a truly wonderful day. Ciara Dwyer meets the force of nature that is Jeanette Winterson On a grey afternoon in London, Jeanette Winterson bounds into the offices of her agent like a great gust of wind. The air is energised by her presence. Even her dark red hair stands on end. Her walk is on the cusp of a sprint.
Susie Orbach on why Britons are increasingly anxious - and falling in love with a woman after 40
Here is a woman who runs regularly and does weights, too. There is strength and speed to her, but it's her broad smile that you notice first. Someone is on the phone from Paris. Awards are nothing new for Winterson. Ever since her first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, won her the prestigious Whitbread award at the age of 25, she has been collecting prizes for her books. Minutes later, Jeanette returns with an even broader smile. I don't mind a bit. So charismatic was she that I left the theatre certain that if she set up a religion, I would happily join.
And I could fully understand how a heterosexual woman, like her late lover, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh, could fall in love with her. Jeanette tells me that being with married women is not a good idea, as it causes hurt to others and herself.
Since the age of 40, she gave up married women — she is now 52 — and has been all the better for it. Finally she is in a great relationship with Susie Orbach, the writer and psychotherapist. The sixtysomething writer and author of Fat is a Feminist Issue was married and has two grown-up children.
She was just getting over her divorce when they met. Jeanette was supposed to interview her, but it fell through. Then Susie invited her to lunch. Both wondered if there was something more between them. They have been together for three years. Jeanette doesn't believe that being lesbian is in the genes.
For her, it was an emotional choice. She has been with men too — seven, she tells me, but she decided that she wasn't going to be able to be the female to the male ego. I want somebody to look after me and I'm going to put my writing first. Women are more supportive to one another in a relationship. Susie and I are mutually supportive. Her mother, whom she refers to as Mrs Winterson, prayed at home alone standing up, and was an Old Testament-type of woman.
There was even a prayer on the wall of the outside toilet asking for God's help to move bowels. But as I read her autobiography, it is clear that at the Gate she had delivered the Disney-style version of her childhood. You read it feeling nothing but sympathy for Winterson and admiration that she came out the other end and managed to become a success. But that is not to say she was unscathed. The damage was done and the scar will always be there.
She knows this now. It took her 20 years to get to this realisation. Jeanette was often locked out of the family home, left all night on the doorstep and sometimes she was locked in the coal-hole. There were beatings, where her mother would instruct her father to hit her, specifying with which instrument and how many times. At the age of 16, Jeanette fell in love with a girl and then another. A fearless survivor who was bursting with ambition, she got a place at Oxford and studied English.
After that, her first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, which was partly based on her childhood, was published to huge acclaim. From then on, she soared and writing became her passion and her life.
Books were forbidden in the Winterson home, but Jeanette had smuggled them in from the library and stacked them under her mattress, devouring them and believing that she was a character in every story. When her mother found them, she made a bonfire of them.
That only served to strengthen Jeanette's love of literature.