I don’t have any respect for The Color Purple, and now I have less respect for Alice Walker, but it’s good for some people to give themselves up as examples of bad ideology. Walker’s daughter, Rebecca, writes about how hard it was to live with a neglectful mother.
My mother would always do what she wanted – for example taking off to Greece for two months in the summer, leaving me with relatives when I was a teenager. Is that independent, or just plain selfish?
I was 16 when I found a now-famous poem she wrote comparing me to various calamities that struck and impeded the lives of other women writers. Virginia Woolf was mentally ill and the Brontes died prematurely. My mother had me – a ‘delightful distraction’, but a calamity nevertheless. I found that a huge shock and very upsetting.
According to the strident feminist ideology of the Seventies, women were sisters first, and my mother chose to see me as a sister rather than a daughter. From the age of 13, I spent days at a time alone while my mother retreated to her writing studio – some 100 miles away. I was left with money to buy my own meals and lived on a diet of fast food.