The always worthwhile Caitlin Flanagan recently penned a gushing essay about Oprah. Oprah possess remarkable range–in a single show she can interview a guest who was abused by her husband and then, later on in the program, do a segment on the wonders of a panini sandwich maker. There are few others who handle light and heavy topics with equal aplomb, Flanagan says.
Along these lines, the paragraph below from Flanagan caught my eye:
THERE ARE CERTAIN things about women that men will never understand, in part because they have no interest in understanding them. They will never know how deeply we care about our houses—what a large role they play in our dreams for ourselves, how unhappy their shortcomings make us. Men think they understand the way our physical beauty—or lack of it, or assaults on it from age or extra weight—preys on our minds, but they don’t fully grasp the significance these things have for us. Nor can they understand the way physical comforts or simple luxuries—the fresh towel or the fat new cake of soap—can lift our spirits. And they will never know how much our lives are shaped around the fear of bad men and the harm they can bring us if we’re not careful, if we’re not banded together, if we’re not telling each other what to watch out for, what we’ve learned. We need each other’s counsel, and oftentimes it comes when we’re talking about other things, when we seem not to have much important on our minds at all.
It's not that a woman's anxieties about body image might be equal to the delight of a new cake of soap; it's that to fully understand a person (woman or man) you need to know what keeps them up at night, yes, but you also need to know their favorite bike route, or ice cream flavor of choice, or the story behind the shirt they always wear on the weekends.
Oprah gets this. It's part of what makes her so successful.