The Susan Question or Why Women Hate Narnia
Eventual Narnia Spoilers
Connie Lane saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe last weekend. Her short commentary brings up one of the most debated parts of the series. I've read many position papers on the matter, heard speakers hash it out and know many women who loathe C.S. Lewis because of it. Neil Gaiman wrote a beautiful story about the matter from Susan's point of view called "The Problem of Susan" which is excellent, even though I disagree with his critique.
Susan Pevensie doesn't go to heaven because she wears nylons and lipstick.
When I was in high school this started to bother me, because I HAD to wear nylons and lipstick as part of the dress code for my Christian school. I even argued the point with my Bible teacher, who plainly thought I was nuts. Somehow "Mr. Imhof, C.S. Lewis says the Dress Code will keep me out of heaven, so I'm wearing pants tomorrow" didn't work like I planned.
I've since read the majority (if not all...but there's always an article or paper that slips through the cracks) of Lewis' works. I figure that gives as good a window into the mind of the man as anyone can hope. What constantly comes through to me is his love of Christianity and its compassion for humans in spite of imperfection. What is also very apparent is his love for the fantastic and the childlike willingness to accept it.
When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
That's one of the more readily famous Lewis quotes, and one which is handy for throwing my mother when she tires of our Lord Of The Rings marathons. But I also side with those in the Susan Debate who think that it elucidates Lewis' intentions toward poor maligned Ms. Pevensie. It isn't her female sexuality that leaves her out of the full experience of Heaven, but her inability to continue in the faith of a child.
Whatever the reasoning behind it, I still stand firm in my utter hatred of nylons and lipstick. They're just darned uncomfortable.