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March 14, 2006

We've Come A Long Way, Baby...*Not*

The things I do for blogging.

Yesterday I found myself mired in a question of purely scientific interest: one that, quite honestly, had never occurred to me (even once) in all my years on this earth. I would like to think it a sign of my overall mental health that it had not.

Until yesterday.

We were trying to settle on a theme for discussion over at The Cotillion and somehow I can never quite resist trying to crank one up. And in truth, I suppose I have been feeling another rambling post-feminist rant coming on for some time now:

In a world where everywhere you look - magazines, television, movies, billboards, newspapers, even adverts we get in our junk mail, is sex - how on earth could any woman fail to get the message? Women now have money, education, and some measure of power, yet the predominant images of us are not ones that reflect this 'new reality', whatever that may be, but an increasingly retrograde vision of femininity. One that is airbrushed, perfectly made up, surgically-enhanced, scantily-clad, and eternally hovering at an impossibly delectable nineteen years old. One that no woman with a job, a brain, or any adult responsibilities at all can possibly compete with. Not that this stops us from trying. Or from feeling inadequate when we fail.

The question of expectations: the ones imposed on women from without, but more importantly, the ones we choose to chase every day, even now that we finally have a measure of independence and the money and freedom to make our own decisions, is one that continues to haunt me for some reason. I don't have a daughter, but I have a daughter in law and will soon have another, and I raised two sons.

I often wonder what the Feminist revolution was all about? To me, it often seems more (to adopt the pervasive language of Feminism) about acquisitiveness and victimology than female empowerment. As a female in a technical field, I watch women gravitating to degrees in administration, social sciences and the humanities and avoiding math and hard science. There is nothing wrong with these choices, but if you self-select out of certain labor markets, you have no right to complain that your underrepresentation in these fields smacks of discrimination.

I have watched with considerable bemusement as women who decried the objectification of their own gender and the male preoccupation with sex "discover" the joys of copulation (for as they portray it, it seems little more than a physical act). As so it was that, when the time came to consider a fit topic for our first discussion at The Cotillion, I couldn't help but look around at modern culture: our obsession with larger breasts, vaginal rejuvenation, designer labia, hooking up and porn culture, and ask myself where the feminist revolution has taken us? Have we taken one giant step forward or two steps back?

Lakshmi Chaudry has a fascinating article In These Times: (via the eminently-readable Charlotte Allen)

When I grow up, I want to be old. Old as in proudly, imperiously fat like my grandmother, free from the need to do “something” or be “somebody,” and definitively, unmistakably, not sexy.

Why fear aging when the golden years offer a well-earned rest from the struggles of career, marriage, parenting and—most importantly—being a woman? I battled self-loathing in my teens, figured out the orgasm thing in my twenties and spent my thirties mastering intimacy in my marriage. And if I get lucky, the coming year will bring with it the next great challenge of my sexual life: a baby. After decades spent scaling this particular mountain, who can blame me for relishing the prospect of being, finally, over the hill? Time to hang up the heels and bring out the chocolate.

So imagine my horror when I picked up a copy of Gail Sheehy’s new book, Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life, which seems intent on shaming women like me—or, at least, the kind of woman I hope to be when I am a “golden girl.” Dedicated to promoting the virtue—nay, the absolute necessity—of “post-menopausal sensuality,” Sheehy recasts life after 50 as the Second Adulthood, a new life search for meaning, purpose and, inevitably, sex, because “sex and the passionate life go together.” Forget about giving your creaking bones a break, it’s time to get right back to the grindstone. The task at hand: to reinvent yourself as a “seasoned woman,” who is “assured, alluring, and resourceful” and “committed to living fully and passionately in the second half of her life, despite failures and false starts.” If it sounds like work, well, it is—both the physical and emotional kind.

Sheehy’s ideal woman is a “Passionate,” who is bold, sexy and sexually active. She kicks off “middlesex”—a coy term for sex in your middle age—by getting herself a brand-new lover. Nothing gets those juices flowing like romance, which makes you eat less (“You can lose weight, which is nice”), work out more, buy new clothes and stimulate your brain (“You will probably read more.”). Sixty isn’t the new forty, it’s the new twenty-five.

I had to laugh (well honestly, most things make me laugh. More than one person has accused me of being a profoundly unserious person) because I saw a lot of myself in her essay. Much to my own amusement, in the middle of my own life I've found myself on a journey of sorts. My children are grown, I've made the transition, not always smoothly, from homemaker to career woman, and consequently I've found myself changing in a lot of unsettling ways. The song a friend penned on a wall hanging and sent to me twenty-six years ago has never been more apt:

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

But the lines he left out have always haunted me throughout my marriage:

I've been afraid of changing
Cause I've built my life around you
Time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too.

The thing is though, I've never thought of changing myself (either my outward appearance or my personality) to keep someone else in my life, and though I've sometimes feared that changes in myself would cause trouble in my personal relationships, I've never seriously considered being anything other than who and what I am. Perhaps that's why I find this sort of thing so profoundly troubling: (warning: you may find this offensive)

...the bulk of the women getting this surgery are ultimately being pressured by men who want them to conform to a idea of beauty most often seen in the porn industry. Doctors say these women request the procedure because they are afraid of having "old looking" vaginas. Doctors Loftus and Young say feedback from male partners is the number one reason women request the surgery.

"The most common reason we hear is that they have had a negative comment made by a male sexual partner. Women are made to feel that they are not perfect the way they are and often it's the partner that sets this off," Loftus said.

"My feeling is that women who aren't sex workers are getting this kind of thing because there's pressure from someone who's telling them they're not perfect," Young said. 'There's often pressure from a man who tells them they need it," adding "I assume that their standards for labial beauty were set by a combination of the porn industry, sex-oriented magazines and the Internet."

Frankness time here: this makes my blood boil. I realize the subject is distasteful, but I think there is a larger question here, and it is simply this, "Why, after all this time, do women not feel comfortable standing up and saying, 'Enough'?" I read article after article and the same comment came through. "I thought I was normal until I watched the porn channel".

Honey, you are normal. There is nothing wrong with you. It breaks my heart that women have reduced themselves to nothing more than sexual appliances. And I wonder how much honesty is going into these decisions?

Some doctors dispute whether constructing a tighter vagina increases a woman's sexual pleasure. "Yes you can do the rejuvenation to have a tighter vagina," said Young. "But anytime you make an incision you cut nerves, induce scarring and there is a downside risk, including pain."

"Plastic surgery is being way over used in many different ways" said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. "There's something off about what's going on in our culture that makes women feel they need to live up to some ideal."

Ileana Vasquez is a 29 year-old Southern California housewife with four children. She read about vaginal rejuvenation after she saw an ad in a magazine. Her marriage was in trouble and she noted that her husband wasn't happy with her sexually.

"One time he had a few beers and told me that because I had all our kids and was looser now he didn't want me as a woman anymore," Vasquez said. "He did say he was sorry later on but I knew he was telling the truth."

Vasquez had the surgery and she noted her marriage is back on track and her sex life is good again. "He's become my sweetheart again," she said. "He bought me a house and he wants me all the time."

Then she paused. "But there are times I still can't forgive him for how he made me feel," she said. "Sometimes I get so mad, so hurt. I mean I had the kids, he should have understood."

A relationship is, or should be, about more than sex and the women's movement would seem to have been a pyhrric victory if the end result of our 'liberation' is that women are afraid to stand up for themselves and admit that though sex is important, they have other qualities to contribute to a relationship as well. There are many ways to make a man happy in the bedroom and as many surgeons have noted, exercises can be just as effective as many surgeries.

By trying to compete with other females on male terms, women not only condemn themselves to a losing battle with aging and the male biological predisposition for promiscuity over monogamy but surrender their greatest strength: the ability to exercise a bit of moral suasion. This is a stance that favors neither the long-term interests of women nor those of society in general.

And so I come back to the age-old question: when, oh when will women be viewed as more than a collection of body parts? And the answer comes back to me:

Perhaps when we start viewing ourselves that way. And not one damned minute before. Yes, we would all like to be beautiful. I would. It's an easy path to power.

But we have so much more to offer the world. If we can't see that, how on earth do we expect anyone else to?

Posted by Cassandra at March 14, 2006 07:44 AM

Comments

If you need me, I'll be in the bar.

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 09:54 AM

Chicken :)

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 10:01 AM

Chicken? Maybe, but not a stupid chicken.

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 01:06 PM

"When, oh when will women be viewed as more than a collection of body parts?"

Wasn't it you that was yesterday talking about how blogging is popular because it is seen as a way to obtain sex? That it is useful in this regard because it keeps you informed and witty, which is useful for young men attracting a mate? That they, in other words, realize that women wish to engage in witty and informed conversation, and that the women who interest them as a group are not only interested in but will require such wit and intellect?

It seems to me that men do recognize that women are more than body parts, and do try to appeal to that other side of them. That doesn't mean they cease to be interested in the body parts, of course; how could it? They are flesh and spirit also, and operate under demands from both.

It seems to me that the way out of this complex you find so upsetting is to remember this: Aesthetics is a division of ethics. You probably can't -- for simple reasons relating to biology and human nature -- achieve either a kind of man who won't think/say things about how their women look, or a kind of woman who won't desire to be pleasing to men (and, I think of far more importance, to the other women around them; but we've had that discussion).

You can, however, advocate an aesthetic that captures what you think is best and most praiseworthy about women. You can tie the spiritual and ethical into the judgment of the physical.

I gather you find it very upsetting that some women are being judged based on their genital region, as compared with porn stars -- the last essay on the topic was provoked, as I recall, by surgical hair removal from that area. I agree that seems an odd way to judge; but on the other hand, previous methods not related to porn or surgery were also odd (e.g., corsetts; boyish "flapper" looks from the 1920s, which used asexuality to advertise openness to sex; starvation diets in the 1970s, or overeating diets in the 1770s; etc).

Yet we have also seen occasions in history when women, aware of the power of these things, were able to put forth an aesthetic view that was noble and subtle. Perhaps the best-known model here is the late 12th-century poet Marie de France. Eleanor of Aquitaine similarly attempted to civilize cavalry into chivalry, with great success.

As the blogging example demonstrates, men are willing to spend considerable time and energy to enable themselves to comply with womens' requirements. Yet you can't expect to simply say, "This current system is both wrong and outrageous," and expect changes that would please you. Even if they agree, both men and women are still driven by their biology to think and judge on these issues. If there is no alternative offered, they will continue using the flawed system because it is the only one current.

You will need to advocate a fully-developed alternative aesthetic. Human nature is such that men and women will be interested in each other for physical, as well as spiritual reasons. The best aesthetic will explain how to join the two, so that they together point to what is truly beautiful in men and women, and develop the kind of men and women who advocate and attempt to adhere to that vision.

Posted by: Grim [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 01:08 PM

> ...the bulk of the women getting this surgery are ultimately being pressured by men who want them to conform to a idea of beauty most often seen in the porn industry.

Oh, this is SUCH utter CRAP. It's more feminine victimhood:

"We can't *NOT* do what men tell us to do" -- oh, BOO F'in HOO.

> "One time he had a few beers and told me that because I had all our kids and was looser now he didn't want me as a woman anymore," Vasquez said. "He did say he was sorry later on but I knew he was telling the truth."

> A relationship is, or should be, about more than sex

Sorry, no. THAT (as opposed to mere "appearance" complaints) is a reasonable thing to desire and appreciate. You stick a few watermelons through that thing and of course it's going to stretch out. It's one thing for a guy to demand it, but it's another entirely to wish that it be "tightened up", and have a wife recognize that.

As far as sex being all there is, how, praytell, is this all that different from doing something extensive (say, arranging a second honeymoon) to express appreciation for your partner and their needs/desires? Taking the time to investigate some sex positions you've never tried? Thinking up a play scenario (*** and yes, reinstilling the sense of PLAY that is eroded by many, many years of home life is GOOD ***)?

That sex isn't all there is is perfectly true... but acting like it's nothing to the relationship says more about your own relationship (not a value judgement, mind you) than it does about most relationships.

Posted by: OBloodyHell [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 01:14 PM

Oh, this is SUCH utter CRAP. It's more feminine victimhood: "We can't *NOT* do what men tell us to do" -- oh, BOO F'in HOO.

Interestingly, not one woman in one article I read claimed that, OBH. Nor did I, if you read what I wrote. And I deliberately used the word CHOOSE, so there is no victimhood about it. You are misstating my argument.

And let me amend this:

A MARRIAGE is, or should be, about more than sex

I am not backing down from this one. No way. There is a HUGE difference between saying sex is not all of a relationship and saying what you did - that it is not worth appreciating (which, by the way, is ANOTHER misstatement of my argument, since I quite deliberately said it is IMPORTANT, didn't I?).

If something breaks in childbirth, by all means have it fixed. If your knee gets torqued playing football, you go to the surgeon, don't you? If you get older and you are have what is politely termed "ED", you don't suffer in silence, you go see the doc.

That is different. But I think it is a bit ignorant to say that just because you have had children you need surgery. I think perhaps you are discounting something you don't want to hear, even when it's coming from the doctors who are doing the darned surgery, saying it isn't needed most of the time and the women aren't the ones requesting it. And that is what I read a lot of the time - that exercises would have accomplished the same thing (re: "tightening") and it was a cosmetic deal, prompted by comparison to porn stars. Also it wasn't just wives, it was 20 year old singles coming in.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 01:27 PM

More and more I am convinced that men's and women's views on sex are not foreign, but completely alien to each other.

Case in point:

Sheehy recasts life after 50 as the Second Adulthood, a new life search for meaning, purpose and, inevitably, sex, because “sex and the passionate life go together.” Forget about giving your creaking bones a break, it’s time to get right back to the grindstone.

Because we all know sex is such an unpleasant task.

Men (and I don't think I would be alone in this) would see post 50's as a boon for sex. Children present lot's of barriers to sex: opportunity, time, privacy, energy. Those barriers are reduced when the kids leave and sex would pick up accordingly. And why wouldn't it, it one of the few fun things that isn't bad for you.

Women (if Lakshmi Chaudry is correct) at this age, view sex with a certain amount of disgust. "Oh God! I still have to do *that*!" It's like how an 8 year old views cleaning his room. It ain't fun, not gonna choose to do it on his own, but every once in a while Mommy and Daddy just make him do it. It's a chore, a J-O-B, a grindstone.


Spd, wait up. I'll buy you a drink.

Posted by: Masked Menace© [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 01:29 PM

Did you read the entire article, Menace?

I probably excerpted a poor passage, but it was intended to provoke thought :)

Those barriers are reduced when the kids leave and sex would pick up accordingly. And why wouldn't it, it one of the few fun things that isn't bad for you.

This is why I laughed when I read the article. I suppose I read it as a woman (which would be difficult for you to do, Menace). That your sex life picks up when the kids leave has certainly been my experience - it just gets better and better. That's why I thought that part was kind of funny.

But there is also a kind of desperation about a lot of these books. If you read the whole article, Sheehy is talking about women behaving like the worst sort of man: dumping their husbands for younger men and sleeping around to "fulfill themselves": "yeah, sure younger men will drop you after a few nights, but you'll shed those pie-in-the-sky notions about love and fidelity".

Come on. Is that what we really want out of life? In our old age, much less? Is that a realistic standard for women in a world where most men prefer younger partners? Chaudry is right on the money. What in the hell is wrong with growing OLD? However it suits you to do so? Why are we so afraid of that?

I thought she made some excellent points.

You know me - I have no intention of getting fat or letting myself go, but you know it takes all kinds too and there are some couples for whom sex isn't the be-all and end-all of life. I get a tad impatient with books that want to tell you there is only one way to fulfillment.


Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 01:45 PM

Finally, to your comment Grim.

I'll tell you what distresses me, although in truth there are a number of things that distress me about this subject.

1. That I am so reluctant to bring it up in the first place, even though it bothers me. A lot. And I don't think I'm wrong to be bothered about it.

2. That I am more worried about upsetting people than discussing a topic I think ought to be discussed even though it may be somewhat disconcerting. The few times I have talked about this I have thought for weeks about it before deciding to bring it up.

3. The reaction when I do work up the nerve to bring it up, which is...., well, I don't know what to say. To be fair, I have no reason to expect anything different. I realize this is an uncomfortable topic and that there is no rational basis for expecting anyone to agree with me :)

I gather you find it very upsetting that some women are being judged based on their genital region, as compared with porn stars.

It might surprise you (or perhaps not) what I think on that topic. I don't give a rat's tuckus what aesthetic women choose, so long as it's *their* aesthetic.

What I find disturbing is the thought that women are still in this day and age willing to go under the knife to satisfy a standard that isn't even their own idea of beauty. If you want bigger boobs because YOU want bigger boobs, because it makes YOU feel good or enjoy life more, hey - go for it, chica. Mine have been bigger and smaller during different times in my life and I can honestly say there is an upside to having them be larger. Not worth surgery to me, but I can see why perhaps someone would want to have them made permanently that way.

But it bothers me if it's something a woman does out of a lack of self-worth. Or when her own body is perfectly lovely, but it just doesn't "measure up" to some unreal standard. And when I am reading that many women secretly resent this and find it demeaning, but they freely choose to do it anyway, my mind just explodes, Grim. No one is forcing these women to do this. They are choosing to do it of their own free will.

I do not think I am going to make them stop. I don't even know if I can force anyone to think. I am just asking: why? Why aren't we satisfied to be ourselves? Why aren't we good enough?

I cannot understand it, I suppose. It does not seem the act of someone who considers herself an equal in any respect. Women are not the same as men, but I have never considered my own gender inferior to them.

When I read things like this I am sometimes tempted to rethink that assessment.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 02:44 PM

*pulls up a stool next to spd*

I am having lemonade with an extra slice.

You?

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 03:09 PM

There's an old joke I heard repeated not too long ago, which goes:

A man walks into a bar, and orders a 'crum and roke." The bartender looks at him oddly, and the man shakes his head. "Rum and coke," he says. "I'm sorry. Sometimes, I try to say things and they just don't come out like I meant."

The bartended nodded understandingly, pouring the drink. "I have the same problem myself," he replies. "Just this morning, I tried to ask my wife to pass the sugar, and instead I said 'You witch! You've wasted my life!"

Though unfair, the joke is funny in a bitter way because it points to this truth: the male drive to find a mate has driven many a man to spend the next twenty or forty years spending every day doing something he hates. The underlying tension there powered the wildly successful television show called Married With Children.

Whose fault is that? His own, for not thinking ahead; but how can one think ahead at sixteen or eighteen to what life will be like, looking back at thirty-eight or fifty-two? His again, for not walking out; but both the woman and his whole family, if it is a decent family, will scorn him if he walks away from the duties he adopted in order to have the marriage.

Today we're free to do what we want, in ways we didn't use to be. It's now more acceptable for a man to walk away from a house he built and children he fathers. He can throw away a productive career he hates, and take up being -- well, whatever. He can spend the family's savings on a new Porsche.

If he does any of those things, we rightly despise him. Yet how must we feel about him if he remains in a career he hates, wasting eight or ten hours a day being the kind of man he never wanted to be? If his love and devotion trap him in misery, what then? Must we not either pity or despise him, regardless of the choice he makes? Where except death is his way forward, out of sadness and into joy?

I think what you're pointing to here is a similar dilemma. A woman wakes up one morning and finds that her husband no longer thinks she's pretty. She's resentful, and hurt; she hates the idea of having butchers take after her just so he'll like how she looks again. She's free to do it, or not; some choose one way, and some the other.

Just like the man, I'm not sure that there is a choice between a right and a wrong answer: just between a plainly wrong answer, and a pathetic one.

What I wonder about more than anything is why they are carrying these complaints to the press, as if publicity could bring solace for this sort of profound pain. What is needed is something much deeper than that, and I do truly think it is an aesthetic, an ethic, one that points to the beauty of suffering and the hope of a better world beyond it.

Posted by: Grim [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 03:11 PM

Thank you.

I will not bring this up again.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 03:16 PM

I think the discussion is interesting. I have a little problem with the "men are making us do this" line of reasoning that is referenced. I hear that about a lot of things that women do to themselves... eyebrow plucking, make up, leg shaving, foot binding, corsetts, etc... I don't recall ever requesting anyone to do any of those things, and having travelled to places where they're not the style I've noticed no drop in birth rate. People shouldn't base their self image on other peoples opinions - it's clear you understand that, Cassandra. It sounds like your angst is because it appears so many women don't.

Posted by: Pogue [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 03:31 PM

No, I didn't read her entire article as I wasn't making speaking globally. I wasn't even taking issue with her larger point. I very well could have left her excerpt off completely and let the first sentence stand on it's own. I just figured with a statement like that an example was due. I could have used others:

Women get frustrated by the large role visual stimulation plays for men.
Men get frustrated by the large role situational stimulation plays for women.

It is not your looks/body parts (individually or as a collection) that he loves more than you any more than it is the candles, flowers, cards, etc. that she loves more than him. They are just the things that set love in motion. They both fill the same role. But each sex keeps attributing those wrong things to each other.

She says "All he wants is sex". He says "All she wants is my wallet".

While each of these sentiments are extraordinarily common, both of these are wrong. Wrong. WRONG.

Posted by: Masked Menace© [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 03:40 PM

I'm out of olives.

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 04:00 PM

As to whether or not you bring it up again, of course you are also free to do what you like, and particularly on your own blog. Still, for what it is worth, I had not meant to suggest an ending, but a new beginning.

My wife and I were having a similar conversation the other night. I had said something I thought to be true, but which turns out not to be, and that was this: that when we think of someone not present, whether a person we know or an abstraction like a Viking, we think of them as healthy and in good form. (I was going somewhere with this thought, though the conversation entirely derailed at that point; but in case you're interested, I was attempting to make a point about the unreality of our historic ideas, given the poverty of early life and the probability that most people were usually sick in one or another degree.)

My wife declared that this was wrong. She pointed out that she normally thought of people she knew as she'd seen them last, not according to some idealized memory. Her grandmother led a fine bold life as the first woman dentist in the territory of Alaska, but the pride she feels in the lady is almost destroyed by the fact of the lady's later decline and death; her grandfather was a good and kind man, but when she thinks of him she first remembers him in his coffin. She remembers her mother not first as the smiling young woman who raised her, but as the later bitter, dying creature.

I found it somewhat astonishing, as my own memories of those gone are never memories of what they were like in the coffin, though I saw them in coffins; I would have to work hard to call up such a memory with any clarity. I remember them not as dead but alive, full of kindness and humor; and indeed, I think of them not as dead but alive, in some other place -- a world I know will be better, because they got there first.

The greatest poem of the 20th Century, I have become convinced, was G. K. Chesterton's "Ballad of the White Horse." When it was first presented to me, I thought it was a marvellous heroic poem, except for several needlessly lengthy passages of irritating religious stuff -- including one whole tedious book about harping, in which the poems sung were meant to express pagan/atheistic religious views so that Alfred the Great could critique them.

After several rereadings over the years, I have come to realize that those parts that struck me as needless sermonizing are really the heart of the work; that they are the things to which my mind turns almost daily, some new event causing a forgotten couplet or pair of lines to come singing back. Almost all of the verses that have really improved my understanding of the world come from that chapter on harping.

"Our monks go robed in rain and snow,
But the heart of flame therein,
But you go clothed in feasts and flames,
When all is ice within."

It is the basics that matter, the underlying ethic that shows us the way to beauty. It is the fundamentals that make an apparently happy person merely a hedonist doomed to later disappointment, crushed by the cruelties of this life; or that make an apparently sad one instead proud and noble, full of joy and surrounded by love.

Posted by: Grim [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 04:00 PM

Grim, I sent you an email.

You didn't end the conversation.

I was pleased, actually, by your comment. I don't know what I wanted, exactly, from this. I felt the need to say something.

I wanted to know that someone had understood what I was trying to say. I don't expect anyone to agree with me, or give me an answer to something that doesn't have a solution.

I just needed to say it.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 04:11 PM

Maybe it depends on your nature. I suppose I always see the best.

When I remember my father in law, I don't remember him as I saw him last: wasted away and in great pain, though it was years before I got that sight out of my mind.

I see him with a big cigar in his mouth, or coming home from work in his uniform, flashing that sudden grin he had that transformed him from a dark, rather hawkish and intimidating figure to the devilishly handsome guy I see when my husband smiles in just the same way. Though my husband is much bigger than he was, they are very like.

I see the day I caught him sneaking back in with my three year old son in tow. He'd had him out 'driving the VW bug', with him in his lap. Nowadays he'd be arrested, I'm sure. He looked so sheepish. He thought I'd be angry, I think.

It is probably my favorite memory of him - that was when I knew how much he loved my baby boy.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 04:21 PM

spd is having a saketini and MM you are having???

To go along with Grim's comment I wanted to add that we can choose to be happy with what we have or not.
I have never asked my husband to use Rogaine, though his hair is thinning...I think the biggest demand I placed on him in grooming and looks was to use some lotion. I would rather he lose his hair than his mind...he does a job he likes, but he positioned himself to take it because of what HE wanted to do.

He has been a da*n good provider and well, uh,
we ask a lot of each other in the parenting thing, the remodeling of the house and we still can't believe that we have been together for 22 years and married for 20 of them.

We have a history, a life and a great love. It doesn't get much better than that.

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 04:22 PM

Re: the "tuck" surgery.........

Wouldn't alum be cheaper and less painful?
Jes' askin'.

Posted by: WildBlueYonder [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 04:41 PM

Then there is Mr. Britney Spears who plans to dance at a strip club if his rapping career doesn't work out. I am sure Britney is just cooing over the idea, but how many women have admitted that they posed topless to feed their families?

I think we need to reach out, for the children's sake.

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 04:54 PM

Gimmee 'nother quarter, baby. Let me show how this thing's getting done.
*plunk*
*punch A punch 2 punch 6*
*whirrrrrrrrrrr*

Now you stand back, fools! Let me show how a good man loves his baby!

Now if you feel that you can't go on
Because all your hope is gone
And your life is filled with confusion
And happiness is just an illusion
And your world around is tumblin' down
Darling, reach out
Reach out, for me.
I'll be there to love and comfort you...(tell me baby)
I'll be there with the love I'll see you through

Now when you're lost and about to give up
'cause your best just ain't good enough
and you feel the world has grown cold
and you're driftin' on your own
when you need a hand to hold
darling, reach out
reach out, for me.
I'll be there to love and comfort you
I'll be there with the love I'll see you through
I'll be there to love and comfort you
I'll be there to with the love I'll see you through

I can tell you the way I hang your head
Now with out of love , now you're afraid
And through your tears you look around
But there's no peace of mind to be found
I know what you're thinking
Witout love, now you're alone
Baby, reach out
Reach out for me
I'll be there to love and comfort you
I'll be there with the Love I'll see you through
I'll be there to love and comfort you ...(tell me baby)
I'll be there to always see you through...(I'll be there)
I'll be there to love and comfort you
I'll be there with the love I'll see you through.

There ain't nothing I wouldn't do for you, baby.


Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 05:36 PM

I see the olive truck arrived :)

I've always loved that song.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 05:49 PM

Oh well, for what it is worth, I think most all ya'll chicks have come a long way........baby.

Posted by: Pile On [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 06:01 PM

The thong might have been a bit much.
Whaddya think?

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 06:32 PM

I don't know darlin'.

I saw it on the cable channel. All the guys are doing it now - you gotta ratchet it up a notch if you want to keep our attention :)

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 06:39 PM

Pile...

Paper thin again. Or is it razor thin?

You know, between making me laugh and making me think, I don't know what I would do without all of you.

Thank you.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 06:41 PM

I'l take that as "Yes, I'll be witness."

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 08:20 PM

...for the prosecution or for the defense? :)

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 09:49 PM

Speaking as a human, I'd have to say that doing something due to societal pressures sounds like a self esteem problem.

Speaking as a mechanic, (aircraft type, one each) the conventional wisdom is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Personally, I think that human genitalia is funny-looking, repulsive even; either gender, it doesn't matter. Like Shakespeare wrote, "the play's the thing"...

Posted by: camojack [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 01:29 AM

camo is such a linguist.

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 12:26 PM

> Women (if Lakshmi Chaudry is correct) at this age, view sex with a certain amount of disgust. "Oh God! I still have to do *that*!" It's like how an 8 year old views cleaning his room. It ain't fun, not gonna choose to do it on his own, but every once in a while Mommy and Daddy just make him do it. It's a chore, a J-O-B, a grindstone.

This may tie substantially to failure on the part of the male to make sure that the pleasure is moderately evenly distributed. Altogether too many men do seem to operate on the "What? I got off! What the hell takes you so damned long?" principle. For their women, I'd agree, it's more of a chore than a pleasure.

> I am not backing down from this one. No way.

Uh. Since I didn't disagree with it, I don't see why you should. I simply emphasized that sex is far from negligible. In a lot of ways, it's the glue that holds a relationship together. Certainly you need more than the glue, and, yes, other things can be substituted if there are problems, but they are rarely as effective as good sex (if nothing else, "the afterglow" is particularly effective at producing the communal aspect of the relationship -- assuming someone doesn't regularly roll over and fall asleep, of course)

As a whole, I was raising issues with the original article more than your overall comments:
First, it says:
--
"..the bulk of the women getting this surgery are ultimately being pressured by men who want them to conform to a idea of beauty most often seen in the porn industry."
--
and then, in typical liberal-feminist fashion, it does a bait and switch:
--
"One time he had a few beers and told me that because I had all our kids and was looser now he didn't want me as a woman anymore," Vasquez said.
--
The complaint is about arbitrary cosmetic surgery, then the sole example given is a perfectly rational, reasonable reason for doing it.

Posted by: OBloodyHell [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 01:50 PM

I'm coming late to this discussion, and had to skim it between incoming phone calls, so forgive me if I've missed any crucial points already discussed.

I am suspicious of the feminist line that men are requesting women to have these surgeries, or that women are trying to look better because the men want them to. I am a truly RADICAL feminist going out on a limb here, because I'm calling bs on it.

WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES. WE are the ones who want to look better, who are competing, even if subconsciously, with each other. I have worked in male-dominated fields for a couple of decades, and I spend a lot of time listening to them. I have never heard a man seriously say that he wishes his wife or girlfriend would do something to make herself look better. But I have heard many of them say that they wish she would give the makeup a rest, quit obsessing about her weight, etc.

Not saying that NO man ever says, you should tighten that up, baby, but I AM saying maybe these women have a deeper self-esteem problem that he may or may not contribute to.

I think the trend toward surgery is bothersome, but I'm not willing to say men's requests are the driving force for it.

Posted by: April [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 02:15 PM

Another thing: feminist academia does not accept that men know the difference between models, pornography, and real women--the women they know and love.

Feminist theory is as guilty of reducing men to a single dimension as it accuses them of doing to us.

Posted by: April [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 02:21 PM

Actually, I do know of many men who do want and require their women to do these things: both the hair/makeup thing AND the surgery thing. Look at Racquel Welch and Bo Derek, for example. Both very pretty women who weren't "perfect" enough for their husbands so they had to have plastic surgery.

I have known men who pressured their wives to have their breasts enlarged. Believe me it was not the wife's idea.

I don't *like* these types of men, but I do know them, so I'd have to disagree with you there. I think there's a bit of a double standard, just as with many things. I totally agree that women do a lot of this stuff to themselves, but they don't do it in the absence of demand and/or incentive to behave that way.

They choose to respond to behavior that ultimately rewards them in some way. That it ultimately also negatively impacts them is an unintended side effect.

I can guarantee you that if I fix myself up and go out, men look at me *much* more than if I wear no makeup, don't have my hair expertly cut and styled and go out and I defy you to ask any woman this question and get a truthful answer that disagrees with this. Men respond to visual stimuli and the more you stimulate them, the more they respond.

Period.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 02:46 PM

April, that was an excellent insight

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 03:14 PM

Cassandra, I won't argue that we don't get more attention when we look good, or that men like visual stimulation. I make sure I look good when I'm going out, also. But I want the attention, so I am complicit in the system.

I guess I was thinking more along the lines of people in personal relationships. Men who love their wives and girlfriends are not terribly inclined to request them to have surgeries to make them more appealing. In those relationships where they do, I think the problem is deeper than the visual. It is a problem of self-esteem (for both parties, certainly), control, and manipulation, but I don't think it's a society-wide problem.

Posted by: April [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 03:23 PM

Losing weight is one thing, but trying to look like Barbie with is a bit much. I had five children and changed in the process. We are still raising our family and we are aging. We are comfortable with each other, and aside from the usual reminders for dental and medical visits, don't plan to do much more than that. I have earned every single one of my white hairs.
While I certainly am vain enough to groom myself every day, as is the Engineer, we aren't trying to hang on to youth. Maybe that is the key...that some people are insecure with aging.
This is a good discussion. We have a DVD to watch..."A Bridge Too Far" and queso and chips to go with. See, we have such a boring life.

heh.

Posted by: Crckt [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 04:16 PM

Well, I will say I am guilty of asking for the LG to wear certain items of clothing, wear her hair longer etc., "Look a certain way" simply for my enjoyment. (I've also told her I don't understand why she has to get all dolled up to go to Wal-mart as well.)

At the same time, she asks me to do certain things, like call during work to see how she's doing or otherwise "Be More Romantic" simply for her enjoyment.

We both ask each other to do things we normally wouldn't choose to do on our own. Yes, we ask for different things, but I don't see that as unfair.

As I've stated before (on other threads) that if you are doing things for a person that you love *and who already loves you*, it's one thing (2 "yes's", and 1 "no" rule still applies here). If you are doing it for generic person in your future, you are an idiot.

Posted by: Masked Menace© [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 04:29 PM

FAB! post.....!

xxoo!

Posted by: valentine at March 20, 2006 05:01 PM

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