"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sexual Attraction–The Good Old Days Have Never Left

Feminists are up in arms about ‘Retro-Sexism’ – the embrace of the feminine culture of the Sixties.  It is all well and good to be ironically creative – where would we be without derivative fashion – but another thing altogether to glorify an era when women were enslaved. These critics, however, are myopic in picking on Mad Men and the post-War era.  They could have just as easily focused on Victorian bustles, Renaissance décolleté, or the seductive drapery of Roman women.

Women have always dressed up to look good, to attract men, and to compete with their rivals.  In times past when women were permitted little else, it was quite logical to squeeze every ounce of sexuality out of fashion. When women’s ankles were considered most appealing and sexually alluring, of course they hiked their skirts, walked with a bit more sashay, and pushed acceptable limits farther and farther up the calf.



Women of the 18th century European courts were trussed, wigged, and powdered; but were permitted a décolleté – a suggestion of feminine beauty but only within the context of a classic and severe Greco-Roman ideal.

The history of fashion shows how women hewed to both a male-centered ideal of chastity and high breeding as well as a courtesan sexuality.  They understood and never underestimated the power of their sexuality; and dressed to the limits of the confines of the day.

Women throughout history have dressed to be appealing to men. They have always found ways to push the patriarchal limits and to show as much of their feminine selves as possible.  It takes no genius to figure out that men are excited and sexually aroused by the very sight of women; and that savvy women can use this unerring biological instinct to their advantage.

Put another way, given the fact that men become hopelessly infatuated with beautiful, sexually alluring women, why wouldn’t they use their sexuality to their advantage?  But of course they have.  Beautiful women have ensnared men since the beginning of time.

Men and women are equal when it comes to intelligence, wit, charm, and social abilities.  Men have physical strength which used to be an evolutionary plus but which has been neutered and overshadowed by a marketplace savvy and aggressiveness which has no gender notation. The Devil Wears Prada and The Wolf of Wall Street are equal.



Men may show off physically, but women don’t buy it. They want far more from prospective mates than washboards and gym-fitness.  Men on the other hand simply cannot get over breasts, lips, and a ‘come hither’ look. The war between men and women is very unequal, with women winning all the time.

If this is true, then why are women still clawing to break through the glass ceiling, to be taken seriously, and to be accepted as equals?

Ambivalence is the answer.  Most women understand their innate biological supremacy, but have been too intimidated over the centuries to exploit it.

Not all women, of course.  The women of Shakespeare – Tamora, Dionyza, Volumnia, Rosalind, Portia, and Lady Macbeth used every feminine strength they had to best inferior men.  Hedda Gabler, Laura, Miss Julie, Rebekka West and many other Scandinavian dramatic heroes beat men at every turn because they understood their power.

Men have always been sex slaves to beautiful women; and because they can never know the paternity of their children, are in thrall to them. Laura, the hero of Strindberg’s The Father who sows seeds of doubt in her weak and ineffective husband and drives him mad enough to be sent away to an asylum, leaving her with complete control of her daughter. She and her fictional cohorts who, because they knew and understood these fundamental truths, dominated men.

Young women today are no different.  Their retro-fashionista embrace of the Sixties simply restates a universal truth.  Hot lipstick, décolleté, short skirts, and a sexy come-on wins all the time.

You’ll see her perched at a banquette at the bar after work: the millennial college grad nursing that outdated American dream of marriage, kids, and the house with the lawn and the white picket fence… She’s nursing a stiff drink, too, because husband-hunting is hard work these days, not to mention frowned upon in college-educated career-girl circles. She toys with a stray curl and sucks listlessly at (how fitting) an Old Fashioned, or a gin martini (but only one) if she’s out with an older man and wants to seem sophisticated.

She may go full-blown retro and have her hair done in pin curls, or it may be modern, but her lips are likely stained a crimson shade—Bésame’s Red Velvet 1946 as seen in ABC’s “Agent Carter” is a good bet these days. She’s dressed in something fetching and feminine that she got from Etsy, eBay, or one of the dozens of “vintage inspired” or reproduction clothing companies that have gained popularity in the last decade…(The Federalist)

Although it is the male of the species who has the brightest feathers in the animal kingdom, it is the female who does in our society.

No matter how much modern mothers have tried to get little girls to wear worker-man overalls and play with tractors and Humvees, they have failed.  Just as boys will substitute carrots for guns under the watch of progressive moms, so will girls find a way to dress up.  Princess costumes have never been more popular. Sexy pre-teens are the rule, not the exception.

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So what can we make of all this? Despite 40 years of feminism, nothing much has changed in the relationship between men and women.  Despite the fact that women have made significant strides in the workplace and are now earning and advancing as quickly as men up the corporate ladder, nothing much has changed.  Women still advertise their physical charms, and men still flaunt their Wall Street abs and K Street credentials.

Mrs. Linder’s Dancing School in New Brighton, CT was de rigeur for the children of the West End, a final polishing of the social graces and skills taught by their well-to-do parents. Boys were arrayed on one side of the dance floor, girls on the other; and at Mrs. Linder’s click, the boys rushed across the slippery concourse to the prettiest girls in the class.  It was primitive, sexist, and totally unacceptable in today’s PC gender world; but it was honest.  Girls did their best to attract the most desirable boys.  Straight A’s didn’t count.  It was all about lips, breasts, perfume, and sensuality.

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Barbie came on the scene in 1959 and has never left.  No matter how many mothers have tried to suffocate her, she is still alive and well.  She has changed with the times, but she remains the image of femininity admired and desired by little American girls.  No matter how tough the media character may be - Wonder Woman, Laura Tomb Raider, or Lucy – sex still rules.

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This, despite feminist whinging, is a good thing. Who said that women have to look like or act like men?  A woman who wins wars against aliens by using smarts, military training, savvy, and sexual come-ons is a winner.

For feminist journalists to walk the walk would take a dismantling of their traditional feminine persona.  If an attractive, sexually alluring woman is innately anti-feminist and retrograde, then why have feminist journalists gone out of their way to choose the very images which show them at their most feminine and alluring and not uncompromising and tough?

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 Jessica Valenti, Feminist columnist for The Guardian www.usa.com

Women have always had the upper hand in things that mattered.  The women in Shakespeare’s plays, despite being ‘second class citizens’ always ruled. Rosalind, Portia, and Beatrice rode rings around their male suitors. Lady Macbeth was the power behind the presumptive throne. Margaret rode against the French for her pusillanimous husband, Henry VI.  Dionyza and Tamora had nothing contempt for men and defended their children like she-bears.

The glass ceiling and wage inequality are temporary rough stops in women’s social and economic progress. Men have tried to use their strength and social standing to keep women in their place, but to no avail.  Women have been a match for men since Adam and Eve; so feminist plaints fall on deaf ears.  Men and women are equal and have always been.

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