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

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Net Stockings, Male Libido, And Feminism–This Too Will Pass

Jimmy’s Smoke Shop was the go-to place for young boys in New Brighton – the only go-to place actually because Jimmy D’Onofrio was the only merchant in town who knew his rights and knew his customers.  Out front were newspapers, cigarettes, candies, and bus tickets to New York and Boston; but around back were the girlie magazines that we all came for. We were all underage, excluded from the Adult Material on Jimmy’s back shelves, back by the coolers and empty boxes with a door to the dumpsters and alley cats of downtown, but if we bought enough candy or specialty items – hand buzzers, flies in plastic, or Whoopee cushions – Jimmy would let us linger there.

“Hey, you guys”, Jimmy would shout from the cash register if we overstayed, and at his voice we all stopped fingering and leafing through Hot, Cunt, and Pussy, bought a Mars Bar, and left the way we came in.

Jimmy’s was not the retrograde right of passage described by a latter day New Yorker writer who identified the misogynistic and sexist ‘icons’ of the Fifties and set them as backdrop for her article on feminist angst and agony.  It was simply our venue for adolescent, male sexual ‘exuberance’.

The Fifties have been criticized for their bourgeois ethos and their drab, conformist, suburban  culture – their regression from an enlightened flapper era to one far more restrictive and opprobrious than even the Victorian one that preceded it. There was truth in the comparison, and New Brighton certainly hewed to an even more rigid social conservatism than Old England

Yet, despite this devilishly demanding zeitgeist there were outliers in New Brighton – adulterers and sexual adventurers.  Although extramarital sex was banned by the Church, all sorts of goings on were common. 

There was Mrs. Carlson who could not resist Einar the milkman and had her tryst every Tuesday and Friday. Or Sidney Finkelstein, owner and manager of Middle East Carpets on West Main Street, who was in love with a young, nubile, and willing Palestinian immigrant who saw him as her way to the American dream.  She dismissed her Arab compatriots’ anti-Semitic railings as nothing more than victimhood.  

Margaret Davenport from the West End defied anyone to best her early 1600s English heritage but who dipped into Sorrentino Wooster Square for goomba stallions; or Magda, a Polish immigrant who sold kielbasa on East Main Street, who through happenstance met a Lodge from Boston, scion of Martha’s Vineyard, and Wall Street millionaire, and married him.  All New Brighton was sexually active.

Image result for images marthas vineyard

Mrs. Carlson and the milkman if not as existentially bound as Connie Chatterley and her gamekeeper were quite happy and satisfied.  He would return to his wife and she to her husband with little fanfare.  Neither cuckholded spouse suspected anything in their partners’ absences – such was the parochialism  of small town morality.

So, untethered, extra-marital sex was alive and well in New Brighton, whether of the self-pleasuring variety a la Jimmy’s smoke shop, or the back door, illicit pairings on Martha’s Vineyard.

What is mystifying is that there is a censorious, Puritan ethos in the country now. What happened to the Sixties? What happened to free love and love the one you’re with? An era of sexual equality like no other.  Men and women both desirous of quick, anonymous, satisfying sex with no consequence. 

“Nothing clears the head like a quick, pointless fuck”, says a character in the film Transsiberian.

Today sexual intercourse must be mediated and follow a checklist. In the past when both young men and women wanted the same thing, the algorithm was carefully non-denominated.  Women could keep men at bay with a sharp rebuke or hurtful innuendo, and open up if the time and lover were right.  It was also expected of men to persist.  A standoff.

One does not have to read many volumes of literature to find examples of men’s frustrated pursuit of women.  A woman’s ‘no’ was part of her allure, ‘playing hard to get’ was part of an elaborate pas de deux, a mating dance of sexual demurral, passion, and conquest. 

A woman’s currency was her honor and her chastity. Her marriage might be arranged and her final worth a matter of dowry, family name, and ancestry; but the ballet was still her way of testing the interest and resolve of her suitors, exciting them with her demure sexuality, and promising much more.

Shakespeare’s Comedies are all about men chasing women and the ways in which the smarter, wittier, and more able ladies ran rings around them. Rosalind (As You Like It) knows that men are only after one thing, and stumble and fall over themselves to get it.

Image result for images helen mirren as rosalind

Portia (The Merchant of Venice) jokes with her minions at the expense of the many wealthy suitors who must solve the riddle of the ‘caskets’. One is laughably pretentious, the other clueless, the other fey and unserious.  They all want the beautiful and wealthy heiress, and she is having none of it – until she finds the right, socially and economically suitable match. 


Thomas Marvell’s (1621-78) To His Coy Mistress is perhaps the most well-known poem about a lover’s pursuit of the woman he loves:

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day...
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honor turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace…

It was no surprise, then, that sexual games are played so elaborately. The hijinks of Shakespeare’s comedies are a no more than metaphors for the necessary mating rituals of everyone who has a stake in marriage. The fanciful scenes of  All’s Well That Ends Well or Love’s Labor Lost play out prescribed sexual roles according to which women pique men’s desire but do not give in to it; and men pursue women to the point of silliness but can never have them.

So what is the problem now? Why have women felt the need to be protected? Men have certainly become no more sexually aggressive than in times past; and if anything women are more empowered, justified, and protected by law to resist male advances.  Why have women given up the sexual game for the sexual trial? Why have women, who for millennia have worked out ways to deal with men, suddenly thrown themselves at the feet of men, asking for their protection, especially when they enjoy unheard of sexual equality?

Image result for images sexky young scsrlett johansson

Women, caught in the progressive juggernaut have insisted on perfection.  Just as progressives want to eliminate any opposition to their vision of a Utopian world – i.e. perfection is the means to an end as well as the end itself – so feminists want an opposition-free path to equality.  Male genetic disposition, maleness, and the male need to have women means nothing and must be neutered to assure a world where women defy genetics and have the last and only say about sex.

Men of course will not put up with such feminist cant.  Biology, biochemistry, genetics, and social history are on their side.  Feminism is only a recurrent theme in the historical record.  While society will indeed move to a more equitable sexual balance, sexuality will not be arbitrated or mediated.  Sexual dynamics are hardwired, ineluctable and potent, and equilibrium or disequilibrium will be determined by social market forces alone.

So boys, despite feminist education to the contrary, will continue to be excited by dirty pictures, tits and ass, sexual adventure and pursuit.   You can pull all the girly mags from Jimmy’s Smoke Shop; develop endless ‘Sexual Abuse Algorithms’ and organize thousands of ‘do the right thing’ sexual behavior seminars, but the core principle will remain unchanged and unrepentant.  Men will chase women and women will always like to be chased by them.  The trick is only to eliminate the most intolerant and excessive of both – the abusive, intolerant male; and the vixenous, exploitative female.  Which of course will never happen.

So the rule is let boys be boys and girls be girls.  If feminists are worth their salt, they will go bareback – meet men in sexual encounter with no backup – and men will continue to pursue their maid of honor, their Rapunzel, their Rosalind and be willing to suffer rejection and defeat in the pursuit.

Unless DNA is rejiggered and XX and YY come to mean nothing, the war of the sexes will continue. Men are currently in a trough – fired upon from all sides, hunkered down and regrouping – but they will be back once the feminist volleys have been spent. Male aggressiveness has not gone away.  Men are not so guaranteed and protected as in times past, but they are only in sleep mode and have not by any means been shut down.

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