We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, October 16. 2007
From an excellent, pleasantly rambling essay by Fjordman which begins with a discussion of Diana West's The Death of the Grown Up. A quote:
These are themes which have been frequently discussed at Maggie's. Read the whole thing at Brussels Journal.
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My mother used to bemoan the fact that when she was growing up, kids got only drumsticks, never breast meat, because the choice tidbits went to the grownups. By the time she was a mother, she claimed, the pendulum had swung, and she was to still eat drumsticks, since the precious offspring were "supposed" to get the best stuff. As I recall, on her thirtieth birthday, she reverted to type and began insisting grownups first, kids get whatever's left. We all grew up several inches shorter than our parents....wonder why?
This relates to something I have seen in my lifetime of the death of the grownup. When I was a young teenager, despite Twiggy and the mods, etc. there was still a strong current in popular culture of admiration for the sexy older woman, who might (gasp) be as antiquated as 30. Think Diana RIgg. Marilyn Monroe a few years before. Indeed, my own mother used to get hit on regularly in 1960s London (perhaps her wearing a button that said "Save Water, Bathe with a Friend" may have made her approacheable?) I thought of her as a fossil, but she clearly was not so perceived by the masculine population at large....I dreamed of growing up to be a gorgeous, sophisticated, well-travelled woman like her, admirers wherever she went, rustling in silk and expensive leather, smelling of French perfume, wearing gloves, with elegantly coiffed hair and jewels brought back by my father from South American business trips.
Then, think of Mrs. Robinson. On the one hand, pathetic. On the other, interesting and attractive. By the time I was a grownup, things were changing. By the time I was a mother, anything over 18 was viewed as old shoe leather.
As I tiresomely explain to my kids now (gorgeous, but not fashionably so), fashion has always been shaped by a bunch of gay men who prefer to dress anorexic clothes horses who remind them of the adolescent boys they fantasize about. No place in that schema for breasts or thighs or a feminine butt, or even muscles, really....The entertainment media's femine ideal is a woman with the physique of a high class call girl on heroin or perhaps a video game fantasy woman. Put an infamous celebrity who needs them on mood stabilizers and the world will howl derision at her weight gain (or was it the post-children weight gain? Either way, unacceptable today!)The gamers' fantasies are the least obnoxious, as the women are at least strong and martial, but still unattainable for most women less than seven feet tall who can't afford augmenting surgery.
Of course, a very young girl is beautiful and entrancing to most men in her vulnerability. But it also used to be (I think?) that women were viewed as attractive if they were grownup and had some meat on their bones. You want someone strong enough to plough the back 40, bear a child naturally and not by C-section by appointment, able to get pregnant without technology, who eats enough to breast feed, who can heft a couple of small children at once, who can carry fifty storybooks out of the library.... No longer.
There is something bizarre about our culture's preoccupation with Lolitas. The girls themselves are choosing to dress like juvenile sluts. (not mine, I hasten to add, as they know I would inflict grievous verbal harm upon them if so!) But mostly people read with prurient fascination about child molesters and cluck disapprovingly, at the same time as our teenaged girls hate and fear their own developing curves. The culture lusts after young girls and is ready to toss women on the scrap heap. I am not talking about the difference between the youth and beauty of my kids, and my own definitely long gone looks. I am old enough to be a grandmother, and I am happy that little kids find me a comforting and loving presence. The consolation prize for being dogmeat in men's eyes! But what I mean is a reduction of the age past which women are deemed hopeless mutton to an age when many have not yet had children. Sad, when one considers how lovely a mother tending her infant can be to the proud husband and father!
I am not talking about learning to love obesity (which is pathetic). What is extraordinary to me is that a perspective that used to be limited to anorexic dancers, gymnasts and models, has now infected the culture. A gorgeous co-worker of mine (all of 25) was recently contemptuously dismissed as ""She's so old, she's lost her looks!" by a stunning 17 year old working part-time. We've gone backwards in what we seem to value in women (at least for them to be deemed attractive). This is like those primitive cultures that value youth and virginity in brides rather than brains, life experience, good character and some training in useful skills.
Reflecting on this, I realize that this is a recurring theme throughout history---the alternation between different ideals of feminine beauty, giving us much insight into the various cultures....Duh...Me belabouring the obvious....
Is this current overvaluation of the infantile female perhaps simply a reaction in fashion and romantic life to the gains women have made educationally, professionally? For example, my kids matter of factly consider careers and paths that I was resolutely told "girls can't do that" and seem far more confident than I ever was at their age. More focussed on their own vocations than I was (young men were too fascinating to me... Tho I did work hard at schoolwork, I grew up assuming that my prince would find me and that only then would life truly begin, etc).
I am staggered that in one kid's peer group, of some twenty girls I have been watching grow up since kindergarten (all in the gifted programs together, all studious, all nice kids from mostly intact families, loving parents, etc.) only a couple have ever been on a date let alone had a boyfriend. By the age of 17. They are bit rabid man-haters or PC jerks, either. I know that by 16, back in the Dark Ages when I was young, we all were revelling in crushes and group dates, and puppy love. I look at this particular group and wonder "what's wrong? They are all smart, nice, pretty. Why don't boys ask them out? Why aren't they asking some cute guys out? None of them are gay." Then I look at the girls who are going out, and they mostly fall into the long, bulimic, fashion model or cheerleader block who, even if actually intelligent, present themselves as vacuous, agreeable bimbos. Nothing wrong with being agreeable. But what seems to make the group of girls I particularly care about "out of it" is no more and no less than their relative maturity, focus on schoolwork, goal orientation, willingness to delay gratification, etc. All "grownup" traits that will likely get them into good schools, but that make them marginal in the teenage mating dance. Perhaps a good thing, but hard on morale. Not a one of them ever goes to homecoming or other dances, none of them will go to a prom. And I am not talking about overweight or ugly girls. . I realize that there are plenty of exceptions....but my immediate experience is definitely that in sexual politics as in the media and the broader society, infantile is in, grownup is out.
Excuse clumsy prose about pet peeve (fighting off infantile bug from just recovered sick kid).