September 20, 2020

Gender Studies with GSL


Jackie from June 1965. Never has a woman been better positioned to change the world for the better than Jackie at that point in time.  I don't fault for not realizing her opportunity but a shame GSL wasn't there to provide guidance on how to leverage her vast power. If you were to privately poll women of any age which 20C woman they most admire, who would surpass the support of Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Jane Addams, and Toni Morrison combined? I'd love to ask them why looking fab in clothes designed especially for her by Cassini or Givenchy is more admirable than winning a Nobel Prize in Physics AND Chemistry.
pic from Timmy Jr on Flickr

I had a little disagreement on IG earlier today. The esteemed Mark McGinnis was paying tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and someone I follow made a valid, but I think misplaced, observation that she didn't understand men who didn't appreciate smart women. OK, fair enough but far more women don't appreciate smart highly accomplished women in the public eye unless they happen to be beautiful and/or glamorous and I'll present evidence.

A couple years ago celebrating 'The Notorious RBG' became trendy with all the Usual Suspects late arriving to what we Crafty Old Pros have known for decades. Her close friendship with ideological opponent Justice Scalia was best reflected in their mutual love of Opera. Of course, the last arrival to the RBG Celebration was that endlessly annoying American-born Duchess who referred to RBG as her childhood inspiration. Somehow that 'Duchess' found 15 women more inspiring than RBG, as she battled cancer, when she did that feature for Vogue...that included Christy Turlington.
pic: Wikipedia

As longtime Den readers (across 6 continents and counting) will attest, GSL is a champion of women of merit due to his strong matrilineal line. My Great-Grandmother was widowed at age 26 when her husband died in the Spanish Flu Epidemic (is it racist for me to call it that?) of 1918.  She had 4 hungry children under 6yo to feed yet she didn't do victim. She began selling insurance in rural Ohio to supplement her teacher's income and sent those 4 children to college. My grandmother & mother were equally strong and resourceful even if their circumstances were less daunting. I have vivid recollections of Mum & Grandma Cooper singing my Great-Grandmother's praises of overcoming the adversity she faced but they never once put her success in the context of men making negative comments or being an obstacle. I'm sure some men did underestimate her and made belittling comments but G-Grammy didn't catalog those slights to pity-party over nor teach her daughters to either. One reason I suspect is because men were usually the buyers of those insurance policies and more often than not felt duty bound to offer encouragement and referrals to a young widow raising 4 young children...just as I would.

From left Grandpa Cooper, Great-Grandmother Long, Uncle David, Mum, Grandma Cooper in Ohio circa 1945. G-Grammy widowed from Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 supplemented her teacher's salary by selling insurance sending her 4 children to college. A self taught organist known as among the best in Ohio likely went a long way in convincing potential clients she had the smarts if not the formal biz background of most men.

How many times have we heard the reason some of the best early women writers used male pseudonyms because male owned publishing houses wouldn't publish female authors? Let's put that bullshit to rest and chalk it up to Feminist S & M Fantasies. First of all, Elizabeth Carter, publishing under her own name, earned 1000 pounds, a staggering sum in 1758, for the first English translation of Epictetus. I'd bet the ranch at least 90% of the buyers/readers were men whose purchase was largely due to Dr Johnson's high praise.

Maybe all that male oppression of 19C women writers can be laid at the feet of  'misogynist' George Eliot whose 1856 essay Silly Novels by Lady Novelists expressed disgust over their low quality...yet we've been told women writers couldn't get published?

Here is that 19C misogynist George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) who wrote the nasty essay so dismissive of her sister writers' literary output. Georgey continues to endure male oppression with her Middlemarch considered the greatest novel in the English language by none other than Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, and polls by BBC and The Telegraph.
pic: Wikipedia

Hey girls, perhaps those Whine Merchants in the faculty lounges of Gender Studies (that Camille Paglia astutely notes, incomprehensibly make no allowance for Biological examination) have been peddling snake oil all these years. I think the real reason first rate women writers used male pseudonyms is because they wanted to be taken seriously and not be associated with all the garbage then being published, purchased, and read by women. Dickens knew at once Middlemarch, that he rated highly, was written by a woman.  They'd never say it at Vasser or Wellesley but the best female writers historically had, as their early champions, men rather than women, and valued the readership and affirmation of men over women (ouch!).

Nobel Prize winning Doris Lessing became a Feminist Icon with her touchstone The Golden Notebook.
 After winning Nobel and selling zillions of copies to Seven Sisters idolaters, Ms Lessing attributed GN's zealous acclaim by Feminists as a "hysterical misreading".  Ouch!

GSL thinks it no accident that 'Feminist Icon' Jane Austen has Mr Bennet the parent that appreciates and encourages his precocious daughter's intellectual attainments and Mrs Bennet silly and ridiculous who only desires her daughters marry well.  Jane Austen was mostly educated by her father and brother Henry was her great champion. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a good intellect must be in want of a GSL.

I'll be here all week.

P.S. The Den has been especially disappointed by the neglect female readers have for Barbara Tuchman  and Hillary Mantel .  GSL is also grateful to Peter Hitchens for his recommending the largely forgotten Josephine Tey.

August 23, 2020

The Hungry Boy

Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread
superbly written & directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

With all the unpleasantness going on in the world, uplifting Artistic Expression becomes even more important.  I know 'Blogging' is so 2014 with far more superficial social media platforms now in vogue requiring far less effort and even more self aggrandizement yet we're astonished at the traffic the Den still generates even with our recent inactivity thus we feel duty bound to throw a bone to those that still seek GSL's guidance on the Ways of the World.

Today we introduce you to the greatest first meeting in the History of Cinema. It's The Hungry Boy scene from Phantom Thread the Den wrote about here. You may also recall, being Hopeless Romantics, we do not encourage May-December couplings however sometimes they actually do work and when they do it's because Cupid, feeling merciful, arranges for two peculiar souls to rescue each other from a life of silent misery and seeing that process unfold despite some adversity is beautiful to behold.

Just a word of caution on Phantom Thread. It's not a popcorn movie. You need to be in a 'curl up by the fire with a good book' mood to really appreciate its full effect. My guess is having The Love of Your Life or a dear lifelong friend to share it with would make it even more special. I would compare PT to Julian Barne's excellent novella The Sense of An Ending which, when I read the first time, was preoccupied, so never really connected. A couple months later, I gave it another go and loved it and even more the 3rd time.

You'd be right to assume GSL has sugar-plum visions of ordering Welsh Rabbit...and some sausages.

September 28, 2019

Women We Love: Amber Butchart

A Stitch in Time hostess, the beguiling Amber Butchart.  GSL knows Green the way Valentino knows Red and given many a vivacious redhead a proper intro. Amber Butchart is obviously familiar with GSL's work.
pic from Metro

GSL has been crushing on this BBC Fashion Historian Amber Butchart.  Yesterday afternoon, I was enjoying a couple bottles of Pinot Noir with dear friend Terry Drama who was showing me his recent Fall Wardrobe acquisitions so the talk veered to crisp tailoring and the cut and thrust of Terry's new Ralph Lauren bluesy check jacket is extra crispy. TD then suggested we watch a fave BBC doco he knew I hadn't yet seen.  We are both avowed Anglophiles with Terry virtually memorizing the entire Black Adder series occasionally sprinkling in references which always amuse as they go over head.  About 10 minutes into Episode 1 of A Stitch in Time, I was smitten with Amber Butchart and fascinated with the subject matter.

Over Pinot Noir, GSL & Terry Drama discussed how we're gonna lay siege to the Chicago Cultural landscape . TD is so named because everyone upon first meeting say he reminds them of Truman Capote. While there is a physical resemblance, it is his effect that rings so 'Tru'.  Over Manhattans at our local, Drama effortlessly glides from belting out a little Diana Ross (his Love Hangover exceeds Ms Ross espesh shimmy windup at power ballad to disco funk transition) to that aria from Les Miz with his thunderous bass baritone dazzling 3 blocks away.

Ordinarily, GSL doesn't go for OTT Style unless it's done well and it seldom is.  Ms Butchart does everything well.  We find her fascinating to look at and listen to.  Her series is a spellbinding celebration of Art History, Fashion, Dressmaking, and textiles.

CD, this show is right in your wheelhouse as Amber Butchart is in mine.

Have a look for yourself.