The supporting role of political spouse did not suit Ms. Taylor

“When a man loves a woman . . . Sen. John Warner has no shame, as his absurd marriage to Liz Taylor in 1976 (above) and his pathetic attempt at intimidating Lt. General David Petraeus yesterday attest,” we captioned this image of Liz and her sixth back in January of 2007. (©2005 TopFoto / AP)

By Sissy Willis of sisu

Chelsea, March 23, 2011. In recognition of the splendiferous, eminently quotable — “I have a woman’s body and a child’s emotions” — Elizabeth Taylor’s passing from this vale of tears this day, a republication of our January 2007 post confirming her sensible decision to divorce Husband #6 John Warner when she realized it was all about him:

Many regarded Ms. Taylor’s glamour as a chief reason for the relatively unknown Warner, a former secretary of the Navy, getting a Senate seat in 1978. The supporting role as political spouse did not suit Ms. Taylor, and she returned to a life where she was undoubtedly the main attraction.

Our four-year-old post resonates. Plus ça change:

Chelsea, January 24, 2007.Addressing the crisis in leadership among American boys and young men” was the topic of pc-lite Esquire author Tom Chiarella’s brave new article last summer, “The Problem with Boys.” The soon-to-be commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, Lt. General David Petraeus, was one of the earnest author’s expert witnesses. We stumbled upon the thoughtful if somewhat annoyingly naive piece as we were getting up to speed on the man of the hour that Thomas P.M. Barnett in another Esquire article called “the closest thing the Army has to its own Lawrence of Arabia.” Chiarella skirts delicately around the edges of the insidious Marxist feminist anti-boys-will-be-boys movement of the last few decades that has turned Mother Nature’s “snakes and snails and puppy dogs’ tails” into carriers of a “disorder” that must be kept at bay by the administration of Ritalin and other inadequately tested drugs that kill the soul and may precipitate murderous acts [see Columbine]. Speaking of a young, rudderless friend named Gerald, Ciarella — seemingly channeling John “Stuck-in-Iraq” Kerry — writes:

He’s got no way to grab on to the culture of work. Nowhere to go, except Iraq maybe. They keep raising the bonus for enlistment; they keep tempting him to put himself in the mix. I always think he’s a bag of flesh to them, a bullet stopper.

Reading that military-culture-challenged bit of drivel, we gagged and nearly clicked away in disgust, but remembering that Lt. General Petraeus had brought us to the site, we read on and were duly rewarded with Chiarella’s reportage of the General’s take:

I tell him about the boys I know, about how I’m concerned that the Army may be the only option for a kid like Gerald. “That’s the problem,” he says. “It may not be an option for him. We have a profile we’re looking for; we need high school graduates who are physically fit and driven by the desire for self-improvement. We need men who are prepared to be better soldiers.

“I see the same things you do. The numbers are declining among boys,” he says, clearing his throat. “I always call them men.

“What boys need,” says Petraeus, “are role models, parental supervision, encouragement to pursue excellence in all that they do, especially in education, where we must do whatever is necessary to keep them in school.” Old stuff, but tried and true and often lost amidst today’s multiculti pc cacaphony:

They need direction to stay on the straight and narrow, a push to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities, help to pursue a healthy lifestyle, recognition that they must be accountable for their actions, and reinforcement of good performance.

We couldn’t help but think of those aging Peter-Pan boys — and girls — in the Senate who made such fools of themselves yesterday when they bypassed the opportunity to ask General Petraeus to educate them — and us — with his vast store of knowledge about the subject at hand, the “way forward” in Iraq. Instead they used the opportunity of Petraeus’s confirmation hearing to — what else? — grandstand at will. Our favorite exchange came after Sen. Lieberman asked Petraeus whether Senate resolutions condemning White House Iraq policy “would give the enemy some comfort”:

Petraeus agreed they would, saying, “That’s correct, sir.”

Liz Taylor’s ex, Sen. John Warner, went ballistic, warning Petraeus not to step on prima donnas’ toes:

We’re not a division here today of patriots who support the troops and those who are making statements and working on resolutions that could be translated as aiding and abetting the enemy. We’re trying to exercise the fundamental responsibilities of our democracy and how this nation has two co-equal branches of the government, each bearing its own responsibilities.

I hope that this colloquy has not entrapped you into some responses that you might later regret. I wonder if you would just give me the assurance that you’ll go back and examine the transcript as to what you replied with respect to certain of these questions and review it, because we want you to succeed.

We expect intimidation from the left and from campaign finance “reform” types like John McCain. How disappointing to see John Warner going wobbly when the going gets tough. As Gen. Petraeus told Esquire author Tom Chiarella, “We have a profile we’re looking for.” Would that our fellow citizens who vote these people into office had such standards.

Crossposted at sisu,  Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Sexual at 65.

Helen Mirren nude in a bathtub.  An unretouched (relatively, anyway) woman.  British actresses generally choose earned character over purchased faux youth.  What is your honest reaction to this honest photo?

I love it, but then, I’m about her age and have a similar combination of a pretty good body and a pretty old face.  I’m curious (really curious — I can take it!) whether people of various ages and genders respond to this combination with revulsion and ridicule (“She should have the decency to cover it up!”), with dutiful admiration (“Well, yuck, but good for her”), or with real joy.  So tell the truth.

Published in: on June 24, 2010 at 11:18 am  Comments (12)  

Creating a disease when there is no disease: Girls just wanna have fun!


By Sissy Willis of sisu

Hey Ladies—how is Your Sex Drive?” goes the teaser at As “one who kneads bread” [the etymological root of lady], for us it was one of those highway accidents we could not not gawk at. We were assaulted by the meme in the early-morning news just before Tiny came biting our nose and gouging our cheek, demanding breakfast. Here’s the deal:

Do you need a little boost after having children? Things just aren’t always the same after becoming a mother and all the duties that go along with Motherhood. A recent survey of American women ages 18-59 found that the most common sexual problem in women is hypoactive sexual desire disorder – It’s defined by lack of sexual desire or fantasies. And now there is a medication made just for a woman’s anatomy to help with HSDD – a little pink pill with a decidedly unsexy name, Flibanserin. It is pretty controversial in the medical field but unlike the drugs for men, like Viagra, which improve blood flow, Flibanserin is an anti-depressant that works on the pleasure center of the brain.

We’re treading in The Onion and ScrappleFace territory here. Then comes the same-old, same-old anti-capitalism narrative:

In an article on CBS NEWS critics say creating a pharmaceutical solution for HSDD is driven by greed which could translate to $2 billion market in this country alone — “We call that disease mongering, creating a disease when there is no disease in order to sell an expensive product — there are a lot of inexpensive products like a glass of wine or a massage.”

We’ll drink to that. For old-fashioned girls like ourselves, the music of sweet talkin’ words is the food of love:

If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

There’s no pill for that.

Crossposted at sisuRiehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 5:57 am  Comments (5)  

Are we suffering from a surfeit of unsexy overexposure?


By Sissy Willis of sisu

‘Does wearing sexy lingerie under the burka subvert the burka?” asks Amba in the comments to our previous post, crossposted at Cloven Not Crested, “Exposed: What really goes on beneath the burka“:

Is it actually sexier that way — is the ad pro-burka?? Are we suffering from a surfeit of unsexy overexposure, compared to, say, the Japanese who could go wild at the sight of the back of a fully kimono’ed geisha’s neck? Does the ad thus imply that concealment by the burka actually empowers a woman’s sexuality? Should we take up wearing burkas over our bikinis? What kind of dhimmitude is that? Of a piece, I would say, with the sinister Western attraction to Islam because it is so filled with moral fervor, purity, and conviction.

The “sinister” — left in Latin —Western attraction to Islam appears alive and well, exclusively on the left side of the aisle, where a fellow feeling for a dictatorship of relativism keeps the romance alive. But the Liaison Dangereuse lingerie ad’s “message” is in the eye of the beholder. Over here on the right side of the aisle, discreetly armed with our bikini beneath our street clothes, we look to the Tea Partiers for “moral fervor, purity and conviction,” and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, unveiled, is giving us the “commonsense porn” — Glenn Beck’s words — that floats our boat. Following the distaff glories of yesterday’s primaries, we’re looking for some hot and heavy conservative commonsense porn now through November from the ladies that lunch.

Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Exposed: What really goes on beneath the burka


By Sissy Willis of sisu

“Now THIS is how you hit back at the oppression of women in the Muslim world,” twittered Newsbusters blogger Lachlan Markay this afternoon, linking a brilliantly provocative Liaison Dangereuse lingerie ad that turns Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils on its head and puts Victoria’s Secret to shame. Set against the smoky, sultry strains of a ney — the flute of classical Arabic music — and tambourine, the camera’s eye caresses a smoky, sulty woman getting ready to go out on the town. Depending upon your perspective, you’ll either love or hate the surprise ending.


Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

A Forgotten Classic of Feminist Psychoanalysis

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?  Like the worst of both worlds — academic, jargon-ridden, hatchet-wieldingly ideological?  But no, in this rare case it’s the best of both worlds: humane, expansive, magical.  I’m not sure if it’s possible to change human nature, but Dorothy Dinnerstein thought that if anything could, it would be the new fatherhood.

I found these quotes I’d copied out in some old notebook/ commonplace books.

And this mysterious body, this body whose transience we try so vainly to feel as a fact, is loved with a special reverence for continuing, miraculously, to live, and hated with a special loathing for promising, incredibly, to die.

*     *     *

The sinking sense of falling — loss of maternal support — is the permanent archetype of catastrophe.

*      *      *

[T]he sexual realm . . . is a wildlife preserve in the civilized world, a refuge within which inarticulate, undomesticated private creative initiative is protected from extinction.

They’re from Dinnerstein’s  The Mermaid and the Minotaur, which relates to the Jimmy Buffett lyric, “Some people claim/ that there’s a woman to blame . . .” From Amazon reviews:

I read this book twenty years ago when I was in college. I found (and still find) Dinnerstein’s feminist argument for shared parenting to be one of those books that has the potential to change lives. . . . The kernel of her argument is that so long as we all are raised (exclusively or predominantly) by our mothers or by female caregivers, children will grow up with a deep-seated resentment of the feminine (since no parent can perfectly anticipate a child’s needs, and all children, in growing up, will be conditioned by our infantile rage at our parent’s imperfections). . . . At the age of twenty, I was persuaded by Dinnerstein to be (when I did have kids) an active and equal participant in the raising of my children, from changing diapers to feeding and everything else. I was so convinced of the importance of her analysis, and of its potential to change lives, that I have, in the past few decades, bought and given away as gifts eighty-eight copies to male and female friends. (I figured that if I just told people what a great book it was, few would follow up, but that if I actually bought it and thrust it into their hands, they might be moved to actually read it.) I’m not sure how many of these were actually read by the recipients. But I can report that out of 88 copies given away, eight people came to me afterward and said something to the effect of, “This book changed my life.”

*      *      *
Dinnerstein also relates the fear of death to how women rule the infant’s world and men the adult’s world. Seem unrelated? Phrase “womb to tomb” captures it best perhaps.

*       *       *

it is not “just another” “feminist ” title. Indeed quite a few feminists have objected mightily to it over the years. The big problem, though, it that it has been roundly ignored over the years!

I agree.  Although it is quite Romantic, the book made enormous sense to me when I read it around age 30, especially in explaining the cruel control of women in so many traditional cultures.  Its influence still lingers.

May murdered baby girls haunt your dreams, Mr. President


The preening perversion of men who would murder children fresh out of their mother’s womb for the crime of being born female sickens our heart and soul. Hatred and fear — side by side with love and adoration  — of the female of the species is universal throughout all cultures, of course, but common sense would have told Communist Chinese functionaries that killing the girls would lead to a generation of desperate men. Common sense? Unintended consequences? That’s never been part of the utopianist statist’s palette. They know better than we what’s best for us, and our individual hopes and dreams and human nature be damned. Above, Mary Cassatt’s “La Toilette,” oil on canvas c. 1891, The Art Institute of Chicago.

May murdered baby girls haunt your dreams, Mr. President,” we twittered in horror at the latest brain-dead outrage perpetrated by the current holder of the Leader of the Free World Seat. A horrified, outraged Jay Nordlinger at The Corner explains:

We, the United States, have been having human-rights talks with China. Our side is apparently led by Michael Posner, an assistant secretary of state. I will quote from an Associated Press report:

Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.

He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its [their?] own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person’s immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.

I hope I have read that incorrectly, or am interpreting it incorrectly. Did we, the United States, talking to a government that maintains a gulag, that denies people their basic rights, that in all probability harvests organs, apologize for the new immigration law in Arizona? Really, really?

But even as President Obama’s mandarins mock the custodians of the Shining City Upon a Hill and insult all humankind and womankind by their unconscionable sit-down with the perpetrators of genocide and gynocide, a new generation of American women “walk softly but carry a big lipstick,” as Lori Ziganto writes at Hot Air:

The left hates that phrase and they have ridiculed me for it on more than one occasion. You see, they don’t get it. It’s not surprising, really, as we’ve all known for some time that while the left trots out the For The Women™ meme constantly, they are anything but. The same way that self-avowed modern-day feminists are anything but feminist. In fact, they are diametrically opposed to feminism, by it’s very definition, because their entire agenda is actually harmful to women. This is why I now call them Femogynists and I’m taking the term feminist back.True feminists are women like Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley. They are the new faces of feminism. That has a great built-in bonus, too — they are far easier on the eyes and exhibit none of that irksome hysterical screeching like the irrelevant and soon to be extinct femogynists. They, and women like them, are coming to the forefront now.

You go, girls!

Crossposted at sisu and Liberty Pundits.

The war between women and men: He is all pine and I am apple-orchard

Detail of “A Mermaid” by English Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse. (Oil on canvas 1901, Royal Academy of Arts, London)

Boys will be boys, and we have no quarrel with Stacy McCain’s forthcoming frolickingNational Offend a Feminist Week 2010.” Once the Gramscian march through the institutions co-opted the public face of feminism with that whining, male-bashing, soul-deadening, identity-politics odd duck dubbed “Women’s Lib” in the Sixties and Seventies last century, we were out of there. But still, like Robert Frost’s Yankee individualist yearning to breathe free, there’s something there is in this feminine heart that doesn’t love a wall:

He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down!


“Well women, of course are delightful persons, and I hear a strange and strident voice that I think is attempting to stop some of this progress being made in behalf of woman. That’s the braless bubblehead, I call them,” Sen. Jennings Randolph (D WV) unwittingly presciently told a reporter back in August of 1970 as Women’s Liberation, the third wave of Amercan feminism, took center stage in the national debate through promotion of an ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment.

Some insight here from Stuart Shneiderman’s essay “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?” that may give a little scientific heft to the point we’re trying to make regarding why women can’t “detatch their emotions from intimate relationships as easily as men” — tear down this wall, Mr. Wonderful! — and vive la différence:

I have occasionally suggested that when teachers and therapists try to make men more sensitive, more empathic, and more deeply feeling beings, they are effectively refusing to accept boys and men for what they are. They are trying, through psychological and other means, to make men more like women…

All of which is to say that I was shocked to read yesterday about experiments in Germany and the United Kingdom where men were treated with a nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin.

What is oxytocin? It is a hormone that men and women possess, but that women possess in larger quantities. According to the article, it triggers labor pains, helps mothers to bond with their babies, and produces enhanced sensitivity and empathy.

We delved into the earth-shaking implications of the presence or absence of that hormone in early development in our July 2004 post “Oxytocin dearest.” But back to Shneiderman:

The article fails to mention that when a woman has a sexual experience her body produces extra oxytocin, thereby drawing her closer to her lover. Researchers call oxytocin the “cuddle hormone.”

Oxytocin is one of the primary reasons why women who make a habit of hooking up cannot detach their emotions from their sexual experience as easily as men can.

Forget about making a habit of hooking up. It’s part of what it is to be a woman. Or so we think. It’s why on some important level we don’t quite get the men we love, and they don’t quite get us. Or so we think.

Not unrelated:Do conservative women prefer macho men?”

Crossposted at Liberty Pundits and sisu.

Why Is This Column Being Moderated By a Man?

The “Desire Lab” at Double XX.

I’m not one of those people who thinks novelists can only write about people just like them.  I don’t think men have nothing to say about female sexuality — in fact, I think dealing with it is to a great extent a man’s job.  Hey, someone has to do it.   (It’s when I imagine navigating the treacherous currents of someone like me that I thank God for not making me a lesbian, mostly.)

But a groundbreaking exploration of the still surprisingly virgin territory of women’s fantasies and desires — come on, isn’t that a woman’s job?  First of all, as we know from quantum physics, the observer affects the experiment.  The overseeing presence of a male may affect what women say, making it more stereotyped, exhibitionistic, or seductive.  There may be some vestigial tendency to play to the vestigial authority figure.  I had a male shrink for a short time in my twenties, and telling him about my sexual life, which pretty much was my life at that age, made me uneasy.  He was a good guy and seemed trustworthy, but I had the feeling that he could be psychoanalyzed to a fare-thee-well and there still had to be some prurience and voyeurism there.  Had to be.  Women’s desire is both elicited and deformed by men’s desire, like a pear tree on a trellis, or a high-cut bikini wax.  To get to the root of it, it might be useful to be talking just among ourselves, even knowing and welcoming that male readers are eavesdropping.  A woman could pose questions to other women that a man would never even think of.

And second of all, this is a good gig.  And why is a guy getting this good gig when the subject is the inner life of women?  Just because, echoing another male authority figure, he wrote a “fabulous” New York Times Magazine article called “What Do Women Want?”

Ugh.  It puts me off Double XX as a whole.  Mind you, most of its columns and blogs are written by women.  It’s just curious that of all of them, this one — on a subject so intimate, so idiosyncratic — was given to a guy.

Published in: on October 3, 2009 at 11:05 am  Comments (13)