March 08, 2006

Maybe Not the Saddest Thing

. . . but still pretty tragic, and I admit it: The line about applying makeup from the free samples at Rite-Aid, eyes closed--I loved that line.


I got all over Vanderleun about the nothing-sadder-than-a-once-beautiful-woman thing here, right? Well, I still think (1) there are much sadder things than that and (2) it's a trite simile and (3) there's a terrible double standard at work when it comes to men's looks versus women's looks, and . . . do you know what I think is one of the saddest things? Old white guys on the news. It depresses me. In my perfect world the nightly news would be anchored by Charles Barkley. I would actually watch the news if it were only anchored by Charles Barkley. Even when he gets to be really ancient, you just know Charles will still pick out suits that look off the rack from Men's Wearhouse--he's gonna like the way he looks; I guarantee it--and he will still interrupt people he thinks are being stupid and he will still say whatever's on his mind, whether it has anything to do with the news or not.

(Here we pause while I try to remember what this post was going to be about before I got distracted by visions of the CBS Evening News with Charles Barkley.)

Right: Women who keep slapping on the war paint and baring their sternums after they're well over the hill. I don't think this is the saddest thing, but I do think it's a cringeworthy thing; only, I don't blame the women too much, because I look at it like a video game. You've got this bar, say:


And your goal is to get that bar as full as possible, then keep it there as long as possible:


And--this is why Pursuit of Hotness IV: The Perils of Applique will not be coming to a GameSpot near you anytime soon--maintaining that stupid little bar at an acceptably high level is the only point of the game. Also, if the bar gets too low, you die.

Are you longing for Pong yet?

See, you can't craft a culture-bubble like Hollywood, foolishly entrust it with setting trends for everyone else, make maintaining desireability a core value of that culture, and then get all "Why would she embarrass herself like that?" when Sharon Stone shows up to an Oscar party looking like something that should be taken out and shot, for our sake if not for hers.

Why wouldn't she embarrass herself like that? She doesn't know how to do anything else. And sure, that's probably because she's an idiot, but it's not only because she's an idiot, or even mostly because she's an idiot. It's also because keeping that hotness bar filled even at, say, level 68, the level it's nearly impossible to get past, the level at which even if you duck all the Crow's Feet grenades there are still the Chicken Neck bombs to defuse and those Bad Facelift missiles, forget it, it's not even worth trying to avoid those--what, exactly, do we expect women trained for this and only this to suddenly DO when they get old, don cable knit sweaters and fuck off to Connecticut? Fall onto a pair of nail scissors? Swallow a cup of hemlock astringent?

No, really, I actually do know what we expect them to do: Put some damn clothes on, for a start. Scrape off the cornflower-blue eyeshadow and cut or at least wash that hair, and (it's Sharon Stone, remember) PUT SOME CLOTHES ON, I'm not kidding. Don't make me tell you again, Grandma. Yes, we expect them to act their ages and have some dignity but maybe, just maybe, they would find it easier to do that if mouth-breathing cocktards weren't continually pounding it into their skulls from puberty onwards (if not earlier) that hotness is the only thing that matters, the only thing they're good for, and that once they don't have hotness they don't have anything; in fact, they might as well do us all a favor and just die already. But if they won't do that, they should at least start aiming, stylistically, for Refined Old Lady, and then perhaps we will toss them the crumb of remarking that they've aged "gracefully," or perhaps we will merely turn to each other and ask, "She's still alive? Get out, I totally thought she was dead."

UPDATE: Then again, we seem to have racked up more support for the "she's an idiot" theory--or, as Meryl Lair Simon puts it, "Fourteen hundred years of looking for a way to permanently fend off the endless Quranic nightmare of conquest and destruction, reduced to a single act that many wouldn’t even do for a Klondike Bar."

A Klondike bar? I'm not that keen on Klondikes, but . . . a box of chocolate truffles? Only if she's not wearing the eyeshadow. And I get to irrigate my mouth with hydrogen peroxide afterwards, too.

Posted by Ilyka at March 8, 2006 03:46 AM in trivia

Actually, most of the people who have given me well-meaning "you'd be such a pretty girl if only you'd do something with your hair" advice have been women. Sure, men go around saying dumb things like "she's a four-bagger" but then they marry women with faces like slammed doors, so you know they are lying when they say a woman's looks are really important to them. It's women in competition with other women who drive the whole beauty routine.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 8, 2006 10:22 AM
It's women in competition with other women

Sure, but finish that thought: In competition for what?

Posted by: ilyka at March 8, 2006 11:33 AM

I didn't think I had to spell it out. The thing is men really don't care what women look like, despite what they say. All they care about is youth -- this is simply a bad fact of life, men just aren't going to be as attracted to an older, attractive woman as they will to a younger attractive woman -- and I refer to real youth, not the made-up, surgically-enhanced pretext. (This is one thing men can detect.)

Feminism was supposed to free women from the need to fight over the male provider; instead, thanks to the second-wave bored housewife version of feminism that started in the early Sixties we got the so-called "sexual revolution," and women ended back on that same merry-go-r*und, but this time, having made marriage meaningless, they didn't even have the pretext of respectability, just the sad little prize of being top vagina on the alpha male heap -- until the next sweet young thing came along. Of course men took advantage of this system -- why wouldn't they? It meant they no longer had to worry about being shunned as cads for sleeping around. I would so love to egg Betty Friedan's house for this.

Anyway, men have plenty of faults, but I refuse to blame them for the shortcomings of women and the stupid things we do.

(That asterisk is in there because apparently some deranged spammer has co-opted part of the alphabet.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 8, 2006 12:28 PM

Oh yeah, and I went and looked at that photo of Sharon Stone, and...

Whatever. I couldn't care less if she is over-tan and wears frosted eyeshadow. Maybe she just likes those colors. Maybe she decided not to care what other people think. (I doubt that, she is an actress, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm all about the giving.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 8, 2006 12:50 PM

I should have made myself clearer: I don't think women compete with each other for men so much as they compete with each other for the benefits men provide, and it is still mostly men providing most of the benefits, particularly in Hollywood, though maybe I shouldn't even use that cesspool as an example as it is, well, a cesspool, and also something of an exception.

But not by much. I don't think it's entirely coincidental that some of the bitchiest women I've known have also been some of the so-called girliest, and from their warped point of view, i.e., "male attention is everything," the bitchiness even makes sense after a fashion.

I think, after the notion of a woman working for herself and taking care of herself and not being dependent on a man was bruited about, that there were some women who said, "Fine, but I CHOOSE to have a man take care of me," and there were some other women who were even franker about the whole thing and said simply, "I DON'T WANT that choice." There are definitely benefits, of a sort, to being economically dependent on another human being, and there are even good reasons to choose that, such as wanting to be a stay-at-home mom. But you can't free women who don't know they're slaves, or who don't care that they're slaves because the accommodations are so lush--and of course not all of them ARE slaves, I'm generalizing here. Still the plain fact is, if the house is in massa's name and the car is in massa's name and you buy all your groceries and clothing with massa's money, you better hope he meant that "'til death do us part" business or you better have a good lawyer on retainer, one or the other.

Which reminds me, if the pre-sexual revolution era was so much better (I think in some ways it was), and traditional values are so much more desireable, I don't see why more right-leaning men aren't calling bullshit on each other's promiscuous behavior, a la Steve H., instead of congregating at Wizbang! or Ace of Spades or wherever and behaving like 12-year-olds because some B-actress flashed her silicone hooters for the camera, like THAT never happens. A man really interested in reviving values would, I think, want them revived for both sexes, not just for those degenerate-whore feminazis.

(Okay, I guess file that under "Why Steve H. is a misogynist I can celebrate, but Jeff G.'s still a twat." I don't know why exactly I went off on all that.)

Anyhow, where you and I definitely agree is right here:

Feminism was supposed to free women from the need to fight over the male provider; instead, thanks to the second-wave bored housewife version of feminism that started in the early Sixties we got the so-called "sexual revolution," and women ended back on that same merry-go-r*und, but this time, having made marriage meaningless, they didn't even have the pretext of respectability, just the sad little prize of being top vagina on the alpha male heap -- until the next sweet young thing came along. Of course men took advantage of this system -- why wouldn't they?

This is basically why every time I read the expression "sex-positive feminism" I shudder and click elsewhere. For one thing I don't like the implication that all other feminism is sex-negative but, more importantly to me, the feminists who proudly proclaim their sex-positivism tend also to be the feminists who think stripping can be "empowering, in the right context," whereas I think they're full of shit and dragging the rest of us down because they're still hooked on the Hotness Meter. Gotta get that Hotness Meter up! And guys think women who rave about stripping are WAY hot.

Posted by: ilyka at March 8, 2006 02:31 PM

Oh yeah, I agree with you there. I would have said more, but for some reason I can never get to sites after 8pm at night.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 9, 2006 05:34 AM

Oops, forgot (gotta run out the door) -- we can't keep waiting for men to change before we free ourselves. At this stage of the game we do have the chance to free ourselves now; thanks to early ("first wave") feminism, we have had the power for decades to not be slaves, not be in the power of men. We are no longer legally under their thumb. That's why I really can't feel sorry for women "in the thrall" of beauty magazines and bad fashion advice.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 9, 2006 05:39 AM

And that quote was actually by Lair Simon, who is, obviously, a male feminist. Bless his conservative heart.

I have guest-posters now. I know Lair and I are pretty similar on a lot of topics, so I expected something like this would happen.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at March 9, 2006 09:06 AM