Monday, October 1, 2012

Men on Women

"Women are considered deep – why? Because one can never discover any bottom to them. Women are not even shallow." – Friedrich Nietzsche

"Those people who have for years been insisting (in the face of all obvious evidence to the contrary) that the male and female are equally capable of rational thought may have something. The difficulty may just be that we have never yet discovered a way to communicate with the female mind." – Richard Feynman

"The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is 'What does a woman want?'" – Sigmund Freud

"The reason novelists nearly always fail in depicting women when they make them act, is that they let them do what they have observed some woman has done at some time or another. And that is where they make a mistake; for a woman will never do again what has been done before." – Mark Twain

"The man's desire is for the woman; but the woman's desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man." – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"The opinion I have of the generality of women – who appear to me as children to whom I would rather give a sugar plum than my time, forms a barrier against matrimony which I rejoice in." – John Keats

"I don't think a woman should be in any government job whatever. I mean, I really don't. The reason why I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional." – Richard Nixon

"If a woman hasn't got a tiny streak of harlot in her, she's a dry stick as a rule." – D.H. Lawrence

"It has been our experience that women usually prefer thin, undernourished, flatchested females, dressed to the teeth, as a concept of 'feminine beauty' – and that men prefer exactly the opposite: voluptuous, well-rounded and undressed. The women's idealization of woman is actually a male counterpart, competing with man in society; man's view of women is far more truly feminine." – Hugh Hefner

41 comments:

  1. I wonder if the gapingly-obvious pun on bottom just didn't exist in Nietzsche-era German.

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    1. Nietzsche doesn't strike me as the punning type.

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    2. Omg Nietzsche puns so much. In Ecce Homo he puns on Schleiermacher (veil-maker) to describe philosophers like Kant & Hegel & the justly forgotten Schleiermacher. In Twilight of the Idols he makes the pun "bread & Circen." Those are the first two I found in the nearest Nietzsche to hand. But Beyond Good & Evil is full of puns. Zarathustra is full of bad puns. This is the most writerly of writers we're talking about.

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    3. Wow, my freshman humanities prof really failed me on that one.

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    4. Or just have a look at the foreword of "Die fröhliche Wissenschaft" in German, with its unter-this, unter-that.

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    5. Unter where?! I still don't speak German, though I've had plenty of time to learn it since the last time a commenter chided me for not speaking German.

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  2. I really disagree with that Hugh Hefner quote.

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    1. Which part? I don't know that I agree or disagree with it but I find it to be the most complex and interesting of the bunch, especially the part about women's idealization of woman being a competitive counterpart to man.

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    2. Also LOL at agreeing with the other ones.

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    3. That was the joke, Elisa! You ruined my joke.

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    4. Mea culpa. I thought you were for realz for a second.

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    5. I like women thin and flat-chested, both naked and dressed to the nines. I mean, to the teeth--teeth like ninepins. But voluptuous is great, too, both habillé et déshabillé.

      Let's not be hard on Keats. He was very young and very short.

      I've often suspected what Coleridge said. I've always kind of sgreed with what Lawrence said.

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    6. Some men like women so flatchested they ARE men!

      There was a study once that found straight men and straight women are equally aroused by looking at pictures of naked women, more so than looking at pictures of naked men, and the theory goes that men imagine screwing the women and women imagine being the women. Cultural effect of the everpresent male gaze, no doubt.

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    7. Once when I was living in a Slacker-like student ghetto I opened an ajar bathroom door and caught a housemate, a girl who called herself Micki, masturbating on the toilet. On her knees was a Playboy open at photos of Mimi Rogers. (Right, just like the Prince song, but Micki instead of Nikki.) You'd think she'd have gasped and tried to cover herself or something, but she just looked at me and kept on rubbing it out. I said "Sorry" and left, closing the door firmly behind me...Well, this girl professed to be a lesbian--in fact she was adamant that she was a lesbian, though she had a boyfriend, a heroin dealer with dreds. So I'm not sure what was going on in her head.

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    8. Seems like an odd choice of location if privacy wasn't the goal.

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    9. I'm going to be using that anecdote later.

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  3. Who could possibly be in a place to make such sweeping statements about women or men?

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  4. I agree that Hefner pun is just ... mindblowing. Such an interesting idea (women's idealization of woman is actually a male counterpart) followed by such an un-self-aware one ( man's view of women is far more truly feminine).

    On the other hand, given a matching definition of "harlot", I kinda agree with D.H.

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    1. It could be its own blog post, truly. and I'd never heard the expression "dressed to the teeth" before.

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    2. http://isteve.blogspot.com/2012/08/womens-gymnastics-worlds-best-pixie.html

      "All those 5'10" 120 pound Slovakians in the ads in women's magazines appeal to female readers' fantasies about being more gravity resistant, about being less weighted down by mortal flesh"

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    3. SOunds like a cross of "armed to the teeth" and
      dressed to the nines.

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    4. First comment on that post is interesting: "female models look like teenage boys because that's what gay designers find attractive"

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  5. Find a group you don't like, invent a conspiracy, and blame the conspiracy for everything you don't like. As emotionally satisfying as that kind of argument can be, it's probably wrong. Anna Wintour is not a gay man.

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    1. I don't think that's necessarily a homophobic theory. The fashion industry is more controlled by men than women. Like almost all industries.

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  6. The Freud quote is hilarious. Feynmann sounds like a vulgar Irigaray.

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  7. You missed these two. Can anyone identify them?

    1.

    Each woman - I could write
    Her poem. She needs no voice.

    2.

    It is now technically possible to reproduce without the aid of females (or, for that matter, males) and to produce only males. We must begin immediately to do so.

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    1. It is now technically possible to perform the reproductive act with females without producing children. We must begin immediately to do so.

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    2. Caveat lector.. not an endorsement of the viewpoint. Can't identify either one?

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    3. Isn't the second from the Scum Manifesto but with the genders reversed?

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    4. What's the first one? I tried googling but couldn't find it.

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  8. Lisa Robertson's The Men out of context with the genders reversed. I like Robertson's poetry and the work of Nietzsche, Keats, etc as well, and she's inspiring to some of the most intelligent women writers, many who (like Robertson) cite Solanis. Part of my rationale for my original comment was to show that males don't have a monopoly on these kinds of comments, though the comments by Robertson and Solanis provide a somewhat different function which can ultimately only be speculated on. Twain's comment respects individuality and is the most evasive, Keats, Wordsworth, Nietzsche are perhaps from a time and place where such individuality is less present. Writers renounce or generalize about the opposite gender less frequently than they renounce or generalize about other things, but it provides a certain function when they do which relates in some direct or indirect way to their creative development, and folks like Nietzsche, and Lawrence couldn't be stereotyped in association with any group. A common thread to Nietzsche, Keats, and certain feminists is that the opposite sex provides some sort of perceived impediment to individual expression, which develops in the West in degrees, less so traditionally in the East, and that their writing provides a sort of rationalization for their identity whatever it may be (to scratch the surface of the question).

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    1. Oh, I love that book! I don't own it though -- borrowed it from the library in Boston several apartments back.

      Actually I bet men DO have the monopoly on these kinds of comments, simply because more men have historically been given platforms to speak, and for so much of history, shit-talking men was punishable by _______. But that doesn't mean women don't make broad and inaccurate generalizations too.

      And yeah I read the Robertson as satire.

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    2. Your argument about the permissibility of the statements is part of what's involved here - of course, much of what Nietzsche, Keats, Lawrence, etc wrote was highly controversial. Nixon's statement, if revealed during an election, would hurt him as chauvinist statements tend to do when politicians utter them as with the current Missouri Senate race or the comments by her opponent that helped Ann Richards become Texas Governor. My overall view is that people have difficulty applying standards of permissibility equally when they do, and I support free expression as it reveals the actual thought processes of the writer.

      Robertson uses some irony but I don't think it's entirely satire, and apparently not interpreted that way by her readers. As I said, she cites Solanis, who some have said was satirical, an argument that is offset by the fact that she shot a guy. Jonathan Swift didn't eat a child as part of his satire but maybe Solanis is adding a new dimension to her satire with that act. A lot of male stigmatization of females is of the ;damned if you do/ damned if you don't' variety, stigmatizing all possible forms of behavior, and Solanis' writing takes that to an extreme.

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    3. Solanis I DON'T read as satire, but I'm just one (fallible) reader. Quotes taken out of context are meaningless in general of course, I was just having some fun.

      If I had to characterize the vast majority of quotes about women by men I read while putting this together, I'd say that as a group they are baffled. Which is not altogether unflattering.

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    4. We're forgetting a fertile source of misogynistic quotations: Schopenhauer.

      "The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later and slower is it in reaching maturity. Man reaches the maturity of his reasoning and mental faculties scarcely before he is eight-and-twenty; woman when she is eighteen; but hers is reason of very narrow limitations. This is why women remain children all their lives, for they always see only what is near at hand, cling to the present, take the appearance of a thing for reality, and prefer trifling matters to the most important. It is by virtue of man’s reasoning powers that he does not live in the present only, like the brute, but observes and ponders over the past and future; and from this spring discretion, care, and that anxiety which we so frequently notice in people. The advantages, as well as the disadvantages, that this entails, make woman, in consequence of her weaker reasoning powers, less of a partaker in them. Moreover, she is intellectually short-sighted, for although her intuitive understanding quickly perceives what is near to her, on the other hand her circle of vision is limited and does not embrace anything that is remote; hence everything that is absent or past, or in the future, affects women in a less degree than men. This is why they have greater inclination for extravagance, which sometimes borders on madness. Women in their hearts think that men are intended to earn money so that they may spend it, if possible during their husband’s lifetime, but at any rate after his death."

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    5. Being as children, we are happy to receive sugar plums.

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  9. I just want to go on record as opposing free expression.

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    1. Just opposing? Seems kind of passive. Why not actually oppress it?

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