"The Internet Miniskirt"

A writer named E. J. Graff wrote a piece by this name at the American Prospect last week; I happened on it this morning.  The subject is the sexual threats that haunt women who enter the public space, especially to venture strong opinions.  She offers numerous examples, if examples are needed -- I expect that all of us have observed this behavior at some point -- and then concludes:
After a certain age—say, by 19—women know that we must keep our heads up and our eyes open in the back stacks of libraries or hidden areas of public parks, lest we encounter flashers or worse; be alert when walking at night or in empty areas; stay near streetlights and away from parked cars; keep our keys splayed in our fingers as potential weapons if jumped; check our back seats before getting into our cars and to lock the car instantly on getting in; make sure a friend knows where we are at all times....
A lot of men have no idea how fully women's lives are limned by caution and fear. This is the invisible burka for women in the West. I don't mean to exaggerate it—god forbid that I should be mocked by Katie Roiphe, who has made a silly career of asserting that sexual violence is just flirting by another name—but neither should this gendered background noise continue to go unnoticed. 
Here's the larger question for me: Why do so many men feel comfortable having and acting on such sexually violent attitudes toward women? What will it take to end this underlying beastly treatment of women who dare to be anything but silent bodies? How do we end this epidemic of violent disrespect? I am honestly asking for your thoughts.
I have no use whatever for the kind of man she is describing.  I am going to offer my thoughts, since she asks for them, with the understanding that I would also like to see a society in which this kind of behavior was driven out of the public space.

Before I do that, I want to say a few words to clarify the nature of the problem.

Ms. Graff says that a lot of men have no idea of the degree to which women's lives are full of the fear of violence.  I would gently suggest, as a counterpoint, that she herself does not seem to appreciate the degree to which men have a very different relationship to violence.  She understands that men are more likely to cause violence, especially sexual violence to women:  what she doesn't seem to appreciate is that men are also far, far more likely to experience violence.  The exception is sexual violence (see table 5), but otherwise the vast majority of violence is targeted at men.  This is true not only of criminal violence, but of lawful violence:  the number of men versus women who are imprisoned, say, or the number of men versus women killed in war.

Thus, if by the age of 19 a woman learns to carry her keys in a certain way, a man by that age has learned to fight.  He will probably have had to do so.  I have been punched, kicked, mobbed by groups of up to three, machinegunned, mortared, rocketed, and shot at with an AK-47 at various points.  I suspect that most men have been in fights, if not as adults than as young men:  certainly we fought often where I grew up.  I've also studied violence -- not only in the martial arts, but also chronicles from Thucydides to Froissart to T. E. Lawrence, military histories, and theoretical works from Sun Tzu to Vegetius to Clausewitz.

Violence in politics is the ordinary condition of humankind.  There has almost never been a state of affairs in which it was unusual, let alone unheard of, for anyone entering politics to be subject to violent intimidation if not actual attacks.  This is why -- as Hannah Arendt reminds us -- Machiavelli held courage to be the most important political virtue.

Nor is violence outside of politics an unusual condition.  When Ms. Graff writes that a woman learns always to 'keep her head up and eyes open' and to 'always look in the back seat of her car before getting in,' I am strongly reminded of the opening lines of the Havamal, where the god Odin is giving advice to the wise:

At every door-way,
ere one enters,
one should spy round,
one should pry round
for uncertain is the witting
that there be no foeman sitting,
within, before one on the floor

Likewise, on travel:

Let a man never stir on his road a step
without his weapons of war;
for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise
of a spear on the way without.

This is not new, then, nor is it unusual.  There are ways of dealing with it so that you can go about your life unafraid, and these strategies include:  study and practice, such as I described above; the habit of keeping and bearing arms, which has been my constant habit since youth; constructing friendships with people who will stand up for you, and with you, and fighting for them in return; and of course "keeping your head up and your eyes open," with which Ms. Graff is plainly familiar.  It's an excellent practice.  

If we can see the problem of violence and threats in this broader light, we can begin to make sense of the question she's after.  How do we put a stop to this state of affairs in which there is violent disrespect for women in the public space?  I will suggest that it's not a problem for women, but a problem that men and women need to think about in concert.

Possibly the most popular post I have I ever written was "Social Harmony," which treats the problem of violence in society.

Very nearly all the violence that plagues, rather than protects, society is the work of young males between the ages of fourteen and thirty. A substantial amount of the violence that protects rather than plagues society is performed by other members of the same group. The reasons for this predisposition are generally rooted in biology, which is to say that they are not going anywhere, in spite of the current fashion that suggests doping half the young with Ritalin. 
The question is how to move these young men from the first group (violent and predatory) into the second (violent, but protective). This is to ask: what is the difference between a street gang and the Marine Corps, or a thug and a policeman? In every case, we see that the good youths are guided and disciplined by old men. This is half the answer to the problem. 
But do we not try to discipline and guide the others? If we catch them at their menace, don't we put them into prisons or programs where they are monitored, disciplined, and exposed to "rehabilitation"? The rates of recidivism are such that we can't say that these programs are successful at all, unless the person being "rehabilitated" wants and chooses to be. And this is the other half of the answer: the discipline and guidance must be voluntarily accepted. The Marine enlists; the criminal must likewise choose to accept what is offered. 
The Eastern martial arts provide an experience very much like that of Boot Camp. The Master, like the Drill Instructor, is a disciplined man of great personal prowess. He is an exemplar. He asks nothing of you he can't, or won't, do himself--and there are very many things he can and will do that are beyond you, though you have all the help of youth and strength. It is on this ground that acceptance of discipline is won. It is the ground of admiration, and what wins the admiration of these young men is martial prowess. 
Everyone who was once a young man will understand what I mean. Who could look forward, at the age of sixteen or eighteen, to a life of obedience, dressed in suits or uniforms, sitting or standing behind a desk? How were you to respect or care about the laws, or the wishes, of men who had accepted such a life? The difficulty is compounded in poor communities, where the jobs undertaken are often menial. How can you respect your father if your father is a servant? Would you not be accepting a place twice as low as his? Would you not rather take up the sword, and cut yourself a new place? Meekness in the old men of the community unmakes the social order: it encourages rebellion from the young.....
The martial virtues are exactly the ones needed. By a happy coincidence, having a society whose members adhere to and encourage those virtues makes us freer as well--we need fewer police, fewer courts, fewer prisons, fewer laws, and fewer lawyers. This is what Aristotle meant when he said that the virtues of the man are reflected in the society. Politics and ethics are naturally joined.
Now, true virtues are virtues for anyone.  Courage is a true virtue because, no matter what you want out of life and no matter what your opinions or values are, courage will help you achieve it.  The martial virtues are likewise true virtues -- and Ms. Graff shows some evidence of them!  After all, she has learned to arm herself (if only with car keys), keep aware, and ensure that she has friends she can count on to come after her.   These are things that she apparently wishes she did not have to do, but perhaps she should take pride in them instead.  These are strengths, which allow her to live the life she wishes to live in the teeth of a dangerous world.  It should be a joy to defy the wicked.

There is another answer, though, which is indicated by "Social Harmony."  Women cannot do this alone.  Partly this is because young men need old men with the right values, to whom they can look up to for an example.  It is critical that old men set this example, and it is critical that society supports them in doing so.  When an old man by example teaches his son to refer to all women as "ma'am," society should support his efforts to instill a sense of reflexive respect for ladies.  When the old man disciplines the young man for failing to show this reflexive respect, society should reinforce him by showing honor to the old man for doing it.  This will point out the path to receiving honor for the young man, who by nature hungers for honor above all things.

The other part is that women should encourage men to take up and enjoy the role of defender.  This is archetypal:  the form here is that of the Lady of the Lake.  
The key things that matter are these: the lady is noble of spirit; she, like the Lady of the Lake or Queen Victoria, has the power to bestow arms, or to approve of their use in her defense and interests; she is morally worthy of service; and she calls men to channel their feelings of admiration for her, even love for her, into practical service.
It is a commonplace among scholars who write about the Arthurian legends to assert that the Lady of the Lake is a kind of holdover from an ancient goddess of sovereignty.  Numerous forms of the myth appear in journal articles; what people rarely stop to ask is why there should be so many such forms in which a woman bestows a weapon upon a man.  If men did not care about womens' approval, why would this myth be so strong and so pervasive?  The truth is that men care very deeply about this.

To be entrusted by a lady with her defense, as in marriage, is perhaps the highest honor that a man can know; outside of marriage, it is nevertheless a high reward.  It is a pleasure as well, one that opens the way for the kind of friendship that can only arise in conditions of genuine trust.

It is also, I would warrant, why the 'Western burka' wears so much lighter than the Eastern one.  General James Mattis got into hot water a few years ago for making a remark along these lines.
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years, because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said. "You know guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot 'em."
I imagine Ms. Graff would not care for the general's celebration of violence, even in as good a cause as ending the abuse of women who did not wish to be subjected to the burka.  Even so, note the definition of manhood he offers to his Marines:  it is one that is not only opposes violence toward women who wish to speak and be seen in public, but defines manhood in terms of defending rather than abusing those women.

No doubt I am not the kind of man Ms. Graff would completely approve of either:  she and I obviously differ on politics in fairly fundamental ways (although I may have to read her book on marriage, since she starts from exactly the right question and then arrives at the opposite conclusion that I have reached:  I imagine it's an interesting argument).  

For all we may disagree, she would never be safer than in my company.  If she does not wish to endorse my service, she shall have it anyway:  if I am wrong in this, I shall gladly die in my error.  If she does not approve of me, though, she ought to demand such a defense from the men of whom she does approve.  It will please them no end to be asked, and it will go a long way to establishing the space she desires.

I realize that a feminist theorist may have objections to the idea of seeking protection from men, but they should rethink this question.  A woman who has developed the martial virtues in herself, as Ms. Graff has done, should have no fear of forming an alliance to defend her interests.  Nor should she want to construct a society in which the men she admires are denied one of the greatest pleasures that life affords them.

If they are good and strong men -- good enough and strong enough to succeed at establishing and upholding the example -- young men will follow them.  Bad men will fly from them.


douglas said...

This is a good one, Grim. I have an urge to pass this out around our community, where it seems too many have no clue how to raise our boys to be men.

I think common courtesies also have their place here- not just as a signifier of respect, but I find that those who maintain a more keen awareness of what goes on around them are more likely to behave in a courteous manner, and those who see nothing beyond their immediate orbit are almost certainly unmannered and rude.

I found myself in the last family trip to the local supermarket, where the aisles are too narrow, and the clientele rather oblivious to others, letting my son drive the cart, and instructing him to watch for this or that, and to make sure he stopped in a location that allowed others to pass by (you'd be surprised how many stop the cart in the middle of the aisle, and go get something a few steps away, blocking the aisle as they do). I realized that it's a good everyday sort of practice of being observant and considerate. It would seem that being observant is essential, but not sufficient to being considerate.

DL Sly said...

The one and only fight MH and I have ever had during our 20+ yrs of marriage was over whether or not I should have *let* him defend me in a fight.
At the time of the incident, he didn't seem to have a problem with me defending myself against the rather pathetic excuse of a man who was needing to be put in his place. He did as I wanted: he had my back "in case".
The argument/fight didn't happen until a few days later when my brother (God rest his ever-loving, irritatin' soul) essentially accused him of not being a man, much less a Marine, for not defending his wife. The combination of that insinuation and alcohol-inflamed testosterone poisoning led to a rather epic argument that led to my walking away from them both - twice! - in search of a more quiet place to drink and play pool. It also resulted in my brother and I driving the backroads and highways looking for him at 4 am. We were in my neck of the woods for only MH's second time, and although I had shown him where the family *flop* house was located that was during daylight hours while we were both fully sober.

Texan99 said...

You're right, Grim, about how differently girls are raised on the subject of violence. Theoretically both boys and girls are raised not to solve problems with violence, but the occasional fistfight, which would be winked at for a boy, is a huge deal for a girl. That behavior gets trained out of us fast (no kicking! no biting!).

Again, as adults, violence is theoretically off limits for everyone and can get you brought up on assault charges. But most women genuinely eschew it and avoid like the plague those places where the rules aren't followed. Then if we run into violence, we're truly shocked.

A man involved in a bitter fight in decorous circumstances, like a debate or a trial, probably always has the idea of fisticuffs at least subliminally present in his mind. I don't believe most women do. We've been raised to think we're exempt from all that, sort of as an underlying assumption of civilized interaction. It's easy to lose sight of the kind of social and moral control on the part of men that makes such an assumption possible.

Grim said...


It certainly does sound epic! I'm not sure I'd want to get between you and someone you'd chosen as your target myself. Besides, I'm sure he didn't want to be rude by breaking in on top of your conversation.

The question I'd ask, though, is what if he'd gotten there first? I doubt you'd have any problem with him asserting to a miscreant that he would not accept such treatment towards his lady. Indeed, I imagine you'd have derived a certain pleasure from seeing it.

Grim said...


That's an interesting insight. Richard Felson wrote an article about ten years ago that argued that our society has a very strong norm against violence toward women. The difficulty of rooting out violence towards women, he said, lay in the fact that it mostly happens in intimate settings -- and we also have a norm against government intrusion into the intimate.

Since we have conflicting norms, it's hard to get people together on what to do about sexual violence when it happens in intimate settings.

What Ms. Graff is arguing -- and I agree with her on the point -- is that we've recently seen a weakening of the norm against violence towards women even in public spaces (and especially on the internet, which as Cassandra used to point out, is by nature a public space). This has not manifested itself through increased crime rates -- crime rates are down across the board, and in spite of the recession -- but it has been obvious in the erosion of the idea that women should be free from violent, disrespectful language in public spaces.

Right now the coyotes are mostly circling and howling, but that sometimes means they are getting their courage up and testing to see what kind of a defense is likely to occur.

Of course, coyotes being what they are, a robust defense will generally drive them back into the dark. Without such a defense, however, danger increases.

Grim said...


You're certainly welcome to use it if you find value in it. I've been asked several times by martial arts dojos if they could reprint "Social Harmony" to hand out to students, and I'm certainly always happy for them to do so.

DL Sly said...

Actually, Grim, MH was talking with the guy when I caught up with him after visiting local friends, and he took umbridge at the teasing manner with which I greeted MH. Which was odd considering MH was grinning and getting ready to say something equally smartassed in return.
[A little background: We had been married less than a year at this time which meant that I was less than a year out of my former job as a wildland firefighter. MaryAnn and Cassandra can attest that I am not a small woman in neither stature nor attitude. This guy was easily 5" shorter than me and maybe weighed a buck fifty.]
Not being in a mood for a fight (it was only 4pm and I hadn't even had a sip off of my first beer yet!), I initially ignored the guy, sat down next to MH and ordered a beer. This apparently irked the guy because he got off of his stool, came around to get in my face and proceeded to give me an earful of his opinion of me as a wife and woman. MH, naturally, stood up to defend me, but I stopped him, telling him, "I got this." Then I stood up (to give the drunk a real measure of just how much bigger than him I was) and asked him if he wanted to go outside. Of course he said yes. So I went over, opened the door, let him walk out, closed the door and went back over to my stool to drink my beer.
When he realized what I had done, the guy came barging back into the bar, but by this time the owner of the bar had come around the bar and met him at the door. She immediately threw him out and told him that he wasn't welcome there anymore.

Grim said...

There's some old saying about not letting the door hit you on the way out, isn't there?

Texan99 said...

I love it. "Would you like to go outside? Well, OK, then."

Grim said...

My father used to say, "I'd love to help you out. Which way did you come in?"

Cass said...

I think many women would be more willing to accept the protection of men if the pricetag weren't so much in evidence.

You know (or I hope you know) that I respect and honor men for the protective instinct the best of you display. Certainly the men in my life and in my family are good examples of the virtues of this protective instinct. But there is often - too often, I think - an unacceptable price to this protection. Men often point out that men and women are different, but go on to apply the very same standards they apply to other men to the women they maintain are fundamentally different.

Let me explain what I mean. It's a rare guy who is comfortable showing weakness, or who would easily accept pretection from another man. OK, I get this - if he needs protection from another man, he's admitting that he can't protect himself. But more importantly, he's tacitly accepting a lower position in the pecking order.

And men - to a far greater extent than women - pay a LOT of attention to their position in the pecking order. To a fairly big extent, their self worth is tied up in that position, and their opinions of other men are also often very much bound up in the other man's position.

So now we come to women, who for the most part are less (not un- but less-) concerned with rank and dominance. What has bothered me many times about even the best intentioned protectiveness is that it's not really free. If you accept protection, you're also accepting a lower position in the pecking order. And boy howdy - conservative men online are not shy about rubbing womens' noses in our relative weakness.

Such open contempt puts the lie to some of the claims of selflessness. I want to stress that I am NOT referring to you, Grim, because you have always been respectful. And I'm not referring to anyone I've seen commenting here. But the commenters at the Hall are not "most men", just as my commenters at VC were not representative of most commenters. There was a different standard at work, voluntarily accepted.

Because the world at large operates on different terms, I understand why so many women are unwilling to accept protection from men. Men make fun of each other for even the slightest perceived weakness. And women notice this. They notice it when men are openly scornful (and I've lost track of the conservative blogs I stopped reading for this reason) of feminine qualities and women in general.

We have pride, too.

Grim said...

I think you're right, Cass, to say that women are mostly concerned about the price. This is not new either -- not even to the modern era. I remember reading once that one of the characteristics of female poetry (which is almost entirely absent from poetry by men) is this concern about loss of personal identity that arises from the marital alliance.

In fact, it's also a mythic form: a number of the Greek goddesses associated with martial prowess are virgin goddesses, especially Athena (goddess of wisdom and victory) and Diana (the Huntress).

This is why I suggest that the woman who does not need to fear such an alliance is one who (like Athena!) has developed these martial virtues in herself. Then she can think of forming an alliance in defense of her interests, rather than supplicating a more powerful figure for protection.

I do believe that things have gotten worse in the last ten or fifteen years. For that reason, I believe things can get better. We can't alter the basic features of human nature; but a thing that has changed for the worse can also be changed for the better.

DL Sly said...

My Pop used to say the same thing, Grim. Usually followed by "Don't walk away angry. Just walk away."
Of course, those were some of the more *sane* sayings that he had....

Cass said...

I remember reading once that one of the characteristics of female poetry (which is almost entirely absent from poetry by men) is this concern about loss of personal identity that arises from the marital alliance.

I'm not sure whether it's a loss so much as a voluntary gift of something that is difficult to give away permanently. The problem is that if a woman is paying any attention, she eventually notices that the recipient of her gift hasn't reciprocated (though in his defense, the thought never occurred to him because such a surrender isn't considered manly).

FWIW, I have never thought that it was healthy for a woman to completely lose herself in a relationship.

Do so creates a debt or imbalance that can never really be redressed and I've always thought that the guilt/resentment that surfaces sooner or later is a big reason so many relationships fall apart. This isn't the man's fault, but I'm not sure it's the woman's fault either. It's just that they have a different conception of what commitment means.

What I find ironic is that now women are free to make the same choices men do, I see men bitterly resenting the prospect of a woman viewing the relationship exactly the same way they do. Of course when a woman objects to the typical male view of a relationship, she is being insecure and clingy. When a man objects to precisely the same view of a relationship, it's the fault of feminism :p

As you so wisely observed, a woman who is secure in her abilty to defend herself is less likely to worry about one-upmanship or rank. I have also noticed that men who are secure in their abilty to relate to women (and in their relationships) are generally not threatened when a woman displays the same independence they demand for themselves. They realize that (for instance) a woman's desire to work outside the home is not a rejection of them or a sign of unwillingness to commit to the relationship, but a natural manifestation of the human desire for adventure, variety, and accomplishment.

I think things have gotten much worse too, Grim. But in other ways they have gotten much better. In general, women are treated more respectfully in many ways than they were when I was young. You don't hear the patronizing bromides that were a dime a dozen back then (except, unfortunately, in the comments section of many blogs).

But then as we've both noticed, people say and do all sorts of things online that in real life would earn them a punch in the nose* :p

* paraphrase of something Grim once said over at VC

Grim said...

Well, the corollary to the proposition 'that which has gotten worse can be made better' is 'that which has been made better can get worse.' An alliance -- a friendship of those of us who share this vision, even if our reasons for holding to it differ -- is just as wise in the one case as in the other.

BillT said...

You don't hear the patronizing bromides that were a dime a dozen back then (except, unfortunately, in the comments section of many blogs).

Yes, dear.

douglas said...

You know, even back when those patronizing bromides were common, the response could be pretty strong- but women wielded their strength in different ways, I think. When you think of the best movies of the early 20th century involving couples, there was almost always a large bit of the man being manly and physically coming to the aid of the woman, but in the best movies, there was always a way (or ways) in which the woman would have her chance to show the man how it's done. I think of the Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in "It Happened One Night" and the hitchhiking scene, as an example.

Cass said...

When you think of the best movies of the early 20th century involving couples, there was almost always a large bit of the man being manly and physically coming to the aid of the woman, but in the best movies, there was always a way (or ways) in which the woman would have her chance to show the man how it's done.

Oh, definitely! :)

To me, one of the saddest things about the last 60 years or so is that both women and minorities have made great strides, but not before the government got involved.

Insofar as practical, women and minorities should be treated equally under the law and they weren't when I was growing up. The reason my husband's paycheck has always been deposited into my account (with him as the joint owner) is that when we married, any joint accounts on which I was not the primary owner could legally be frozen if he died or was incapacitated! But the reverse was not true.

The changes that gave women and minorities legal ways to defend their interests (as men have always had to do) were mostly a good thing. But when the emphasis shifted from providing legal redress - with the onus on the individual to actively make the case for why they were wronged - to the government proactively looking for wrongs to address or worse, trying to prevent wrongs from occurring in the first place, the aim shifted from simple justice to utopianist social engineering.

There are limits to what government power can - and should - do for us. And there's always a price to be paid. When government intervenes on our behalf, there is less incentive to take the leading role in our own lives. We become too willing to cede power to outside forces and forget how to do things for ourselves.

Looking out for one's own interests (whatever they may be) is surely a task for which primary responsibility rests upon the individual. While I've definitely noticed the kind of sexual bullying Ms. Graff decries, I think the solution is probably a combination of moral suasion (which used to be very much the province of women) and a little toughening up.

In 7 years of blogging I noticed big differences in the way women and men handle bullying. I agree with T99 that fighting back is pretty much trained out of girls and women. A fighting spirit is admired (or used to be) in boys but considered shameful and unfeminine for girls. The way most women typically respond to bullying only encourages more of the same.

I agree with Grim that Ms. Graff seems unaware that men are constantly aware of the threat of violence from other men. But by the same token, I largely agree with her point about most men not understanding the extent to which women are constantly aware of the threat of sexual violence from men. While I was never actually threatened with a fight, I *was* groped so many times I've lost count, backed into a corner by more than one guy (I learned very quickly in my jr. high shop class not to go into the welding room alone), had two guys forcibly try to have sex with me. One left bruises all over my arms.

It may make Grim smile to learn that in that instance, an alert young man noticed something amiss with the guy who attacked me and followed us. I hope I would have been able to fight him off by myself, but thank God I didn't have to find out.

I don't think either men or women are very aware of the challenges faced by the opposite sex. We don't try hard enough to find out, either.

Cass said...

Yes, dear.

Someone needs a good spanking :p

DL Sly's bar story made me laugh. If you ever meet her, you'll notice right off that she can definitely take care of herself!

MikeD said...

Something you said, Cass, gave me pause. You said:

What has bothered me many times about even the best intentioned protectiveness is that it's not really free. If you accept protection, you're also accepting a lower position in the pecking order.

And I'll not dispute that, except to say that all reciprocation is not in kind. For example, while I'd be the one to defend my wife in a physical altercation (she's no fading flower, but burly she ain't) she's the one who I can be vulnerable around. You've commented before about how you've observed the struggles your boys growing up had about "letting their guard down" emotionally, and it's so true. It's hard for men to let down their guard and really open up to someone else.

And I think that's the reciprocation. She may not ever be in a situation to defend me physically, but she is my emotional defense as it were. As you say, the audience here is not really typical, and I'm positive there are men who lord their physicality over the women in their lives as well as keep their emotional walls up. But those men are (in my eyes at least) tortured and incomplete. With no one to be completely themselves in their lives, I think that kind of bottling of emotion twists inside you like a knife.

Cass said...

Good point, Mike. It's hard for both men and women to accept help from each other (or sometimes, to recognize and appreciate help when it's offered) but I think that's the whole purpose and benefit of being in a relationship with someone who has different strengths: you support and defend each other albeit in different ways.

I read somewhere that people overemphasis their contributions to a relationship and underemphasize the contributions of their partners and that has always struck me as basically true. It troubles me that we (and I include myself here) have such a tendency to inflate/focus on our own troubles and abilities and minimize or fail to appreciate the troubles and strengths of others. But I suppose that (as Grim says) there's no getting around basic human nature!

Cass said...

Manishevitz. What is with my typos lately?

I cringe when I read my own comments.


Type in haste, repent at leisure.

Texan99 said...

When they trained the fistfighting tendency out of me, they neglected to instill a horror of duking it out mentally. I consider that fair game, unless I'm dealing with someone who's obviously handicapped, such as one of those poor fools who lurk around comments site so they can post contemptuous put-downs about women's poor performance in the workforce.

What I like, even more than movies where the chick out-performs the man by showing a little leg, are stories where a physically unprepossessing woman turns the tables with moral accountability or intellectual honesty or patient endurance. The guys are bigger and stronger, but that's not alway the kind of strength that's needed.

What I really can't stand are one-dimensional female sidekicks whose sole dramatic function is to say "Eek!" and be rescued, while exposing a little cleavage and a lot of mental vacuity.

I'm looking forward to a surprising degree to the new movie "Iron Lady," which I had expected to detest. It won me over with the trailer showing Ms. Thatcher addressing the Members of Parliament at the end of a dinner/meeting: "Gentlemen -- shall we join the ladies?"

MikeD said...

What I really can't stand are one-dimensional female sidekicks whose sole dramatic function is to say "Eek!" and be rescued, while exposing a little cleavage and a lot of mental vacuity.

I know, right? I mean, if we're talking a LOT of cleavage, that's ok though. ;)

DL Sly said...

"...repent at leisure."

One minute later is repenting at leisure?!!!
Well, crap, I'm screwed.

Texan99 said...

It's not like I even object to the cleavage. It's just that it would be nice if the screenwriter/director remembered to have something else going on for the half of the audience that's not, you know, completely mesmerized. Just as my husband would like some automatic weapons fire to intrude on the slow parts of the plot where people are gazing into each other's eyes and experiencing character growth. Can we roll the credits on this chick flick?

I used to enjoy Joe Bob Briggs's movie reviews, which boiled down to counting the number of breasts. ("Only two breasts, but they're really good ones.")

Grim said...

Now, that's not fair. Joe Bob Briggs also counted the decapitations, which he took just as seriously in judging a movie's value. (My favorite review of his was the review of Up the Creek, which he declared to be "The finest movie ever made about intercollegiate rubber-raft racing.")

Texan99 said...

Joe Bob gave a valuable review, no doubt about it. Some of that information, there was just no other way to get.