Yesterday’s fop

<![CDATA[… is today's metrosexual. I was so glad to discover that!

In the 18th century, fops were men who overdressed, behaved with overly sophisticated manners, acted in an often effeminate way, and spent most of their time conversing with women on issues not typically of concern to men of the day. Many students of history assumed they were homosexual. Sometimes, but usually not, and what’s important is that they weren’t considered to be gay at a time when sodomy laws could get you executed.

Thinking this as I watched Prince at the Super Bowl last night. I’ve recently had students tell me they think so much has changed since the 17th and 18th centuries, when men had to dress extravagantly to capture female attention. (This because demographically there were more women than men in the population, thus men had to visually appeal to women in order to compete for mates.) I was thinking, “I should show them some examples from the 1970s, when men wore Afro’s, disco suits, platform shoes, shiny jewelry”.

Then there was Prince, in his high heels, vaguely 18th-century cut jacket, and head scarf.

I also found a film clip on YouTube that shows the typical 18th century fop, from The Scarlet Pimpernel.


Exxon Valdez isn’t history

<![CDATA[So many events move into our concept of the past and are never heard from again. They are referred to in support of other ideas, new points of view, "remembered" as history.

Today one of the first articles I’ve seen that refused to permit this was published, because of an upcoming U.S. study on the Exxon Valdez. The Exxon Valdez was an oil tanker that spilled tons into pristine Alaska waters in 1989, a spill subject to years of “clean up”. A new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates that the sludge is declining at a much slower rate than expected, and is continuing a low level of contamination the affects wildlife.

Just this week, Exxon posted record profits.]]>

Gender Gossip

<![CDATA[Western Civ has plenty of examples of the battle between the sexes, and the perception of gender roles.

Two tidbits from today’s headlines:

Christie Brinkley’s divorce custody settlement had to insist that her husband not take the kids on a commercial airline during a red terror alert.

A pregnant women being driven to the hospital by her husband had her baby in the back seat, and didn’t let him know because she thought it would make him drive badly.

You men are not our protectors… If you were, who would there be to protect us from?
Mary Edwards Walker, Civil War doctor


Sex and Marriage — connections to Victorianism

<![CDATA[In a recent review in Atlantic Monthly, Christina Nehring criticizes the premise of Esther Perel’s book “Mating in Captivity”. Although she agrees with Perel’s basic premise that everyday life kills eroticism, her suggestion opposes Perel’s view that sex must be further worked on between couples. Rather, Nehring claims it is time to remystify rather than demystify sex, to make it more mysterious.

I find this interesting because in one of my favorite books, When Passion Reigned: Sex and the Victorians (Patricia Anderson 1996), it is argued that this is exactly what the Victorians were doing. All the nonsense about strict sexual morality and covering up table limbs and such was an intentionally mystifying veneer, not a cover-up for the fringe activities of Victorian brothels.

So I suppose the call is to reVictorianize sexuality. ]]>