Archive for September, 2012

Crushed velvet

My time at the Union Chapel was fruitful for this blog, as I not only speculated about the kind of man on stage, but was also reminded of the power of a certain type of woman in the audience. I like to call her the Crushed Velvet.

You know this woman. She dresses like Stevie Nicks in skirts made of scarves. Or she might have macramé pants. She’s usually skinny and pretty tall (and because of that, tends to slump a bit). Her hair is long but slightly unkempt. She has a pretty voice and she probably plays acoustic guitar. At night, she lights candles, burns incense and writes songs or poetry. The lyrics are prone to be a bit shit.

This may not be the prettiest of pictures (nor is it the ugliest) but hear me now, ladies. This woman — the Crushed Velvet — is cleaning up out there. No one can bag a man like she can.

I’ve always gathered that it’s her vulnerability, or that men get a sniff of her emotional instability and assume she’ll be a wildcat in the sack. Whatever the reason, this woman is pined after by the sensitive singer/songwriter type described in my previous post (if not invited on stage to duet with him).

Since I was at the Union Chapel with a thoughtful man, I asked him about the siren song of the Crushed Velvet. He explained something to me in simple terms that frankly frightened and enlightened me in equal measure. Using an analogy from nature, he said that men are typical predators. When they see an alpha female in a pack, they assume she is either already spoken for or will require too much effort to take down. So they look for the weak ones on the perimeter. The ones caught up in their own long limbs.

Despite the analogy, it occurred to me that it’s not easy to be a man. As women, we take for granted that it must be hard to muster the courage — and the basic energy — to approach the object of your desire. You can understand them going for easy wins.

That said, I’d rather we wore a welcoming smile and had an open — but straight — posture that attracted men with confidence and charisma rather than questionable frocks and fragility.

I also like to go against nature. If we charm them into our circle and surround them with our strength, who’s the predator now?

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Sensitive types

The Union Chapel is a gorgeous venue for music. As its name implies, it’s a dimly lit converted chapel, making it the perfect trap for acoustics… and singer/songwriters.

The other week, I was privileged to watch one such singer/songwriter at work. He was sensitive; his lyrics were brilliant. This is a man who has felt love. And pain. And love again.

Listening to him for a moment I thought: I hope a man has felt this way about me. And then I wised up. It’s men like this, I thought, ‘the sensitive ones’, that are doing the most damage to us, individually and to us as a group.

Why?

  1. They make women sound really, REALLY difficult. Heartbreakers. Cheats. Just. Plain. Hard. Work. We’re not, usually. If you’re straightforward, most of us — the best of us — respond in kind.
  2. These sensitive types play a sneaky game. They act like they desire a true equal, nay – a superior. They put us on a pedestal while other men snigger, ‘under the thumb.’ ‘Pussy whipped.’ ‘Henpecked.’ But don’t kid yourself. Men are men, and men want respect. Should the glow fade and the bloom fall off the rose, they will hold you accountable for their subjugation — even if was they who put the pattern in place.
  3. And when that happens, they will eviscerate you lyrically and publicly.

Okay — so not everyone has a stage and an audience. And I cannot deny that there is a world of female warblers out there playing the same (ahem) tune. You heard me, Taylor Swift.

Am I saying that men are incapable of feeling deeply or falling hard? Nope. Generally, I think men are more complex then we give them credit for. But we women fall victim to a number of fantasies and fictions. We know where to file a simpy romantic comedy, but the poetry and the intricacy of lyrics can suck us in differently. We tag these songs as our anthems; we devote them to past loves, and when we hear them, they often keep us down versus lifting us up. We wallow. We pine. We get stuck.

It’s time to get unstuck. When it comes to men — when it comes to anything for that matter — let’s seek to be elevated rather than sunk.

Longing, wanting, fighting: it’s that tension that makes it all seem worthwhile. But it’s deceptive, too, isn’t it? If the best music collections comprise quality and cheese, don’t the best matches of people also balance passion, levity… and release?

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Ann Romney

I never intended for this blog to be overtly political, but I do need to declare some affiliations in the spirit of disclosure. As an expat, I vote in America — and when I do, I vote Democrat. But this post, like all my posts, are about women’s issues. And what woman’s issues have been in the spotlight this week? Ann Romney’s.

Lest you think I am going to break down the content of her speech, I’m not. Other writers and bloggers have done a much better job of that. I am going to talk about reactions to Mrs. Romney on my Facebook feed — mostly from my other Democratic friends. You may speculate that she was being attacked. In fact, she only received compliments.

If you have eyes, you probably agree. Ann Romney is pretty. She looks good for her age. She is composed.

Good for her.

Every girl wants to grow up to be pretty. Much as it pains me to admit, I would be a much smarter person if I devoted the time and energy that I spend depilating, deep conditioning, body scrubbing, eating right, working out and reading women’s magazines to higher intellectual pursuits. And let’s not even get started on the inflated percentage of my hard-earned wages that goes toward clothing, high heels and lingerie instead of shrewd financial investments. I know this is flawed, but I no longer rail against the Beauty Myth, seeing it instead as a feminine perk. The manipulation of our appearance allows us to express facets of ourselves that men simply cannot. So I embrace it. Obviously. This blog would not exist if I did not.

Here’s what I will rail against. The sentiment that Mitt Romney’s pretty wife somehow raises his street cred. Also, if I’m honest, I don’t love the fact that she, or any political wife, gets that much time on a national stage to endorse her husband in the first place.

I mean, I think we all know who she is going to vote for, don’t we?

But I’ll tell you what really pisses me off: the fact that most of this noise was coming from Democrats. If I said this blog isn’t political, then what am I on about?

Democrats are supposed to be a party for women. Then there’s that stat about ‘blue states’ having the best universities and higher IQs on average. Okay, people. Remember some remedial lessons. Beauty is only skin deep. And it’s HER skin we’re talking about. Not his. Did we lose sight of something here?

I get especially ranty when I realise that most Republicans would rather throw up in their mouths than concede that Michelle Obama has incredible shoulders, that Teresa Heinz Kerry was sexy and worldly, or that Hillary Clinton, when not ragged from being a supremely effective and hard-working Secretary of State, is rather attractive in real life (the camera does her few favours).

In addition, as we look at HIS marionette-like visage, we remember that the Romneys are rich. We also know that other than the saddest cases (The Spellings), money can buy good looks. And to quote one of my most intelligent Facebook friends, it’s perfectly plausible to presume that there’s a Dorian Gray-like painting hanging behind locked doors back at Mitt’s mansion.

Yes, Ann Romney is pretty. But let’s not dumb ourselves down saying so. Ann Romney is not running for office. You may be curious to see how she looks on Inauguration Day, but you’ve got him for the following four years at least. Look below the surface at what that really means. Especially for women.

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