Saturday, March 27, 2010

It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings

"Yo' woman is easy when you know the way"
[Bess]

How come the entire canon of Western literature seems to be off when it comes to women and their sexuality? Why did we have to wait for Evolutionary Psychology and some socially awkward nerds to come along for our eyes to be opened?

The answer is that the truth is suppressed. Blogs like this and the ones on the sidebar still get viciously attacked for certain parties because there is much at stake. Our society is based on the idea of women (and their sex) being a scarce commodity. Take that away and you take away the drive and ambition of common men that we all live off.

Yet, there were always men who were "in the know" (or the "secret society" as some like to call it). And they were spreading their insight. Once your eyes are open, you will see it all over the Western literary canon. The reason you might have missed it before is that it is but whispers here and there in order to escape the sure punishment initiated by the censorship that is public opinion. Master Dogen has written an insightful post about this interesting phenomenon, and hinted at the fact that the self censoring that kept writers carefully silent throughout the centuries has anything but disappeared. in fact, it might have gotten worse.

As someone who loves opera, I get continuously reminded of the occult undercurrent whose justification of existence seems to be the education of men with open ears, eyes and minds about the dark side of female sexuality in Western art. It is interesting that, while most operas are overly romantic, there are hardly any operatic dramas that adhere to the common sexual stereotypes of virtuous women and philandering men.

Some of the greatest operas out there deal with the devastating effect female infidelity has on men.  

Pagliacci is about a clown who discovers that his wife who works with him has a lover right before the show. He is forced to go out, smile and be funny for the audience while meeting his adulterous wife. It is hard not to get the chills when listening to a masterful performance of his heartfelt despair.



Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte goes a step further. The title translates into "Thus do all [women]". And what he means by that is the fickle nature of their love and affection (aka inevitable cheating when the chance arises). the dark subject gets presented as a funny opera (opera buffa) and nobody really gets hurt since the women get seduced by their own fiances in disguise.

But it is Gershwin's Porgy and Bess that really tells it all (it is one of the few operas based on a true story).

"Don't you never let a woman grieve you
Jus' cause she got yo' weddin' ring.
She'll love you and deceive you,
Take yo' clothes and leave you
'Cause a woman is a sometime thing.
"

The protagonist, Porgy gets portrayed as a White Knight who saves the “liquor-guzzling slut” (actual lyrics) Bess from police persecution. He is an easy going nice guy who seems incapable of hurting anyone. And he falls hard for that woman and showers her with affection and presents. He has a disability which symbolically cripples his manhood even further in that he literally cannot stand up for himself.

What we learn about Bess is that her former boyfriend is a bad boy par excellence. His life is characterized by drugs, booze and violence that does not stop short of murder. He is courageous and "the only man" who is willing to face danger when it comes to saving a woman's life during a hurricane. Bess describes her time with him life this:

"These five years I been yo' woman,
You could kick me in the street,
Then when you wanted me back,
You could whistle, an' there I was
Back again, lickin' yo' hand.
"

According to her peer's judgment her sexual value is in decline ("Dat girl's thirty if she's a day!"), and it is no surprise then that Bess is ready to give up her bad boy Lover with his "hot hand" that he uses to "handle me and hold me so; it's going to be like dying." She'd rather be with Provider male Porgy. And for a while things work out great.

The trouble starts as her bad boy Lover returns and pushes for her affection ("I knows you' ain' change"). Bess is unable to resist and has sex with him within minutes.

Her sweet Provider husband Porgy forgives her quickly, but rightfully believes that his only way to secure her is to kill her previous lover. Bess approves. So he does. And almost gets away with it. But there is no happy ending. As he returns from the police station, he finds out that the woman he has killed for left him for another bad boy who enticed her with sweet talk and drugs. Bess has left South Carlina with her new lover to follow him to New York.

There has never been a more symbolic act for oneitis than Porgy leaving the final stage, hardly able to walk on his crutch (or goat cart, depending on the set) to get back to the woman who has betrayed him twice and almost completely destroyed his life.
"Oh, Lawd, I'm on My Way"

16 comments:

  1. This is a great post.

    All we need to do is hark back to the past...

    ReplyDelete
  2. So good and loved the Shakespeare game post also. Idea women are fickle is by no means a new one, unfortunately for some reason things became confused post 1830 in Anglocentric counties.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "How come the entire canon of Western literature seems to be off when it comes to women and their sexuality? "

    Authors who spoke the truth got labeled as misogynists.
    Those who didn't have the guts to openly write about it, survived and are now misconstrued.
    The manginas of yesteryears are celebrated as champions of equality.
    Mediocre works of women got championed as great literature.

    ReplyDelete
  4. the more of the classics I read, the more they affirm stuff that game has "found out" in the past decade or so. good sources/music for evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'd also easily add 'La Donna e Mobile' by Verdi.

    Woman is fickle
    like a feather in the wind.
    She changes her voice and
    her mind.
    Always sweet,
    pretty face,
    in tears or in laughter, she
    is always lying

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't star many posts in my Google Reader but I star a lot of yours

    ReplyDelete
  7. Not sure if Rod's was an original:

    Poor old Granddad I laughed at all his words
    I thought he was a bitter man
    He spoke of women's ways
    They'll trap you, then they use you before you even know
    For love is blind and you're far too kind
    Don't ever let it show

    ReplyDelete
  8. A french masculinist who managed to fuck around in the haute société said : << while manginas were writing books about their impossible love for the woman living right next door (wich they were too scared to approach), the men who had success with the opposite sex were simply too busy enjoying life to write books. >>

    Here is a introduction video from him, on feminism = youtube.com/watch?v=Do5zrdTb-yI

    ReplyDelete
  9. These issues are increasingly getting more attention in the mainstream: http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/14/mr.nice.guy.backlash/index.html?hpt=C2

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think you're off base here, the belief that women aren't virtuous is in fact the very foundation of the western canon. See: Garden of Eden.

    ReplyDelete
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