So interesting that the Washington Post runs this article today, titled “Graceful in all that she did” because this is what I’ve been debating with the lady for the old values, Ubermouth. The article is about the life of Grace Kelly.
Let’s not get bogged down in the moral compass of Hollywood and the rapid divorce culture which has found its apex in the broader community today but concentrate on the central point – grace and allure, even mystique.
My contention is that it has gone in this styleless, pomo world of overequality today.
First up, we’re speaking of the younger woman here or the one still influenced by trends – that’s a given. So when I mention women, in the context of style and fashion, that’s whom I mean – the trendsetters.
The onslaught of feminism and postmodernism has produced a female whose allure is like the Brave New World styling of the house in Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle. Now you could say that that’s just today’s fashion and a woman who puts a bit of black lace over her hairline, along with those furs, would look out of place commuting to the office today.
Well, she would and she wouldn’t. In London and NY, yes but in Paris, no. Paris still recognizes allure and women make an effort. If you look at how that woman’s dressed herself and the expression, you’ll see what I mean.
“Oh and you think I’ve got time to look like that for you, do you?” says the modern woman.
“Well no,” says I, “I don’t expect the modern woman to make any effort whatsoever to be alluring. It would be nice but no … I’d not expect it.” I’d then go on and say, “Look at the role models – Posh, Britney Spears, Jolie [whom so many women model themselves on] who rely on the face shape and body parts alone to do the job. To make an effort for the man is below these new pomo icons. A man is a nothing in her eyes so why bother?”
Now, into a room full of these bores comes a real woman – a Greer or Bacall or Beart and all male eyes go to them. They’ve made themselves look wonderful, either in simplicity, like Greer or in voluptuousness, like Beart. The key is that these latter women have something which has died today – style, allure, mystique, that femme fatale quality.
Test – go into the streets of Manchester any working day and observe. I did. Where would you see a femme fatale? We went to Paris a few years back and were surrounded by them. Feminism must take its share of the blame for this phenomenon in the Anglo-Saxon west, as part of the overall nasty political thrust we see going on.
“Oh, you say. You’d take women back to the dark ages.”
No, I’d lift them into a new golden age where men opened doors and doffed hats, where the clothing, even for men, had style, where a lady was seated by the man at the restaurant table, where the woman was adored and revered, instead of ignored as a whining creature. I’d like to see women regain the power with men they’ve thrown away today in this mad grasp at overequality and the loss of moral compass in day to day decencies, especially in the young.
Age is a huge factor here. Obviously, the older generation haven’t lost this and I see some of these women most days – charm and sophistication is what I see there – the incentive for a man to make an effort, rather than expecting the bonk will come no matter what so why bother.
Yet the style which still existed say, in hair, was still there in the 50s but was then lost. You might say it’s just changing fashions. Yes, a change for the worse. Our eyes are lowered these days, trendwise.
And yet people do recognize style as desirable. This was part of the popularity of the Poirot series and Jeeves and Wooster on TV, as a counterpoint to the awful reality TV types, with their complete stylelessness. Actresses were interviewed for the publicity material and over and over said it was partly the chance to “dress up” which appealed. Why did it appeal?
Simple. It was redolent of the days when men were gentlemen in dress and manner and where women were ladies or femmes fatale. But it was not just dress. It was language – do you recall a foulmouthed harridan harpy in any of the films of those days and it wasn’t just the Hollywood code here – it was reflected in the social interaction of that generation which has only now died out.
If there wasn’t decency in their personal lives, there at least still was in their public dealings. Rather than argue for a double standard, I’d prefer to argue for decency in all dealings, public and private but certainly not for bringing the gutter talk between close friends into the public sphere.
And it is in the manner, even in the facial expressions, the concerns, the grace. Certain women will always have mystique but the very institution of marriage in those days created a mystique, i.e. you didn’t get the goods until you’d tied the knot. Women kept a price on themselves and it became a more effective tool than when they let it all go later, at the behest of the new world culture.
When they just let it all hang out, under the delusion that the way to entice a man is to expose bodyparts, that’s a denial of feminine mystique, something the French still have some vestige of. This mystique says that I’ll accentuate my shape and move with style but you can’t actually get a glimpse of more than a hint.
Jane Greer, in one of the more memorable lines, rebuffed Robert Mitchum who’d been trying to come on to her by mentioning a cafe he could go to which would be better for him to resolve his issues and as she walked out of the door, added, “I go there sometimes.” Clemence Poesy reprised this in In Bruges.
Just shoving a woman into beautifully cut clothes does not a lady make though. It’s the way she moves and acts, the way she speaks, the breeding, the culture she’s immersed in, the high value she places on these things rather than the travesty of modern, gun-toting, kick butt so called “honesty” which is a pain in the butt, excuse my French – that’s what achieves the mystique, the allure.
[Before she lost it in that modern Anglo-Saxon way]
There have to be some women asking themselves what exactly they’ve achieved in this pomo world. They certainly haven’t increased men’s respect for them, quite the opposite. They certainly haven’t made the world a safer place for themselves in this date-rape age, quite the opposite. They’ve just poured money into the pockets of the lawyers without significantly achieving any equality of note and the trend is now to the backlash.
The film noir woman had a power the modern woman doesn’t any more. When the tide turns and women become women again, they’ll regain that plus the respect and dare I say it, even reverence of men … that’s if the feelings of men for them has any relevance any longer and they aren’t seriously advocating separate existences.