Friday, 5 October 2007

modesty part two

keeping you updated with my shalit ( adventures.
once upon a time there were gentlemen and there were ladies. ladies wore long dresses with frills at the bottom of their skirts, gloves to the elbows and carried parasols behind which they could hide virginal blushing faces. gentlemen walked at their sides, holding elbows and attending to the ladies needs, whilst never acting improperly. should a young scamp dare to speak out of turn to the lady, her modesty was her protector, and he would feel shame at his impropriety. there was no rape. modesty forbade it. there was no anorexia. modesty forbade it.
once upon a time there were gentlemen and there were ladies. with charles II on the throne, the women wore low cut dresses with slight wisps of slik covering their full breasts.
These women married men and then became mistresses of other, richer men. There were ladies who lived under bow bells and hitched their skirts about their knees and plied themselves as wares.
Once upon a time Clarissa worked for a rich man who cornered her and took what he wanted, once upon a time Lucrece gave her husband's friend food and he took her to, once upon a time Lavinia went a walking and her cousins found her and they raped her and cut off her hands and tongue, once upon a time rape never happened because rape wasn't officially a crime.
Once upon a time ladies would take to their beds with lachrymose eyes and a melancholy sigh and they'd say no to food and they'd sigh even more. Their bodies would fade but still they wouldn't eat, and people would whisper she has the vapours, she has consumption, she has hysterics. They didn't whisper anorexia because the word didn't exist, so how could anorexics exist.
These problems have always existed. Wendy Shalit asks - why are none of my grandmother's friends anorexic? Why doesn't she look a little harder.
As the Shakespeare who she is so fond of quoting says:
"A rose by any other name."

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