Archive for April, 2012

4-26-12 Demimondaine

Published by under Interplay

Mme Camus with a Japanese Screen

Edgar Degas, 1870

The question, “Is sexual freedom good for women?”, becomes the topic of the day. Dissected by Margaret Talbot’s sober review of HBO’s “Girls” in the April 16th issue of the New Yorker, Charles Murray foams at the mouth during the discussion in his new book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.”

Republicans busy themselves writing bills to preserve family values as laid out in the Bible, careful to overlook Lot’s heroic gesture in Genesis 19:8, “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.” Democrats drench arguments for the most basic human liberty with neatly packaged medical solutions.  Libertarians, for once, are right. (Left?)  They do not give a damn. Only Obama’s Secret Service agents are smiling.

To my knowledge no one has ever asked, “Is sexual freedom good for men?”  Or, “Is sexual freedom for men good for society?”  It is a given that boys will be boys, so get over it.  The central point here is that men are all for libertine behavior as long as they have control of it.  They lose control once women gain access to reproductive freedom.  It drives men wild as they flail about seeking harsher and harsher punishments.  And, the result is, some women go mad.

The melodrama of grand opera is the stage for mad women. No coat hangers, here, but the results are the same. In Samuel Barber’s “Vanessa” set in Europe in 1905, Erika throws herself down a cliff to avoid the guilt of illicit sex. Leos Janacek’s “Jenufa” kills her new-born. “Madama Butterfly” commits seppuku after giving her young boy to his father and new wife.  “Suor Angelica”, forced into a convent, swallows poison hearing of the death of her child. The New York Met portrays a pregnant Ophelia drowning in Ambroise Thompson’s “Hamlet”. Wagner’s Sieglinde dies in childbirth.

There are more hidden or disguised operatic tragedies than you can count. Violetta in “La Traviata.” “Tosca.”  Gilda in “Rigoletto.”  Leonora in “Il Trovatori.” “Lucia de Lammermoor.”

If women achieve freedom to control their own bodies, the answers to the above questions are:  “Yes, sexual freedom is good for women;  for men, mas Ó menos.”



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