Lord Somber, an artist in his own right, sends an article by Pat Archbold on the “death of pretty”.
We’re not a society of brilliant peacocks and dull peahens, we’re not a society where the men sartorially strut their stuff and the women hide away in burqas with pillarbox slits for their eyes, we’re a society where the male plays the aesthetic straight man to the exquisite woman.
Woman is the arbiter of style and she defines style for any decade but she’s far more than that in society. She plays so many roles.
Quietly, without fanfare, she goes about being everything – this arbiter of style, the conscience of the nation, the upholder of its moral compass, the mother, housewife, lover, friend, the home administrator, voice of reason, voice of compassion. Woman is vastly more important than many men give her credit for and I, for one, do not see her as the weaker sex. The woman, operating properly, runs the society and as the post on infidelity showed, when she ceases to fulfil her role, unpleasant and destructive consequences follow.
When she attempts to be the man and do the things men do, she loses much of herself. When the worst aspects of Woman run the society, instead of the best, e.g. compassion turned to PCism, then we get what we have today – a mess and an open invitation for the state to come in and take over. When the best aspects of Woman quietly run the society as they should, regulate the nooky, praise when appropriate, manipulate positively, when men and women work together – then the society prospers and grows.
‘Pretty’ is certainly about women and girls but it’s also about art, architecture, even city planning and it has been destroyed in so many ways from everything from PoMo to porn. It can be sheeted home to the Frankfurt monsters quite unquestionably and the results are a Sharkeyesque dystopia [Lord of the Rings] and sheer Eminesque ugliness [ar Trace].
This post is intended as a lament of sorts, a lament for something in the culture that is dying and may never been seen again. Pretty, pretty is dying.
People will define pretty differently. For the purposes of this piece, I define pretty as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence. Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence. I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is. But some things were different back then.
First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue. And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty. By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact. That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.
Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different. When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well. As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth. Nowhere is this pretty deficit more obvious than in our “stars,” the people we elevate as the “ideal.”
It is ironic that 40 years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity. Something to be used up and thrown out. Of course men play a role in this as well, but women should know better and they once did.
You get the general idea. Now, I don’t wish to see women return to a mythical state of Lillian Gish ingenue-ity, nor would I condemn women to live in a Mills and Boonish world of Italian stallions and Mr. Darcys.
Yesterday, I was unfortunate enough to suffer a Mills and Boon attack, i.e. someone put a revolving rack of Mills and Boons and other such like beside the till and so, in the spare moments, I looked at the titles and some of the blurbs. I wrote them down and quoted some to the ladies, just to see how they’d react. Whatever you think of M&B, there’s obviously a market for it, so what do you make of:
# Reforming the Rake
# Rake beyond Redemption [LOL].
# Forbidden Lady
# Adventurous Bride
# Virgin Slave – Barbarian King [for how long a virgin?]
# Billionaire Boss’s Innocent Bride
# His Poor Little Rich Girl
# Rescued by the Brooding Tycoon
# The Prince’s Virgin Wife
# Revealed – his Secret Child
# The Forbidden Innocent
# One Illicit Night
# The Conqueror’s Lady
# Stranger in my Bed
# Forbidden Pleasure
# Surrender to Seduction
# The Seduction Game
# Her Moment in the Spotlight
# A Treacherous Seduction
# In Bed with a Stranger
# Lover by Deception
# Showdown with the Sheriff [bit different to Liberty Vallance]
Just who writes this stuff – is it women or men?
The one which really took the biscuit and had me in stitches was Stranded, Seduced and Pregnant, from which I handwrote the blurb on a bit of paper [annotated in lighter grey]:
From Pure to Pregnant!
Lovely Neve Macleod’s life [redheaded Scot – significant?] is shrouded by scandal. The tabloids delight in branding her a scarlet widow but in reality, her marriage was for convenience. [Oh, that’s OK then, it’s fine to act the tart if your marriage was rubbish in your eyes.] She’s still a virgin [WTF!] and a caring stepmother – but no one wants to hear the truth. [Supposedly they all call her skank.]
That is, until she finds herself stranded and snowbound with brooding tycoon [LOL – the two motifs] Severo Constanza [the three motifs] – her unlikely saviour. As the magnificent Italian [I BS you not – that’s what was written] comes to her rescue, he knows nothing of her salacious past [as a part-time virgin, presumably] – just that she’s pure at present.
Yep, I think I get it. She wants to be laid, in public, by seven or eight strong hunks, preferably onstage, with everyone admiring her beauty but at the same time, she’s actually virginal and pure, in the best societal tradition. She wants to go animal on her multiple lovers, the number of which shall never be told but also wishes to be respected as a lady and for her mind.
She wants it all, even the contradictions.
Surely there has to be some sort of happy medium where men take a step back to a certain chivalry and women take a step back to a certain inscrutability. Therein lies the true empowerment of both, rather than in this faux, state-enforced abomination we have today.
We need a return to elegant and pretty in all things, from art to fashion and women need to rediscover style while men need to rediscover panache. Nowhere is this so obviously lost than in the very way the modern person walks and talks. It was blindingly obvious in Downton Abbey and similar where the women were dressed up as ladies but just the way they moved gave them away – a product of our age.
In the promo pic for The Artist, there was one darkhaired actress who stood with poise and style, one other who was loud, in-your-face and boorish, supposedly a male trait – she would call it “having character” – and another older lady who didn’t stand with much deportment at all.
Deliver us from this age we’ve inflicted on ourselves.