Thursday, May 28, 2009

Battle of the Sexes

Classic line, from Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd (1957):

You cold-fish respectable girls...inside, you crave the same thing as the rest of 'em.

The single most regressive piece of American culture is our attitude towards sex. Because we can't address it in an adult fashion, Americans only seem to accept sex when it's watered or dumbed down. Even in Hollywood--hardly a bedrock of decency or morality--Paris Hilton gets attacked by comedians for being sexually promiscuous. Meanwhile, to paraphrase anthropologist Helen Fisher, "If you think men are more promiscuous than women, who do think the men are sleeping with?" (Another one of her gems is, "We were built for reproduction, not happiness.")

I am not sure where I was going with this, except to say that gender stereotypes are as alive as ever. We've progressed from burning witches at the stake, but until women fully harness their sexual power by becoming comfortable with their bodies, it seems they will never attain full power in America. That's a shame. At the end of the day, although men and women are surely different, it makes no sense to use a naturally connecting activity to drive them apart.

A memorable exchange from Kazan's film:

-For a mild man, you sound vicious.

-Didn't you know? All mild men are vicious. They hate themselves for being mild and hate the extroverts whose violence seems to have an attraction for nice girls who should know better.

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