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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an agèd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

In praise of normal woman

[This is a long post, I warn you. It is a faithful reproduction of an essay by J.B. Priestley. If you are a feminist or a women's lib type, you may stop reading right here. ]

A large number of men, for the most part elderly men, are secretly terrified by the new type of woman, the emancipated woman, who has put down her fancy-work, left home, received a man's education, taken a man's position in the world, and partly adopted masculine habits. The protests, the sneers and growls of such men are fed by this secret terror. The very sight of one of these young women, so determined, business-like, efficient, makes them shake in their shoes; for they know that the game is up, that no longer will they be able to swagger and boast of their professional capacity before an admiring female chorus; the women have penetrated behind the scenes in the theatre of man's business and have noted the fraility of the players. Now, like these fellows, I have protested, have even ventured a little sneer at times, but I flatter myself that it has been for a very different reason. To speak frankly and without boastfulness, this new type of woman does not terrify me in the least. On the contrary, she puts me at my ease; she is so like myself. The only difference is, she does not do it so well as I do. Moreover, she has lost something very valuable, to wit, feminine reserve, dignity, grace, without which she will never be able to check my raging conceit, my swelling vanity, never be able to put me in my place as her gentler sisters can with only a faint smile or a slight gesture. That is why I protest against her, for if her kind multiply, we shall live in an entirely man-made world, and we men will strut and swagger unchecked, to the peril of our souls.

It is the other and older type of woman, who with her fancy-work and fancy puddings, her slight knowledge of Italian and painting in water-colours, that terrifies me. It is the frail silvery old ladies with fine manner and much knowledge of the world, who can put me in my place. And, like all men, I ought to be put in my place every now and again, or I should become insufferable. That is why the intellectual young men who figure as heroes in our novels of Chelsea life are so insufferable; they spend all their time among advanced women (who have gone into the world in pursuit of a career -- as the phrase goes) and so are suffered to go their ways unchecked; whereas any ordinary woman would quickly send such fellows very briskly about their business, for all their talk would not hide from her quick feminine glance their hundred-and-one little meannesses. For in addition to some qualities already mentioned, the ordinary woman usually possesses something that her more 'advanced' sister plainly lacks, and that is commonsense; and a measure of feminine commonsense is fatal to pretentious and designing males. It usually seeks expression in a curious sort of cool yet sparkling irony, essentially feminine, which will prick the inflated balloons of masculine conceit in a trice. Nothing could be better for the purpose. Every man, if he will but speak the truth, will admit that his grand egoistical self has suffered more discomfort from this very feminine verbal weapon than from all the other more boisterous devices of his fellow men put together. As for the free-and-easy banter of the mannish women, their pontifical airs, their pedantry, their shrill sarcasms, they are simply ineffectual, a mere play of shadows, compared with this older method of feminine attack and defence, the method of polite smiling irony.

Jane Austen, of course, used it to our admiration, and, if we are men, occasionally to our discomfort. There is a fine squib in G.K. Chesterton's brilliant firework display, The Victorian Age in Literature, which can be aptly exploded here. 'Jane Austen,' he says, 'was born before those bonds which (we are told) protected woman from truth were burst by the Brontës or elaborately untied by George Eliot. Yet the fact remains that Jane Austen knew much more about men than either of them. Jane Austen may been protected from truth: but it was precious little of truth that was protected from her. When Darcy, in finally confessing his faults, says, "I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice though not in theory," he gets nearer to a complete confession of the intelligent male than ever was hinted by Byronic lapses of the Brontës' heroes or the elaborate exclupations of George Eliot's. Any man wishing to preserve his own unbounded conceit of himself would rather face ten women like George Eliot or George Sand than one like Jane Austen, a delicate and fastidious little spinster who spent her life in a secluded village. But for company and for the good of my sould give me Jane Austen and all such cool feminine intelligences that know too much to flatter my sex by imitating it.

The woman who lives a normal life is able to check the swelling conceit and egotism of her menfolk simply because her outlook is so different. It is more personal and yet more impersonal. Her interests are at once narrower and wider than those of men. She is primarly concerned with very little things, the minutiae of talk and behaviour for example, on the one hand, and with very big ones, the colossal elementary facts of life, such as birth, mating, and death on the other. The first are personal and particular; whereas the second, those enormous facts about life which woman is never allowed to lose sight of, are, of course, universal, meaning just as much in the Fiji Islands as they do here. And both ranges of interest make her what only fools deny her to be, namely, essentially practical; her eye is steadily fixed on the concrete thing, and she mistrusts that chasing of the wild goose which is one of the chief pastimes and delights of man, She is concerned with persons, solid unmistakable individuals, and judges ideas according to their capacity for making persons happy. Her peculiar and intense devotion and loyalty are meant for persons, for the family and not for the world, and when, by some accident, there is a temporary dislocation, a change in the objects of this devotion of hers, the result is rather pathetic and, I think, not entirely harmless. Thus, at the present time, there is more than one woman who goes out to business and gives to the trade, say, of money-lending that intense devotion and loyalty of hers which Nature meant her to give to human beings, a man and helpless little children -- a very unfortunate displacement.

Now somewhere between these two extremes, the minutiae and the colossal universal facts, come man's interests, all the philosophies, arts, sciences, political systems, dreams, fantasies, abstractions, and what Stevenson called 'logical Aunt Sallies'. These are the things that men take seriously, and these are the things that woman (I do not mean Miss So-and-So or Mrs. What's-her-Name, but Woman) does not take seriously -- not, that is, in the last resort. From this comes, what Stevenson again called, woman's 'motherly, superior tenderness to man's vanity and self-importance'. But the fact that is 'superior' tends in any healthy man o check that vanity and self-importance. He takes his interests for once into an atmosphere in which they are regarded as the ingenious play of a great child; his values are for once not merely questioned but quietly set aside and a new scale erected in their place; his monstrous egoism receives a shrewd blow and, if he is not a megalomaniac, he finds himself swallowing an unfamiliar dose of humility. If a man is hurt he can run to his womenfolk for comfort and sympathy and he will not ask in vain, but he is only doing what his child who burnt itself playing about the hearth did a few minutes before, and what comfort he receives he has to accept on the same terms. If he is not a Sir Willoughby Patterne, the experience will do him good. Many a time when I have been brimming over with self-importance because some little affair of mine, which I imagined was as significant to all the world as it was to me, has prospered, I have encountered some quiet-spoken, almost timid lady, whose faint but perceptible contempt for the whole world of ideas I was living in suddenly brought me down to the ground again and gave me a right sense of proportion once more. Most men (with the exception of the Patternes) who are whole-heartedly devoted to this art of that science, who are ambitious in their profession or their politics, must have remarked this queenly indifference, this unspoken but obvious contempt for their great concerns, and benefited by it. This tolerant and tender smile keeps us in order when al the shouts and groans and menacing gestures of our fellow men are of no avail. It puts us in our place, among the largest and noisiest of children. Once all women have left their citadel and descended, with shrill cries, into the battlefield, as some are doing now, then man's conceit will flourish unchecked for ever. He will become the Superman; a sight for the gods, rolling in inextinguishable laughter.

[If you want to flame someone, it has to be Mr. Priestley. But since he is in deep sleep now, I can step in for him!]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed you are such a paragon of manhood, it would surely do your fragile ego much harm if a woman got ahead of you.
Remember true womanhood has many shades , it need not always be a version of 'miss pout and smile' and 'miss flutter my eyelids'. It is about courage and grace under fire, it is about being able to touch the sky with a tear in one's eye.
You will never understand thhe journey VK , because you are not a WOMAN.
God bless You , coz people like you make women stronger.

6/21/2006 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not someone who believes* that, men and women are the same except for their sexual behaviour**. But, I wonder if this "modern" woman "doesn't put a man in place" at all. I think this whole "putting-in-place-act" is as much about the man as it's about the woman. In a not-so-oblique way, it's his willingless to be "put himself in place" by a woman which makes the act possible; as much as the woman's willingness to "reciprocate."
So, I think, as much as the man's, and the woman's, sexuality is intact (between them), this is bound to happen***! Worry not :).

* - I don't believe otherwise either.
** - Or perhaps, that was the only aspect.
***- May I say, regardless of the degree of "modernity".

6/22/2006 07:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Llsa said...

Came via desipundit - started reading and thought - this guy got cannot be more than 22 or 23 at the most and looked at your profile - bingo! Seriously though, for someone going through I-think-Iam-over-my-raging-harmones-and-can-seriously-analyze-women to put it out there was brave. Hopefully you will work through your contradictions and figure out what you want- save the post to laugh for when you are in your 30s. Good luck with the comments that are sure to follow.

6/22/2006 07:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to view women only as a binary 'career-oriented aka aggressive' or 'domestic aka graceful/tender'.

I do hope age brings you wisdom. Lots of it.

-A woman

6/22/2006 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Anu said...

VK, Im not even sure if you will understand, but a woman cannot be categorized such.

The woman whom you see as career oriented/aggressive/so similar to yourself is likely to be a collegue of yours, and workplace is not a place where a woman bakes puddings and 'put a man in place'. (And I dont think it is your collegue's job to put you in place. You ought to grow up yourself.) There a woman has to be as tough as anyone else. The same woman may very well knit and bake pies and even sing her child to sleep at home. She may be able to 'put' HER man in place with a glance.

Every woman has many shades, many faces, many roles. Grow up and you may understand.

Btw, even though I have a mind to dig up Priestley from his grave and flame him, I addressed my comment to you, because I feel you wouldn't have posted his work on your blog if you weren't in agreement. :)

6/22/2006 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

Thanks for reading! May I hasten to add that the post is a faithful copy of an essay by JB Priestley. However, let me not divert your venom by hiding behind that veil. I concurred with Priestley's views. I posted it, and I'll try to defend it.

@Anon1: The point about the essay is not that a man should not lose to a woman. On the contrary, it is how nicely and easily a woman can win, and the balance it brings to the entire man-woman debate. Of course, there are 3 billion plus women in the world, and each one if different. But the same can be said about men, right? If men cannot understand women, the reverse is also on shaky ground. As for "courage and grace" and other poetic terms, it applies to everyone.

@Zero: I confess I didn't understand your comment. Please excuse. Please explain.

@Ilsa: Bingo! Didn't I pull a fast one on you? Really, you should have looked up Mr Priestley's profile, and not mine. Maybe you should stop taking vague guesses at people's age. Thanks for the wishes though. I'll save the posts and the comments do. If you drop your email address, I'll mail you when in my 30s, after having tread through my "contradictions". Anyway, your age-guessing theory has given enough to laugh at till I get to my 30s.

@Anon2: Not really. The two aren't mutually exclusive; but I should think that most people can be classified into one of the two categories (though I hate generalizations myself).

@Anu: The term "bake puddings" doesn't mean that the woman should keep doing it all the time, nor does it mean that a woman should do only housework. Rather it is an expression of sadness that women are fast breaking away from feminine qualities. Of course, they don't need to be subservient to men. The second paragraph quotes extensively about Jane Austen; maybe you should read it again. I understand Priestley major question to be "What is a woman without the qualities that define her?" And pray tell me, where has anyone disagreed that a woman has different shades?

6/22/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Patrix said...


I think you ought to make it clear that the post is a "faithful copy of an essay by J.B. Priestley". Possibly somewhere at the top of the post so that people don't jump you.

6/22/2006 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

@Patrix: Mea culpa. I should have done it as I posted it. Have changed it now.

6/22/2006 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr JB Priestley has a right to his opinion, as have others, and I just have a few remarks...(to Mr JB)

I could just as well end it by saying ...who cares what JB thinks? Does any woman care? Does anyone care, save some men of similar opinions? Will this change anything, other than letting JBs readers know what kind of woman he prefers, of an evening walk? No. But I'm plodding on with the argument just for fun.

Is a woman a secondary species to man, that her emancipation has to serve a man's purpose somehow, or else it is useless? A woman advances for her own sake, not to serve you better, dear JB. And therefore, if her new characteristics terrify, or amuse, or disgust you, we're fine with it. This is still old-fashioned thinking where men think women should care about the opinion of Man. Yes, we care about some men, individuals who care about us, but we sure ain't trying to please universally. It was one of the first things to go, this tendency to conformity. Today's society is about individuals.

As for those women, those 'gentler sisters' whose smiles of indifference can prick inflated balloons of masculine conceit, what lies behind that smile? Is it utter ignorance, or dull indifference? Their 'commonsense' is no more than a tunnel view of existence that includes only the very primitve and basic functions of mankind, and excludes all his more recent cerebral achievements. JB should have had more faith in the glory of his learning which makes him who he is in the eyes of people who praise his writing, (would anyone be reading his letter otherwise?) rather than be felled by some ignorant woman's indifference to it. If learning and knowledge makes a man more predisposed to preening and conceit, it is an individual's flaw (He does not have the right to claim such a flaw for all men). Men are not 'children' who need a nurse to run to, when they burn themselves.

Does modern woman ape men? Perhaps, as a latecomer to the world of business, it is only natural to pick up from others more experienced, rather than invent the wheel from scratch. Why does JB find it dishonorable for a woman to do whatever a man does, when no one is criticizing the man for doing it ? Where is the rule that says woman must necessarily be different, in every molecule and trait of behavior? We are the same species, after all. Should a woman scientist invent completely new theories of physics just to be different from a male scientist?

The crux of the argument seems to be that JB sees himself as a flawed human whose conceit cannot be checked by his own efforts, but needs an external agency to come and put him in place when his ego puffs up and starts overwhelming itself. And to think this article is actually a supreme example of that very danger he forsees! So here I come, to say to JB with my twinkling eyes, and 'cool feminine intelligence' - "Balderdash and bullshit, JB. Get over yourself!"

:) apunani

6/22/2006 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Ritu said...

So let me understand this - women should exist only to smile tenderly, be gracious, bake puddings and puncture men's egos when they get too ahead of themselves? When not doing so, they should preferably grow old in gentle spinsterhood ala Jane Austen - all of this in aid of preserving Mr. Priestley's world-view of what is 'womanly' and what is not?

Really weird...considering Priestley's wife was one of the foremost archaelogists of her time - I'm sure she didn't bake too many puddings at home!

6/22/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An explanation is in order reg. that gibberish I had written, I agree.
What I meant was this - This concern about the feminine quality being lost is just transient. As far as the hormones continue to exist in men and women, (taking the very example in this post) men will love to be put in place by women and women will love to be put men in place.
Differences between men and women on emotional, psychological aspects will remain intact regardless of what mundane day jobs they choose.
Or, some thing like that. But, for all you know, I may be this 20-something guy seriously analyzing something ;).

6/22/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

@Anon: A woman is not a secondary species. Her emancipation, in serving her own good, should also serve the purpose of the society. To rephrase it, it doesn't need to serve a man's purpose, rather it should serve man's purpose (as in the purpose of mankind). Whereas a woman is free to advance for her own purposes, it is this kind of me-first thinking which doesn't become her.

This leads us to the question: "What becomes her?" It would be foolish to attempt a definition, for no definition can do justice to billions of women across the world. Rather, as a conservative, I am bound to think that there are some qualities which are considered essentially feminine. If you leave out the physical differences, it is these qualities that differentiate a man and a woman.

Mr. Priestley seems to ask, "What is a woman without the traits that distinguish her?"

It is easy to relegate the commonsense of older (may I say, more normal) women to a mere "tunnel view". They may not have attended Harvard, may not have written critiques of Nietzsche, but their intelligence in the matters that required their immediate attention surpasses our grip of similar things. That applies to both men and women. One might argue if our recent cerebral achievements have really taken us anywhere, but that is a whole new (and bigger) argument. Of course, there weren't blogs in that age, and blogs are so cool. But I digress.

Mr. Priestley does not suggest that what he is is defined by the sum total of the indifference shown to him by the various women he came in contact with. If learning and knowledge breed conceit, it is wisdom that keeps it in check. Whereas a man possesses the former, a woman should possess the latter -- and this is one quality which Mr Priestley expects in a woman.

There is no rule which precludes a woman from aping a man. The question is not about that. Rather it is, "Why should a woman try so hard to go one up on a man, when there are easier, more native ways of doing it?" Yeah, I hear you say, "It's my choice." Which answer ends the argument.

Mr. Priestley opines that if a woman were to stick to her core competence, she would be much better placed at taking on a man.

The crux of the argument is that there is actually not much of an argument. If anyone should be displeased with this piece, it has to be the men. The women should really be enjoying every word of it.

6/22/2006 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr VK you are still such a kid when it comes to talking about women or beginning to understand them.
As someone rightly pointed out , let the testosterone take a walk and then we can talk.

6/22/2006 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous confused said...


Thank you for posting this. Thank you also for taking the trouble of defending Mr. Priestly since clearly he is not available for the same.

I was a little amused by the comments above, because no one sans one pointed out the most fundamental flaw in Mr. Priestly's argument. To me it does suggest a little hypocricy on the part of commentators here who seem to be under the illusion that men really need their help.

Why do men need anyone to control their ''raging conceit, my swelling vanity.'' Is every man plagued by such eh qualities? Or Mr. Priestly drawing from him weakneses as a human being, is speaking for the entire man kind? Also for argument's sake suppose we accept it, Why should not they be able to control such traits themselves? Why does Mr Priestly think that aformentioned traits are so naturally uncontrollable?

In his entire piece Mr. Priestly never cares to explain why men will have such traits which can apparently only be tamed by a woman of Jane Austen's variety. Mr. Priestly also seems to assume that all woman who sit at home have gentleness, commonsense e.t.c. Mr. Priestly also seem to suggest that as soon as woman step into man's world, they magically lose such qualities. Quite clearly, it seems to suggest to me that such qualities are linked to the job function.

In that case, if men find such qualities so desirable, maybe they should sit at home and soon enough they shall gain the same Jane Austen like qualities. Let the woman go out in the so called men's world, and such home maker men would be able to control them with a raised eyebrow and such. Better still, mayb half the men can peform the so called men's function while the rest sit at home ready to control them at the slightest indiscretion. Oh! Of course you might argue that such traits cannot be aquired by men? Why? ALso, do tell me what exactly in a men's world is so bad that which makes women lose all their feminine(sic) qualities.

Some side arguments. The most basic assumption which Mr. Priestly is making is that there is something called a man's world, man's business and even man's science! Why is that so?

Scond, why should women be concerned about the men folk so much, that is if they need their help?

In conclusion, Mr Priestly is being clever by half here. Instead of asking woman to sit at home, which would be at least intellectualy honest, he is trying the other tack. We need you the way you were, we are so weak you see. That is akin to a molester pleading a woman to wear a Burka since you know we are so weak...A highly sexist and stupid argument.


p.s Please add ''if you are a self-respecting man'' to your disclaimer at the top. We need no help! Thank you!

6/22/2006 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Anu said...

VK, pray tell me "fancy-work and fancy puddings, her slight knowledge of Italian and painting in water-colours" are these the qualities that define a woman? (According to you and Mr.Priestley)

(And I hope you have read my previous comment completely..)

6/22/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger scipio said...

VK... I really can't post a comment in support of you because I don't agree with what is said in the post... in fact I believe women are stronger than men in many ways no matter whther they are from the old school of thought or the new-age feminachos (err... is that the feminine gender for machos? :D )

Anyways, this comment is not directed at you. It is directed at all those anonymouses in the comments... Why do you choose to remain hidden? I especially want to this question to be answered by the "Grace Under Fire" anonymous woman... I don't know the reason why you chose to remain anonymous, but the only thing it seems to indicate is that you seem to be chickening out.

Hmm... May be I'll get some hate filled comments on my blog too (though God knows my click-starved blog needs them :P )

6/22/2006 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Karthik said...

whatever it is, you sure know how to make ur blog happening! :-P

[decided not to contribute anything to all the above,coz i am impatient :-)]

6/22/2006 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Vidya said...

>> the minutiae and the colossal universal facts, come man's interests, all the philosophies, arts, sciences, political systems, dreams, fantasies, abstractions, and what Stevenson called 'logical Aunt Sallies'..

Hmm Wonder what Jacquetta Hawkes would have to say on this..

6/23/2006 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

"feminine reserve, dignity, grace". So typically Victorian. Sounds like the Old Jungle Saying, "pombalainna adangi irukkanum."

Almost all men (even guys that hate chauvinism) who appear to be free from chauvinism sometimes reveal what they really believe and desire. Priestly's romanticism is just MCP-ishness.

6/23/2006 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

@Ritu: Of course, those are not the sole functions of a woman. And Priestley does not restrict them to those. If that is all you glean from all of this, I cannot be of much help. Priestley's wife could have been a top-notch archaeologist, but what can we make of it? The central point about this essay is the loss of feminine traits in the so-called-sophisticated woman, and not whether a woman can take up a profession or not. Jacquetta could have been feminine enough to please her husband (who in any case, seems very demanding!) The reference to Austen is about the latter's understanding of man and woman, something that is missed by later authors.

@Anon: Are you the loser who does not even have a name, and who measures intellect in terms of testosterone?

@Zero: Transient? I don't think so. I understood evolution to be a Markov process.

6/23/2006 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This concern about the feminine quality being lost is just transient.
What I meant was that, the concern was transient and that nothing of those qualities (in their very essence) that the author has put forth are actually lost.

6/25/2006 03:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

@confused: The one flaw in Priestley argument is to make it sound as if to mean that the career woman lacks the finer qualities that we associate with womanhood. I would like to overlook this, because the career-woman angle is really a side, supporting argument to the main question, "Where are those qualities?" The point about the raging conceit is taken. One can argue that the Buddha was a man. What Priestley intends to convey is that men are more adventurous and that women, with their cool heads, can always keep them in check.

@Anu: No. And I think you might have read the who essay, and the comments below it too.

@Karthik: :)

@Vidya: Priestley doesn't need to be a saint, does he? In any case, he was talking about normal women. And by your own admission, Ms Hawkes doesn't seem like one.

@Elizabeth: If "feminine reserve, dignity, and grace" sounds like an old jungle saying, let God save civilisation. No one says, "pombalainga naa adangi irukkanum." Rather, "pombalainga pombalaingalaa irundhaa nalladhu" is what I think Priestly says.

@Zero: Those qualities are not lost. For God's sake, no! They seem hidden behind layers of sophistication and make-up.

6/27/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous sonia said...

:-) i think actually you'll find a helluva a lot of these career women ( which is pretty much most of us nowadays!) are actually the same as your other type of woman- certainly in the talking about small details and narrow viewpoint! telephone conversations run like this..'my bra strap is fuschia...i painted my toenails pink..will you come shopping in my lunch hour tomorrow?..'

6/27/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Aparna said...

Priestley is dead and gone, with his 19th century outlook...can't believe you are now posting an essay which might have been written almost a century ago....grow up VK, and smell the coffee.
Also, he wrote it for English women. Indian women, who smile gently and make kheer, can never put their husbands in place with a smile, they can't dare to do that. At the max, they will bring up a son who will swear by his mom's culinary skills and know that she is 'slightly stupid, though very sweet and does not understand the world' (yeah, those are the exact words a teenager or a guy who is in his early twenties will say about such type of women).

@Confused: Thank you for pointing out another angle to look at...and it is a very apt arguement for men.

@Others: I agree, maybe we shd ask VK what his thoughts are when he is capable of thinking better.

I don't understand why men are hell bent in defining how women should be, as if women are made-to-order items in the world. We are what we are, you've got to accept us and move on, and stop 'regretting' that feminity is gone.
After all, what a woman is, is what feminity is...period. If the definition of a woman's role can change, so can the definition of feminity.

6/27/2006 10:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

@Sonia: Goodness be thanked, I am blessed not to have come across such women, yet. Sometimes, being conservative also helps!

@Aparna: I fail to see why you fail to see the point. Priestley repents (the fact, you seem to suggest?) that women are becoming made-to-order items, when they can be themselves. Plus, if the description is what your kid brother gives of your mom, I cannot help it. I entreat you to read the essay again. And thanks for asking me to grow up, and also for asking the world to ponder how I would be when I'm more sensible. Your "feminine" concerns are much appreciated.

6/27/2006 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Hi said...

Suggest you stop taking any more posts on this subject. It is becoming too familiarly feminine and without realising that you are not the originator. Let the buck stop here & now.

6/28/2006 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger Aparna said...

Well VK, why is it that women are 'made-to-oder' when they become career women, and are 'being themselves' when they sit gently and make kheer? The prototyping is what I wanted to point out - you are equating feminity with gentleness, which is a 19th century concept.
I don't have a kid brother, and if he was to grow up like you, thank my parents that i don't have one. Why are you so aghast at Sonia's description of a 'feminine' woman....she just pointed out that women are like that....and it scares you? Come now, isn't Mr. priestley advocating that women 'should remain' like that? After all, feminity does mean a tendency to discuss shopping, clothes and nail polish (personally, i don't think there's anything to be aghast at this trait).

When a person reproduces someone else's work, without comments of his own on the same, it is assumed that he believes /supports it.

6/29/2006 03:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

@Aparna: My reference to your "kid brother" was to point out that you were getting needlessly personal. I am sad that, just like in the case of the essay, you've failed to see the point. There is no prototyping anywhere. As I have repeated in these pages (in reply to someone who asked me if the role of the woman was to bake puddings) the two sets are not mutually exclusive. So, despite the fact that I like kheer better, my answer remains the same.

And you really mean "talk of shopping" constitutes feminity? Oh, please... this is becoming very funny. Do tell me you were joking.

6/29/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Aparna said...

And you really mean "talk of shopping" constitutes feminity?

I don't know about feminity, but yeah, most women do that...and they have been dicussing clothes and colours and shopping for a long long time now..even during the times of J.B. Priestley...if you don't know that yet...you don't know women yet.

7/02/2006 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more from apu

All the so-called 'womanly' qualities are simply a fantasy that men have, and hang onto. When you say 'natural qualities' of a woman - what is that, exactly? gentleness, wiseness, softness? These are just stereotypical qualities atttributed to women. Real women may have some or none of these qualities.

In reality, both men and women are just human, thats all.
occasionally wise, occasionally stupid, sometimes arrogant, sometimes meek.
Every individual is different. Some women are naturally more agressive, others are not. Some are more intelligent, outgoing, others are not. What I mean to say is THERE IS NO UNIVERSAL STANDARD. We are what we are, and we are all women.
To call one kind of women 'womanly' is just a misguided notion, fuelled by the popular fantasy created by movies and books that idealize certain aspects.
Some women try to conform to such images, by toning down their real natures, just to seek social approval. The woman you're looking for, is that kind. But never fear, real nature cannot be hidden for long.

Priestley is talking about the kind of stereotype of women that men of his age cherished, even though it was completely out of touch with reality then, as it is now.

We dont want to live up to some crazy ideal that some guy has in his head, because that's not a real woman at all. Thats as much an illusion as a Barbie doll is in its physical representation of a woman.

You have all these funny ideas because of inexperience. Ask your married male friends, they know the truth :)


7/05/2006 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and if you doubt what I said, look around at the women you see everyday. None of them will qualify as your "Normal Woman".

Coz there's no such thing, just as there's no set of qualities that say Normal Man.
Is a man who is soft-hearted an abnormal man?
Is a man who is afraid of cockroaches an abnormal man?
is a man who likes cooking rather than basketball abnormal?
No. He may not be the Mills&Boon image of a man, but he is a man.

Realize these are just stereotypes.

7/05/2006 01:07:00 PM  

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