“The thing about the systematic reduction of a woman down to her parts is that she doesn’t always know it’s happening while it’s going on. Just one day she wakes up and realizes that all she was,
was a face,
a line of cleavage,
a couple of hands,
the swivel of her pelvis,
the swell of her breast.
We were just the disembodied parts in the display cases. One day we wake up to find out that the diamonds were never chocolate at all; they were brown the whole time. And our bodies, which are finally ours again, can move on all we want, though they forever remain a library of our lives — of the hurt and the shame, and of what we either allowed or didn’t allow other people to get away with.”
– Taffy Brodesser-Akner, The New York Times, April 23, 2019
“The number of ‘likes’ a photo receives is correlated with sexualization on Instagram. This partially confirmed Simone de Beauvoir’s concept of self-objectification, where young women generally see themselves as objects for viewers to judge through ‘likes.'”
– Amber L. Horan,
“Picture This! Objectification Versus Empowerment in Women’s Photos on Social Media”
“In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message we receive is that a woman’s value and power lies in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity, inner-self, or passions.”
– Sonia Suarez
Like most men, I’ve long been fascinated with women. But what, exactly, defines “woman”? Definitions are so conflicted that I believe anyone who attempts to define “woman” is certain to be criticized. But when has that ever been an impediment to a curious mind? Today’s examination of the mystery and magic of women begins with a handful of quotes that show us “the perfect woman” that can exist only in the mind of a man. Psychologist Carl Jung calls her the anima. I call her, “The Imaginary Woman.”
“What do we know about the goddesses, those elusive female figures, stronger than human males, more dangerous than male deities, who represent not real women but the dreams of real men?”
– Alice Bach, Women in the Hebrew Bible, p. 17
“I think the idealization of women is indigenous to men. There are various ways of idealizing women, especially sexually, based in almost every case on their inaccessibility. When a woman functions as an unobtainable love object, she takes on a mythical quality.”
– James Dickey, Self Interviews, p. 153
Miguel de Cervantes gave us a perfect example of the imaginary woman 418 years ago. Don Quixote sees a village girl in the distance – Aldonza Lorenzo by name – and says,
“Her name is Dulcinea, her kingdom, Toboso, which is in La Mancha, her condition must be that of princess, at the very least, for she is my queen and lady, and her beauty is supernatural, for in it one finds the reality of all the impossible.”
In the book, Don Quixote never meets Dulcinea. He sees her only from a distance. Like Helen of Troy – the face that launched 1,000 ships – Dulcinea is the anima, that perfect woman who can exist only in the imagination of a man. Everything Quixote accomplishes and endures is in her name and for her honor.
“The girls in body-form slacks wander the High Street with locked hands while small transistor radios sit on their shoulders and whine love songs in their ears. The younger boys, bleeding with sap, sit on the stools of Tanger’s Drugstore ingesting future pimples through straws. They watch the girls with level goat-eyes and make disparaging remarks to one another while their insides whimper with longing.”
– John Steinbeck
“Freda was a dazzle, a virtual watercolor of a woman whose moods and mannerisms were as electric as her wild black hair. Her grin alone, a flash of Ipana-white teeth, head tossed back, stopped men in their tracks, delayed them in traffic, and threatened their wives so completely even the milkman was not allowed to deliver at Freda’s house.”
“At the age of thirty-five Freda had had a mastectomy. The bow and arrow was her therapy, to strengthen what was left of her chest muscles. Her body had been perfect, a sculptor’s model, and she’d worn her summer shirts tied up high under her breasts, braless most of the time.She still wore her shirts knotted at the rib cage, but now they were men’s cotton pajama tops, the material thicker so you could not see through; but often when she bent forward I could see the scarred bony place where the breast had been. I never knew if she was bitter for the loss, if she stared at the deformity in the mirror and wished for a time when she’d been whole. She never said. I never asked. She was not a woman martyred by tragedy, nor was she at all acquainted with self-pity. She’d tried once to kill my stepfather, whom she’d always referred to by his first and last names, Bill McClain, the two words run together in her odd accent so it came out ‘Bimicain,’ sounding like a fungal cream.”
– Lorian Hemingway, Walk on Water, p. 38-39
“Half a dozen global studies, conducted by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Columbia University, have found that companies employing women in large numbers outperform their competitors on every measure of profitability.”
– Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, The Atlantic, April 14, 2014
Dr. Nick Grant once told me,
“Men worry about high and low. Women worry about near and far.”
I asked him what he meant. He said,
“When a man is speaking, he is thinking subconsciously, ‘What do you think of me now that I’ve said this? Am I higher or lower in your estimation?’ But when a woman speaks, she is thinking, ‘What do you think of me now that I’ve said this? Does it make us closer, or further apart?'”
You may not agree with that, but like I said at the start, “Anyone who attempts to define ‘woman’ is certain to be criticized.”
An International Peace Institute study of 182 signed peace agreements between 1989 and 2011 found that when women are included in peace processes, there is a 35 percent increase in the probability that a peace agreement will last 15 years or more.
The Wise Men of the Christmas story in Matthew chapter two have been celebrated for two thousand years. But what if they had been Wise Women instead?
“Three wise women would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, brought practical gifts and there would be peace on earth.”
Roy H. Williams
Riyaz Adat was on death’s doorstep, withering away in excruciating pain in the transplant ward of Toronto General Hospital. This week on a special edition of Monday Morning Radio, roving reporter Rotbart narrates the uplifting true story of Riyaz’s miraculous survival and recovery — reading from the Christmas book Rotbart and his wife, Talya, wrote and published two years ago. Their book has since become a perennial holiday favorite. You can hear it right now at MondayMorningRadio.com. Merry Christmas!