In the movie "My Fair Lady" the late British actor Stanley Holloway sings the song about taking the easy way out, "With a Little Bit of Luck," in his signature Cockney accent.
One of the most memorable lines from the song can be heard in the above video at 4:39 minutes where he sings: Oh, it's a crime for man to go philandering.
And fill his wife's poor heart with grief and doubt.
Oh, it's a crime for man to go philandering - but
With a little bit of luck, with a little bit of luck,
You can see the bloodhound don't find out! Throughout the ages many men, to the dismay of their wives, have furtively escaped the domestic realm seeking the thrill of "the other woman" and hoping for that "little bit of luck." Neither the threats of social humiliation, financial ruin, or the fires of hell have prevented the likes of David Petraeus, Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Bill Clinton and countless other less famous characters from heeding the call of testosterone. Exasperated women over the centuries have wondered whether something can actually be done about these Lotharios. Well ladies, your wait may soon be over. Science may have the answer to your quandary! In recent study published on the Journal of Neuroscience the researchers examined the effect of the hormone oxytocin in modulating social distance between men and women. This hormone along with other related substances has been found to participate in the regulation of the pair bond between males and females in several monogamous species of mammals. In their study the investigators took 2 groups of men, single and married, and tested the effects of an intranasal spray of oxytocin on how close they would stand to an attractive woman. They found that married men when sprayed with the hormone would stand further away from the woman, whereas the hormone had no effect on single men. The researchers also found that married men sprayed with the hormone approached pictures of attractive women more slowly. Of course this research is in its early stages, but it is possible that in the future several lines of sprays enhanced with the right hormones may be available to wives so they can prevent their would-be Casanova husbands from running away after the nearest skirt. What do you say ladies? If this product existed and your better half displayed a tendency to fancy himself Don Juan, would you spray him? Leave a comment and let us know! ***If you like this blog you can have links to each week's posts delivered to your e-mail address. Please click here.
Employing the motto that “mamas always write,” several California moms got together and started a literary group called the Write On, Mamas! In the time they have been together they have done amazing things, and the group now has over 25 members who regularly attend the group’s monthly meetings. The Write On, Mamas! were recently honored to participate in Lit Crawl, which is a fantastic and hilarious literary pub crawl in the Mission in San Francisco, as the culmination of Lit Quake (which is the largest literary festival on the West coast). The Write On, Mamas! have now decided to publish a book. It is going to be an Anthology of how they all started writing and why they continue to write. There are really interesting stories, from one mom who writes about the abuses to women in Congo, to another who writes about when your kids have left home. They already have an agent who is interested in their project and a high profile editor who will help them with their book. But in order to publish this book, they need more help. The Write On, Mamas! have started an Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds for this project. They have already raised more than 30% of their goal of $15,000, but they need more help, and for as little as $25 you can get the first level of the different Perks they offer. The campaign ends on November 14, but even if you are not able to give any money, you can really help them by just going to their Indigogo campaign page and sharing their link on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media. The more traffic they drive to their Indiegogo page, the more prominently their campaign will be featured on Indiegogo’s pages. So please consider making a donation or at least liking, tweeting, or sharing on Google Plus the Write On, Mamas! Indiegogo page. Thank you for helping this great group of writing moms! ***If you like this blog you can have links to each week's posts delivered to your e-mail address. Please click here.
I wrote a short post where I mentioned the paradox that what is considered oppression, paternalism, and sexism in one country may be viewed as virtues in another. In that post I wondered how we could ever reach a common ground with these societies whose values are so different from our own to work together in solving the problems that plague the world. This is because any change we suggest in the traditional makeup of these societies would be perceived by many as an attack on their values. And I understand this response. If anybody told me that MY values are the cause of the problem, my knee-jerk reaction would be to get mad and oppose any changes. However, a recent experience with a poverty fighting program in Bangladesh has provided the evidence needed to break these types of impasses. CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) is an organization that fights against poverty on a global scale. This organization along with the USAID and the government of Bangladesh initiated a program in 2004 called SHOUHARDO to reduce malnutrition in the poorest communities. The results shocked the world. In four years the level of stunting of children due to malnutrition was reduced by 28%, which is double the rate achieved by a typical USAID program. Why was this program so successful even during a time that the economy in Bangladesh deteriorated? In a nutshell the program was successful because it empowered women. In these poor conservative communities women’s freedom was greatly restricted. If they went out to the streets without a male escort they would experience harassment. They were subjected to early marriage, violence, and abuse. The women did not have a voice in the community and lacked education. The CARE program encouraged women to band together in groups where they would safely discuss their problems and figure out strategies to solve them. When women acted together they were able to change their status in these communities and increase their decision-making power. This had a transforming effect on the finances of the family and the well-being of their children. But the crucial fact here is that these changes were not anecdotes. They were all measured scientifically an analyzed statistically. Here for the first time is a very clear demonstration for the entire world to see that empowering women benefits the family and the society. This is not an “opinion” or a “belief” upon which reasonable people from different cultures may disagree. The cold hard data makes it clear that those social systems that do not empower women cause severe economical and health hardships for their people. ***If you like this blog you can have links to each week's posts delivered to your e-mail address. Please click here.
The writer V.S. Naipaul made his mark writing primarily about British colonialism. He won many awards including the Nobel Prize in literature in 2001, and he has been called "the greatest living writer of English prose". This is why, when he was interviewed on May 2011 at the Royal Geographic Society, there were many people listening. After all, when a Nobel laureate speaks, we assume that he/she has something to say. And maybe he did, but alas, whatever he said of substance was lost amidst the furor created by some comments he made.
In a nutshell Naipaul considers that there are no women writers who are his equals. He says that this is because women writers are "different". He claims that when he reads something written by a woman he can immediately tell that is the case. He believes this is because of women's sentimentality and narrow view of the world, which makes their writing inferior to that of men. The fact that they are not complete masters of a house comes across in their writing too.
He mentioned that when his publisher, who was a great editor, became a writer, all that she produced was "feminine tosh". And of author Jane Austen in particular, he said that he could not possibly share her sentimental ambitions and sense of the world.
Upon learning of his comments the first thing that came to my mind was to ask what would Mr. Naipaul think of the Erica Jong quote:
"Beware of the man who denounces women writers; his penis is tiny and he cannot spell."
Would he consider this particular world view to be sentimental and narrow?
It would be easy to end this article here with this naughty quote, but Naipaul's comments stirred in me again something that has always bothered me regarding writing. However, before I deal with that let me point out two things regarding his comments.
The first thing I would point out is: Even if it were true that women have a more sentimental and narrow view of the world, what is wrong with that? Emotions are a fundamental component of the human experience, and always seeing the forest, but not the individual trees, blinds you to important aspects of reality. To quote Erica Jong again:
"There is still the feeling that women's writing is a lesser class of writing, that what goes on in the nursery or the bedroom is not as important as what goes on in the battlefield, that what women know about is a lesser category of knowledge."
If women are indeed more sentimental and have a narrower view of the world, then their point of view is necessary to complement that of men's. But I think that Naipaul's implication that, if we allow part of what we are to "contaminate" our writing it will make it "inferior", only makes sense if these traits that he associates with women are something he lacks. I will not engage in armchair psychology here but you can google the details of his personal life: it's not pretty. In my opinion this guy is a character who could benefit from some sentimentality and a narrower view of the world himself.
The second thing I would like to point out is that women have come a long way from the time of the latter Erica Jong quote. Women are heads of state, captains of industry, Nobel laureates, professors, pastors, and even warriors in battlefields. What they say and do goes beyond the bedroom and the nursery: it affects the life of billions. By not admitting women to be the intellectual equals of men Naipaul is going against the facts.
So why do I waste ink on this clown? It's because of what bothers me about the nature of writing.
I believe good writers have a gift. They have a unique way to view the world, grasp its realities and then communicate them to others. Nobel laureates, despite all the criticisms levied at the Nobel committee, stand out among all writers as the very best examples of what can be done with this gift. So, call me naive, but I am shocked every time a Nobel Prize winning writer comes across as no more enlightened than the local drunken bum down the road.
I may not be a good writer, but writing has made me discover new universes in me that I didn't know existed before. Writing has enriched my human experience, and has made me a better person. Therefore I tend to believe that writing does this to every writer. Although I know this is not true, I would expect that this would be the case at least at the very top: that all writers of Nobel class stature would find that writing turns them into better persons.
That obviously is not always the case, and I don't know why. Perhaps for many, writing is not the magical process that I idealize. Writing may be no different than playing golf, collecting stamps, selling cars, laying bricks, or cleaning toilets. You may excel at these hobbies or occupations but they are just that: a hobby or a job, which can be totally divorced from what you are or become. And that is sad.
What do you think?