Note on Nana and femmes fatales

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Snarky McSnarkSnark
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    I don’t get it.    We’re not talking about conservative art any more?Report

  2. Avatar Christopher Carr
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    “A society that seeks, through laws and social norms, to regulate female sexuality will, paradoxically and unwittingly, invest a surprisingly great deal of power in women who transgress those regulations. ”

    This is a really interesting point. To generalize, I feel that anytime “society” heavily favors any sort of system of values, those who successfully transgress those values are valued. For example, I have a particular thesis about Japan that for all its harping on harmony and stability, Japan secretly values free spirits and individuals who force social change – just as, for all America’s harping on diversity and freedom of expression, we secretly value stoicism and composure in emotionally-serious situations. It’s the idea that, if we restrict a certain class of behaviors, then those who make it through the restrictions are especially strong.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Christopher Carr
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      says:

      I buy that whole bit, CC.  And OTOH, it also seems that a real-life Paul Kersey or John Rambo isn’t really what we want either, as big as their appeal is in the fantasy world.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Christopher Carr
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      A bit more on: “A society that seeks, through laws and social norms, to regulate female sexuality will, paradoxically and unwittingly, invest a surprisingly great deal of power in women who transgress those regulations. ”

      What I’m thinking of is a genuinely (structurally) patriarchal society, such as, well let’s call them the “honor killing societies” in the contemporary context. It’s amazing to me that, on one hand, women have no political power in them, and on the other hand they have invested so much psychological power in them that they’re like meteors threatening the earth. People have sex, but to set up an entire social structure so that, if the female does so in an unregulated sort of way, it dishonors the entire family? There’s something insane about giving someone that much power- which of course is a slightly more provocative way of saying there’s something insane about being so afraid of female sexuality.

      This is a really interesting point. To generalize, I feel that anytime “society” heavily favors any sort of system of values, those who successfully transgress those values are valued. For example, I have a particular thesis about Japan that for all its harping on harmony and stability, Japan secretly values free spirits and individuals who force social change – just as, for all America’s harping on diversity and freedom of expression, we secretly value stoicism and composure in emotionally-serious situations. It’s the idea that, if we restrict a certain class of behaviors, then those who make it through the restrictions are especially strong.

      Yours is also an interesting point. I think we prefer not to see any behaviors as being verboten, but of course all societies function by way of restrictions. Stoicism is any interesting transgression. I’ve been fascinated with the old Victorian idea of character as something one builds over time through behavioral exercises. I noticed when watching a play from the era how uncomfortable the idea made the fairly fashionable young audience, which actually surprised me a bit.

      Young people, of course, are pretty good meters for these things because they’re still intensely conformist. What would be the real taboo behavior among my average, working class students? They really seem to hate the students who ask a lot of questions about the subject or express too much curiosity. Disinterest seems to be de rigueur. I’d take it personally, but most of my colleagues complain about the same thing.Report

  3. Avatar stuhlmann
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    ” – just as, for all America’s harping on diversity and freedom of expression, we secretly value stoicism and composure in emotionally-serious situations.

    I must be the exception.  I openly and blatantly value stoicism and composure.Report

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