Sunday, June 03, 2012

The pond attends yet another forum with Bettina Arndt. Is this all there is to life?

(Above: another in the pond's extremely intermittent Bettina Arndt covers from 1977. Breast enlargement through hypnosis? Sure because without big tits, you're completely useless, a nobody and a nothing. Why can't you do a little bit for the man in your life? Now breath deeply, relax, drift away, and soon enough you'll have the big tits you and your loving man want. Feeling better about yourself, self-esteem restored? Just thank Bettina).

If Germaine Greer carrying on about ugg boots isn't enough to send you off into a bout of shoulder-shrugging indifference (A plea from our own lost soles: just say no to uggs), then you can always reliably turn to Betina Arndt babbling on about the ways of men.

Cop this one:

Whether we are dealing with sex-starved men or married men simply tempted by some gorgeous option, there's no question that today's fixation on totally honest, tell-all, monogamous relationships places a huge strain on marriage.

Today's fixation?

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. (here)

If you dabble in a bit of adultery, then you get stoned to death? And somehow today's fixation puts a bit of a strain on monogamous relationships?

Thanks Deuteronomy, helping today's fixation get going somewhere around the seventh century BCE.

We could of course get out heaps of other quotes from the good book, but this is Sunday, so the less time spent with the bible, the better.

You might think the same about spending time with Arndt, because in the usual way her piece goes on and on about the pitiful, pitiable state of rampant priapic men, neatly summarised by the header Judge them not, it's a man fling (warning - it's just a way to flog a forced video advertisement).

Arndt uses the recent solid work of former footballer Andrew Ettingshausen and his wife Monique (busy providing hot copy for a hot cake issue of The Australian Women's Weekly) as a springboard, to trawl over - one more time - the frustrated needs of men, as if anybody should give two figs about the doings of a footballer. Even when they feel the need to compete with cricketer Shane Warne ...

ET (as he's known to the thugby league cognescenti) had a fling, and he went off to the Weekly for absolution?

Why that's right up there with Greer doing a bourgeois babble about the evils of ugg boots and the need for proper conservative class-conscious dressing (what next, a cogent analysis of how thongs should be called flip-flops, and should never be never worn in genteel circles?)

Oh yes, Arndt is full of tears for alpha males, successful men, risk-takers, bold go-getters, high-fliers, and naturally she manages to slip in a plug for her book The Sex Diaries, and her bĂȘte noire, mis-matched sex drives.

It turns out, in Arndt's world, that men are hapless, deprived possums:

However comely the wife, there's absolutely no guarantee of a regular, harmonious sex life. The testosterone-driven gap between men and women means sexual harmony isn't so easy to achieve. Men who stray from their marriages aren't always sexually voracious gluttons seeking a little extra on the side. Some are men who are looking for what marriage doesn't always offer - they may just want to feel wanted.

Oh the poor things. They just want to feel wanted. Except of course when you read the next par:

Most men are doomed to live out their lives in a state of chronic frustration, concludes one of the leading experts in this field, Roy F. Baumeister. His book, The Social Dimension of Sex, co-written by Dianne M. Tice, details all the research showing men's yearning for sex and the unlikelihood of them achieving what they want.
''Sexual frustration is thus almost inevitable for the majority of men and not just occasionally either,'' they write. ''They won't have enough partners or even enough sex with one partner, to satisfy their wishes.''

So it seems men are in fact looking for that extra bit on the side, because they're sexually voracious gluttons living in a state of chronic frustration ... (who just want to feel wanted).

The ability of Arndt to hold two conflicting thoughts in the head at the one time, without noticing the conflict, continues to amaze, astonish and delight.

It turns out that this unsatiated sex gluttony isn't the fault of the man and his wayward cock. Instead it's all the fault of women, because men who just want to dip the wick, float their boat, (and otherwise be wanted) get chronically unsatisfied if deprived of ways to satisfy their sex addiction, and this produces discontent, risk-taking, depression and a relentless quest for any sort of new satisfaction.

Although there are still women who choose to turn the blind eye to a husband's occasional lapse, or couples who have a tacit or even open agreement that they'd rather just not know, women today are under enormous pressure to rein men in and insist on total fidelity.

So who's delivering that enormous pressure? Who's responsible? Who can we blame? Who's insisting on total fidelity? Angry Sydney Anglicans, noisy Pellists?.

Wisely at one point Arndt inserts a disclaimer - nothing herein necessarily applies to the well-known men named herein - which renders the entire point moot and meaningless, because after all how would Monique's lawyers react to the suggestion that it was she who was under enormous pressure to rein in her wayward footballer? And it was she who insisted on total fidelity and reined in her spouse? (Nothing to do with him - perhaps he just wanted to feel wanted?)

Did anyone tell the Fairfax SMH sub? Or how to be offensive with one offensive caption.

Can we top that Melbourne Age sub? Sure thing ...

By golly, if it were the pond, there'd be lawyers at ten paces arguing over context and placement and tawdry innuendo and speculation ...

But back to the answer to those vexing questions above.

It turns out that it's not just the women under pressure who put the wayward men under enormous pressure. Society's to blame! And self-appointed moral guardians!

What makes it far harder for well-known men is that whatever the private agreement in their marriages, there are people determined to hang them out to dry when infidelity is discovered or even suspected. People in the public eye, and more importantly their families, must deal with enough pressure without these self-appointed moral guardians lining up to reveal the secrets in their marriages. A couple's private life should be just that - private - unless they seek public exposure

But, but, but, billy goat, but.

Frequently the people in the public eye - let's just think of Newt Gingrich and Eliot Spitzer and the wretched John Edwards and Parramatta's Ross Cameron as nifty examples - are politicians who act as self-appointed moral guardians, and run around the countryside explaining the importance of a decent Christian marriage, and the importance of fidelity, and the devastating way that gay marriage is going to ruin the lifestyle of Christians seeking eternal monogamous harmony.

Or some such thing. Remind us again Newt:

The sacrament of marriage was based on a man and woman, has been for 3,000 years. It's at the core of our civilization. And it's something worth protecting and upholding. And I think protecting and upholding that doesn't mean you have to go out and make life miserable for others, but it does mean you make a distinction between a historic sacrament of enormous importance in our civilization and simply deciding it applies everywhere and it's just a civil right.

Yes, it's a sacrament, and straying from a sacrament is a mortal sin (not to mention the divvying up of goods and chattels).

Of course Newt believes in a monogamous relationship in good and bad times, in sickness and health, in richer and poorer times, and honouring in all the days of his life, until death does its thing, so much that he keeps doing it over and over again.

What god has joined, men must not divide, except as allowed for in a divorce court, hopefully with the goods and chattels staying with the long-suffering man, who just wanted a little on the side because he wanted to be wanted ...

Now it turns out that these days marriage vows, as well as a personal and emotional commitment, are something of a socio-economic contract, as they've always been, so could we just make an amendment to Arndt's blather:

People in the public eye, and more importantly their families, must deal with enough pressure without politicians lining up to talk about the sanctity of marriage and marriage vows and the evils of hookers, mistresses, adulterers, fornicators and others out to destroy western civilisation as we know it. That even includes Prime Ministers able to have a live-in companion while still contending gay marriage is wrong.

A couple's private life should be just that - private - unless they seek public exposure, or unless they rabbit on endlessly about the sanctity of nuclear monogamous heterosexual marriage until the cows come home, or until they're caught playing footsie in a public toilet in an airport or tupping a stray ewe they came across in a night club while braying on about how Christian they are.

But that's enough Othello references for the day, and that's enough of Bettina Arndt doing her thing for long-suffering men.

If they're dumb enough to sign a legal contract, they should expect what they get. In the same way if they think they're buying a stove and they end up with a fridge, it's got nothing to do with the pond or anyone else. Caveat emptor, you should have spent your money on ugg boots or thongs ...

If men are that dumb, and get led around in public and private by their cock, they deserve everything that goes down. If someone signs up to a contract, and starts to blather on about loving until the twelfth of never, they should think about what they're saying and promising.

Even Marcus Einfeld couldn't get away with talking the talk, when he should have just walked the walk and paid the fine ... and even special pleading by Bettina Arndt couldn't have got him off the hook.

Which brings us to an even bigger crime that can be laid at the feet of any man you meet.

Bettina Arndt.

As a result of men whining and whingeing and moping and flashing their cocks in unwanted or unexpected places, the world has to keep on reading Bettina Arndt scribbling furiously about the suffering of men. As if they're always the ones dissatisfied and unfulfilled by their sex lives, and women can just like it or lump it ...

To quote Germaine Greer one last time, ugg.

Along the way, the pond was reminded of a piece by Brian Greig: oh Bettina, you Arndt telling the truth!, which is an extremely polite way of saying that routinely she writes gobbledegook.

Happily it turns out there's an upside. In the search for a cartoon to lighten the mood, the pond was reminded of the existence of that jolly bit of fun, Rick Santorum Quotes As New Yorker Cartoons.

Here's a couple of random examples:

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