Update: A great review (and the first UK review) from Cath. Thank you, Cath!
For Searching Single girls. If you are a Serious Single, you can simply read with amusement, have a good chortle and enjoy your freedom.
One of my favourite TV shows in the UK is "Ladette to Lady". It is a reality show featuring a dozen or so contestants who are willing to go to an English finishing school and try to kick their unladylike ways. It's unbelievably exploitative of its volatile young contestants, mind you.
For example, in the series with Australian girls (who were arrested upon landing in England because of their hijinks on the plane), the headmistress announces to the girls that they will be having a party and the male guests will be staying overnight. The ex-stripper, no dummy, bursts into tears. She knows its a trap, and a pretty foul one, too. And sure enough, the craziest girl in the group ends up in bed with one of the boys. But it is the tomboy who gets expelled.
The tomboy is a pipefitter, used to hanging out with men all the time. She's about 27, and looks ten years older. Laying pipe in the Australian outback doesn't do much for your complexion, I guess. She comes onto the show in the hopes of getting in touch with her feminine side, but living and working with a bunch of sexy party girls gets old fast.
So when the male guests retire to their rooms for some clandestine drinking, the tomboy joins them. Disaster ensues when she is found by a teacher, drunk, hiding under a bed. It's tragic, really. The woman just wanted to go back to being one of the boys.
My question, which I can't answer yet, is how can you be both one of the boys AND be a creature unlike any other (as commands Ellen Fein's first Rule in The Rules)? How do you preserve any mystery?
"Do you paint your husband's toenails that colour?" asked a male Pillar of my Parish. I looked down at my bright pink toenails and remembered hearing that pedicures are Not Done by ladies (as opposed to ladettes) here in Scotland.
"He has never been drunk enough to let me try," I loftily replied.
But I find it interesting that the Pillar noticed my toes in the first place, my toes that proclaimed "girl toes" just by being painted. Simone de Beauvoir says that a girl is made, not born, a woman, and Susan Brownmiller opines that femininity is not natural but a social construct. But I think that femininity is incredibly useful for underscoring one's own essential, and attractive, distance from men.
I was in Rosslyn Chapel on Tuesday, and among the carvings of biblical scenes, angels, flowers and green men, there is a stone ribbon proclaiming (in Latin) that drink is strong, the king is stronger, woman is stronger still and truth is the strongest of all. I forget now in which biblical story these statements were made, but I enjoyed contemplating FORTIOR MULIERIS because it reminds me of a flattering truth.
Women have a lot of power over men. I tend to forget this. Heck, we all forget it. We've heard since childhood of how unfair the world is to women, and we are constantly told that men make more money than us, and blah blah blah. Men are the strong sex, the powerful sex, the attractive (to us) sex. So unless we are the kind of women whom men have been flopping in front of all of our lives, we forget that as far as men are concerned, we are the strong, the powerful, the attractive sex.
So how to tap into this? Feminine difference, I believe. Feminine distance. Why should we pluck our eyebrows? (Which I hate to do, shudder shudder.) To create pleasing frames for our eyes? Yes. But also because men usually don't. Why should we wear mascara? To make even better frames for our eyes? Yes. But also because men don't.
This does not have to extend to profession. There are both feminine biochemists and macho nurses. Profession has nothing to do with this. And there are girls who can look as fantastically feminine fixing up their cars as they do mixing up a cake. It's about les petits soins. It's about attitude. It's about not being just one of the boys.