Saturday, February 07, 2009

Another Letter

Can you tell I'm procrastinating?

Oh good.


Dear New York Times,

Forgive me for writing again so quickly, but I could not contain my shock at this week's Ethicist. In it, a parent wonders whether it would be ethical to permit her over-18-year-old son from smoking marijuana during a family vacation to Amsterdam, because while she discourages it at home on grounds of illegality, in Amsterdam it is perfectly legal.

My shock came not from the subject matter but the destination of the letter. Surely, this is not a question of ethics, but of manners, and Judith Martin ought to have set the whole family straight.

Her son should be chastised, and promptly, for placing his parents in the awkward position of having to prohibit or condone his behavior, when properly, it is none of their business.

Had the son wanted to display a more courteous attitude to his family, he could have responded, "Oh? Amsterdam. I have long wanted to observe the local culture" when the vacation was proposed, and then, casually said at the end of dinner, "I am going to visit a coffeehouse" or "I think I'll continue sight-seeing" and left it at that. Having instead apparently said something along the lines of, "Oh, goody! Legal weed!" he has now forced his parents into acting like parents must when confronted with a child's passion. They will want to find the best local hash; take photos of his smoking it for the grandparents; perhaps bring home a souvenir bong; all something of a burden. I only hope this family's mania for the truth has some boundaries -- he seems like the kind of boy who would exclaim, "Thank you so much for letting Sarah come visit for Thanksgiving. I am hoping that we will have lots of sex in the guest room."

I can't say I was surprised when I discovered that the family vacation plan was changed to Switzerland, and I must admit the young man deserved it for his rudeness. As the saying goes, "if you're not old enough to smoke pot without bragging about it to your parents, you're not old enough to smoke pot."

A Letter to the Editors of the New York Times

That I did not send and therefore will not be published:

In response to What Do Women Want? I am very impressed that scientists have gone to such great lengths to study female desire, and somewhat pity the women who watched bonobos gone wild with electrodes strapped to their ladyjunk.

However, I regret to inform all of your dedicated researchers that they are somewhat late to the party. Every single one of their startling, groundbreaking bits of sexuality insight have been known for decades to the single largest industry of women's pornography. I am referring, of course to the romance novel.

Apparently, scientists can prove that women get turned on paying attention to other women's bodies as a locus for desire: EVERY romance novel contains a lengthy, breathy description of how attractive the heroine is, how her flimsy clothes strain to hold in her bounteous body, and how mad with lust this drives our hero.

Women are, according to the article, also turned on by complete strangers and also intense emotional connection. Two things that, in real life, are going to be difficult to find in one person. However, in EVERY romance novel, the dude is both brand-new to the woman but yet can penetrate (with his insight) to the depths of her very soul.

Finally, and most controversially, women seem to test highly for fantasies of submission and domination - except, of course, in the fantasies and not real life, they actually are asking for it. Again, without judgment or a nature/nurture debate -- I dare you to find a single romance novel where the woman is the sexual aggressor. I'm not saying they all have rape -- it could be a stolen kiss, followed by a masterly display of masculine self-control, but the guys are the ones doing the pursuing.

In conclusion, New York Times, I applaud your discussion of this research (although I must admit that the photographs made it somewhat difficult to read on the subway), but I must tell you that The Defiant Debutante and her kinswomen knew it all long ago.