Guest Post: Trigger-warnings mean people must remain victimized forever (by guest blogger Lulu)

Gillibrand on Fake Accusations of RapeAs a mental health professional, I find the storms raging at Georgetown and Oberlin University regarding Christina Hoff Sommers’ visit and speech as “triggering” and traumatizing to be beyond bizarre. My objective as a mental health professional is to empower people, to enable them to overcome trauma in order to live as fully as possible, to not be burdened by symptoms of depression or anxiety and to not let the entirety of their lives be dictated by a single trauma or even multiple traumas.

Do trigger-warning, safe-room advocates at colleges not believe that it betters people to overcome pain and move on, or is it truly their belief that no one, at any time, must ever expose a traumatized person to an opinion that differs from theirs on “triggering” topics in case they may become upset? It is impossible to control the world in such a way.

Perhaps the attempt to protect one set of victims by silencing or cancelling speakers may actually be “triggering” to another group of people, such as those individuals who have personally been victims of totalitarianism, kangaroo courts or punitive re-education, who are reminded of the fear brought about by not being allowed to voice their opinions and hear diverse viewpoints or face political prison. Is there a safe place on campus for those students who are re-traumatized by the attempt to shut down speakers or demand only “correct” speech?

People who have been in car accidents may be “triggered” by traffic or certain types of cars. People who have been mugged may be “triggered” by people resembling the attacker or by certain streets. People who have been at war may be “triggered” by the news or certain sounds. People can be reminded of loss by a song, a phone call, a book—in fact, by anything. Everyone who lives has faced loss and trauma of some sort. The longer we live the more loss or trauma we experience due to deaths of loved ones or other challenges. Some people have had substantially more than their fair share of trauma.

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The Bookworm Beat 3-27-15 — “The World Turned Upside Down” edition and open thread

Woman writingWord must have gotten out that I have a temporary hiatus in the endless mountain of legal work that’s overwhelmed me, because the phone hasn’t stopped ringing all morning. Every time my fingers get anywhere near my keyboard, the phone rings, I glance at the caller ID and, yes, it’s a call I need to take.

The most interesting call I received came in a short while ago from a delightful, interesting man who will be speaking to a local conservative group with which I’m involved. His topic: Israel. In past weeks, some in the group have been a little worried that this man, a Democrat and Obama supporter, might inadvertently antagonize our group. Speaking to him today, though, I think he and our group will be singing the same song.  He seems to feel, as I do, that  — Obama is doing something unconscionably dangerous in allying us with Iran while giving Iran the nuclear go ahead, and something profoundly evil by sacrificing Israel to achieve this unconscionable goal.

I am deeply, deeply disturbed when I think what Obama is doing in the Middle East. By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. This is not ineptitude or misguided faith. Obama, dragging the United States along behind him, is deliberately embracing evil.

All I can think of lately, and you’ll see why as you read further, is the British military band in 1781, at the Surrender at Yorktown, playing “The World Turned Upside Down.”

Don’t just blame Lena Dunham; The New Yorker published her

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Straight talk about Lena Dunham’s “rape” and the indignities of being black in America

film critics association arrivals 160111Political correctness demands that I agree with Lena Dunham that she was raped and that I agree with blacks, race hustlers, college students, and communists that the race problem in America is a white problem, not a black one.  To hell with political correctness.  I hereby pronounce myself unfettered, and am going with the truth as I see it — which is that young woman and American blacks need to own the problems about which they protest so vehemently — and that the situation won’t change until they change their behavior.

Here’s the truth about Lena Dunham: Lena Dunham was not raped. Lena Dunham was stupid.

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Deep thoughts about a salacious book — Scotty Bowers’ “Full Service”

Scotty Bowers in 1944I’ve been working out on a stationary bike lately, because of ongoing sports injuries.  I find this dull.  I also find that I can alleviate the boredom by listening to books on my iPod.  I’m working my way through some of the books that are available for free from my local library.

When I listen to audiobooks while biking– heck, whenever I listen to books — I have to make certain that the book is simple in both substantive content and written style.  Otherwise, if I get distracted, I lose track of where I am.

Sadly, I get distracted a lot.  While I have almost unbreakable focus when reading a book, listening to books seems to go through a different part of my brain, one with a pretty short attention span.  Because I can’t just page back in an audiobook to find what I missed, it can take me forever to retrace my steps.  The end product of this issue is that I go for simplistic audiobooks.

Last week, I found a doozy of a simplistic book:  Scotty Bowers’ Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars. The book’s basic outline is that Bowers was a simple Illinois farm boy who came to Hollywood after WWII and quickly became the town’s best-known bisexual prostitute, as well as an even better known procurer who would happily (and for no fee) bring people together for sexual hi-jinx. The lure of reading the book, of course, is to discover which classic Hollywood stars were gay or bisexual (and according to Bowers, that was just about everybody), and what kind of bizarre sexual practices some stars enjoyed (you really don’t want to know about Charles Laughton’s alleged fetish).

I found the book surprisingly interesting, although not for the obvious reasons. Bowers certainly isn’t shy about describing various sexual encounters (and he seems to have had thousands, with both women and men, famous and unknown), but he does so in such an upbeat, yet clinical, way that it has all the sexual thrills of listening to one of those loud, cheerful gym teachers we used to have in the 70s describing the facts of life to a room full of bored teenage girls. If you’re looking to be titillated, this book isn’t for you.  (But if you’re under 18, or prefer to keep your mind out of the gutter, this book isn’t for you either.  It’s too graphic.)

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American universities do their best to spread Lena Dunham’s sexually perverse childhood culture

film critics association arrivals 160111I think it’s safe to say that Lena Dunham, who drops her clothes at every opportunity, falls dead center into the dictionary definition of someone with compulsive exhibitionism: “Psychiatry. a disorder characterized especially by a compulsion to exhibit the genitals in public.”  Given her predilection for letting it all hanging out physically, it’s hard to imagine that Lena was plagued by any doubts that she might be revealing too much information.  So Lena spilled, and spilled, and spilled some more.

What Lena didn’t realize is that her comfort with exhibitionism — both physical and mental — is a product of the bubble in which she lives.  Kevin Williamson, having read her autobiography, summarizes that bubble with savage accuracy:

Lena Dunham is fond of lists. Here is a list of things in Lena Dunham’s life that do not strike Lena Dunham as being unusual: growing up in a $6.25 million Tribeca apartment; attending a selection of elite private schools; renting a home in Hollywood Hills well before having anything quite resembling a job and complaining that the home is insufficiently “chic”; the habitual education of the men in her family at Andover; the services of a string of foreign nannies; being referred to a homework therapist when she refused to do her homework and being referred to a relationship therapist when she fought with her mother; constant visits to homeopathic doctors, and visits to child psychologists three times a week; having a summer home on a lake in Connecticut, and complaining about it; writing a “voice of her generation” memoir in which ordinary life events among members of her generation, such as making student-loan payments or worrying about the rent or health insurance, never come up; making casual trips to Malibu; her grandparents’ having taken seven-week trips to Europe during her mother’s childhood; spending a summer at a camp at which the costs can total almost as much as the median American family’s annual rent; being histrionically miserable at said camp and demanding to be brought home early; demanding to be sent back to the same expensive camp the next year.

In this bubble, sexual obsessions and acting out are normative, not unusual. Comfortably ensconced in her elitist bubble, Lena felt entirely comfortable describing her childhood sexuality. In her world, that prepubescent sexual experimentation and curiosity extended far beyond the “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” curiosity that most little kids display. Instead, Lena aggressively used her much younger sister as her own private sex toy. Again, Williamson explains:

And they [her parents] were, in their daughter’s telling, enablers of some very disturbing behavior that would be considered child abuse in many jurisdictions — Lena Dunham’s sexual abuse, specifically, of her younger sister, Grace, the sort of thing that gets children taken away from non-millionaire families without Andover pedigrees and Manhattanite social connections. Dunham writes of casually masturbating while in bed next to her younger sister, of bribing her with “three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds . . . anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.” At one point, when her sister is a toddler, Lena Dunham pries open her vagina — “my curiosity got the best of me,” she offers, as though that were an explanation. “This was within the spectrum of things I did.”

Dunham describes herself as an “unreliable narrator,” which in the context of a memoir or another work of purported nonfiction means “liar,” strictly construed. Dunham writes of incorporating stories from other people’s lives and telling them as though they were her own, and of fabricating details. The episode with her sister’s vaginal pebbles seems to be especially suspicious. When Dunham inspects her sister’s business, she shrieks at what she sees: “Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. . . . Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been such a success.” Dunham’s writing often is unclear (willfully so, it seems), but the context here — Grace has overheard her older sister asking whether her baby sister has a uterus — and Grace’s satisfaction with her prank suggest that Grace was expecting her older sister to go poking around in her genitals and inserted the pebbles in expectation of it. Grace is around one year old at the time of these events. There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode. As for stroking her mother’s vagina, having mistaken it for her hairless cat . . .

About those parents. . . . Williamson describes Carroll Dunham, Lena’s father, as “a painter noted for his primitive brand of highbrow pornography, his canvases anchored by puffy neon-pink labia.” Those words, while blunt, don’t do justice to the profound ugliness of Dunham’s work. Let me try to put that ugliness in context.  Back in the 1930s and 1940s, pin-up artist Alberto Vargas definitely objectified women.  He drew hundreds of pin-up images for American men — especially American troops, during WWII — to enjoy.  Significantly, he created these images with a true reverence for feminine beauty. His manifest admiration for the female form seems not just old-fashioned, but wholesome when compared to Dunham’s work.

If Vargas had raised a daughter, she would have grown up knowing that her father felt this way about women:

Alberto Vargas woman in swimsuit

As it was, poor Lena grew up knowing that her father feels this way about women (as seen by a screen grab of Dunham’s own website):

Carroll Dunham website screen grab

As a woman, I feel traumatized just looking at those images. Indeed, if Dunham were anything but a card-carrying New York Progressive, it would be very tempting to characterize those crude drawings as part of a sick rape culture that objectifies women.

Can you imagine how you’d feel being the daughter of the man who uses and sees women in that way?  Add to this the fact that Dunham’s mother liked to have nude shots of her own crotch displayed on the condominium walls, and you get the feeling that poor Lena had a childhood that, while gilded, was probably just as distorted sexually as that of a little girl raised in a whore house.  In both settings, women are certainly central and celebrated, but it’s for all the wrong reasons.

For a child, of course, the familiar is normal, so it’s not at all strange that Dunham embraced her parents’ sexual obsessions when she lived in their house.  What’s tragic, though, is that Dunham was never able to escape them.  Ordinarily, one would think that, when she left home to go to college, she would learn that this is type of explicit, all-encompassing, predatory sexuality is not the norm.  Instead, though, Dunham went off to a university system that has embraced her natal culture and is working hard to bring it to every American home.

The phenomenon known as campus sex week seeks to convince those American college students who did not grow up in homes that had pictures of Mom’s crotch and Dad’s misogyny on the wall that the most extreme examples of non-traditional sex ought to move to the center of American culture rather than being hidden at the fringes.  And so it that Harvard University — a place that once churned out people who,even if not very educated, had a certain degree of class — now offers seminars in anal sex.  To my way of thinking, if Mommy and Daddy feel that their child’s education isn’t complete without learning about the final details of anal sex, they can probably download that information for free from the internet to give to junior, rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition for a four year indoctrination in Marxism and non-mainstream sexual practices.

These same kids, once released from college, take up the sexual proselytizing with a vengeance.  They head to the big Blue cities, and happily participate in, observe, or applaud slut walks, topless dykes on bikes, nude street fairs, and all sorts of other genitalia displays in American popular culture.  In other words, just as Dunham’s bubble remained intact going from home to college, it’s kept its integrity going from college to her professional life as a writer, actress, and activist, all within bluest of blue Hollywood.

No wonder, then, that Dunham became extremely upset when both Kevin Williamson and Truth Revolt looked at her narrative, and instead of viewing her as hip and edgy, which was the reaction she’d been schooled to expect (pun intended), instead offered their own descriptions for her childhood conduct:  predatory and abnormal.  Up until she revealed her sexual upbringing to the larger public, Lena had managed to live for 24 years being celebrated for her sexual adventures.  It must have been a terrible shock to her to realize that, even as Mummy and Daddy and her college were all encouraging her sexual experimentation, large swathes of America would look at her conduct and say “If you lived in a trailer on the wrong side of the tracks, your parents would have been in prison and you would have been sent into the juvenile justice system.”  Suddenly, Lena’s bubble has burst.

One other thing, which doesn’t quite fit into the essay above, but that is related to Lena’s description of her relentless sexual attacks against her much younger sister:  Although no one wants to do these studies anymore, because they’re very politically incorrect, studies in the 1980s and 1990s strongly indicated a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and becoming homosexual.  In this context, it’s probably meaningless, but nevertheless interesting, that Dunham’s sister, the one on whom Dunham sexually experimented with predatory zeal, is lesbian.

Sorry, people, but size matters

Big dog staring down little dogThe phrase “size matters” often has sexual connotations, but not in this post.  Instead, I’m talking about the dynamics of violence.  In the real world, as opposed to a Leftist utopia, big usual has an advantage over small in matters of violence, with weapons being the great equalizer.

While I know that the bigger combatant doesn’t always win over the small one, it’s certainly the rule, with few exceptions.  A lumbering, untrained giant can be brought to heel by an agile, intelligent small person (viz David and Goliath), but the more common situation is that, even if a small, aggressive person starts the fight, the giant, once roused, is likely to finish it:

The big versus small situation plays out most frequently in the battle between the sexes.  Ignoring outliers who are, by definition, rare, men are bigger and stronger than women. Our Leftist culture, however, insists that we ignore this biological reality in favor of a political construct insisting that we cannot impose equal standards that may result in different outcomes.  Instead, to ensure “justice,” we must have different standards to ensure equal outcomes.

The result of this PC policy from the self-identified “reality-based” community emerged in a small, buried detail regarding Omar Gonzalez’s terrifying assault on the White House, one that put the president and his family at real risk:  The Secret Service agent who couldn’t bar Gonzalez at the door was a woman:

The female agent assigned to the front door of the White House when Omar Gonzalez gained entry and “overpowered” her, was required to meet far lower standards of physical strength than her male colleagues. John McCormack writes in the Weekly Standard:

According to the Secret Service, male recruits in their twenties need to perform 11 chin-ups to receive an “excellent” rating; performing four chin-ups or fewer would disqualify him from serving as a Secret Service agent.

But for a female recruit in her twenties, four chin-ups would earn her an “excellent” rating; just one chin-up is enough for her to avoid the disqualifying “very poor” rating.

This is not the first time we’ve seen a disaster unfold because a woman was on duty in a position in which strength mattered.  In March 2005, Brian Nichols, a violent ex-con was awaiting trial on yet another offense when he overpowered and killed a sheriff’s deputy at the courthouse, raced into the courtroom to kill the judge and court reporter, killed a federal agent when he was on the run, and eventually took hostage a woman who talked him down by sharing her meth and introducing him to Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.

The first link in the chain of events that saw Nichols kill four people was the fact that the sheriff’s deputy could not restrain him.  It’s entirely possible that Nichols could have shown such strength and cunning that he quickly overpowered a 6’4″ deputy who was once a linebacker.  But that’s not what happened.  What happened was that the sheriff’s deputy escorting this huge, violent man to the court room was a 51-year-old, 5’2″ woman.  I am here to tell you, as a fairly experienced martial artist, that even the most fit 51-year-old 5’2″ woman has no chance against a young, determined, tall, well-muscled man.  His mass wins against her fitness every time.  (And that’s true even if the man goes to great effort to create the external impression that he’s a she.)

There’s only one exception to the truism that a big man beats a small woman every time:  if the small woman is armed, suddenly she’s equal.  (In the Nichols case, the sheriff’s deputy was changing her uniform in some way, so she had apparently put her gun out of her own reach.)

Rather than expounding on this point myself, I’ll pass the baton to my friend Mike McDaniel, who has addressed just this issue with his usual lyricism at The Truth About Guns blog.  Please check it out, because it’s a lovely encomium to football, a rumination about physical size disparities, and a tongue-lashing against the Left’s pernicious habit of denying reality, all wrapped up in a package that states some hard truths about guns and size, written from the perspective of someone who knows guns.

No nice girls need apply

imageMy daughter is a nice girl in the old-fashioned sense — she’s moral and values herself. Her friends are the same — nice, old-fashioned girls.

My daughter has large numbers of friend who are boys. The really like her — but they won’t date her.

High school is peculiarly like regency England. The young men socialize with the nice girls, but date/sleep with the “bad” girls.

The “bad” girls aren’t really aren’t “bad” at all, of course. In this day and age, the girls aren’t making a moral calculation; they’re making a social and economic decision. Ace expanded on this point after reading about the economics of sex:

There are several storylines, two of which are particularly interesting. The one that’s relevant here is 12-year-old Winnifred’s story. She’s very precocious, and “gets it” on an adult level. She notes, for example, that FaceBook and other social media pictures of girls must always at least include the suggestion of being open for sex — of being “DTF,” as she says. (Down to F***.)

She says (or implies) that she’s rather trapped by the current market forces, in which boys just won’t take an interest in girls who don’t broadcast that sexual availability.

Remember, she’s 12.

When it comes to Norman Rockwell (“nudge, nudge”), homosexuality is in the eye of an obsessed culture

Norman-Rockwell-Triple-Self-Portrait-1960Back in the day, the Monty Python team was famous not only for its nonsense (“Dead Parrot” anyone?) but also for its edgy, modern, topical humor.  One of their most famous (and irritating) sketches was the “nudge nudge, wink wink” sketch, made all the back in 1971 (officially known as the “Candid Photography” sketch).  In it, Eric Idle played one of those awful people who believes that every word spoken is a double entendre about sex.  His character was both annoying and pathetic, as he responded to everything the stodgy, proper Terry Jones said with a leering “nudge, nudge, ya’ know what I mean?”

In 1971, that was still pretty ground-breaking stuff.  Before the 1960s, while people were thinking about sex, as people have done since time immemorial, most of them, barring New York sophisticates bathed in Freud and Kinsey, weren’t talking about it yet at cocktail parties or with strangers in pubs.  The 60s changed all that.  I vividly remember a family friend who pressed on my father a small book purporting to show that Madison Avenue had taken the famous “sex sells” dictum (pretty women in ads for everything from cars to cigars) and brought it to a whole new level with “subliminal” sexual images.  When you thought you were looking at a glass of Bacardi’s with ice, you were really seeing a subliminal image of a naked woman writhing sinuously in your rum — never mind that this invisible woman was missing three limbs and a breast.

By the end of the 1970s, the “everything is about sex” mentality had been mainstreamed.  One of the teachers who occasioned the most nervous laughter at my high school was the woman who insisted that Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are had achieved its iconic status, not because it showed a little boy safely acting out the frustration children so often feel in a grown-up world, but because Sendak had included couples copulating in the trees that are the backdrop to every image in the book.  If you didn’t see them, you weren’t looking hard enough.

Of course, once you’ve mainstreamed sex to the extent that everything is all about sex, you end up with blasé teenagers, instead of twittering, quivering, young sexual acolytes.  So where do you go from there?  Simple.  Everything is about gay sex.  That’s how gay activists manage to get headlines.  One of their big headlines was the claim that Lincoln was gay.  Their “proof” was less compelling than the certainty with which they expressed it:  in an era when it was the norm for men to have close male friendships and, when traveling, to share beds at inns, Lincoln had close male friendships and shared beds at inns.  If they could, the activists would have written QED after that one, not to say quod erat demonstrandum, but instead to say “queer everyone [who's] dead.”

The most recent entry in the “if he’s a famous dead man, he must have been gay” approach to biography is Deborah Solomon’s American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman RockwellSince Solomon spent a large part of her career at the Wall Street Journal, I’ll let that publication describe her premise:

Deborah Solomon starts her new biography of Norman Rockwell, “American Mirror,” with a joke the artist once told his therapist about a man who wants to marry an elephant. Unattainable love proved a powerful theme in the artist’s life, says Ms. Solomon. Her book’s theory: Repressed sexuality, fear of women and fascination with manhood made Rockwell’s art brilliant and his personal relationships troubled.

The 56-year-old New York writer spent more than a decade on Rockwell. This wasn’t a painter of family life, she argues, but a man seeking comfort outside conventional relationships. Of Rockwell’s 322 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, only three depict a traditional family of parents and at least two children, she says, adding that his paintings instead largely feature boys and men.

[snip]

Is your book basically saying that Rockwell was a latent homosexual?

I’m not a shrink, and I really don’t speculate about a life and a person’s psychology as a writer. As a critic, I can say when I look at his work I feel it’s possible to discern enormous homoeroticism as well as a desire to distance himself from his own desires. In his life, he did prefer male company. It was a special kind of sexual ambivalence that he may not have acted on. Do I think he had homosexual relationships? No. He goes camping and shares a bed with his assistant Fred Hildebrandt and the next morning he said, “Fred looked fetching in his pajamas.” He was very comfortable around men and he loved male bodies.

There’s more, but you get the idea.  Rockwell wasn’t actually gay . . . but he wanted to be.  In addition to the “I think he’s gay” stuff in the above interview, Solomon wrote other things in her biography that show a woman with sex on her brain.  The most bizarre theory comes when she discusses one of Rockwell’s more charming paintings.  It show a little girl on the cusp of adolescence, seen from the back, staring into a mirror.  She’s thrown her doll aside, and is longingly comparing her still childish face with a photograph of Jane Russell:

rockwell_mirror

You and I see the moment a girl leaves her childhood behind and starts preparing to function (and compete) in the world of adult women. Solomon saw something very different:

‘Actually,’ says Solomon, ‘seen from the back, she could be a boy.’ And the girl’s doll, tossed on the floor? ‘A bizarrely sexualized object. With her right hand buried in her petticoats, the doll could almost be masturbating.’

Wow!  They do say that, to a hammer, everything is a nail, and I guess to a New York sophisticate, everything is about sex (the more deviant the better), but that really is taking the whole thing to extremes.  I’m surprised Solomon didn’t throw in something about drag queens and cross dressing.

Solomon doesn’t stop with the gay subtext of little girls.  She also takes a stab at analyzing Rockwell’s famous “freedom of speech” painting:

norman-rockwell-freedom-of-speech-picture

You and I see a man free to stand up in his community and speak his mind.  Solomon sees “out and proud”:

Her take on Freedom of Speech is that the man standing is ‘unattached and sexually available. Unbuttoned and unzipped.’

It seems as if Solomon’s take on the matter is like a parlor game.  “Pick a picture, any picture, and I can spot the gay subtext.”  Rockwell’s world is no longer one of small town innocence and all-American charm.  It’s a shadowy world of cross-dressing boys, men advertising their wares for sale to other men, and even predatory pedophiles.  What!?  Predatory pedophiles?  Yes, indeedy.  Take that famous picture of a cop sitting at a soda fountain next to small boy who has, at his feet, the stereotypical early 20th century symbol of an innocent runaway:  a bundle of clothes wrapped in a handkerchief tied to stick.

Norman Rockwell's runaway

You and I see the cop using folksy charm to get the clearly well-cared for child to head back home, as the man behind the counter smiles at the scene playing about before his eyes.  Solomon sees something sleazy:

In The Runaway, a painting of a burly cop and a little boy on adjacent cafe stools, the cop leans toward the boy ‘as if to emphasize the… tenderness that can form between a grown man and a little boy… the hint of homo-eroticism’ she writes.

No doubt, were Solomon to analyze “Two Flirts” (one of my favorite Rockwell paintings), she would assure us that the fact that there are two men in the truck means that they are indeed homosexual (after all, one of them is touching the other one), and that their blatant ogling at the pretty blonde is their way of trying to pass for straight in a homophobic society:

Rockwell's two flirts

Solomon made only one mistake when she decided to “gay up” Norman Rockwell.  She forgot that there are people still alive who knew the man.  Unlike Lincoln, who had no one left behind to speak about him when the “Lincoln is gay” theory hit the airwaves, Rockwell still has living children and grandchildren, and they are not pleased to see their relative painted as a depressed and repressed homosexual.  They’ve issued a strong public statement challenging the book.  Intelligently, they’ve attacked myriad provable errors in the book, rather than just saying, childishly, “She’s wrong.  Nyah-nyah-nyah.”

The Norman Rockwell Family Agency, in light of today’s New York Times review of American Mirror the Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, is compelled to finally address the many analyses of Norman Rockwell. The Norman Rockwell Family Agency is making this final statement:

Many of the reviews of Deborah Solomon’s American Mirror The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell have accepted her account of his life and work. Her account is essentially wrong. She has neglected or misused the sources which she cites. Her use of Norman Rockwell’s autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, is highly selective. As Professor Patrick Toner of Wake Forest University states in his online review on First Things.com, “Solomon has a pronounced tendency to either distort or simply ignore evidence to the contrary.”

Garrison Keillor states in today’s review, “She does seem awfully eager to find homoeroticism – poor Rockwell cannot go on a fishing trip without his biographer finding sexual overtones. Keillor comments on Solomon’s suggestion that the doll in “Girl at Mirror” could be masturbating, “Well, I suppose that Michelangelo’s “David” could “almost” be masturbating”.

On page 94 of her book, Solomon describes how Rockwell would “hang about the schools at recess . . and stop little boys on the street . .” She then comments, “Today with our awareness of pederasty scandals (meaning pedophilia) this kind of behavior might seem problematic . .” She then omits a passage just below this in the Autobiography that fully explains what really happened – after Rockwell would convince a boy to pose, they would go to ask the mother’s permission. On page 101 she comments on his relationship with his models: “The integrity of the boys was never in question. But his own character was not nearly so straightforward.” Referring to Nabokov’s novel, Lolita, Solomon writes, “In a way Rockwell was Humbert Humbert’s discreet and careful twin brother, roused by the beauty of children but (thankfully) more repressed.” Many of the reviewers have ignored the claim of pedophilia, perhaps because the suggestion of it blows the credibility of the book out of the water.

She supports this unfounded claim with another phantom theory, that Rockwell was a closeted homosexual. To link pedophilia and homosexuality in this way is offensive and clearly homophobic. We have found at least 68 of these sexual references throughout the book. On page 168 she comments on his search for costumes for his models: “. . . he did enjoy acquiring clothing from men who caught his eye, as if it were possible to acquire the less tangible parts of them as well.” Solomon now claims that sex is only a “tiny part” of her book. But sex is a major theme of the book and her phantom theories color and distort everything, including Rockwell’s entire character and her interpretations of his art. There is no way to separate her sexual theories from the rest of the book. Her take on Freedom of Speech is that the man standing is “unattached and sexually available. Unbuttoned and unzipped.” Solomon also omits from the Autobiography many accounts of Norman Rockwell’s feelings and relationships with women.

There are also many other factual errors and omissions — we have found at least 96. Again, this is something that few reviewers seem to notice — they simply do not know enough about Norman Rockwell’s life, and are too dependent on Solomon’s flawed account. She inadequately interviewed Rockwell’s three sons and therefore her account of his life is often inaccurate. She gives an incomplete account of a significant difficulty with the Post when the art editor, Ken Stuart, painted out a horse from one of NR’s covers without consulting him. Solomon omits Norman Rockwell’s difficulties when his abilities were failing — in one instance he painted portraits of the Ross Perot family and they were so badly done that Mr. Perot sent them back and NR returned his check.

Most important of all, Solomon doesn’t understand the man, who Norman Rockwell was as a person. She says “On most days he was lonesome and loveless.” This is absurd. He did not mope, was not a chronic depressive, or a hypochondriac. He went through his trials and storms as we all do, but he was someone who ultimately affirmed life. People liked Rockwell and enjoyed being with him. He was interested in people and what they had to say. On a personal note, “I always had a wonderful relationship with my father, we were especially close when I helped him with his Autobiography.”

Solomon claims that her book is based on an examination of his art and that Norman Rockwell painted mostly men and boys. We counted all the Post covers from 1916 – 1951 and all the early covers for Life and Literary Digest. There are 172 covers with girls and women, and 141 covers with boys and men. Her theory is demonstrably wrong. Norman Rockwell also did 9 covers of Santa Claus. We’re not sure in which category Solomon would place Santa.

We are troubled and mystified that the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge has endorsed the book.

This is our last word, we are no longer going to participate in the drama Solomon has created. This book says a lot more about Deborah Solomon than it does about Norman Rockwell.

Thomas Rockwell and Abigail Rockwell

For The Norman Rockwell Family Agency
Cynthia DeMonte, 917-273-1717
cynthiademonte@gmail.com

The most telling error the Rockwell’s expose is the way Solomon asserts that Rockwell’s famous post covers gave short shrift to women, and the way that a simple count proves her error:  “Solomon claims that her book is based on an examination of his art and that Norman Rockwell painted mostly men and boys. We counted all the Post covers from 1916 – 1951 and all the early covers for Life and Literary Digest. There are 172 covers with girls and women, and 141 covers with boys and men. Her theory is demonstrably wrong.”  That one deserves a true QED.

Our society’s obsession with homosexuality is not healthy.  It leads us to pervert history, science, and the values that hold a society together.  I know I sound homophobic when I say this, but I’m  not.  When I attack American Jews who have replaced the Torah with the Democrat Party platform, I don’t see myself as being either antisemitic nor self-loathing.  I believe, instead, that I am pointing out ugly mutations in a culture that, when not mutated, is a health contributor to the world.  I believe the same is true of those who reside on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning spectrum, a spectrum that is a very small part of the larger range of human sexual behaviors.

I don’t doubt that some people (such as the ones who died in Soviet gulags and Nazi concentration camps because of their sexuality) are emphatically gay, must as others are emphatically straight.  I also believe that there are lots of people who could go either way.  They’re not bisexual insofar as they do not choose to go both ways simultaneously.  Instead, at a certain point in their sexual development, they look at a lifestyle and pick the sexuality that goes with it.  In the old days, social pressure said to men, “Pick the wife, two kids, and the house in the suburbs.”  By the late 1970s and pre-AIDS 1980s, when I was watching the gay revolution play out in San Francisco, an enticing social option to men with fluid sexuality said “Pick the lifestyle that allows you 100 orgasms per night” (which was precisely what was going on in the bath houses that were such vectors for the spread of AIDS.  The queer culture, with its press to be included in American education, is trying to revamp the 1970s and early 1980s pressure regarding gay sexual orientation.

We are an unhealthy culture when we force the brilliant Alan Turing, who may well have been the most important factor in winning World War II, to chemically castrate himself, a penalty (combined with public humiliation) that drove him to suicide.  We are an equally unhealthy culture when the prism through which we view ourselves paints everything — and I do mean everything — in terms of a sexual orientation that encompasses at most ten percent of the population (and, quite probably, far less than that).  A healthy, moral society protects the outliers from discrimination, but it must shape its values around the norm.  In our case, the norm is that big bulge in the bell curve that is heterosexuality.

Freud gave Americans permission to talk about sex, all kinds of sex.  At the same time, and long before Bill Clinton re-sexualized cigars, Freud is reputed to have warned that, at least sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

 

Pajama Boy . . . and the rest of us

Princess Pajama Boy croppedAs far as the Left is concerned, Pajama Boy — the ultimate androgynous metrosexual — represents a significant majority of young people.  Certainly that’s where the White House is betting its money.  As Rush Limbaugh said, they wouldn’t have put together an ad campaign aimed at 1,00o or 2,000 people.  The White House genuinely believes that, across America, there are tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of Pajama Boys who want to get cozy in their onesies and talk about how to promote government growth.

I wonder if the White House’s money men are right, or if the White House is deluded by the bubble in which it lives (a bubble with lots of Pajama Boys) or by the ideology that both strengthens and blinkers it.  The White House is essentially saying that, for too long, we’ve been assuming that men are . . . well, manly, when all that they really wanted was society’s permission to be girlie.  As far as the professional Left is concerned, traditional masculinity is one long, biased, societally-imposed construct that has nothing to do with biology.

I think (or maybe I just hope) that the White House is wrong.

Here in Marin, conscientious Marin parents do their best to raise their children free of gender stereotypes, yet the kids embrace those stereotypes with gusto.  Boys play war games; girls sit around and share their feelings.  That’s not all that the boys and girls do — they’ll come together for lots of shared activities — but even in shared activities, boys are rambunctious and girls are bossy.  The kids who gather in my house each represent perfectly the highest points on the bell curve defining typical male or female behavior.

Slumber partyThese behavioral differences are mirrored in their physical differences.  The boys shoot up, their voices deepen, their legs get hairy, their faces more square (and hairy), and their shoulders broaden.  The girls grow too, but not as tall, their faces soften, and they get curves in all the right places, something that they’re happy to show off in feminine clothing.  These formerly somewhat androgynous little children, once they hit adolescence are manifestly different from each other.  Moreover, as they flirt gently with each other, I do believe that each would agree with that old French expression, Viva la difference!

But back to the boys especially.  I just learned the other day that another young man of my acquaintance enlisted in the military.  On Facebook, his father showed a photograph of the young man in his fatigues after ending basic training.  I wrote a comment congratulating the young men and saying that I’m seeing more and more young men look to the military as a way to learn self-discipline, have a purpose in life, and be part of a team, all as a way to hasten the maturation process.  The boy’s father wrote a response saying that I had hit the nail on the head.  He noted that, while his son’s choice was a surprise considering his Marin upbringing, it was precisely those goals that drew him to the military.  In other words, this 19-year-old boy, despite Marin’s assiduously asexual upbringing, still wanted to be a man.

One of the things the insulated White House ignores is that, just as was the case for this Marin youth, boys want to be men.  I don’t know if the White House ignores this reality because its ideology cannot accept it, or if it ignores this reality because, as Rush Limbaugh posits, it’s filled with Pajama Boys, whether youthful interns, or wrinkled and grizzled senior advisers.  Either way, whether because they’re true believers or actual Pajama Boys, the White House has given us an insight into what it thinks the American young man is, or should be, like — and that’s like a girl.

Why a healthy society should resist the new generation of gender-neutral pronouns

You can cut off Thomas Beatie's breasts and give him hormones to grow a beard, but he's not a pregnant male, he's a bearded, breast-less pregnant female

You can cut off Thomas Beatie’s breasts and give him hormones to grow a beard, but he’s not a pregnant male; he’s a bearded, breast-less pregnant female

I understand that language changes.  We don’t speak like this anymore:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Or like this:

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Or even like this:

Look at the gams on that dame — and that chassis.  Hot diggity-dog!  She’s the bee’s knees.  This sheik wants to spend some time with that sheba.

Nevertheless, fossil that I am, I find disturbing the fact that the young generation is trying to define away biological reality.  On the same day that we learn (yet again) that men and women don’t only have different hardware (that is, their physical attributes), but also an entirely different operating system (their brains are wired differently), Breitbart reports that the younger generation is trying to introduce gender-neutral pronouns into the English language:

For those who revere clarity in the English language, be prepared; there are a number of young people who are now preferring to eschew the two traditional pronouns for human beings, “he” and “she,” and choosing instead to identify their gender by such terms as “they,” “ze,” sie,” “e,” “ou,” and “ve.”

This may come as a surprise to these politically-correct, non-heteronormative statists, but English already has a gender-neutral pronoun: IT.  Of course, calling someone who is neither male nor female an “it” seems to dehumanize them, so I can see why activists insist on change.  I’m just not willing to go where they’re going with this type of assault, not only on the English language, but on reality.

Take Chaz Bono, for example, someone who seems like quite a nice person.  Chaz has female plumbing under the skin and, thanks to surgery and hormones, a vaguely male appearance at a superficial level (scanty facial hair, no breasts, and goodness knows what external plumbing).  Chaz doesn’t want to be called “she,” but it’s denying reality to call Chaz “he.”  When I write about Chaz, I avoid pronouns, which allows me to respect Chaz’s choice without doing damage to reality or to the English language.

Incidentally, Chaz has come in for some flack lately from “Stephen Ira,” who was born the daughter of Warren Beatty and Annette Benning.  As did Chaz, Stephen took hormones and had surgery to change a female body into one resembling a male body.  As far as Stephen is concerned, Chaz is trouble because Chaz actually clings to antiquated notions about “male” and “female.”  According to Chaz (and I think accurately), the mismatch between a body’s gender and a brain’s gender identification is a form of birth defect.  Stephen took umbrage, writing that Stephen does not feel that, in Stephen’s own case, this mismatch was a birth defect.  Worse, says Stephen, Chaz “is a trans man who seems to believe that his female-assignedness and socialization makes him immune from being a misogynist, and he is manifestly wrong.”  So there!!

I have nothing but sympathy for people whose sense of self, which comes from the brain, is so at odds with the body attached to that brain.  Some people with this disconnect get eating disorders, some people get disfiguring plastic surgery, and some people alter their body’s external appearance to bring it in line with the message their brain sends to them.  While I don’t applaud those with body dysmorphia who starve themselves or throw-up, or who turn themselves into monstrous caricatures through surgery, I don’t see a problem with using surgery and meds to create the illusion of a different gender (although studies show that happiness is not an inevitable sequel to surgery to alter gender appearance).

The fact that I support the fact that some people people take proactive steps to improve their own reality does not mean that we as a society must deny reality.  Denying reality, however, is precisely what this bizarre gender-neutral language is trying to do.  As a percentage of the whole population, there are very few boys who will be girls and girls who will be boys.  The rest of us are pretty clearly round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square holes, and our English language accurately reflects this actual, rather than politically-correct, reality.

 

Colorado tries to sell Obamacare by using drunks

It seems that excessive alcohol consumption is the name of the game this week at Bookworm Room.  Yesterday, I posted about the fact that my liberal friends believe that it’s wrong to tell teenage girls and young women that they increase their chances of getting raped if they drink to excess at parties.  They don’t believe it’s wrong because it’s inaccurate.  Indeed, all freely agreed that young men and women who drink too much are a recipe for rape.  What bothered them was that this implies that girls have some control over whether or not they become victims.  It makes them actually responsible for themselves, and that’s just unfair as long as there are men out there raping.  You see, the men are the real culprits so it’s just wrong to let them off the hook in any way, shape, or form by implying that women have some power in the situation.

Today, Igorvolsky tweeted out a genuine, bona fide Obamacare ad out of Colorado:

 

Party hearty, dudes!  Drink up!  Just don’t, like, you know, rape some drunk chick.  But dude!  Here’s the really awesome thing:  If you do rape the drunk chick, and she gets pregnant, Obamacare will, like, pay for the abortion.  Awesome!

The core issue between Islam and the West is control over women

I have written often at this blog about the wise words a friend of mine told me more than a decade ago.  I can no longer remember his precise words, but I can summarize them:  Islam’s problem with the West, he said, boils down to sex.  Muslim men are terrified that accepting Western ways means losing the stranglehold they have over women.  A religious and political leader in Iran confirms just how right my friend was:

Ahmad Khatami, a senior Iranian cleric and a member of the Assembly of Experts that chooses the next Supreme Leader has warned Iranians not to fall into the trap of negotiating resolution of the nuclear issue with the United States. “If this issue is resolved, the [US] will raise the issue of human rights,” he said, explaining, “Today their problem is the nuclear issue, and when this issue is resolved, they will raise the issue of human rights and say whatsoever rights men have, women should have them, too.”

Read more here.

It makes sense, actually. Humans have needs (food, water, shelter, etc.), and humans have drives (sex, power, etc.). Once the needs are fulfilled, sex is undoubtedly the strongest drive. Western society constrains men’s sex drive; Islamic society constrains the women in service to men’s sex drive.