Britain is making quite a fuss over Dr. Brooke Magnanti, who recently revealed herself as the infamous Belle De Jour. Magnanti as Belle ran a blog called “Diary of a London Call-Girl” that gained her a substantial following. It became a best-selling book and later a TV series. The BBC’s Clive James observes in this article that some critics suspected that “Belle” was actually Salman Rushdie. James himself says the following:
My own guess is that she will marry a future crowned head of Europe...There is nothing this woman can't do, and you can tell by the history of her blogging. She has been blogging since blogging was invented. Fresh out of school, she blogged about restaurants. After that, by a sequence of events that will no doubt be explained to us in due course, she blogged about autopsies.
This was such great praise that I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about. Did this woman really write like Salman Rushdie? What does a woman who “can do anything” blog about? Why was Magnanti getting such positive press while many women of better repute were received so negatively? These were among the many questions in my mind as I headed over to Magnanti’s blog.
I surfed in expecting either high-brow smut (can there be such a thing?) or perhaps some sort of progressive rant about a woman’s right to prostitute herself. Instead, I found an argument against feminists that I sympathize with. Here is an excerpt:
Bottom line, it
takes a particular kind of self-consciously middle-class gynecentric view of
the world to imagine that the only physical danger men face is in a war zone.
As someone who has lived in more than a few dodgy neighbourhoods - because
sponging off my parents was categorically Not An Option - and been privy to the
secrets and fears of my male friends, I do not think they have it easier than
we of the XX-type. Different, yes. Easy, no.
Magnanti mentions that one of her friends sustained skull fractures after being jumped in a situation that she would never have had to face, because she is a girl. She ends her blog with these cutting words:
And let us not forget that the sort of men who exercise violent dominance over women do not only do that to women. But then, it must be beastly difficult to see that from the point of view of a B.A. in Women's Studies surfing broadband in your parents' spare room. Very difficult indeed.
don’t much like prostitution. Catching the Swine Flu is more appealing to me,
and I dislike the fact that women are willing to accept payment to help men
betray their wives. But in my view, feminists have done more to hurt the
relationship between men and women than prostitutes have.
Feminists teach women to rail against men who advance more quickly than they do in the workplace. Women are taught to discard men who do not treat them exactly the way they want to be treated. Men must not only work to support their families, but they must also pamper women with flowers and chocolate and perform every handy-man service a woman desires. If they don’t do it, they’re jerks.
Empowered women have spoiled day to day activities too, by suing men for complimenting them and screaming at men who try to pay them respect by opening the door for them. One New York woman screamed at my brother for doing her that favor when he travelled to the state for a college debate tournament. If women treat men so badly for being respectful, how can we expect them to be anything but disrespectful?
These days, women who might have enjoyed receiving compliments from male co-workers often don’t get them, as men who might have given them now must be careful not to provoke lawsuits. It’s a pity, because women often have low self-esteem and compliments from the opposite sex might have helped with that. Maybe the knowledge that we can now, thanks to feminist crusaders, hold the door open for ourselves is supposed to make up for that loss. Thank you, feminists. What a victory for womankind!
Comparing feminists and prostitutes reminds me of the scene in Gone With The Wind, where Rhett Butler explains to Scarlett why he took Solace with the Madame Belle Watling. Here’s what he says:
If you had only let me, I could have loved you as gently and as tenderly as ever a man loved a woman. But I couldn’t let you know, for I knew you’d think me weak and try to use my love against me. And always—always there was Ashley. It drove me crazy. I couldn’t sit across the table from you every night, knowing you wished Ashley was sitting there in my place. And I couldn’t hold you in my arms at night and know that—well, it doesn’t matter now. I wonder, now, why it hurt. That’s what drove me to Belle. There is a certain swinish comfort in being with a woman who loves you utterly and respects you for being a fine gentleman—even if she is an illiterate whore. It soothed my vanity. You’ve never been very soothing, my dear.”
Neither have the feminists. Magnanti certainly seems to have more heart than many of them.