12-4 literature2

The Center for Literate Values ~ Defending the Western tradition of responsible individualism, disciplined freedom, tasteful creativity, common sense, and faith in a supreme moral being.



A Common-Sense Journal of Literary and Cultural Analysis

12.4 (Fall 2012)


literary analysis


courtesy of artrenewal.org


The Beautiful Female Face—And Its Feminist Enemies

Peter T. SIngleton

She was young, pale, possessed of one of those profound kinds of beauty that, more than in the face (though that was quite shapely), resides in the perfect coherence of eyes, mouth, neck, and manner of batting lashes.  It was a beauty, above all, for men, without being in the least provocative: this is just what women can never understand.

            Horacio Quiroga, “La Muerte de Isolda” in Cuentos de Amor, de Locura y de Muerte

Since I authored a piece for this journal about the female figure in classical painting (Praesidium (8.4) that has very generously been deemed fit to occupy part of the website’s “art gallery”, I have been pleasantly surprised that no hate mail or death threats have come my way.  Apparently the piece in question was taken as it was intended: an aesthetic commentary treating certain human features (female features, of course) as symbolic of immaterial moral and spiritual qualities.  I never suggested that this kind of symbolic association, inevitable to the male mind, has any objective validity that would or should carry over into how one sex actually treats the other.  I went out of my way, in fact, to insist that this was not my implication.  There must have been some beautiful sunsets over Auschwitz as the fumes were rising from its death chambers.  The transcending, sublime loveliness of a mushroom cloud’s column does not move one infinitessimum toward legitimizing the abominable destruction beneath it.  Beauty is no proof of goodness.

Yet we human beings have a driving need to think of things in images; and for most men, when goodness is what they struggle to picture, certain female shapes and traits often emerge from the mist.  The association is merely subjective.  My presumption in this essay, though, is that there may be a kind of objectivity to the subjective.  Some of these whimsical shapes may show evidence of considerable overlap.

Perhaps I am being too coy.  I truly doubt that most younger women who style themselves feminists would be genuinely distressed to discover that something in their appearance made men connect them with abstract ideals standing elegantly on pedestals (in usurped flesh).  At worst, such idolatry shows what fools we men are.  A woman can scarcely reproach us for such folly more fairly than a Victorian missionary could reproach a tribal cultist for chanting a little prayer at the rise of a sacred star.  Feminists of the old school—the ones who actively tried to look like men, and very homely men at that, by shearing off their hair, dressing in suits, and donning horn-rimmed glasses—are another matter.  But I am happy to report that I no longer see many of those around, and I am also very sure that none of them ever wastes her time browsing organs of the lost and the damned like this one.

Without great trepidation, therefore, I have undertaken to extend my perverse male musings from the painted canvas to the pulsing pixel.  In my lifelong admiration of female beauty, I have naturally not been immune to the silver screen or to the more recent explosion of images on the Internet.  I hasten to add that this meditation, like the previous one, will proceed strictly within the limits of good taste.  The earlier piece treated of the female figure: this one, just to be on the safe side, will confine itself entirely to the female face.  I should also quickly stress that I am not deserting a study of representative media by abandoning the brush for the camera—very far from it.  If poets are great liars, as the ancients were fond of saying, then the lens can be used quite poetically.  One of the points that I foresee bringing to the fore in my essay is indeed that black-and-white representation (which of course was not only popular in the last century’s first half but often technically requisite) serves beauty better than does color.  The world of color is too truthful, too down-to-earth.  It is populated by mere mortals.  The black-and-white world, in contrast, is actually a silver-and-gray world, full of suggestive shadows where a ridge is always fading into a valley and where trees and forest are always infinitely playing a game of back-and-forth with the perceiver’s eye.

Allow me to open in earnest by juxtaposing two photographs of two lovely female faces:


Kate Nelligan                  Leslie Caron

The reader may notice instantly that the color photograph actually appears, insofar as dress and hairstyle offer clues, to hearken to the earlier era.  The black-white/color axis, then, should not be taken as simply making a triage of actresses into those of yesteryear and those of today.  I am unfamiliar with what part Ms. Nelligan may have been playing at the time… but the bulky divan upon whose armrest Leslie Caron is leaning most definitely appears to belong to mid-century taste, while Kate’s attire and coiffure are distinctly fin de siècle.

Perhaps, too, the reader will have remarked unprompted that neither woman is flashing a smile.  I decided at a very early stage not to shoot fish in a barrel for this project, so to speak.  It would have been too easy to create an invidious contrast through photos of starlets on their way to the Oscars, cleavage diving to the navel and make-up more suggestive of a circus clown than a love-goddess, throwing toothy winces at a paperazzo’s flashbulb.  (I offer a threesome of such photos later on, though, for a purpose that will become clear with time.)  In the contemporary parade of online color, one has to sort through dozens of such eyesores to arrive at a photo that reveals genuine facial features.  The abundance of the former today isn’t irrelevant and deserves further comment later on; but I want my study to deal primarily with beauty.  Smiles, I find, are rarely beautiful.  They are lascivious, or intended-to-be-lascivious (the tired prostitute’s forced leer), or self-centered (“Look at me, one and all!  I have arrived!”), or strained (“He wants one for his niece… Smile # 8, I think”), or just plain obfuscating with regard to the face’s essential features.  Smiles tend to be evasive.

And on that score, if I may, I will make just enough of a digression to say how annoying I have always found feminist Amy Cunningham’s essay, “Why Women Smile”, to be.  I was more or less forced to teach this essay (first published in Lear’s Magazine in 1993) for years in Freshman Composition classes, since it had been selected for all the mainstream anthologies and was at least provocative enough to stir class discussion.  Ms. Cunningham’s thesis is that women have been bullied into smiling by men throughout recorded history; and of course at the piece’s end, she resolves that she will no longer smile gratuitously with the bravado of a protester setting fire to her bra and throwing away her underarm razor.  I for one have never liked gratuitous smiles, especially in females.  They actually convey just what Ms. Cunningham argues, but declines to say point-blank: fraudulence.  Behind the fraud one supposes either an intent to manipulate or a weak will inclined to submit to others.  I don’t admire either of these qualities of character—not in a man, and not in a woman.  Ms. Cunningham seems to think that, as a man, I naturally desire women to be cute, conniving little hucksters of whatever wares I want them to peddle for or to me.  The proposition is tantamount to being charged with pimpery, and I resent it.  Ms. Cunningham is insulting.

Back to the two photos above… I certainly would not maintain that Kate Nelligan is less beautiful than Leslie Caron.  Their beauty is of a different kind, to be sure, the former’s being more mature and the latter’s more child-like.  Though I think this is objectively true (insofar as such things can be objective) of the two women, its truth is much magnified by the difference in medium.  Black-and-white creates the impression that Caron’s already large, dark eyes are even larger and darker.  It also causes shadow to play about her lips more intrusively.  Nelligan’s lips, unlike Caron’s, are faintly parted, as if she were about to speak or had just spoken; but the lacuna running between them is so tautly defined that it appears to float over ironic—or even bitter—words.  Surprisingly, Caron’s lovely sealed lips have more of that limpness which we associate with childhood’s lack of self-consciousness.  Thanks at least somewhat to shadowing, their apparent freedom from tension suggests an habitual state of mind, a kind of dreamy awe before a brave new world that in nowise apprehends the presence of carnal, exploitative beings in that world.

Both Nelligan and Caron (in these photos) have clearly marked eyebrows and prominent foreheads.  It has been my frequent observation that the female faces marketed as beautiful in recent decades seldom devote much emphasis to either feature, but rather seem to efface both.  I should say that both are associated symbolically with intelligence.  Can it possibly be that the ideal woman of the twenty-first century, a beneficiary of three generations of militant feminism, has actually descended to obscuring her intelligence in favor of a rather low-brow sexual aggression?  (For there is clearly an implicit connection between a reduced cranium and increased lust, just as the ape is to be more feared than the human for violent bouts of blind rage: people who think less are always more prone to servicing their appetites and yielding to their passions.)

During the black-and-white years, there were naturally starlets whose sexual attraction was quite provocative, and whose faces were photographed with the intent of transmitting that provocation.  The custom, however, was not to sacrifice their brow line or their forehead in the process.  On the contrary, the brow tended to descend a bit more heavily over the eye, as if to signal that the woman had traded in her child-like naiveté for a sobering worldly wisdom.  In concession to the wild side, the hair was perhaps allowed to trespass over one half of the forehead in a dramatically sloping tress—but not utterly to cover up that high throne of a working intelligence.  Being bright, in other words (or looking as though one might be bright), was considered sexy.  What drew men to these faces was presumably not various clues that their owners were ready and willing to concede any favor, but rather a projected sense that they knew what they were getting into—and were probably going to be very careful about just how far they got into it.  The entire being of the beautiful creature engaged the man’s interest.  He had to win her mind to win her body—or maybe to defend himself from her formidable dual assault. Intelligence was an essential part of her mystique.

What, then, is the difference between the two photos below, which seem to share all of the qualities I have just discussed and to diverge only in coloration?


Gene Tierney                       Olga Kurylenka

Supermodel Olga Kurylenka is of course more made up, or at any rate seems more so thanks to color.  Her stunningly beautiful face is by no means unintelligent, probably because (and I speak only as an aesthetician: I have no information about IQ’s) her brows slant pensively over her piercing gaze (made dark by enhanced lashes).  Yet note, as well, that every particular attribute mentioned in the above paragraph is “a little less” than we find it in Gene Tierney: the brow’s slant is less extreme, the eyes are less overshadowed, the forehead is less uncovered, and the covered portion is less thickly draped.  We might add that the black-and-white format causes shadow to play more suggestively around Tierney’s lips (as with Leslie Caron), giving them a pouting or brooding quality.  The incomparably sultry Tierney appears almost gloomy or “burnt out”, in fact.  She seems to be listening to your story while asking herself, “Okay… what angle is this guy trying to work?”  The world can’t play any more tricks on her.  Olga’s face puts me in mind of no such narrative.  Though not smiling, it is ready to smile.  Very capable of thought, it is nevertheless not now engaged in much thinking.  And its pose, I would stress, has not even begun to launch into “seductive” mode.  The rather straight-laced frontal shot is about as tame and “old school” as anything one can find in the public domain today.

Sooner or later, I suppose we are bound to wade into the “blonde question”.  A cruel convention has it that blondes bring little ammunition to an intellectual skirmish.  This may be precisely because a face deep in thought is archetypally represented as having a prominent upper half—brows and eyes and forehead—while the blonde, by nature, cannot draw as much attention to that part of her face as a darker-colored woman.  Blondes were actually not very big in Hollywood as “sex symbols” before Jean Harlow—whose hair, by the way, was almost always gathered fully off her forehead.  Even after Harlow, the age of the “blonde bombshell”—Mansfield and Monroe—would have to await Technicolor.

It would be difficult to imagine two more beautiful women than the blondes below: Veronica Lake and contemporary Venus of the screen, Melissa George:


Veronica Lake                             Melissa George

Lake would often allow her signature sweeping tresses to obscure half her face (after the manner modeled above by Gene Tierney).  The bare, high forehead was never discarded from the image, though.  George’s hair in this photo is actually typical of a classic Lake shot, for she, too, has kept clear the forehead above her left eye.  Again, as with Kurylenka, one could by no means say that this angelic image is somehow “dumbed down”.  At the same time, it seems to me far less introverted than Lake’s.  Indeed, it sends mixed signals, in my opinion.  The brow is raised above the eyes, producing an effect that might be interpreted either as urbane reason or as child-like naiveté.  (Scroll back up to Nelligan and Caron to appreciate this contrast.  Nelligan’s raised brows say ironically, “Ah, well… do you really think so?”  Caron’s remind me of a child gazing into a Christmas tree.)  The trouble is that George’s explicitly parted lips belong neither to the assured, panoramic survey of reason nor to the girlish wonder of surprised innocence.  They are too sensual and seductive.

The contrast with Lake is stark.  Her lips are sealed faintly—not tightly at all—and the shadowing that plays about them (thanks to the black-and-white medium, once again) enhances their fullness; yet they are sealed.  They brood somewhat, as in Tierney’s photo.  The extreme arch of the long brows (magnified by the shot’s slight low angle) supplies an even stronger hint that something profound is going on inside this lovely head.  Of course, Lake’s eyes were a very dark blue (often appearing brown in black-and-white, as they do here), which darkened the “upper face” effect.

I will repeat my earlier query, now that I have produced more evidence: if women are supposed to have struggled steadily upward from the oppressive subservience where men held them to a liberation of intellect and ability, then why did the intelligent beauty of the forties, whose thoughtful eyes were underscored by black-and-white, give way to the “dopey blonde” that we find in Marilyn?  It is indeed almost impossible to find a Monroe photo where she is civil and collected rather than leering into the camera; but find a relatively tame pose—in black-and-white, for good measure—and you still confront a bid for sensuality that makes no appeal to the intellect.

litana7 litana8

Marilyn Monroe                                         Jeanne Crain

I reiterate that I have no personal bone to pick with Marilyn Monroe—or with anyone else (except Amy Cunningham)—in this essay.  Speaking strictly as a connoisseur of female beauty, I find her images tremendously inferior to Jeanne Crain’s, for instance.  I don’t see how one could possibly study the two photos above and not find in Crain’s evidence of a much more thoughtful person, possessed of a much deeper inner life.  The visual cues show one woman casting about outside herself for attention or amusement (eyes half shut and lips slack, as if about to blow a kiss) and a second woman, primed with important knowledge, trying to assess how someone in her presence fits into the picture (stare wide open and straight, lips full but sealed over any indiscreet utterance).

The contrast I find is plainly not just technical—not just black-and-white versus color.  As technology changed, manners and morals changed, as well; and at least as far as beauty goes, the former change did not cause the latter one.  People started thinking differently in the sixties, as we all know—or began thinking less, as some of us believe.  In my opinion, taste went into a nosedive.  I confess that as a boy surrounded by other boys, I never understood the idolatry which my peers lavished upon Farrah Fawcett, who was supposed to have been a kind of Marilyn Liberata.  Her pale, sunken eyes had a sickly look to me, and her endless head of teased hair reflected the era’s contempt for anything resembling a comb.  Even at that most vulnerable age when boys are obsessed by female images, I craved eyes that looked deeply and understood.  If the boys in my high school class did not comprehend my craving, then apparently the boys of my father’s generation most certainly did.  I would have given half my life to share the remaining half with Ann Blyth (as I knew her from old movies).  Farrah Fawcett… I would have run to the other side of the street if I had seen her shaggy mop and rough-hewn features coming down the sidewalk.

 litana9 litana10

Farrah Fawcett                            Ann Blyth

Nothing makes a man feel quite as old as beholding unmoved the women of his culture who are held far and wide to be goddesses.  In my case, fortunately, I have tracked the evolution of this feeling since early adolescence.  And it isn’t exactly that I feel unmoved—not always.  Much of the time, however, I do not even feel the kind of sexual titillation that is the stock and trade of these rag dolls and their handlers.  I don’t find them beautiful, and I don’t even find them particularly sexy (not if measured by Jeanne Crain or Gene Tierney).  Below are three young actresses whose images, like those of most actrresses and divas today, are difficult-to-impossible to find as a mere face caught in something like a moment of mere living.  They and their ilk always seem to be mugging for the camera—which, I grant you, Ann Blyth was doing, as well.  But not “mugging”, no.  She was living life, projecting the composite image of coherent character traits.  (Whether they were her own or not, who knows?  Not I.)  As for these three… who are they, and what are they?  What are they even supposed to be in their make-believe world?

 litana11 litana12 litana13

Gillian Anderson, Elizabeth Banks, and Eva Longoria: technically engineered glitteratae whose faces display plenty of make-up and no character.

It was not at all easy staying within my self-imposed parameter of avoiding smiles, for this is a very “smiley” group.  In Banks’ case, I abandoned the stricture, since the photos where she is not smiling actually look very odd and unflattering, like images of a rookie shoplifter caught on a security camera.  Strange, isn’t it, that these heirs of Amy Cunningham’s freedom to scowl and grimace no more want to be parted from their flash of teeth than a baby from his teddy bear.  They obviously belong to the post-Cunningham generation of sisters, for whom the rules of rebellion have been entirely rewritten.

Sexual suggestion is certainly a large part of the new code.  Longoria, especially, has an abundance of semi-pornographic matter connected to her name—but she also possesses the most interesting face, at least from certain angles.  So I am not simply decrying the proliferation of lewdness in post-sixties America any more than I am proposing that women are categorically more beautiful in black-and-white.  I think what I want to claim is that these women cannot help but make the phony business of acting and/or modeling appear phony.  They are always at a double remove from life.  Kate Nelligan, a true actress whose interpretation of Shakespeare’s Isabella is the most powerful I have ever seen, never appears to act when she acts: that, in a nutshell, is why she’s a great actress.  All great art is successful deception in this sense: the perceiver does not have the conscious impression of being deceived.

The contemporary American woman’s “beauty”, in contrast, is a complete fraud that seems to recognize itself as a complete fraud.  (Melissa George, for the record, is Australian.)  Since I cannot suppose that our women actually have fewer physical attractions than others around the world, I must conclude that our culture has fed their souls upon something that has dulled their spiritual radiance.  And why, I ask, should that conclusion strike anyone as a surprise?  How were you to be beautiful in the context of paleo-feminism, whose ambition was that women should become men?  Men are not beautiful to other men: not their faces, and not their souls, either.  Even if one should accept the obnoxious Cunningham-esque thesis that all men are aggressive creatures who live to satisfy their libido, very few women of my acquaintance have ever really fulfilled themselves through pushy, shameless egotism.  (I’m not saying that men have more success at this: I’m momentarily granting the repulsive claim that they do.)  Women’s femininity frustrates them in this quest to be J.R. Ewing or Charlie Sheen.  A few may find Nirvana, I suppose, in becoming some grotesque lesbo-omnivore man/woman hybrid, and I congratulate those few on their triumph.  But their kind supplies no more material for the study of beauty than a sumo wrestler.

Women of the feminist second wave apparently rejected the call to “man up”, and instead decided to ramp up their femininity in a way that brought sexuality to the fore.  To this generation we owe the extremely low necklines and high heels that were nowhere in sight back in the early eighties.  My grandmother would have called these daughters of Eve “oversexed”.  An uncharitable “male chauvinist pig” (if you will pardon an anachronism: the phrase dates back to the early seventies) would call them tramps.  I rather doubt that very many women found fulfillment in hyper-sexualizing themselves, either, just as few found rewards in desexualizing themselves.  Both Old and New Era feminists have failed to produce a happy rank and file, because both formulas were gross, almost insane exaggerations of the desired end.

Now, in the third generation, a kind of fusion between the previous two seems to be playing itself out.  Very attractive young women appear to be more interested in other women more than in men.  They seethe with resentment and a sense of victimization at some level—but it is a very deep level: they seldom scream or kick in doors or do anything that would upset their hair.  I see the present generation of starlets and poster-girls, too, as trapped somewhere in the limbo between the swaggering mannish lout and the voluptuous strumpet—and this limbo is not, by the way, a move toward any golden mean.  It is closer to an incomprehensible mish-mash of traits drawn from both earlier caricatures.  Look at the three faces above once again.  Banks’ smile, while charming, is as painted-on as her lipstick.  Anderson cannot even manage a smile in what is intended to be a sexy wardrobe.  Maybe she is groping after that characteristic sultry pout that has made her an heir (a very unworthy heir) to the Gene Tierney legacy; but she appears, instead, to be thoroughly surprised by the camera and uncomfortable with the setting.  She appears, shall we say, to be miming an actress who’s making a pout.  Longoria could almost be enticing… but her brows are penciled on like Mr. Spock’s, retaining nothing of the natural, and her hair is similarly done into some outlandish collision (not compromise) of New Woman streamlining and the classic Veronica Lake cascade.

In one way or another, all are as stiff-jointed as Barbie Dolls.  Their faces transmit no sort of real-life drama or coherent inward intensity or synthesizing personality whatever.  Just as this crew patches together politics to suit the demands of Hollywood chic, so its photo-shoots are part porn, part Thelma and Louise, and part Maria Hamm: not equal parts, but all of these and many other parts caught in a series of lurching gestures very close to drunken improvisation.

I have become aware that my own pose as pure aesthetician has now become something of a deception.  I had not anticipated its “degeneration” to this point: I am as surprised as you.  It seems that I simply can’t strain out the influence of character—of the symbolic association of certain visual clues with certain moral and spiritual qualities (hence the aesthetics of the exercise)—in finding a woman beautiful.  I cannot admire the outer shell, no matter how well crafted, of a being who seems to me dead on the inside, or in a terminal chaos.  For the essence of female beauty must remain for me that crucial correspondence between visual clues and invisible spirituality.  I suppose a sailor must feel the same way when he studies an elegant hull design that he knows is destined to capsize.  There’s more to it than curves.  A beautiful vessel must function beautifully.

But then, I warned everyone at the beginning that this mystical connection exists, at least for men.  (Surely women have a similar set of associations for men; but I am afraid, based on my extensive conversations with well-disposed ladies, that they seek in male lineaments something more like evidence of malleability—of responsiveness to nurturing—than of fully formed virtue.  They prefer James Dean’s bad boy capable of reform to Charlton Heston’s rock of strength.)  I am pleased to say that I can conclude on a high note if I look beyond our shores (though, come to think of it, that may also be taken by the patriotic as a source of greater gloom).  More and more, the truly beautiful faces that cross my path seem to arrive from the East.  The two divinely beautiful women below, for instance, have infinitely more of Jeanne Crain or Ann Blyth than of Anderson or Longoria.  To drive home the point, consider them beside the incomparable Ingrid Bergman.

 litana14 litana15 litana16

        Angel Locsin                     Chopra Priyanka                Ingrid Bergman

I have not remarked before upon the tendency of black-and-white subjects to be looking away from the camera: this clearly enhances the impression that the woman is in deep, introverted study over some matter rather than simply watching the cameraman.  (Lake and Blyth have plainly turned their attention beyond the camera’s ken: so has Fawcett, but the gesture can do nothing to redeem her brainless gape.)  These two Eastern beauties, however (Locsin hails from the Philippines, Priyanka from India), are scarcely disadvantaged by color and pose.  They somehow manage to look through the camera rather than at it.  You have the feeling that you have invisibly eavesdropped upon their reverie rather than that you are being greeted by a flight attendant (as frontal shots of Western girls tend to imply).  In many Eastern cultures, of course, women are still expected to “keep their powder dry” rather than to live the life of a sexual firecracker.  I think it shows.  I think the faces of these two, in particular, model such virtues as restraint and deliberation, and I think other virtues that flow from these—such as fidelity, humor, and compassion—are far more implicit in a steady gaze than in a flash of chemically whitened teeth.

Yet I have perhaps been too hard on smiles.  I know of at least one face that truly possesses the gift of smiling: Miriam Freeland’s.

 litana17 litana18

Miriam Freeland

I don’t know exactly what television serial this rare flower of Brazil was filming when these shots were taken, but the ambiance perhaps has something to do with the honest, wholesome quality inspired by her smile.  Even when caught by the camera at one of the industry’s infinite awards ceremonies, however, Freeland’s smile never seems to me tired or feigned.  Her oval face has extraordinarily wide eyebrows, and her high cheekbones are delightfully accentuated when they raise the corners of her mouth.  For some reason—perhaps the outer slope of the brows, perhaps the distinctly frontal set of the eyes—there seems to me to be a kind of lift in her face’s center at these moments which disarms any fear of fraud and communicates a completely sincere, good-natured pleasure.  Then there’s that unique dimple in the middle of her lower lip… but that is another matter.

All in all, this remains for me the most ravishing face in the universe—and it is never more so than when it smiles.  Some faces were just made to beam: smiling appears to be the fullest, most genuine expression of the soul hidden beneath them (and what an angelic soul it must be, cries the man in foolish rhapsody).  By no means would I have other women smile who are not thus endowed.  Amy Cunningham, for example, should probably never smile.  I should imagine that the truest expression of her inner being would be a permanent scowl.

That said, the Penseroso side of my own soul answers the Allegro side that Ms. Freeland must share her crown with a co-winner.  For part of me—half of me—always retreats to black-and-white, and to that Heraclitan inner abyss.  If I could look at only two photos for the rest of my life, I would choose the first from the pair above (probably by flipping a coin)… but the second would be the one below.


Jean Simmons

Jean Simmons is not the most beautiful actress among the few represented here—but she was almost certainly the best actress (with the very possible exception of Kate Nelligan), and I believe that it is precisely her talent to represent which makes the photo above so haunting.  What may we say of the young woman in this frame?  Intelligent?  Yes.  Spiritual?  Most definitely.  Introverted, searching, hungering after a higher truth?  Yes, yes, and yes.  The high and uncovered forehead (with long, rich tresses to indicate that it might have been covered if the girl had not freed her piercing gaze from them), the prominent brow, the wide, dark eyes, the lips both full and sealed—utterly heedless of any prying eye and unresponsive to any listening ear… this, too, is a goddess: a young Athena, perhaps, with a strong dose of the Christian martyr’s longing.  I love this photo.  What person may have lived out what kind of life behind its instant of immortality, I have no idea, nor would I be such a simpleton as to ask.  This face has its own existence.  I know well that Simmons’s must necessarily have been quite different at other times; and I know that she would have understood my insisting upon a line of distinction, and have thanked me for it.

I am sorry if, as Horacio Quiroga asserts in this essay’s opening caption, women cannot understand the importance of an artistic unity, combining outward appearance with inward activity, to feminine beauty—if they assume, rather, that we men desire only physiological turn-ons.  It is small wonder that feminists have such contempt for us, since they, at least, seem to hold this view.  But in becoming “more like a man” and accentuating thereby the crass in themselves that they see in us, they have done their sex a far greater disservice than any gang of men ever did.

Peter Singleton, Ph.D., resides in the North Texas area in a semi-retirement of writing, consulting, and occasional teaching.  He is a frequent contributor to this journal.