1. Be proud of your body. Just the way it is.
Don’t try changing for anyone; you are beautiful no matter what culture says. Be authentic.
In the 36 hours since Beyonce’s muzzled, splayed, headless, and otherwise sexually submissive VMA performance, we’ve seen a comedy sketch at the Emmys that somehow is a setback for feminism because it objectifies women’s bodies. Mollie Hemingway heaped plenty of scorn upon that little inconsistency. But I’m still left wondering how any feminist loved Beyonce’s performance.
Yesterday afternoon, Jessica Valenti went up at the Guardian with this gem of an observation about Beyonce’s performance. After expressing her excitement about Beyonce putting “feminist” “literally in bright lights,” she talked about celebrity popular pressure:
I’m glad that [Taylor Swift] another celebrity with mass appeal – to young women, especially – is touting a movement necessary for gender justice. But the singer-songwriter calling herself a feminist for the first time in the same week that she released a video in which she twerks and crawls through the disembodied legs of women of color shows that it takes more than identifying as a feminist to understand feminism. (Perhaps as Swift browses the feminist section of bookstores she could pick up something on racism and cultural appropriation. Maybe she could read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as Beyoncé clearly has?)
I agree with Valenti that it takes more than identifying as a feminist to understand feminism. I am on record claiming that women rallying around a term about which they know little is the major problem of the movement. But Valenti’s position is that the problem with Taylor Swift’s understanding of feminism isn’t the objectifying nature of twerking, but that Swift is stealing the dance moves of women of color. Women of color are the ones who twerk. That is the essential assumption of the cultural appropriation argument. Maybe Swift isn’t the one in need of a book on racism.
Also check out Leslie Loftis’ analysis of Beyonce’s performance at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards here.
10. “Bow Down/I Been On”
The Church of Bey has clearly gone to the pop goddess’s head. A critic at New Wave Feminism writes:
Aside from repeatedly yelling “bow down bitches”, the song also contains lyrics such as “I know when you were little girls / You dreamt of being in my world / Don’t forget it , don’t forget it / Respect that, bow down bitches”. Apparently, Beyoncé thought the appropriate response for young women who admired her and looked up to her was to call them misogynistic slurs and demand they genuflect in her presence.
This Bey Anthem doubles as the death knell of the sisterhood.
My first notice of last night’s VMA performances came from my “Camille Paglia” Google alert. Someone wanted a Paglia analysis STAT. Curious, I checked my feminist feeds for some reaction context. They were either glowing about Beyonce’s Divine Feminism, asking as MTV did, “What more could we have asked for?” or silent. Then I watched and I […]
Is there a difference between a hero and a heroine? Should there be any difference? Comics more than any other form of media have presented the widest set of examples in the way of female heroes (as the politically correct term goes) from the demure to the overly aggressive. But in such creations as Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Thundra, and She-Hulk, all attempts at kowtowing to the feminist ideal, the industry might as well have made them male characters for all their busty bosoms and flashing legs. In fact, by powering up these females in the way of physical strength, male writers have done a disservice to women, falling into the feminist trap of equating men with women, in effect merging the two as if they were interchangeable.
Why do women need to be defined by such male qualities as physical strength? Why not have them defined through their own particular strengths and play up to that? Aren’t their own unique qualities as valuable as those of men? Women are no less courageous than their male counterparts of course, but where men are likely to be aggressive and bombastic, women are kind, caring, protective. Because they are not as physically strong, they frequently have the advantage of being able to hold back and think a situation through before barging ahead. In reality, men are physically stronger than women so giving them super-strength for instance, is a believable extension of an existing condition. Not so for women. For them, powers that are more passive in nature such as invisibility, telekinesis, or probability altering fit their more reserved natures better. As such, the heroes and heroines that work best are those whose super attributes are extensions of their basic masculine and feminine gifts. Not that super-heroines cannot have super-strength, but those that have that power ought to use it in different ways than a man would.
Many have seen the various Marvel Studios films starring the Black Widow character. Her ability to lay low dozens of male combatants crosses the line and snaps our ability to suspend belief for the duration of a two hour movie. With her around, who needs Captain America and his apparently useless super soldier serum? But in overdoing the Widow’s physical abilities, the producers have robbed her of her essential femininity (her physical appearance not withstanding!) She’s essentially just one of the boys: serious, tough, distant. Her polar opposite, and the perfect reconciliation between physically capable and retention of feminine qualities is the Emma Peel character from the 1960s-era Avengers television show. There, Mrs. Peel is totally capable in any number of areas including physical ability and yet nothing about the use of her skills detracts in any way from her femininity. Unlike the movie Widow–or current depictions of Wonder Woman or She-Hulk–she could never be mistaken for a man!
In that spirit, the following list includes the most successful examples of the super-heroine ideal. Heroines who rely less on aping their male counterparts than exercising power in ways that allow them to succeed while retaining their feminine qualities.
(Caveat: This survey of super-heroines does not take into account changes in the characters instituted in the post-1980s dark age)
Throughout our history, American women have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with fighting men, spied on the enemy, protected the fallen, even led troops into battle. Without our women’s active and aggressive participation, this country could never have become what it is today. Women built this land just as men did, cutting down trees and clearing land, killing dangerous animals and sometimes dangerous humans. With such a legacy, it’s no surprise that American women seem a little tougher, a little bolder than most other women.
Hundreds of women can be commemorated for their war efforts. The famous burlesque dancer Josephine Baker, for instance, worked for the French Resistance during World War II as a spy. Clara Barton worked tirelessly to heal wounded soldiers during the Civil War. In World War II, millions of American women went to work in munitions factories to free men for fighting. Without women as camp followers or running farm and businesses, even George Washington’s Continental Army might have failed, and the United States would never have been born.
But not all women were willing to take a secondary or noncombat role. Instead, these women picked up weapons and entered the battle alongside men. Most of these women have been forgotten. A few, however, have been remembered in the footnotes of history.
(image is Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Mary Read was British or Dutch, not American. Via Wikimedia Commons)
1. Anne Bonny
Born in Ireland, little Anne Cormac came to Charlestown as a child. She grew up tough, wild, and independent, the perfect mindset for the pirate she became. Anne met Mary Read, another female pirate, when they worked together on Calico Jack Rackham’s crew, and the two female pirates helped terrorize the Bahamas for over two years.
When the British Navy finally caught up with Rackham’s crew, the men were below decks and thoroughly drunk on brandy, the spoils of a recent victory. The women had been left on deck to guard. By themselves, Anne and Mary held off a British warship for a good while, yelling at the men to “come up, you cowards, and fight like men,” even firing pistols into the hold to get the drunk crew’s attention. Their efforts were in vain, and Captain Jonathan Barnet, commissioned by the governor of Jamaica, captured the ship and crew.
In Jamaica, all the pirates were sentenced to hang, though the two women were spared because they were pregnant. Jack, before his hanging, requested to see Anne one last time. According to legend, she said to him, “Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.” She refused to speak to him further.
While it is known that Mary died in prison, probably before giving birth to her child, the fate of Anne is a mystery. There is, however, good evidence that her father, a wealthy merchant, bribed her jailers to release her, then sent her to Virginia. Here she married a farmer, had children, told stories about her pirating days, and lived to a ripe old age.
These days, everyone’s remembering the riveting beauty and power of Lauren Bacall, who created some of Hollywood’s most ruthlessly desirable women (remember Young Man with a Horn?) In my list last week, I commemorated Rome’s studliest heroes — a who’s who of men of valor from the ancient world. But now it’s ladies’ night: the women of Greek and Roman myth and history knew better than anyone how to seduce, deceive, and sometimes outright slaughter their way to unassailable wealth and power. To pay tribute to some of Bacall’s more insidious roles, here are 10 of classical history’s deadliest femmes fatales, listed — in descending order this time — along with the emasculated puddles of broken manhood they left behind.
In “Yes, Katy Perry, Babies Need Daddies,” D.C. McAllister wrote about Katy Perry’s declaration to Rolling Stone that this is 2014 and she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. But McAllister just touches the tip of the iceberg on both Perry and children’s need for fathers.
Perry is being more callous to her future child than the typical woman who realizes that she wants a baby, doesn’t happen to have a partner, and, therefore, for her convenience decides that she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. Perry left her marriage to Russell Brand a few short years ago because he was ready to have a baby and she wasn’t. From a piece I did in 2012 on pop rock and the hookup culture:
In her movie Part of Me, Katy Perry addresses her divorce, essentially stating the Love Myth. “I thought to myself, ‘When I find that person that’s going to be my life partner, I won’t ever have to choose [between my partner and my career].”
Before anyone thinks that this is just the silly and self-centered musings of a Hollywood starlet, this notion of easy love that never requires compromise passes for thoughtful feminist discourse these days.
Perry saw her husband’s desire to start a family as trying to force her to slow down her career when she didn’t want to. To be perfectly blunt, she chose her career over her marriage and her future child’s ability to have a father. She doesn’t have the typical excuse that she was unlucky in love and is now hearing the ticks of her biological clock pound in her ears.
As a Gen-X/millennial crossover, I was fortunate enough to first meet Robin Williams as Mork from Ork on the sitcom Mork and Mindy. A comedic powerhouse, Mork’s colorful wardrobe and loud laugh were the first things I imitated as a child. As I grew up, I would look back and realize the many character lessons I learned at home were reinforced by a supremely acted alien outsider with a predilection for sitting on his head. In virtually every role he played, Robin Williams taught his audience a life lesson. As a young kid there was no one more fun to hang around with and learn from on TV than Mork from Ork.
10. Old people rule.
Mork marvels at the way the elderly are ignored and maligned on earth. On Ork, old folks are revered as the wise, experienced ones to learn from. “The Elder” is called on to remind Mork of his Orkishness. His was an early lesson in the importance of respect and reverence for the elders in your life and how very important all people are, no matter and, perhaps, especially because of their age.
Click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2 of this list-letter to Lisa De Pasquale in response to her memoir. Also see here for Hannah Sternberg’s contribution to the discussion, “5 Life and Relationship Lessons from Finding Mr. Righteous.”
21. Hedonism: “It is perfectly possible for entire peoples to live only for their own pleasure and feel nothing for their prospective obliteration.” – David P. “Spengler” Goldman, page 351 of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations.
I concluded part II with this question:
What does it mean to love someone? How do we learn to do it?
Amongst my book piles, I stumbled across this excerpt from page 141 of A Mystical Key to the English Language by Robert M. Hoffstein which points to the linguistic similarities between LIVE, LOVE and LEAVE as a clue:
I think the concept of what it means to “worship” someone, something, or God is no longer understood by most people. Do you think there’s a significant difference between love and worship? Are the series of patterns that you identify throughout the men in your book indicative of links between the way humans’ interpersonal relationships mirror their intellectual relationship with transcendence? Does the way in which we try to love others mirror the way in which we have learned to love God? Is worship a kind of training for loving others?
Click here for Part 1 of my list-letter to Lisa responding to her great memoir of her journey searching for relationships with both men and God.
11. Internet Porn Idolatry… and its coming Spawn of Virtual Reality Sex Addiction: Men who expect real-life women to behave as their porn star goddesses do, that is, if they’re still interested in flesh and blood women at all.… As noted in Kathy Shaidle’s must-read e-book culture critique Confessions of a Failed Slut, a compelling exploration of the last four decades’ sexual confusions:
That porn could warp young men’s sexual expectations was a commonplace talking point during the feminist ‘porn wars’ of the Eighties. The notion was roundly dismissed, but now it looks like the ‘anti-s’ were onto something.
In the previous part I already highlighted how some New Testament-centric theologies provided rather inadequate answers to questions of love, marriage, and sex. In the Evangelical Christian youth culture of my teen years it was abstinence until marriage and each lustful thought was morally equivalent to actually cheating on your future spouse. Jesus supposedly knew every bad thought that popped into our heads and each one was responsible for pounding those nails into his innocent flesh.
Just as I showed in point 3 how some Christians snip out a verse from Paul like some kind of biblical bandage to justify their demands for a wifely hooker performing on demand, the end of the sex discussion for those not yet married was Matthew 5:27-30:
27 You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Is it any wonder that sex and violence seem so joined at the hip when it’s ingrained in so many Christians that lustful thoughts should be banished with thoughts of self-mutilation?
None of the commenters responding to my posts even bothered to acknowledge the alternative solution to the Pauline Christian approach to sex that I’d put up in the beginning:
Just as Christians and secularists would feel better physically by adopting a food diet closer to Kosher, so too the ideals and approach toward a Kosher sexuality in marriage is also the attitude to pursue.
And part of that comes in recognizing what junk food and porn sex have in common: they’re both the products of an emotional, feelings-based pagan culture that we indulge in because of our inability to develop self-control through finding a higher pleasure than the escape of orgasm and the endorphin rush of the tasty food.
This great video of John Piper that Walter Hudson shared in his article “10 Barriers to Healthy Relationships Explored in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon” is worth considering again:
Women’s frustration at being used as pretty props in music videos isn’t new and isn’t limited to country music. One of Lily Allen’s recent offerings, “Hard Out Here”, makes the same point as Maddie and Tae do in their debut, “Girl in a Country Song”—women aren’t just ornamental—but Maddie and Tae do it better. By using role reversal and putting the boys in the painted-on cutoff jeans, they successfully achieve the absurd to skewer the use of women as props. Lily Allen’s raunchy choreography and slow-motion closeups didn’t provide enough contrast to typical music videos to achieve the skewering. Plus, Allen’s song was about female physical exploitation in general yet all of her backup dancers doing the crotch slapping choreography were women of color. On the whole, her video leaned more to the hypocritical than the satirical.
Here are both videos for comparison. Allen’s “Hard Out Here” is after the jump as it is NSFW.
See the first five parts of this ongoing discussion and you are invited to leave your ideas in the comments or submit via email: DaveSwindlePJM AT gmail dot.com
Dr. Helen Smith: Would You Want a Wife This Clueless About Sex and Your Emotions?
Dr. Helen Smith: A Classic Example of White Knighting
Francis W. Porretto: Some Thoughts on Sex and the Bonded Couple
I very much appreciate your contribution to the discussion about sex and marriage yesterday. As I made explicit in my answer to Dr. Helen Smith’s reply, I think these disagreements about marriage and sex are really expressions of more fundamental philosophical and religious conflicts. These comments of yours in particular jumped out, indicating that our worldviews start from very different places as I already knew from these years of enjoying your great comments and occasional pieces. Emphases mine:
Male orgasm — his spasmodic release of tension and seminal fluid — is not the reason a decent man cherishes his lover’s body and access to it. That there are a fair number of “indecent” men roaming about need not cloud the central issue.
Indeed, a mature, self-assured man, properly reared and past the urgings of adolescence, is less concerned with his own physical pleasure than with bringing pleasure to her. Her desire for his desire, with all that follows from that, gives him what he most wants: the opportunity to bring her pleasure, even if he gets little or none for himself. This has often been dismissed as merely a form of politeness, but in fact it’s the source of his greatest sexual fulfillment and, apart from progeny, his principal reason for wanting her to want him.
Yes, there are men so self-absorbed that a woman’s sexual desire is merely an opening through which to seek their own fulfillment, including the evanescent and essentially trivial pleasure of orgasm. Yes, there are men who never bother to learn “what she likes.” But in any decent society these will be a minority.
I’ve written over the years about my ideological shift from Nation-style progressivism to Tea Party conservatism. I’m not the person today that I was a decade ago at 20, in the middle of my undergraduate days when I expanded my studies from English to political science. Amongst the many shifts that I’ve made gradually over the years as life experiences and new philosophical influences chipped away at the ideology I was indoctrinated in from K-12 through college, one of the most fundamental has been my change in understanding human nature. It’s a change from what Victor Davis Hanson has described as the “therapeutic view” to the “tragic view.”
When I was a progressive who supported big government programs and a dovish foreign policy it was because I naively assumed that most human beings wanted the same things, were decent people at heart, and could be trusted not to deceive others. Multiculturalism taught that all cultures were equal and all religions expressed the same basic, universal moral values. Anytime someone did something wrong it was because they were ignorant or mentally unbalanced in a way that was distorting their perception of consensus reality. Sure, occasionally nature would make a mistake and burp out serial killers, child molesters, or Hitlers but in general such people were aberrations. Thus it was possible — and necessary — and moral to move forward with trying to reason our way to a perfect, peaceful world by convincing everyone else what was best for them to do.
But I don’t believe that at all anymore. Now I believe the exact opposite. The state of nature from which humanity escaped is chaos, cruelty, hatred and selfishness. More people in the world are evil than good, more of the cultures in the world will die through suicide rather survive. It’s more normal for humans to worship death than for them to pursue eternal life. And the pimp-prostitute, promiscuous, polygamous sexual culture is more natural and universal than monogamous marriage. The absolute nuclear family that powers American prosperity is an aberration that we take for granted — see James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s amazing America 3.0 for more on this. And in failing to understand and defend this culture today it’s slipping away.
10. If guys didn’t look like heroin-addicted street dwellers…
Before committing suicide, musician Kurt Cobain copyrighted the grunge look that came to define Gen-X/millennial crossovers in the ’90s. A reaction to the preppie style made famous by ’80s yuppies, grunge involved a level of disheveled that transcended even the dirtiest of ’60s hippie looks. Grunge trademarks included wrinkled, untucked clothing complemented by greasy, knotted hair and an expression best defined as heroin chic. The style depicted an “I don’t care” attitude that took punk’s anti-authoritarian attitude to a darker, more disengaged level. Grunge became the look of resigned defeat among American males.
10. We’re so fiercely independent that the only thing we need to be happy… is a man.
Post-second wave feminist romantic comedies rely on the Sheryl Sandberg boilerplate: upper-middle class, successful career woman with an impossibly huge apartment in big city stuffed with everything she could ever want. (See: Reese Witherspoon in Just Like Heaven.) The genre gives the image one slight twist: our heroine is secretly one step away from cultivating her very own cat collection. (See: Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.) True to Hollywood fashion, who better than the big, strong male superhero to fly in to save the day?
10. Americans are all obese.
From the messy buildup in the fat folds of Mama June’s neck (affectionately known to her children as “neck crud”) to Honey’s proclivity for bathing in mayonnaise, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo embodies the myth that everyone in America weighs a minimum of 300 pounds. One of the best episodes involves Mama June dumping a 5 pound bag of sugar into 2 gallons of lemon juice in order to make homemade lemonade. For the record, 64% of Americans are not obese. But with shows like HHere Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, Shedding for the Wedding, Thintervention, Dance Your A** Off, Celebrity Fit Club, I Used To Be Fat, and Ruby, we’re just a bunch of big, fat Americans.
11. Wonder Woman
Her fresh, All-American face premiered on comic book stands during World War II, making her the greatest enemy of the Axis powers. Daughters of original readers would go on to be inspired by Lynda Carter’s televisual portrayal of the superheroine in the 1970s. The Wonder Woman arsenal includes a dual-function tiara with bracelets to match and the awesome Lasso of Truth. Before there was Lara Croft or a chick named Buffy, Wonder Woman proved that strength could be sexy and gave Captain America a run for his patriotism with her flag-bearing style.
13. Bess Myerson
Recognizing a woman who appears to have parlayed her Miss America recognition into a minor-league acting gig may not seem logical, until you realize that Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America, paved an uphill path for diversity in the pageant circuit. She was told by one Miss America exec that she ought to change her name to something “more gentile” and refused. Pageant sponsors refused to hire her as a spokeswoman and certain sites with racial restrictions refused to have her visit as Miss America. This was of no consequence to Miss Myerson, who was the first Miss America to win an academic scholarship. The racism she confronted was motivation for a lifetime’s work with organizations like the ADL, NAACP, and Urban League. She would go on to co-found The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and make boundless contributions to the city’s art community. Along with becoming a television personality, Myerson received several presidential appointments in the 1960s and ’70s and would receive two honorary doctorates.
Common law, case law, moves slowly. It basically crowd-sources notions of fairness and justice over time and turns them into rules. Normally this works well. But when the assumptions that informed the common law were faulty, then precedent drags positive change.
We can see this happening in child custody arrangements. The precedents set in the 1970s when the divorce rate rose were informed by Freudian attachment-theory studies in the post-war era on orphans, as they were the most commonly found victims of fractured families. As attachment theory developed, psychologists started studying mothers and young children. It seemed a logical first layer of detail to examine given the expectations that women took care of the children while men worked outside the home.
When the divorce rate rose in the ’70s and courts had to start declaring custody arrangements, the experts recommended primary mother care because they didn’t have data for anything else. From a 1992 “Origins of Attachment Theory” paper in Developmental Psychology:
Although we have made progress in examining mother-child attachment, much work needs to be done with respect to studying attachment in the microsystem of family relationships (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Despite studies by Belsky, Gilstrap, and Rovine (1984), Lamb (1978), and Parke and Tinsley (1987) that show fathers to be competent, if sometimes less than fully participant attachment figures, we still have much to learn regarding father attachment.
Formal studies of children in broken homes didn’t really start until the ’80s when there were children of divorce to study and a fierce need for relevant data. And the father and child arrangements that the data recommend look little like the modern arrangements formed under the inertia of legal precedent.
There’s a lot to learn before a young man enters the world of dating. Here are the top 10 movies that have lessons that will educate him, help him, and get him ready to navigate the difficult world of dating. Let’s start with number 10:
What? Did you expect The Notebook? This movie about an alien invasion and battles between humans and bugs is nominally based on Robert A. Heinlein’s classic of the same name.
Why it’s important: The main character, Johnny Rico, is oblivious to Dizzy Flores, his fellow high school student. She has a huge crush on him and eventually lands him by the oldest play in the book: proximity. She sticks with him. She’s at his side in the mud and blood of battle and when it comes time for him to decide between her and the gorgeous Carmen, his original love interest is far away and way out of the picture. This is a movie with many flaws, but the singleminded pursuit of Rico by Dizzy Flores is worth examination. Plus, of course, the battle scenes are epic.
The CW is planning to add Jane the Virgin to its fall lineup. Based on a Venezuelan telenovela of the same name, Jane the Virgin is about an intentionally virginal girl who is “accidentally artificially inseminated” by her OB-GYN:
Jane stars Gina Rodriguez (Filly Brown) as a hard-working, devout Latina who is kind of hoping her boyfriend proposes — though she’s a little worried he’ll get down on one knee so she’ll finally agree to do the deed. When a mix-up at the OB-GYN leads to that artificial insemination plot line, Jane must choose whether to keep the baby — and whether to let the handsome father into her life.
Aside from containing a number of Spanish stereotypes, including the paranoid grandmother putting the fear of God into her pre-teen daughter (“Once you lose your virginity, you can never go back!“) to a cast of overtly sexualized Latinas, the show appears to be a platform for some long overdue, serious conversation regarding abortion. However, the show sounds eerily like one of the most famously influential and revered plot lines in the West’s repertoire, leaving one to wonder how a primarily Protestant audience might handle a story that’s been a hit in a Catholic country.
When it comes to the primarily pathetic representation of Latinas on television (does Sofia Vergara have to do it all?) at least Jane the Virgin appears to lack the typical trashiness of Devious Maids.
An Excerpt from “The Ballad of Band of Love: Nathan Harden takes his critique of Sex Culture from the Ivy League to the iPod” by Dan LeRoy:
“My first response to any musician is, ‘I don’t wanna hear about your politics. I don’t care about your politics’,” says Nathan Harden. “A lot of us, the last thing we want to hear when a musician starts to speak is a political statement consolidated into a three-and-a-half minute song.
“The idea of conservative music doesn’t sound appealing to me, or anyone,” Harden adds, breaking into a laugh. “It sounds boring, right?”
Those are unusual statements, perhaps, only to those who don’t know Harden or his day job. A 2009 graduate of Yale, Harden took his alma mater to task in the book Sex and God at Yale, which deliberately referenced William F. Buckley’s 1951 conservative classic God & Man at Yale, and made Harden a sought-after commentator on the Right.
But while his writing and blogging can be found on any number of websites,right-leaning and otherwise, Harden left New Haven for Nashville (after graduating with a Humanities degree in 2009) because he was serious about pursuing a musical career. This he has done as the frontman for Band of Love, a quartet that released its debut album last year. And while Harden shies from the term “conservative music,” there’s little doubt that the passionate, polished rock on Ballad of Dani Girl offers a clear alternative to the prevailing themes of the music industry.
“It’s inevitable,” admits Harden, “that who you are comes out.”
Who Nathan Harden is has something to do with why he wrote the book he wrote, and why he makes the music he makes. Self-described in the former work as “a home-school dropout with a G.E.D.” who had twice been rejected for admission to Yale, Harden found himself appalled that his long-awaited introduction to the Ivy League was during the hijinks of Sex Week, which offered porn stars as guest professors, and graphic demonstrations of sex toys and techniques.
If it goes against the grain to claim that women are the true victims of the sexual revolution, then Harden has nonetheless made the claim in both his writing and his music. Ballad of Dani Girl is a concept album of sorts (“I’ve always been a huge fan of concept albums,” Harden enthuses, citing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon as a personal favorite) that traces the troubled path of the title character, through the very “liberated” American landscape that has now become the norm.
This is a sort of anti-Miley Cyrus view of sexuality. It’s sort of taking what we all know, as red-blooded males, that there’s something alluring about a woman who…doesn’t show everything in the first three seconds you meet her,” he says. “It’s modesty and restraint…the erotic charge of what a woman withholds from you.”
Sex, he adds, “has always been a big part of what rock n’ roll’s about. But it’s gone from treating it with metaphor and subtlety and allusion…to a kind of tediously literal approach to sex.
“The power of restraint and even, to use a kind of literary term, the elliptical–what you don’t say, and what you don’t show,” Harden says, “is something that’s been lost in modern pop music.”
Other releases to check out:
- A Blog Post: “The Rule of Least Harm” by Jamie Wilson
- An Article: “The Army We Have: Introducing the New Musical Counterculture” by Dan LeRoy
- A Satire: “THE SUPER-TOP-SECRET, EXTRA-PERSONAL CAMPAIGN DIARY OF HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON” by Lari Vine
- An Article: “Rockin’ the Right: The 50 greatest conservative rock songs” by John Miller