The Novice Nun: A very short story

Vows

(Julian O’Dea)

The priest sat silently as we waited, prior to his homily. He always did this, praying silently presumably, and certainly increasing our sense of expectation.

His sermons were literate, and usually traversed church history in a light but informative way. His Irish accent and idiom were foreign to the chapel on an Australian university campus. But he was a Jesuit and he made a plausible chaplain.

On this occasion, he woke us up more than usual with his assertion, “I often pray that I will become a saint”. Australians are not used to such moments of Irish drama.

*************************************

Years later, and a couple of changes of university, and I was back home to present some results at a conference in my scientific field. My sister took me under her wing, to show me some real culture, and took me to some lectures and performances at a Shakespeare And Jonson Conference ( I couldn’t help thinking that poor old Ben was a bit outclassed.)

The young nun was not even really a novice. She was a “postulant”. She was tall for a girl, straight and long limbed, with shortish dark hair, dark eyes and fair freckled skin. And pretty in an Irish style. She was a friend of my sister’s, and also a student interested enough to go to the conference too. We went to a few lectures together, my sister and I and this girl. I was told that she was a brilliant student, although her mirth and confusion at hearing a countertenor singing an Elizabethan song in a high, warbling voice – as part of the conference – made me wonder about the exact depth of her culture. Even I knew more than that.

Still, she touched my overcoat, and I heard later that she thought me handsome.

*************************************

Years later again, and things were not going too well in my lovelife or worklife. I thought, with the courage of despair, that I might as well give her a call. I had heard that she had left the novitiate.

Politely, she invited me over for a cup to tea. I had detected no great enthusiasm, and I knew that whatever crush she had once had on me had surely gone as soon as I saw what she had on. She wore shorts and a blouse and sandals from doing some gardening outside the small flat or apartment the university had given her to let as a graduate student. Even in those days, I could tell at a glance that she was not interested. There was something about her that was gone too, some freshness that I had remembered.

She gave me some gratuitous life advice, about the need to follow my real career interests, my “true love”, and we parted.

*************************************

I never spoke to her again. I heard she married the priest who had prayed to become a saint. I assume he was laicised. They had two sons and a divorce.

I saw her once in town. She still looked good and I heard she rose quite high in the civil service.

I know she published her thesis on Shakespeare, but I gather it did not revolutionise Shakespeare scholarship. She also wrote a thoughtful article on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. About how a girl has to take her marital chances as she can.

Metropolitan (1990)

Originally posted on The Movie Review Warehouse:

Having recently made my first foray into the world of Whit Stillman with Damsels In Distress, I was taken with his clever writing, if not fully in the story on display. I’m happy to say that Metropolitan carries over the great knack for dialogue but attaches a story that just seems to deliver. It follows a group of upper-class kids in Manhattan, through the eyes of one slightly less elite member. We are quickly learned on the social practices of this unique cut of young adult, gossipy and casually philosophical, with a pessimistic sense of self feeling fated to underachieve the high expectations of their births.

If I’m being honest, what sold me on the film wasn’t the focal character, Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) but two members that pull him into this bourgeois collection, contrary to his socialist self-identity. Audrey Rouget (Carolyn Farina) is a fantastic creation, a bit more…

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A Disaster for Feminism

50 Shades of Grey Sets Back Feminism

This article appeared on Facebook, and my comment was:

“This film is an absolute fucking disaster for feminism. They have repressed normal female sexuality for decades and this is the result. Men and women used to work this stuff out in a traditional, hierarchical marriage, but feminism has made that impossible. And now it comes back to bite them on the arse. Serves them bloody well right.”

If you read, not just Fifty Shades of Grey, but older books about extremes of male domination like the Gor series, what can be perceived is that most of the forms of domination depicted have their healthier analogues in what used to be normal marital behaviour. Traditionally, women were expected to obey their husbands, to take their surnames, to offer loyal service, to be sexually available and to perform menial work about the house. Feminism has “problematised” all of this. Women have nobody to respect and serve in the real world, and so they retreat into fantasy fueled by fiction. It is all they have.

Women biting their lips and fingers

A film poster currently in use (in Australia at least) for the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey”:

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The use of the trope of nervous biting of the lip is interesting.

This site discusses the possible meanings of biting one’s lip. Both men and women are credited with doing it, but it seems more typically a female bit of body language to me.

A woman biting the tips of her fingers also conveys flirtatious or fearful or uncertain mood. I discuss the video below in context here. Note the childlike indecisive biting of the tips of her fingers at 1:14:

More fingers to lips here, again from Fifty Shades of Grey:

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(DISCLAIMER: I have not seen Fifty Shades of Grey, and don’t intend to. I have dipped into the first book, but did not finish it.)

Women also seem to play with their hair more than men, and some of these actions may represent what anthropologists call “care of the body surface”. Women are also more likely to attend obsessively to their body surface and extremities, sometimes perhaps in a pathological way (self-cutting; trichotillomania – hair pulling, more common in women). It is possible that women are simply more prone to self-grooming (and also allogrooming – grooming others – as seen when a woman touches a man to adjust his coat, for example, in a flirtatious gesture).

Women seem to primp a great deal, and to attend to the details and extremities of their bodies more than men. For the lips, there is lipstick, sometimes obsessively and constantly applied throughout the day. And there is great attention to fingernails, to painting toenails and to selection of shoes.

Non-feminist lifestyles for women: bimbos and Stepford wives

I just had a search arrive at this blog, “should i become a bimbo”.

I have written about the “bimbo lifestyle” at these posts. Included is an interview I did by email with an Australian PhD student who was working towards being a “bimbo”.

Also at this post, I discuss the Christian wife-spanking movement, and in the comments I cite and discuss the “Stepford Wife” group.

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From StepfordWives.Org

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More cute short-haired girls

I have written about the reason why some men admire short-haired women here, in a post that attracted a lot of comments. I suppose everybody has an opinion on this topic, men and women.

Here are some cute short-haired girls to inspire reflection:

1.

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2.

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3.

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4.

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5.

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6.

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7.

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8.

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Linda Fiorentino:

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As I said, here are some notes on the psychology of preferring short-haired women.

More on “nonpaternity”

Below is an article that is cited in the following very interesting book:

Recent decline in nonpaternity rates“.

“Across studies, the mean (and median) nonpaternity rate was 3.1% (2.1%). This estimate is consistent with estimates of 2 to 3% from recent reviews on the topic that were based on fewer primary studies. This estimate also rebuts the beliefs and hearsay data widespread among both the public and researchers which contend nonpaternity rates in modern populations might be as high as about 10%.

What the authors are saying is that increased use of contraceptives has reduced the number of babies being attributed to men who are not the real biological father. This is not surprising, although it does suggest that women are interested to some degree in having sex with men who are not their husbands or normal partners, but not in having babies to these other men. That is, maybe the message is that women are not that interested in foisting babies from sexy men on their husbands and cuckolding them, but are interested in extramarital sex.

Another factor worth thinking about is that if women are most interested in sex, including with other men, at ovulation, the use of more effective contraception should have facilitated that with less risk of conception; so the results are what one might expect in terms of a decline in nonpaternity.

So, the take-home message for married men is that your child is increasingly likely to be really yours, but your wife may find it easier to “cheat” on you without having to have a baby to another man.

At least that is my interpretation. Comments welcome of course.

What I wrote previously on this topic.

BTW, the book pictured above also notes that “intimate partner violence” is more often initiated by females than males. Something that feminists are surprisingly quiet about.

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