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4:34 p.m. - 2009-12-23
Wouldn't it be loverly...not!

Caught a bit of 'My Fair Lady' last night and was once again mystified and made angry by the idea of Eliza wanting anything to do with Henry Higgins, let alone leaving Freddie who adores her to go running back to Higgins to devote herself to him and be lifted to nirvana by his testy shitty treatment of her. I know the idea is that Higgins is an impossible jerk, an arrogant twerp who has an ego the size of Jupiter and supposedly gets his comeuppance by realizing he actually, sorta, kinda loves Eliza thus turning his comfortably egocentric world view upside down. But Higgins has no real pain. He doesn't learn jack shit, in my opinion. Even Shaw, who was no friend to women, didn't make Eliza into Higgins' dogs body love slave at the end of Pygmalion.

So I'm cranky with the Hollywood powers-that-be and the societal norm of the time (early 1960s) that insisted spunky, sassy Eliza (who would have made her way just fine without that asshole Henry Higgins 'saving' her from the slums) go running back to him. Rex Harrison's closing line about his missing slippers REALLY pisses me off and I truly wonder why Jack Warner didn't make the end scene of Eliza bringing the slippers in her mouth on all fours like the dog she was.

And yes, my crankiness stems from my own indoctrination into that dog mindset. Though I came of age during the dawning of feminism and at age 10 spent my birthday money on a subscription to 'Ms.' magazine to counteract the treacle mind mush of the stubbornly old school 'Young Miss' subscription gifted upon me by my Chanel grandmother. In 1973 'Young Miss' was chockablock with 'helpful' tips on how to take a dive in a chess match so your boyfriend wouldn't suspect you could have kicked his ass in 6 moves and how to sew your own discretely camouflaged sanitary napkin carrier so when klutzy, klutzy you accidentally spilled your purse nobody would know you were menstruating. (The shame! The shame! Unclean woman!)

Twixt and tween I was, still am in some ways. I do know I've given up being a door mat and a dog. My delight in being Mick's petted spoiled darling has zero to do with lack of faith in my own abilities or the need to hide them so my guy's nose and ego aren't bent out of joint. If I wanted to build a super collider in the back yard and accelerate sub-atomic particles for the fun of it, not only wouldn't Mick nay-say the project, he'd take out an ad in the Misspelled Tribune announcing that he had the most brilliant woman in the universe and everybody should come over and see the cool thing I'd made.

But the woman = dog equation was always there. Always the subtext message during my growing up years. Along with the dumbing down of self, even stronger was the message that you shouldn't object when he treated you badly. In fact if he treated you badly it was your own damn fault. That one I came to know intimately. I guess I was about 5 the night my mother served my da a steak not cooked to his liking. Too rare, too done, I disremember, but I surely do remember his reaction. He roared and then flipped our kitchen table completely over, sending food and dishes careening everywhere. I remember the steak knife standing up in the back of my hand, the point buried just above my wrist. I still have a faint scar there. I remember his towering rage and the torrent of angry words he screamed at my mother. I remember her groveling around on the floor, scooping together the splats of food and broken pieces of crockery. I remember her sobbing and saying how sorry she was. Sorry, sorry, sorry. She'd never get his steak wrong again.

Is it a stretch to see Henry Higgins' callous misogynistic wretched behavior toward Eliza Doolittle and her inexplicable adoration of him anyhow and my mother's sobbing apologies to my father after he upended our kitchen table onto her (and me) over a wrongly cooked steak? Not to me it isn't. It's only a matter of degree. The underlying message of : 'He's an abusive shit, forfeit self and love him regardless of how he treats you' is still there.

My mother learned it. She taught it to me. And in 1964 the Academy gave it eight Oscars.


Nauseated, ~LA

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