Blog powered by Typepad


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


big dirigible

Jane Austen is mute on the subject.

Just think "corsets" - made of whalebone. Most movies don't make contemporary actresses go through that - or comtemporary whales, either.

Joe Baby

Contemporary whales have no idea how good they have it. And yet they've never thanked us, the slackers.

Soak Hinson

The only cleavage of significance is Eldridge Cleavage. Madonna does not count.


Such corsets as are on the market today use memory metals, engineering plastics or composites for the stays. Whalebone's job has been outsourced.


I can answer the Madonna question easily. Women looked up to Madonna as an empowered female entity. She really reinvented the art of female pop performances dancing around in suits and pointy bras. She sang about masturbation(well so did Cindy Lauper) and told people what she thought...and she made tons of money.
Women tend to look to other women that dress well, make money, get the men, and seem successful when they are trying to decide decisions that really affect them emotionally. I.E. the boyfriend dumping, the hair dying, and the shoe buying are all material and physical acts of empowerment for women.
Hence the importance of these acts and talking about what would Madonna do?? Although I'm still waiting for some women to say 'What would Laura Bush do?' and no one has ever said 'What would Barbra Streisand do?' Women tend to look to older and successful sister types to emulate....maybe you find this confusing because Madonna is so superficial, strange, and not really a source of wisdom?? Write me at my blog if you have questions..

Stephen Gordon

I heard somewhere that the latest Pride and Prejudice movie was set about 20 years prior to the publication of the novel - just so that they could use the dresses that were fashionable at that time.


Well, admiring someone's success is not quite the same thing as taking everything they say as gospel.

She is spectacularly successful at her chosen career, has two beautiful children, a handsome husband, and is buff enough for a twenty year old to envy. Is it so horrible to admire (envy) her a teeny, tiny bit? And who are all these supposed women looking to Madonna for advice on daily life? At eighteen I liked to dance to Madonna songs as much as the next eighteen year old woman, and might have enjoyed her sheer chutzpah but I didn't go out an buy a gondola to prance around on a la Like a Virgin.

Clive  D

Madison, thanks. I take your point. As for her pioneering role, what makes Madonna so different from, say, Marianne Faithfull, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell or even Pearl Bailey? I have a horrible feeling it all comes down to the tons of money that you mention. And what does that say about us?


Hollywood is going to go for whatever catches the eye - they have no need to keep things within historical context - most people today have no idea (nor do they care) about how women dressed back in Jane Austen's time. Much depended on if you were in the city or the country (the country being far more conservative about these things) but even so, girls from good families who were trying to make a good marriage - did not show off an excessive amount of cleavage. After marriage... then things got interesting (at least from a man's point of view). Reputation was everything back then - once a young woman lost hers... her hope of a good marriage was about zero and dressing the part of a "good girl" was a must.

As for Madonna... I can't say I ever thought she had even one iota of sense. She made money by being provacative - well - that's nice for her, but that's also not relevant to my life. I never thought even once about what some actress or singer would do in my place. They live completely different lives and make an income so far above mine - there's absolutely no common ground. Certainly anyone over the age of 20 should be thinking for themselves - not thinking about what would Madonna do... if they do still think like that - they really need to grow up.

Jayne Doodles

I have to weigh in on this, since I'm a twenty-something who does not have (and never had) any interest in Madonna either as a source of entertainment or advice. I think the people I know who might consider idolizing the material girl usually admire her because, quite simply, she gets what she wants. Whatever she wants. Kid without hubby? No problem. Oh, and now I want a hubby? No problem. Career in music? Check. Books? Check. Movies? Check. Respect? Well, at least from some people. Most of this success probably has to do with the confidence she has to pull off the most outrageous stunts and still be taken quasi-seriously. Which would explain her immense attractiveness to women who feel that they need to be able to succeed in their own lives with that type of pizazz.


"As for her pioneering role, what makes Madonna so different from, say, Marianne Faithfull, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell or even Pearl Bailey?"

Err, music that anyone today can remember? As opposed to Marianne Faithful (Warholish famous-for-15-minutes figure), Carly Simon (one memorable song, plus a James Bond credits song), Joni Mitchell (some hippie chick, I know that) or Pearl Bailey (I know Miinie Pearl is someone else!)?

Clive D

Fair point. I was thinking more of the persona, really. Ask someone to buy you a Pearl Bailey compilation. She's fun...

The reason I mentioned Alice Cooper in the post is that I think when the great DJ in the sky comes to make his selections for posterity, "Like a Virgin" will be a couple of places below "School's Out". And that will be about it. The hippie chicks will probably be a division or two ahead.


Austen didn't publish her books until many years after they were written, so I have no issue with the costume change up. As far as bosom gazing, women would not wear Wonderbras if they didn't want people to look, but when someone is talking to you you need to meet thier eyes.


Why do men have this "thing" about Jane Austen. I read Trollope and Thackeray quite happily along with Austen. I think you are all terrified by the hold Mr. Darcy has on the female heart. Secretly no man can be as haughty, attractive, rich and unobtainable as Mr. Darcy. And of course most women would never manage the repartee that flashes between them but we like to think we could. You guys just have to get over the whole thing.

Andrea Martin

But why admire Madonna when Dolly Parton does it all as well and so much better? Madonna may be a smart cookie, but Dolly is a genius...and the queen of cleavage.

wendy james

Can't say I've ever asked myself "what would Madonna do?", though there have been occasions where I've pondered Elizabeth Bennett's opinion of this or that.
(Though her advice has never been sought, I hasten to add, on matters of cleavage:)


She exposes her cleavage in the hopes of entrancing you, yes. And she will assume the moral authority to take you to task for being entranced. It’s a wonderful one-two punch to keep you off balance.

Really, looking to women, especially women like Madonna, to set and explain the socially acceptable responses to sexual display is like asking the UN, while still flush from all that yummy oil-for-food money, to dictate the terms of your invasion of Iraq. You could do worse than read more Paglia.

Tim in PA

"And of course most women would never manage the repartee that flashes between them but we like to think we could. You guys just have to get over the whole thing."

That right there is one reason why men have a "thing" about Jane Austen. We just don't place as much importance on "repartee". For most men, everyday speech consists of concise phrases like "hey, you gonna eat that?" or monosyllabic grunts. We'd like to make it through the day without having it degenerate into maudlin soap opera dialogue. Most men who engage in "witty repartee" are just unusually skilled lairs and lowlifes (which men see through immediately, but women never seem to spot until after they've been used and discarded)

Bernard Davidoff

They showed cleavage, they wore clingy, form fitting thin fabrics. This was the regency period not the Victorian. No whalebones. That came later - but the cleavage remained.


This is so easy. Only the pernicious, pervasive PC language virus has made it difficult (and for too many it's even unthinkable). The average woman's default social posture is herd-like. And they like it that way.


Ever heard of an empire waist dress? This is when they come from, i.e. Emperor Napoleon.

For fashion plates of the period:

wendy james

"Most men who engage in "witty repartee" are just unusually skilled lairs and lowlifes (which men see through immediately, but women never seem to spot until after they've been used and discarded)"

But, Tim in PA, this is precisely the point that Austen makes! (Darcy v Wickham; Bertram v Crawford; Wentworth v Elliot, etcetera)

Sean Hackbarth

How can we take Madonna seriously with that awful Flashdance outfit she wears in her new album cover? Yuck. At least the music is good.

M. Simon

I always look at a woman's eyes when I talk. Aren't the eyes of a woman in the middle of her chest?


I have been misinformed.


WWMD? What Would Madonna Do? WWJD does not sound quite as silly to me now.

The comments to this entry are closed.