I doubt severe torture could bring me to genuinely care about whatever merit there is behind Femen’s protest of Vladimir Putin, and there must be some merit, him being a Russian tyrant and all, prompting the hysterics. But I appreciate the girls giving me the opportunity to use the word in both its original and later meaning:
from Latin hystericus “of the womb,” from Greek hysterikos “of the womb, suffering in the womb,” from hystera “womb” (see uterus). Originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus. Meaning “very funny” (by 1939) is from the notion of uncontrollable fits of laughter. Related: Hysterically.
Indeed, this photo looks like one form of hysterics provoking another.
I couldn’t help thinking of our own would-be czar’s recent collision with modern feminist wrath. When I read that President Obama had complimented California Attorney General Kamala Harris on her looks I recognized immediately that it wasn’t a slip of the tongue–as the outraged and apologists alike would have it, sort of latent misogyny leaching out of its own–but, like almost everything about the Wonder Brother, a calculated political move. Every now and then the president, who imagines–or at least is told by his advisors–that he has a special connection with women undergirded by sexual attraction, finds it advantageous to stoke the smoldering embers of this dysfunctional desire. Remember when he pretended to find Debbie Wasserman Schultz “cute”? Be reassured, bubbas everywhere–your president is a regular guy, not averse to telling an awkward and homely girl she’s attractive to get what he wants. And feminist America is at this point one big, awkward girl suddenly all-powerful and settling scores, like Carrie as prom queen, indiscriminately destroying all about in her blind rage.
Masculine charisma was one of the things projected by the racism-consciousness-conditioned masses onto the blank screen that was candidate Obama as a modern Black Hero (along with wisdom, cool, depth of feeling, oratorical majesty–none of which the man, still, evidences any more, and probably less, than the average public figure in modern America; but then, if we really wanted to get down to it, black America only evidences these traits in the romance of film and television). We get a lot less of that now, having been subjected to that skinny, jug-eared face, that narrow-shouldered emaciated frame, that uncertain, transparently false voice and manner, for years now.
The president’s maladroit handling of the grant of assumed sexual charisma just reinforces for me something I’ve suspected for a long time: he isn’t much interested in women and he doesn’t really get them. He has–let’s face it–a rather dull but assertive wife at home who (and can you blame him?) he’s only too glad to leave there to hit the links, court or work (and probably in that order) and who resembles nothing so much as a breed-mare, with her stoutness of height and frame and unqualified black American pedigree; he has a troubled relationship to a mother who absented herself from his formative years, and now half of American womanhood expecting him to bring home the political bacon. The cost of power is indeed high.
But the impression I get from both the methods of Femen and the president’s awkward courtship of American womanhood is that feminism, despite its rhetoric of revolution, is still doing what women have been doing for ages: regulating masculine sexual energy.