de la Bédoyère’s Maxims, No. 2

An anthropologist from Mars might start his study by looking at women’s magazines. He would conclude that their sole preoccupations were personal appearance, food and sex. He would borrow for his learned paper the title, “Knit your own Orgasm.”

There are few enterprises which do not benefit from the participation of both sexes.

In most areas of endeavour men tend to provide the best and the worst examples; women hold the middle ground.

If a woman is beautiful flatter her mind: if a woman is intelligent flatter her beauty.

Those who insist on inclusive language when the meaning is otherwise clear, demonstrate their fear that they do not deserve to be included.

About Quentin

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10 Responses to de la Bédoyère’s Maxims, No. 2

  1. Frank says:

    To flatter is to lie. Shakespeare had a word or two to say against flatterers. Why should women be interested in lies – whether about the mind or the body?

    “T’is not how witty nor how free.
    Nor yet how beautiful she be,
    but how much kind and true to me.”

    I think women are more interested in kindness and truth than in flattery.

  2. I could of course have said “If a woman is beautiful compliment her mind: if a woman is intelligent compliment her beauty”. But would it have had the same bite?
    Maxims, I feel, have licence to be annoying, and therefore provoking thought.
    Don’t we all value favourable comment on qualities we believe we have, but think that no one notices?

  3. Frank says:

    I don’t think flattery ‘bites’; I think it drowns us – in a sea of vanity and illusion. Compliments? They may well be both sincere and truthful, and therefore properly welcome; flattery is neither! It reminds me of the line from My Fair Lady: “He oiled his way across the floor/oozing charm from every pore…” And look at poor Mr Collins and Lady Catherine de Burgh…

    There is also that anecdote about GB Shaw and Mrs Pat Campbell: she said, ” Just think: If we had a child together it would have your brains and my beauty!” Shaw replied: “Suppose it had your brains and my beauty?”

  4. Brighton says:

    The reason why women hold the ‘middle ground’ is because society is based on male power structures. Rosalind Franklin took the Xray diffraction pictures which Crick and Watson used as their starting clue to the shape of DNA. Heard of her? Being a woman she was left in the shadows. The men got the Nobel Prize.
    Many young people do not know that fifty years ago respectable companies required women to retire as soon as they married. It sounds too medieval to be true, but that’s how it was.
    ‘Children, cooking and church’ was how the Germans described the female contribution. And Quentin cheerfully tells us that they take the middle ground! That’s all they are allowed.

  5. Frank says:

    Yet it is true, Brighton, that in the old days, before the classes of degree were inflated, that men got more Firsts and Thirds, and women got more Second Class degrees i.e. they held the middle ground. This suggests that men are both more risk takers and lazier than women. Perhaps there is a genetic component here?

  6. I would claim that flattery runs a gamut. At one end comes “poor Mr Collins” or the way that I would treat Caligula if I were at his court.
    At the other end comes adverting to good points, while omitting qualifications. So I might say to someone “What fine eyes you have!”, without mentioning that they have three of them. True, but not the whole truth. On the whole I hope that on Judgment Day God uses that approach with me.
    Somewhere in here comes the whole question of charm. We are drawn to charm, but it can be a great trap. “One may smile and smile, and be a villain.” I wonder what Franks thinks of charm.

  7. Frank says:

    Good question. I have often pondered it. I understand that Lord Alfred Douglas had charm of a kind; Denys Finch-Hatton had it in spades. Thus I deduce it is something to be avoided: a heady, intoxicating, usually unconscious allure, seductive in the aura that it surrounds itself with, but ultimately shallow, fickle, hard-hearted.

    Having written this, I now ask myself, did any of the saints have charm i.e could holiness and charm go together? Edmund Campion for instance? I rather think JH Newman might have had charm, and he was certainly holy…

  8. I think a deduction from two examples that charm is undesirable is invalid logic. But look at it another way – in reverse. How do we see a charmless person? He may be full of true virtue, but if he treats us grumpily or off handedly he is hard to like. He may in fact hold a high opinion of us, but he makes us feel unwanted. I think the danger of charm is that we are instinctively drawn towards it, regardless of the merits of the charmer.

  9. Frank says:

    I agree it is invalid logic; those two examples came quickly to mind, but I could have reeled off lots more: Mary Queen of Scots; Marie Antoinette; Wallis Simpson; Bill Clinton, Lord Mountbatten, etc etc (All rich people, incidentally; can poor people be charming?)

    On my reckoning, most people lack charm; but they might have instead, sincerity, kindness, warmth, good humour; when we call someone ‘charmless’, we mean that he/she has failed in an area that demanded some small element of charm (among other qualities). Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Gordon Brown come to mind. Interestingly, these are all politicians.

  10. It may be that we have reached agreement – what a disappointment!
    You note that your rogue charmers are all rich. Could it be that, since charm gives one power to influence others, it has the same temptations as wealth: more difficult for someone with charm to get to heaven than to get through the eye of a needle…
    I don’t think that the poor lack charm; it’s just that, if one has charm, one is less likely to be poor.

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