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Camille Paglia: The Death of the Hollywood Sex Symbol (Guest Column)
Who killed the sex symbol?
It's no mystery that in the era of #MeToo, the rules of combat have changed on the sexual battlefield. Women will no longer tolerate condescending or degrading treatment that was once business as usual in the workplace or dating arena. But in this long overdue push-back against sexual coercion and exploitation, has something valuable been lost?
The sex symbol was arguably Hollywood's most brilliant artifact, propelling the young movie industry to world impact from the moment that Theda Bara flashed her coiled-snake brassiere in Cleopatra (1917). Sex was great box office. With its impudent populism, Hollywood crashed through stuffy proprieties lingering from the Victorian age and stationed itself at the bold forefront of the modern liberalization of sex. Movies were in sync with the radical new spirit of American women, who won the right to vote in 1920 and kicked up their heels throughout the flapper decade of the Roaring Twenties.
The great sex symbols of Hollywood were manufactured beings, engineered by trial and error, with the mass audience as their ultimate judge and jury. Decade by decade, the movie industry rediscovered primal archetypes that have animated myths around the world since the Stone Age. Major male sex symbols like Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Sidney Poitier have a mesmerizing natural authority onscreen, a supranormal power of personality and density of being that transcend their roles. Like their antecedents in ancient hero sagas, they inhabit and explore physical space, whose frustrations and dangers they endure but ultimately defeat.
The female sex symbol, however, commands emotional or psychological space. Her sensual beauty is an alluring mirage, hypnotizing and sometimes paralyzing. Never entirely present, she is attuned to another reality, an extrasensory dimension to which we have no access. There is an unsettling aura of the uncanny around the major female sex symbols, who channel shadowy powers above or below the social realm.
Women in the Bible
Compared to the number of men, few women are mentioned in the Bible by name. The exact number of named and unnamed women in the Bible is somewhat uncertain because of a number of difficulties involved in calculating the total. For example, the Bible sometimes uses different names for the same woman, names in different languages can be translated differently, and some names can be used for either men or women. Professor Karla Bombach says one study produced a total of 3000-3100 names, 2900 of which are men with 170 of the total being women. However, the possibility of duplication produced the recalculation of a total of 1700 distinct personal names in the Bible with 137 of them being women. In yet another study of the Hebrew Bible only, there were a total of 1426 names with 1315 belonging to men and 111 to women. Seventy percent of the named and unnamed women in the Bible come from the Hebrew Bible.:33,34 "Despite the disparities among these different calculations, ... [it remains true that] women or women's names represent between 5.5 and 8 percent of the total [names in the Bible], a stunning reflection of the androcentric character of the Bible.":34 A study of women whose spoken words are recorded found 93, of which 49 women are named.
All Ancient Near Eastern societies were patriarchal, and the Bible is a patriarchal document, written by men from a patriarchal age. Many scholars see the primary emphasis of the Bible as reinforcing women's subordinate status. However, there are also scholars who claim there is a kind of gender blindness in the Bible as well as patriarchy. Marital laws in the Bible favored men, as did inheritance laws. There were strict laws of sexual behavior with adultery a crime punishable by stoning. A woman in ancient biblical times was always under the authority of a man and was subject to strict purity laws, both ritual and moral. However, women such as Deborah, the Shunnemite woman, and the prophetess Huldah, rise above societal limitations in their stories. The Bible contains many noted narratives of women as both victors and victims, women who change the course of events, and women who are powerless and unable to affect their own destinies.
In all three synoptic gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke, Mary and Jesus' brothers are disowned by Jesus. The Matthew version has it as "Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."  In Luke the repudiation is even stronger, there Jesus says his disciples have to hate their mothers. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
There are hundreds of examples of women from the Bible as characters in painting, sculpture, opera and film. Historically, artistic renderings tend to reflect the changing views on women from within society more than the biblical account that mentions them.
Eve is a common subject. Art historian Mati Meyer says society's views of women are observable in the differing renderings of Eve in art over the centuries. Meyer explains: "Genesis 2–3 recounts the creation of man and the origins of evil and death; Eve, the temptress who disobeys God’s commandment, is probably the most widely discussed and portrayed figure in art." According to Mati Meyer, Eve is historically portrayed in a favorable light up through the Early Middle Ages (AD 800's), but by the Late Middle Ages (1400s) artistic interpretation of Eve becomes heavily misogynistic. Meyer sees this change as influenced by the writings of the 4th century theologian Augustine of Hippo, "who sees Eve’s sexuality as destructive to male rationality". By the seventeenth century, the Fall of man as a male-female struggle emerges, and in the eighteenth century, the perception of Eve is influenced by John Miltons Paradise Lost where Adam's free will is emphasized along with Eve's beauty. Thereafter a secular view of Eve emerges "through her transformation into a femme fatale—a compound of beauty, seductiveness and independence set to destroy the man."
Here's What Nobody Told You About Adam And Eve
Dismantling the Myth of the “Black Confederate”
Spend any amount of time talking about slavery on the internet, and you’ll eventually encounter the claim that there were “black Confederates” that fought for the South. “Over the past few decades, claims to the existence of anywhere between 500 and 100,000 black Confederate soldiers, fighting in racially integrated units, have become increasingly common,” writes historian Kevin Levin in his new book, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth.
“Proponents assert that entire companies and regiments served under Robert E. Lee’s command, as well as in other theaters of war.” Look, believers say (directly or subtextually): The Confederacy can’t have been so bad for black people. Otherwise, why would they have defended it?
Levin’s book explains how this myth came about—while neatly dismantling it. We spoke recently about actual Confederates’ perspectives on black soldiers; why former “body servants” attended Confederate reunions during Jim Crow; and how the World Wide Web gave this story legs.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey apologizes for participating in blackface skit in college
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama apologized on Thursday for participating in a racist skit that involved blackface when she was a college student.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Ivey, a Republican, said she was made aware of a taped interview that she and her then-fiance, Ben LaRavia, gave to an Auburn University student radio station when she was a student there. She said she did not remember the specifics of the skit.
Why Tiny Dicks Might Come Back Into Fashion
So it may be shocking to learn that the Ancient Greeks, the ostensible progenitors of Western cultural and aesthetic values, abhorred big dicks. “[In Ancient Greek culture,] the proper or beautiful penis is dainty,” said John Clarke, an ancient erotic art scholar, of their worldview. "A human with very large genitalia, especially male genitalia, is considered to be grotesque, laughable.” This preference for petite penises runs back to at least the eighth century BCE, as is reflected in statuary of the era, noted Timothy McNiven, an associate professor at Ohio State University who has studied antique penile depictions, and continues straight through most classical Greek art and literature.
Gay men more likely to cheat than straight men, say psychologists
"In the gay life, fidelity is almost impossible. Since part of the compulsion of homosexuality seems to be a need on the part of the homophile to “absorb” masculinity from his sexual partners, he must be constantly on the lookout for [new partners]. Constantly the most successful homophile “marriages” are those where there is an agreement between the two to have affairs on the side while maintaining the semblance of permanence in their living arrangement. [p. 208]"
Gay life is most typical and works best when sexual contacts are impersonal and even anonymous. As a group the homosexuals I have known seem far more preoccupied with sex than heterosexuals are, and far more likely to think of a good sex life as many partners under many exciting circumstances. [p.209]"
Miriam Rivera, reality TV's first trans star, found dead at 38
The Mexican model died in February, but the news has only just emerged. She was 38, according to the Daily Mail.
Rivera's husband Daniel Cuervo posted an online tribute to her in February.
Her Sky One series caused controversy at the time, with the male contestants winning compensation after saying the programme had "a devastating effect".
Some of the most recent deadly US mass shootings
A gunman opened fire Saturday at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, killing at least 15 people .
A list of some of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States in the last two years:
— May 31, 2019: Longtime city worker DeWayne Craddock opened fire in a building that houses Virginia Beach government offices. He killed 12 people and wounded several others before he was gunned down by police.
A Texas officer kills a woman while shooting at an unrestrained dog, police say
Reagan called President Nixon to slur Africans as ‘monkeys.’ Of course there are tapes.
It was October 1971, and the United Nations had just voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China.
Then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan was infuriated that delegations from Africa did not align themselves with the U.S. position — that the U.N. should recognize Taiwan as an independent state — and wanted to get President Richard Nixon on the phone. He was apparently disgusted after watching delegates from Tanzania celebrate the U.N. decision to support Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
“To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Reagan said.
Nixon replied with a big laugh.
Tours canceled of Catholic priest who linked autism to homosexuality
A Catholic priest who linked autism to homosexuality has canceled his upcoming Australian tour. Church authorities canceled his tours in Ireland and Canada also canceled his tours.
Father Dominic Valanmanal from India was scheduled to appear at a five-day retreat in the southern city of Melbourne.
Syro Malabar Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Melbourne had planned to host the retreat. It announced the cancellation but did not give a reason for it.
Gay Star News
Pastor said he was 'sucking demons' out of men he sexually assaulted
EXCLUSIVE: HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE PRESSURING AMAZON TO SELL BOOKS ON GAY CONVERSION THERAPY
Christian dressmaker refuses service to lesbian couple, but offers to convert them instead
A man viciously beat a lesbian couple while calling one of women ‘a dude’
First they burn the books. Then they kill people. History has shown us this repeatedly.
Magazine to give out 'LGBT-free zone' stickers to readers
10 Gruesome Original Stories Behind Disney Movies
The recent outrage over Disney's casting of black actress Halle Bailey to play Ariel in the live-action Little Mermaid film has taken over social media, but people crying foul over the entertainment giant "changing" the source material have another thing coming. First of all, as author Tracey Baptiste points out in an article for The New York Times, mermaids have always been black. Second of all, there are plenty of fairy tales that Disney has changed over its 80-plus-year movie-making career, and I've got 10 of them explained for you below.
Book nerds should know by now that no page-to-screen adaptation can be 100 percent faithful to the original. Everything diverges from its source material in degrees, and fairy tales are no exception.
k.d. lang Says Coming Out Denied Her a Chance to Remain Mysterious
Singer k.d. lang stunned the world coming out to The Advocate in 1992. But she says now the experience ultimately proved ‘exhausting’ and stripped the singer of some public mystery.
“I grew up with the adage that there is a wealth of purpose in being mysterious,” lang said in a new interview with The Guardian. “And I feel like I haven’t had the chance to be mysterious. My sexuality, and everything, was so much out in the open, and has been for many years. I feel exhausted by being exposed.”
The secret gay history of Islam
Islam once considered homosexuality to be one of the most normal things in the world.
The Ottoman Empire, the seat of power in the Muslim world, didn’t view lesbian or gay sex as taboo for centuries. They formally ruled gay sex wasn’t a crime in 1858.
But as Christians came over from the west to colonize, they infected Islam with homophobia.
The truth is many Muslims alive today believe the prophet Muhammad supported and protected sexual and gender minorities.
But go back to the beginning, and you’ll see there is far more homosexuality in Islam than you might have ever thought before.
Ancient Muslim borrowed culture from the boy-loving Ancient Greeks:
The Islamic empires, (Ottoman, Safavid/Qajar, Mughals), shared a common culture. And it shared a lot of similarities with the Ancient Greeks.
Persianate cultures, all of them Muslim, dominated modern day India and Arab world. And it was very common for older men to have sex with younger, beardless men. These younger men were called ‘amrad’.
Gay Star News
The Little Mermaid was originally a ‘love letter’ to the author’s male crush
As you know, Disney’s 1985 animated film The Little Mermaid is being made into a live-action movie. And while some white fans are upset that the titular heroine will be played by black R&B singer Halle Bailey, many others overlook the story’s interesting gay origins.
When Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wrote “The Little Mermaid” as a short fairy tale in 1837, he did so as a way to illustrate his failed attempt to woo a heterosexual man named Edvard Collin. Many biographers say that Andersen, who was attracted to both men and women, long pined for Collin even though Collin was of a higher class and disapproved of Andersen’s romantic overtures towards him and possibly one of his sisters.
The Right-Wing Is Weaponizing Gender Panic
The Trump Administration’s leaked gender memo, the recent transgender military ban, and the expansion of the global gag rule aren’t coincidences. They are part of a well-coordinated, funded global movement designed to control our communities by restricting the rights and bodily autonomy of women, LGBTQI communities, and people of color — eerily reminiscent of Reagan era oppressive tactics.
For LGBTQI communities, this kind of backlash is not new. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, the Reagan administration demonized our communities, as did right-wing forces around the world, spreading the false notion of the "gay plague" and blaming men who have sex with men for the transmission of the HIV virus. LGBT people were denied equal access to healthcare, faced intense violence, were stigmatized, stripped of basic rights, and often forced into the shadows. But we fought back.
Today, we know the far-right are sewing those same seeds of paranoia, creating gender panic with the use of an intentionally ambiguous organizing framework termed "gender ideology"by some and "anti-gender ideology" by others. Originating in the 1990s, gender ideology is a construct that depicts efforts to expand rights for women, LGBTQI people, and people of color, as radical, dangerous, and elitist, arguing that we are a threat to traditional family values.