Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yes, I Can!

Rick Perlstein, in an op-ed in The Times following Betty Ford’s death (“Betty Ford, Pioneer,” NYT, 7/11/11), describes how the former first lady “volunteered in McCall’s that she had sex with her husband ‘as often as possible.’” Perlstein also notes that Ford had been a dancer with Martha Graham, so that may explain it. Dancers are always more comfortable with their bodies, unless of course they are mentally fucked up like the dancer in Black Swan, who also has mommy issues. But Ford, who did a lot to help a lot of people feel comfortable with a lot of things, particularly by talking about her own alcoholism, should go to heaven just for her pronouncement about her sex life. If she doesn’t go to heaven, then someone should open a First Ladies’ Hall of Fame, right next to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The passage of legislation in New York legalizing gay marriage is a milestone, but marriage gay and straight needs all the help it can get. The cornucopia of choices open to couples through the information overload of modern life, with its viral Bovaryism, i.e., life-hating masking as desire, has got marriage by the balls. Every generation spawns pragmatic evangelists who preach the tenets of survival. Betty Wright, who sang “Clean Up Woman,” Arnold Stang, who apotheosized the Chunky Bar, and Camille Paglia, who wrote a book called Sexual Personae, which pointed out why men should have vagina envy, are examples of historical personalities who changed people’s lives. Yes, we all understand that no is a complete sentence. No one wants to encourage people to take advantage of their partners, but Betty Ford spoke for those men and women who kept marriage alive by saying “yes.” All this brings to mind the bestselling 18th century self-help tome, Yes, I Can, by Immanuel Kant.

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