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A Study in Scarlet

Can we see a pattern emerging?

Do we see a certain fear … no! … wrong word … not “fear” but rather a wariness in being seen to join in any seemingly “suggestive” activity, even if only looking or reading something that may hint of impropriety?

Recently … a couple of weeks ago … I put up a post; The Eroticism of Hildegarde Hempel … it got several hundred clicks on it … that’s alright … but only one actual comment on the piece from the reliable and perceptive Anne Byam … who correctly observed what I was trying to convey in the writing:

“Anne Byam October 10, 2020 at 2:42 pm

A delightful read again Joseph, with great visual imagery which sent me to a place I believe I might have been many decades ago – but certainly to the people and their actions, speech and body language etc.

An excellent portrayal of people and not so much of a by-gone day, either. Just as relevant today, as far as whispers and rumours, as it was in the yesteryear.

Cheers ~~ ”

No … not so much of a by-gone day … You see, I drew inspiration for that modest social observation from a story by Guy de Maupassant: The Piece of String, where a thrifty peasant stops to pick up a piece of string from the road, and in doing so is spotted in the action by a person he dislikes and the coincidental loss of a wallet is misconstrued and reported by that peasant’s enemy as the action in picking up that piece of string and the consequences thereof … no spoiler alert from me! … a great story …

In the story, the peasant ends up dying of the stress to clear his name and there are none who believe his simple explanation of the piece of string … in my story, the main character is already deceased before her good name is put under suspicion … indeed, the simple mention of the one word; “Erotic” … was enough to throw suspicion on the innocent Hildegarde Hempel, and so the rumour mill grinds on … certainly the same today as of yesteryear … on nothing but the strength of one little word or action …

And I’ll tell you why I can say that with a degree of certainty …

I put my stories up on my Facebook page, where I have a modest readership of relatives and frenemies, who usually place at least a “like” to my posts … yet this particular post drew absolutely zilch “likes” or comments … even no “visits” to my blog where I first placed the story from Facebook … unusual … I then experimented and put up a picture of little consequence with no explanation at all to accompany it … and almost immediately there were the usual suspects gracing the post with likes … So I have to conclude that with the insertion of the word “Eroticism”, that previous post was just that little bit “over the line” of acceptable decency to warrant a look … a “blush” of modesty?

I confess that the use of the word “eroticism” was a deliberate choice … rather than … ”innocence” or “mistake” … or even “guilt” … to name a few considerations for the title that passed through my mind … I chose “erotic” for the hidden voluptuousness and suggestiveness of that word … that directed the mood of the story … vis: that people are more driven by salacious rumour than actual fact … that gossip and suspicion can play a greater part in a person’s demise than actual action … and to this end I feel I was proven correct … and the fact that it was only Anne Byam who dared to make comment on a perfectly straight story as against any number that comment on the most banal posts everyday shows a bent toward avoiding being drawn into social commentary that could mean taking sides.

Truly … a “Study in Scarlet” … if not the scarlet letter …

And this is why I think many people now are over-cautious in such a degree concerning matters of women’s eroticism.

I suspect that the image of heterosexual women has become captive in a web of perceived fraudulent “ownership” of the gender by extremist feminists and dominant political “identity queens” so that a manufactured image of what they perceive womanhood should look like and what should be looked at, is the only one permitted on the “stage of life” … Any perception of the “erotic” or “sexualised” heterosexual woman is verboten and as a result, about the only “permitted imagery” we see these days of attractive women is of either sterile anatomical observation or “soft” pornography … even those moments on screen of men and women in a lover’s sexual embrace are so woodenly enacted as to become brutal, sharp and brittle, that the sensitive male has to wince and turn one’s eyes away … ”that’s no way to treat a lady” … no more room or allowance of admiration, fully clothed or otherwise, of the curvaceous classic lines of female beauty for beauty’s sake in itself, lest one attract the condemning eye of ferocious accusation from the “owners” of the gender demanding remorse or guilt for any act of visionary delight!

But I am fully aware that any heterosexual woman, confident of her own sexuality and capacity to attract attention to themselves to fulfil her social needs does not need to heed or make acknowledgement of those more fanatical elements of society … and more power to them for it!

I wrote on this situation a long while ago and the article was taken down after protest from some of the above-mentioned cabal … I post the link to that piece here; I’m worried about you ladies, (lurve those 40’s fashions and hairstyles!)

I again write of this conundrum to provoke some commentary on such an important subject, lest we all become too accepting of an artificial construct of the gender issues that only suit a small percentage of us all.

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  1. TuffGuy

    ok so here is a comment – meh, failed again, could not even read far enough to know WTF you are even on about. Don’t give up your day job mate.

  2. Joseph Carli

    ” could not even read far enough to know . . . “…..Oh..that’s alright, “TuffGuy”…one day you’ll get the hang of understanding words of two or more syllables…meanwhile, keep up the nose picking..

  3. Anthony Judge

    A sensitive piece full of appropriate allusions to a mode of appreciation which is condemned by those who have simplified the matter to an unfortunate degree. My irritated take on the latter, for what it is worth, was evoked by the Golden Globes event which featured that simplification:

    Golden Globes Confusing Cleavage, Hype and Hypocrisy
    One-way harassment — OK — I am attracted — Now what?

    But who cares?

  4. wam

    True god of abraham and the bible may modify the mind of some sections of Australian society but as animals women have erotic wiring for reproduction and orgasm way beyond the mare.
    The removal of the foreskin to ‘prevent’ infection under the glans and to exhibit cultural maturity and seemingly to enhance pleasure for men during fellatio versus excision of the clitoris to remove pleasure sets the scene for men’s control of women and children.
    But hey, joseph, I live 3k north and the skirts, dresses and shorts are still centimetres from eroticism and too short to be tucked in. with the tops well away from the neck.
    Remember, joseph??? The scene is the same.
    the septics are so obsessed with porn that nipples are the definite no go area.
    I got a post telling me how disgusting breast feeding was because women were introducing babies to pornography.
    wow that takes the cake, even in a country that gives college women lesson in birth control by fellatio.

  5. Joseph Carli

    Anthony…the conundrum is always the puzzle..

    Wow, wam…while some things change, Darwin seems to be able to maintain a stead “normalicy” through it all…

  6. wam

    True, joseph, the older I get the more I stay in conspiracy mode and the happier I feel.
    A clp chief minister about whom(and his mayor wife) I wrote and, like the loonies, I stalked on the letters pages of last century.. He retired to WA but came back recently and put his name down to play golf with me. Pollies are not special up here and they are not fussy who they mix with either.
    The reason I mention this is because of his over a beer clp throwaway line:
    “I know nobody who has suffered in this crisis” With so many deaths and suffering by the unemployed the out of sight out of consideration is rife even in 20 year political retirees
    These people are amoral with his circle were continuing their receipt of government largesse and laughing at the thousands appearing in the bank(no stimulus here) for staff they would have paid anyway and the fully occupied investments and new cars and I expect somehow or another his brand new Cleveland graphites were paid for by us.
    Ah sorry he is just ignorant of society.

  7. Barry Brown

    True, it was ungracious of me not to leave a “like” on a story I enjoyed as a subtle yesteryear view of slut-shaming. The “Easy A” image on this rejoinder underlined it nicely too, bringing it full circle.

  8. Joseph Carli

    There have been times on Twitter when I have read such over-simplified assertions to gender issues that I would have liked to comment…but have declined and let such pass…regretfully..but then, not having the strength to tackle the inevitable onslaught of accusation of “mansplaining”, one withdraws gracefully…But the reality is that there are two halves in this one whole society..and while certainly one half…the masculine, can be held up as example of gross delinquency for the visible damage done, there certainly is another story from that other half that excels in “strategic” emotional hits to, if not the body, then the psyche..THIS..I at least can state with lived could many a father who has run the gauntlet of family breakdown…..though I place no individual gender guilt with that, but I do consider that the shift in social perception that places the male as chief suspect in any breakup before the evidence has dried on the paper as a result of that age-old chivalrous demand that the male restrain his accusations in the first instance to at least a show of decency of language…and in the end to “take it on the chin”…to abject failure as we read constantly in the newspapers…a tragedy waiting to happen..
    I think the “no fault” system of Lionel Murphy was the best application to deal with such contentious issues..and it is a pity that we now live under a mesmerists trick of the one-sided mirror that reflects only what one side wishes to see…
    I don’t know if I have explained this right, but I gave it a try.

  9. Kronomex

    “Oh..that’s alright, “TuffGuy”…one day you’ll get the hang of understanding words of two or more syllables…meanwhile, keep up the nose picking..”

    Your thin skin is showing again. There has to come a point where you just have to be gracious enough to accept the fact that some people don’t find what you write to be their cup of tea and move on rather than getting angry and nasty. Try and temper your reactions to negative comments or you will continue to drive people away.

  10. Joseph Carli

    Krono’…are you on some sort of “contract to show recalcitrance” for the “onsite cabal”…?..I thought I was being encouraging!

    …and if ‘negative comments’ are enough to drive people away from social media, then Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik-Tok etc and the un-countable personal blogs would have disappeared ages ago!

  11. Kronomex

    “I thought I was being encouraging!” If that was “encouraging” then I definitely don’t want to see unpleasant.

    “”Krono’…are you on some sort of “contract to show recalcitrance” for the “onsite cabal”…?..” How utterly childish!

    “Try and temper your reactions to negative comments or you will continue to drive people away.” You have a tendency to explode, throw tantrums and, too put it bluntly, run away for a awhile before returning when anyone says something that you then perceive as an attack. All I was saying was, think before reacting.


  12. Neil

    I love these stories. And that Maupassant story is fabulous too.

  13. Joseph Carli

    Onyers, Neil…yes, that Maupassant story is a beauty…I read somewhere that it is considered the perfect short story…they don’t write ’em like they used to!…

  14. Kaye Lee

    “I am fully aware that any heterosexual woman, confident of her own sexuality and capacity to attract attention to themselves to fulfil her social needs does not need to heed or make acknowledgement of those more fanatical elements of society”

    So women’s “social needs” are “fulfilled” by their ability to make men look at them in a sexual way? Their confidence depends, not on their skills, but on their ability to arouse men? To think otherwise is fanaticism….says a man?

    “no more room or allowance of admiration, fully clothed or otherwise, of the curvaceous classic lines of female beauty for beauty’s sake in itself”

    I think you blew that argument with the self-confessed gratuitous use of “eroticism”

    Not all of us are fixated with how many likes we get.

  15. Kaye Lee

    I was talking about women….oh never mind.

  16. Joseph Carli

    I did say ; “social needs”..with the inference toward social attraction…and yes…happily..or sadly in some cases, one’s capacity to be sexually attractive “on demand” (so to speak) regardless of one’s “looks” can mean the success or failure of one’s social life..after all, it is written .. “A pleasant smile wins more friends than the greatest wit”.

  17. Anne Byam

    Thank you Joseph for your kind compliments. I find your writings easy to understand and imagine.

    This is another good article but no doubt has attracted a fair amount of criticism from some ( of both genders ).

    “Vive La Difference” should be adopted by all ( imho ) – which means a celebration of both sexes, resulting in a respect by both to the opposite genders. I think there is an abundance of reasons for the amount of disquiet that abounds today, not the least of which is ‘social media’ which I can barely abide myself.

    And this is why I think many people now are over-cautious in such a degree concerning matters of women’s eroticism.

    There is ‘eroticism’ in both sexes in fact. It is just shown in entirely different ways. And after all it is what it is ~ ~ ‘attraction’ on both sides. The confusion comes when a man and a woman have entirely different ideas of where they want this ‘attraction’ to go. But [ for want of a better word ]
    ‘posturing’ is done by both genders to attract, whether we like to admit it or not. It is kind of what makes the world go around, ( although at this time in the world, I wonder if it is worth it – I am very frightened for the young, for the babies on this very troubled planet. )

    Keep writing Joseph – your articles are always interesting.

  18. Joseph Carli

    Anne ..once again stepping into the void of knowing conversation..I have a philosophy of writing where I believe in the “kiss” principle..and the Nietzche assertion that only those who want to confuse will write in a way TO confuse..In writing a story, I believe the author, having “kicked off” the yarn ought to quickly fade into the background and let the reader’s imagination take over and, in a sense, then become the writer of his/her version of the story..after all, there being little under the Sun that is new, we are all witness to the everyday events that make most stories…

    As for “a fair amount of criticism”…no, beside a couple beyond yourself, one only sees the barking of mongrel dogs and the usual demand of a kind of “cancel culture” on yours truly for daring to raise such a contentious issue that we ordinary citizens face/faced every day in our growing lives..

    The above link in Anthony Judge’s comment, while dwelling rather long on the subject, does raise pertinent issues on the hypocricy of the situation..and I suspect does grate on the patience of many of both genders who have run the gauntlet of partnership breakdown…and yes..the posturing and fingerpointing does no service to the search for a solution..which, btw, I have fears that the breakdown of the basic social contract between men and women has been well and truly smashed perhaps beyond redemption by the demands of the consumerist society…each person now become a ‘unit of demand’ for some ghastly machine of administration behind some shadowy wall…I wrote on the subject a while ago here..

    I welcome your contributions to my modest postings, Anne..for they are both sensitively intelligent and informative to yours truly.

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