Saturday, March 17, 2012

Men, Women, and Silver-Screen Style

"Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.  Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then."  --Katherine Hepburn

When a woman is perpetually single, into her thirties, she gains, or has thrust upon her, a good deal of appetite for her own way.  There's no slow lesson of compromise and consideration, only the independence that sometimes being lonely will reward.

This is not to say that such a woman cannot find her perfect partner at any age, but it suggests that when love enters after three decades, it can be harder to adjust to.

I was watching Mary, Queen of Scots with Katherine Hepburn last night, and it occurred to me how iconic she became not just as a strong modern woman, but also as an actress who portrayed women of powerful self-will.  One of the greatest roles she ever played may have been Eleanor of Aquitane, another indomitable female.

Those phrases are still a little uncomfortable, aren't they?  "Appetite for her own way." "Self-will."  "Indomitable."  Yet these are phrases that have historically connoted admirable strength and determination--in persons of either gender.

And so I return to the Hepburn quote above.  I love the off-the-cuff wit and elegance it displays--but also the radical rethinking of what romantic relationships are meant to be.  If "women of a certain age," like myself, are going to be won over to the side of domestic felicity, it's going to be a felicity on our own terms, where we don't have to share a bathroom

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