I love the Edwardian Era because it is so similar to our times now. Our political and social struggles are nearly the same on the deepest levels, and so reading books from that era, and in some cases the Victorian Era bring insights into our conditions today. But books and writing from that era seems more pure. They do not get caught up in the buzz words that bog us down today. They get to the heart of the philosophical problems and without apology.
In researching fetishes for a minor character in Woman of Ruinous Face I was pointed to Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, published in 1870. It is he and this book that the term masochism is coined. And in this book, that I find a fundamental truth so simply stated without the mask of blame that it makes the struggle of women obvious.
In a discussion about love and faithfulness and cruelty with the Goddess of Love, he says, "I cannot deny that nothing will attract a man more than the picture of a beautiful, passionate, cruel, and despotic woman who wantonly changes her favorites without scruple in accordance with her whim."
This is not a forgotten truth today, though in trying to make men of a high order, we pretend it is not universal. But i know it to be, not because I am a vixen or particularly that good at flirting or manipulation, but because of the way women are still regarded. If a woman acts as Leopold describes, sleeping with more than one man, is passionate and cruel, she is considered a crazy slut. Women threatened by her freedom and the natural attraction of men she garners and men who deny the truth of their attractions spit out hateful epithets and try to contain her with labels. It is the double standard that every woman has experienced even if only by living up to the false ideal that women are untarnished if they marry as a virgin and take only one lover in the bond of religious marriage.
He says, "Can there be any greater cruelty for a lover than the unfaithfulness of the woman he loves?"
To which, the Goddess replies, "Indeed! We are faithful as long as we love, but you demand faithfulness of a woman without love, and the giving of herself without enjoyment. Who is cruel there--woman or man?"
Is it the deeply held and denied desires of men conflicting with a "purity" cutlute that is the deep rooted fundamental disorder in our current sexual culture.