Today we’re going to get politically incorrect in a big way by discussing feminine pulchritude. That means cute chicks to all you neanderthals out there.You wouldn’t think pretty girls would be all that controversial a topic, but just look at what happened when former Philadelphia mayor, Pennsylvania governor and all around gasbag, Ed Rendell, tried to take a swipe at his political opponents. He seemed to want to say that Donald Trump’s expressions of appreciation for beauty contest winners ought to alienate a lot of women, especially those of voting age, because, and we quote, “There are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women.“
We need to let that matzoh ball hang there for a while before we guess at what he was trying to say because it’s so hard to explain how a person with Rendell’s undisputed mastery of the art of political flim-flam could screw up so badly. Here’s a guy who really knows how to spread the fertilizer, and he manages dive head first into a big pile of it. Imagine how the average guy feels. Because lately, if the average guy should happen to mention to Mitzi in Accounting that she looks nice today, he’s even money to get a call from HR, and might even be looking at 3 to 5 in the big house. It wasn’t always this way.
Let’s go back about three thousand years to the time of the Trojan war. One of the back-stories surrounding it was about the Greek god of strife, Eris, who wrote the word “kallista,” meaning “to the fairest,” on a golden apple and threw it amidst the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. The myth holds that this touched off an argument among the ladies over who the apple was meant for and somehow this resulted in the war. Of course, the standard version is that the war started when Paris, one of the sons of Trojan King Priam, stole Helen, the wife of Greek King Menelaus, because she was just so irresistibly hot. Menelaus promptly rounded up his Greek buddies, piled into some warships and sailed off to get her back. Either way, you have a stunning beauty changing the course of history, or at least prompting some serious naval maneuvers.
Draw a straight line to the year 1604 and Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, in which a medieval sorcerer makes a pact with the devil in order to have a fling with history’s hottest babe, you guessed it, Helen of Troy. When he first sees Helen, he blurts out the famous line, “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?” Winston Churchill disclosed that he and a friend used to rate the relative attractiveness of women at parties by how many ships they were likely to launch. If he thought the Third Reich was tough, he’s lucky he didn’t have to face NOW.
But back to modern day, we were thinking that this answers the age old question, why does it takes the average woman 4-½ hours to get ready for a social event that it takes the average guy 20 minutes to get ready for, 15 if his “dress” T shirt is clean? Is it because the ladies are all trying to look like a Helen of Troy style bombshell? Actually that is not right. At least according to “Gender and the Returns to Attractiveness,” a paper by Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner, two sociologists who say that women are required to observe strict grooming rules in order to get ahead in their work lives. So every morning a woman might have to use like 9 skin care products some of which contain Amazonian clay, and eyebrow mousse with ambient lighting powder. The sociology poindexters say It’s not an effort to look more “beautiful”, just more “groomed.” Meanwhile Brutus is splashing some tap water on his flattop and giving himself an extra spritz of Axe.
Of course, nobody says who or what makes the ladies do all that stuff. The authors hint that is must be “the patriarchy” behind it all. We’re not so sure. For one thing, we don’t recall any of the women in our lives asking us for tips on cosmetics. Also, we’ve never heard a guy say, “check out this one; man is she groomed.” Except if they’re watching the Westminster Kennel Show. Uh-oh, I think we just wandered into Ed Rendell territory.
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