Thursday 15 July 2010

The Ideal Woman

In 1897, The Lady's Realm (a popular magazine of the day) asked some minor male celebrities to define 'an ideal woman'. Here's some edited highlights. We begin with little-remembered author and poet Frank Frankfort Moore, who waxes poetical:

She is easy to live with. She is worth dying for. She is the high light in the charcoal drawing of humanity, man being the charcoal. She is the skylight in the edifice of human life. She has no history. She has no story. She is the plectrum that makes music with the haert-strings of a man. She is the key by which he is kept constantly in tune. She is the rhythm which transforms the prose of life into poetry.

But then gets a little more prosaic:

She wears a reasonable hat at matinĂ©es ... She knows sixteen ways of arranging flowers on the dinner-table. She abhors coloured paper-shades on the candles. She knows how to choose a juicy joint of beef. She laughs when the fishmonger gives her hints about turbot. 

Then a bit moralising:

She knows there is no difference between the woman who calls herself smart and the woman whom respectable people called vulgar.

Then frankly mysterious:

She makes an honest attempt to understand cats, and cats understand her.

But then he pulls it back for all the women out there:

She knows that every real woman is the Ideal Woman, the fact being that every idea of the Ideal Woman is wholly dependent on the idealist, and every woman who is idolised is idealised.

Ah, Frank, I bet you were a devil with the ladeez, my friend.

For any female readers who only know fifteen ways of arranging flowers on the dinner table, or just can't get their head round cats, don't despair, there's more on 'Ideal Women' to follow ... watch this space ...

1 comment:

  1. A strange mixture of the poetic and the patronizing. He sees woman as a romantic figure... as long as she knows her place and plays second fiddle to her man.

    I like the bit about cats. I suspect he found cats as mysterious and difficult to understand as he obviously found women.