Relax. Your Daughter is Probably Not Having Oral Sex with her Entire Seventh Grade Class.

WARNING – THIS POST WILL CONTAIN SOME INFORMATION ABOUT MY OWN SEX LIFE. IT’S NOT GRAPHIC OR DETAILED, AND IT’S CONFINED TO THE “OBJECTION THE FIRST” SECTION, BUT IF YOU HAVE THE KIND OF RELATIONSHIP WITH ME THAT PRECLUDES WANTING TO HEAR ANYTHING ABOUT MY SEX LIFE, DO NOT READ THIS POST. ESPECIALLY DO NOT READ THIS POST AND THEN COMPLAIN TO ME THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MY SEX LIFE, OR THAT YOU OBJECT TO ME WRITING ABOUT IT AT ALL, GIVEN THAT YOU PERSONALLY MAY BE VIEWING IT.

I know this scare has been brewing for quite some time. “Oh, my god, teenage girls don’t think oral sex is sex!” “Oh, my god, they’re HAVING oral sex!” “Oh, my god, they’re having oral sex with random and mutliple people at parties, publicly, like they’re WHORES, and also the girls are not receiving it in turn!” I remember this. I remember this scare going on while I was in high school, because that’s when the Clinton scandal was taking up 109% of everyone’s attention. Apparently, many adults decided that if Clinton said oral sex wasn’t sex, then teenagers would pick up that belief, too, even though a) they were being awfully optimistic about how seriously teenagers take – or even know about – the opinions of their authority figures, and b) I don’t know about any of you, but I learned in 1994 that oral sex was sloppy thirds and sex sex was home base, and so the two were clearly not the same thing. That was well before the Clinton scandal broke. But this scare has come to my attention again recently. Bitch magazine published on their (s)hitlist a link to Caitlin Flanagan’s article in Atlantic Monthly about the phenomenon. So I thought I’d take it up again, with all of my objections to this faux trend and the hype about it.

Objection the first: Thinking oral sex is not the same as vaginal sex and does not constitute the loss of virginity is not the same as casually performing oral sex on multiple boys in one party.

I’m pretty sure I had this conversation with my mother when the Clinton scandal broke. She was shocked to learn that I didn’t think it was the same as sex, and that I thought it was a less big deal than sex. I was probably 15 at the time of this conversation, which means that, though my words echoed the words of some of the girls quoted in this article – and the opinions of most of my peers – I wouldn’t actually have any oral sex for another three years. In the privacy of a dorm room, not at a party. With my boyfriend. Who is now my husband. Obviously, I don’t think of myself as a typical example. But I have girlfriends. I don’t know any one of them that considers oral sex to be equal to or dirtier than vaginal sex. I also know that not one of them has performed oral sex on multiple partners in a casual and public setting. I don’t believe that any of them has made a habit of performing oral sex on people with whom they are not in a relationship. Not to say it hasn’t happened once or twice, but that’s probably the extent of it. Even the girls I knew in high school who were significantly more experienced and racier than me didn’t engage in that type of behavior. The raciest thing I heard in middle school was a Spin-the-Bottle game that involved breast-touching. I have a younger sister who is now a senior in high school who was upset when a few of her friends decided that a camp bus ride was boring and that French-kissing all the boys on the bus was the best way to pass the time. They were thirteen, I think. These girls (or at least one of them) are the “slutty” ones, the ones with the worst reputations at school, and that’s where it started.

Objection the second: If they’re still called “sluts,” not much has changed.

I found it remarkable that Flanagan didn’t notice it when she said, “Wide-eyed young girls spilled the beans on their slutty classmates, and intimated that they themselves weren’t so different.” Right. It’s still considered slutty to behave like this. It was considered slutty to behave like this ten years ago, and it was slutty twenty years ago, and it was slutty forty years ago. It’s not becoming a norm of teenage behavior. Obviously, I’m not arguing that sexual norms haven’t changed since the 1950s. I’m just arguing that they haven’t turned into, “It’s now considered normal and acceptable in high school to give blow jobs to as many guys as you can at a single party.” I’m also arguing that they’ve kind of changed for everyone, roughly equally. Can’t figure out why a thirteen-year-old thinks pleasing her boyfriend sexually is more important than getting herself off? Ask the twenty-five-year-old reading Cosmo. Don’t know why a fifteen-year-old thinks casual sex with acquaintances is a good idea? Tune in to Sex in the City. Why do we expect teenagers to have different values than the culture they’re being raised in?

Objection the third: Are those values really such a problem?

Obviously, to the extent that girls are not learning that their own desire is important, it’s a problem. And I do believe that that is happening, although not to the extent and not with the end results that so horrify Flanagan and others. But to the extent that oral sex is a little more casual than vaginal sex, and sex in general is a little more casual than it has been before, is this really such a big deal? Did the parents of these teenagers wait until they were married to have any sex at all? Do the parents of these teenagers not perform oral sex on their partners? I don’t understand all of the hand-wringing.

And I’m not being deliberately facetious. I wring my hands, too, over the idea that girls don’t demand sexual pleasue for themselves, and that they allow themselves to be used in a degrading manner – as part of one of these “trains,” for instance – in order to be more popular, and that many teenagers don’t understand that you can transmit diseases that way even if you can’t get pregnant. I just don’t think it’s happening as much as these articles imply, and I also don’t think that all of the evidence used in these articles is evidence of it happening. Half of all seventeen-year-old girls have had oral sex? Okay, fine. But that statistic doesn’t speak to how many times, who they had it with, or who got sexual pleasure from it (since you’ve “had oral sex” whether you were the receiver or the giver), and I refuse to get my stomach in a knot over the idea of a seventeen-year-old engaging in sexual activity with her boyfriend that has no chance of getting her pregnant (as long as they are acting to prevent transmission of diseases).

And I know that people will say, “Oh, but you’re not a parent.” Okay, but a) I am a big sister. I feel very protective towards both my younger sisters, one of whom is in this age group. And I can honestly say that as long as she’s safe, loved, and getting as much as she’s giving, I’m happy for her, and b) if parental reaction to this is more about, “Oh, my baby is growing up,” and less about, “These practices are emotionally and physically dangerous,” as is implied by the “But you’re not a parent yet” attitude, then I have even less respect for them than I did before. Parents, teenagers have sexual urges, because they have gone through or are going through puberty, which means “the time in life when you get sexual urges.” The lucky ones are even acting on them. You did or would have, too.

Objection the fourth: If you are an adult interviewing a teenager on their attitudes about sex, you should know they are probably making every effort to come across as blase and experienced to you, because they are teenagers, and they do that. Their answers have no bearing on their actual behavior. If you don’t know that, you’re perhaps in the wrong profession.

This relates to that “and intimated that they themselves weren’t that different” sction of the quote. They tell an adult a story about a friend of theirs whose behavior is slutty, and the adult acts predictably horrified. What are the kids going to do, align themselves with the values of these adults, right in front of them and everything, or quickly align themselves with that which the adults want to reject? Clearly, they’re a little shocked and put off by these stories as well, or they wouldn’t be telling them. You can’t take their “intimating” that seriously.

Objection the fifth: You probably know your own kid better than you think you do.

After another recent teenage-behavior scare, the one about “friends with benefits” (which is, again, something that plenty of older people are doing or pretending to do), my father asked me if I thought my fourteen-year-old brother was at risk for this type of behavior. Now, I love my brother very much, and I think one day he will grow into quite the lady-killer. But right now? He’s kind of a dork. I don’t know that he’s been able to say “Hi” to a girl he has a crush on. I told my dad that he was more at risk for NOT having any of this type of behavior for a long, long time, and that if my dad really wanted to help, he’d figure out how to get him into one of these situations, not out of them.

I’ve encountered this attitude in other venues. Remember this spring, when some schools banned prom because kids just use it as an excuse to rent hotels and get drunk and have sex? Lots of hand-wringing them. But listen, parents. If your kid goes out to parties all the time before prom, and doesn’t come home, and always claims to be sleeping at a friends’, whose parents you don’t know, then they are also going to do that at prom. If your kid engages in none of these activities before prom, because a) you are too strict for them to get away with that, b) they are not really inclined to that sort of thing (which plenty of teenagers are not, I swear!), and/or c) they are too dorky to be included in that sort of thing, they are not going to do them at prom. You probably already know which of these categories your kid falls into.

I also had a sort of weird discussion with my mother-in-law. I went on a teen tour to Israel when I was 16, for five weeks, and expressed that I expected that I would send our kids on one, too. (Actually, since my grandparents sent me on mine, I sort of expect that my dad will send my kids on theirs, but that’s neither here nor there.) My mother-in-law said that she thought this was a bad idea because kids get up to all kinds of trouble on trips like that, away from home, with limited supervision. I said, first of all, that supervision is not that limited, and second of all, that I went on a trip. Not entirely getting my point, she said, “Yeah, and you said some kids were drinking and partying.” I pointed out that a) they got caught and their parents were called, and b) I still didn’t do anything. I was sitting that night with a bunch of people who knew that it was going on and chose not to go to it. I reiterate, if your kid does that kind of thing when not on a teen tour in a foreign country, your kid will do that kind of the thing when on a teen tour in a foreign country. Admittedly, in Israel, your level of supervision is no longer a safeguard, but you still have the other two – inclination and dorkiness. And you usually know whether your kid has either of those. Really, the biggest worry is if you know your kid wants to drink, you know your kid is cool enough to be invited to hang out with those who want to drink, and so only your vigilance has kept them from doing so. And I think, given their genetic material, there’s little chance our kids won’t be too dorky to be invited to the big, drunk orgies.*

I have no other objections I want to get into right now**, but I do want to say one other thing. I really do understand why parents don’t want their kids having their boy/girlfriends in their actual bedrooms, because there are beds in there, and things can go in beds, so I’m not objecting to the rules themselves. But I do think parents have to understand the phrase “my room” from a teenage perspective. To a parent, who owns the whole house, a bedroom is the place where one sleeps, (hopefully) has sex, and engages in private activities of various types. To a teenager, their room is basically their apartment. The rest of the house is not “theirs” in the same way, and so their bedroom is usually their location for sleeping, eating, dressing, studying, socializing, lounging, etc. So some of the time, when they bring a boy/girlfriend up there, it’s not with the understanding that sexual activity will be engaged in, it’s with the understanding that this is where they live and so where else would they go? Again, I’m not saying that means you should let your teenagers have their boy/girlfriends in their rooms. I’m just remind you that your understandings of “bedroom” are different so you can be guided accordingly.

*I should stress that these kids don’t exist yet, much less do they show signs of wanting to rock and roll all night.

**I do object to how obsessively this is all focused on girls, because obviously, boys are not a factor in blow jobs at all, but there’s just too much there.

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Adventures in Subbing – Learning and Not Liking the Slang

I suppose I intended to do some serious logging of all of my substitute-teaching adventures, and it’s too bad that I stopped when I did, because I’ve been having some fun in the interim, but today I just want to talk about one aspect of my job – the learning of new slang – and one new word in particular – shysty.

As those of you who can figure out the origins of this term might imagine, “shysty” is an adjective for a person who is untrustworthy, especially with money, a person you can count on to cheat you, steal from you, or lie to you. Obvious to me is that it comes from “shyster.” Apparently the kids don’t know this, nor do they know that “shyster” is a derogatory term for Jews.

I can’t even be too hard on them for not knowing. Some of them have never met a Jew, and anyway, one of my husband’s teachers at the dental school used the word “shyster” as if it had no ethnic implication at all. And generally speaking, when I hear it and I say to a kid, “Hey, don’t say that, it’s a racial slur on Jews,” they say they didn’t know that and apologize. But so far I’ve only brought it up to kids I know, kids whose schools I go to all the time. And I don’t know if they still use it when I’m not around, much the way they’re cautious about saying “white” in front of me. (Well, some of them are. Some of them have no problem not only saying “white,” but saying “white motherfucker,” in front of me, and not understanding why I think that’s a problem.)

But I don’t even know if I can state categorically if they’re wrong to use it. If for them it is completely divorced from any association with Jews (and they are not using it to apply to Jews or even to imply that the people they are applying it to occupy any other ethnic or racial category than their own), is it wrong for them to use it? I don’t know. Nor do I know what to do about it in situations where the kids just met me five minutes ago, and will likely never see me again, and, though they may not mean to be racist or anti-Semetic, don’t particularly care if I’m interpretting them as either.

And I thought this was just teenage slang. I’d never heard any of the adults use it. (I didn’t hear them tell the kids not to use it, but I figure they have a hard enough time getting them to not say “fuck” all the time.) But last night, on Project Runway, Zulema said it. I don’t think she knew either. And maybe the producers didn’t. I mean, if a contestant said the n-word,* I’m sure they wouldn’t have used that footage.

To end on a lighter note, I wil share some slang I do like:

Track star – promiscuous person. As in, one who runs around a lot.

Chaluppin’ – somewhere between walking around, looking for girls, and cheating on your current girl. But in a fairly relaxed way.

Thirsty – desperate, particularly for sex.

Woo woo – yadda yadda yadda

*I can’t type it. I feel ridiculous writing “the n-word,” and I am trying and trying to convince myself that it’s just a word, and I’m only referring to it as a word, not using it to describe a person, and I would never use it in an actually racist way, but I still can’t do it. I can’t say it either, even when I’m discussing it as a word with the kids, and even when the kids tell me it’s okay for me to say it in that context. But it took me until I was 12 years old to say my first curse word, too.

Ew, Kissing

I saw the new Pride and Prejudice this weekend, and, despite my initial misgivings, I was pleased.

Now, this is not a faithful adaptation in many senses of the term. For one thing, it’s significantly shorter than the ultra-faithful 1995 BBC version, which (justifiably) launched Colin Firth to stardom,* and came in at around five hours long. This is trimmer, at only a little over two hours, and as a result, they cut out a lot of scenes, combine some others, and cut or combine some extraneous characters. You get a little less time to, for instance, watch Wickham be charming, so when he’s revealed as a tool,** you’re not really surprised, or invested enough to be surprised. One of Bingley’s sisters is cut, so the remaining one has to take on the bitchery that was usually shared between the two of them over a longer period of time into a few short scenes. (Fortunately, the actress handles that pressure with aplomb.) Everything just moves a lot quicker (until the very end, when time suddenly stands still, but that will be discussed later). Most of the time this is fine, although sometimes it’s clear they forgot little details. For instance, the visit Elizabeth pays at Bingley’s estate while her sister is there and ill is cut short, so that the scene in which her mother and sisters come to see how everything is going in the novel turns into the scene in which her mother and sisters come to pick the two of them up. But this isn’t obvious until they drive away, so one is left confused by the fact that Jane doesn’t join them downstairs when they come in, and the fact that Caroline Bingley seems so surprised at the extra Bennets’ appearance. But these are minor, and most importantly, when plot points hinge on minor characters, those plot points are delivered deftly and quickly.

Unfortunately, a lot is also dumbed down. Jane Austen always displayed incredibly subltey in her wit; nothing sounded insulting until you thought about for a few minutes. Some of that gets tossed away. For instance, instead of Elizabeth Bennet’s customary nonchalance at Darcy’s overheard declaration that she is not “handsome enough to tempt” him into dancing, she is visibly insulted and later throws those comments back at him, albeit humorously, and then walks off in slo-mo as triumphant music emphasizes her put-down of him. The movie also feels the need to explain things – like Charlotte Lucas marrying Mr. Collins – that the novel and other adaptations allowed the audience to understand for themselves. It’s occasionally irritating, but not truly detrimental.

There were two elements of this movie’s turn away from the source material and subsequent adaptations that I appreciated very much. The first is that it eschews the tradition of presenting Pride and Prejudice as a light, silly comedy of manners with no real emotional component. I suspect that the director or the script writer was a nerd in high school, because no one could capture the emotional pain of socially awkward characters like Mr. Collins, Mary Bennet (the boring, pedantic sister, who hates going to balls and prefers reading books of sermons), and even Mr. Darcy himself. He is so rarely portrayed as genuinely feeling uncomfortable and out of place at a country assembly, rather than just too good for his surroundings, and this depiction nails both.

The other, somewhat faithless, thing I appreciated was the way class was depicted in this film. In the novel, the way it’s explained is the way it needs to be explained to an early 19th-century novel reader, i.e., not at all. Although I’ve always liked the BBC miniseries, I agree with Stephanie Zacharek’s criticism that it concentrates very hard on being pretty at all times. It’s possible that the way Longbourne (the Bennet home) is decorated absolutely correctly in a periodic sense, and that the Bennet family is dressed absolutely correctly, but to modern eyes, it’s difficult to tell the difference in material wealth between the Bennets and Mr. Bingley based on home and dress, because they all look pretty and old-fashioned to us. And though Pemberley (Darcy’s estate) is obviously bigger than Longbourne, it’s not obviously nicer. Very little about the dress of the Bennet girls in comparison to the Bingley sisters or Georgianna Darcy makes their economic differences obvious. This movie may (or may not – I certainly don’t know what an early-19th-century middle-class chair looks like) not be as historically accurate in its details, but it certainly does a better job of driving home exactly what is at stake financially for the girls.

Also driving home that point is a much-improved (to my mind) Mrs. Bennet. I wrote a paper last year on depictions of her (including the one in the original) and found that she’s always shrill and ridiculous, despite the facts that 1) she has a very legitimate concern about the future of her girls, of which Jane Austen is obviously not unaware, and 2) she’s right about nearly everything. The novel opens on her fervent desire to see her eldest, prettiest daughter married to the new owner of Netherfield, and lo and behold, it happens. True, she doesn’t get to see any of her daughters married to the man who will inherit the estate, but Elizabeth, the daughter she was pushing in that direction, marries the wealthiest man any of them have ever met instead, so it all works out. Mrs. Bennet’s real fault in the novel seemed to be that she was just too obvious about these things, too honest, in a society that was supposed to hide these motivations. (That’s why the moments in this movie in which other characters were too honest about their motivations – like Charlotte Lucas when she explains to Elizabeth why she’s marrying Mr. Collins – bugged me. If that’s Mrs. Bennet’s fault, all the other people in the story can’t share it.) Most depictions of Mrs. Bennet, though, make her purely ridiculous, and none of her statements or emotions are meant to be taken seriously. This film managed to balance the inappropriateness of her character and overabundance of her emotions with the very real nature of the Bennets’ problem. Furthermore, we were more able to see how easily any of the Bennet women, the haloed Elizabeth and Jane included, might fall into similar behaviors. One of the cutesy visual jokes of the movie (which, despite being cutesy, I liked) was the constant eavesdropping at the door at innappropriate moments – and the constant being caught at it.*** Elizabeth and Jane participated in this habit with as much enthusiasm as their mother and sisters.

Donald Sutherland’s portrayal of Mr. Bennet really drives this home. He’s tragic, really. Sad and weary at all turns, a gentleman farmer who is afraid he hasn’t been very good at either, and a father who knows he’s done a piss-poor job of providing for his daughters, but still can’t stand the idea of their marrying for money. Usually, he’s Mrs. Bennet’s straight man, the one winking at the audience (and Elizabeth and Jane) to let us know that he knows how ridiculous she is. But this version allows him to be every bit as aware of his negligence as he ought to be.

While I don’t mind that the costumes and the set design may have been fudged a little to make us understand who has money and what having money means, I do mind a couple of anachronisms that seemed out of place. Most egregious was Mr. Bingley walking into the bedroom Jane is staying in while she’s sick at Netherfield (Bingley’s house). I know most modern audiences who have no historical perspective whatsoever wouldn’t understand, if Bingley’s so in love with Jane, and she’s in his house for days, why they don’t see each other that whole time. But for a man to just wander into the bedroom of an unmarried female guest while she’s in her nightgown? It’s the equivalent, today, in embarrassment and inappropriateness, for the guy you like to wander into your bathroom while you’re putting in a tampon. Also, at one ball, Caroline Bingley appears to be wearing a sleeveless dress. I know that the richer and more urban you were, the more daring your dress tended to be, but I think that’s pushing it.

I also minded a lot one other area of faithlessness. I always loved Jane Austen’s ability to deliver romance stories that leave out the mushy stuff. Once you know a pair were together, that was pretty much it. The end. Sometimes, she’s even teasing to her reader. When Edward comes to propose to Elinor at the end of Sense and Sensibility, the readers have to leave the room with her sister and mothers; we don’t even get the pay-off of a proposal scene. And, quite famously, we never see kissing. It’s part and parcel of the whole idea that, though Jane Austen appears to be writing about lurve, she’s really writing about money and manners and hypocrisy. Though this movie does a very good job with the first, and an okay job with the other two, it insist on having the mushy love stuff, too. As fast-paced as the movie has been to that point, once Elizabeth has more or less vocalized her desire to be Mrs. Darcy (to his aunt, played brilliantly and imperiously by Dame Judi Dench), the movie slows to a stop. Elizabeth runs outside**** and sees Mr. Darcy approaching her through the fog. Very, very, slowly.

A digression: I was reminded of an incident when I was an undergrad at Brandeis. I was assistant stage managing a play, someone’s senior thesis for their theater major, and there was a scene which began with an old man working at a book shop. The director (who was crazy in an almost stereotypically director-y way) and the actor playing the old man decided that the most hilarious thing ever would be if the transition music into that scene was “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles, and if the actor would walk to the center of the stage where his desk was v . . . e . . . r . . . y, v . . . e . . . r . . . y, s . . . l . . . o . . . w . . . l . . . y. Seriously. Maybe one footstep per ever half-bar. We all thought they were nuts. We were begging them not to do this. The play was already kind of confusing and out there, and we thought this would just put the audience over the edge and we would lose them. We were wrong. The audience burst out laughing, and didn’t stop laughing for the entire walk.

Okay, end of digression. Because this slow walk was not at all the same. It was not funny or romantic; it was boring. And then, when they finally meet, they get all melty, and Elizabeth actually KISSES his HAND, and looks all moonily at him with the Lauren-Bacall-patented chin-down, eyes-up look, like they might actually do it right there in the fog. Then they extended the talk between Elizabeth and her father so we could be really, really convinced they were in lurve. Then, THEN, we were subjected to a scene which appears nowhere in the novel, in which Mr. and the now Mrs. Darcy canoodle on his balcony and talk about how happy the are and they actually KISS. Which made me very mad.

But I enjoyed. I must commend Kiera Knightley, for doing a better Elizabeth Bennet than I thought she would, and to commend Matthew MacFayden for his very endearing, and very un-Firth-like Darcy. I always loved Colin Firth in that role, of course. He was the sine qua non of arrogant, stand-offish sexiness. MacFayden gives Darcy vulnerability (and seems somehow younger). My friend used to talk about the way Colin Firth looks at Elizabeth Bennet as eye sex. Having seen this version, I would say that Colin Firth was having eye sex, as in, he was looking at the person with whom he was having sex with in his mind at that moment. MacFayden’s Darcy looked at her like he was looking at the person with whom he morosely thought he’d never be able to have sex with. It was hot, in an entirely different way.

Overall, I was a very pleased movie-goer. And it’s very rare for me lately, to approve of a piece of narrative art. Kind of restored some of my faith in storytellers. (In case you’re interested, Veronica Mars is the other thing that’s restored my faith in storytellers.) You know, except for the kissing part. Ew.

*In fact, the only scenes that were not in the novel but were in the mini-series were 1) Colin Firth taking a bath, 2) Colin Firth fencing with an open-collar shirt on, and 3) Colin Firth swimming in a pond in his extremely thin white shirt and tight pants and then coming out of the pond and promptly running into the love of his life while dripping wet.

**I follow a spoiler policy similar to Television Without Pity‘s. This novel is nearly 200 years old. If you don’t know the plot structure, that’s the fault of your high school English teachers, not mine.

*** Actually, one of my favorite scenes, which broke my heart, really, was the scene in which Elizabeth has finally and conclusively turned down Mr. Collins, and at the moment he is realizing his rejection, the door swings open, having accidentally been pushed by one of the eavesdropping sisters, some of whom are giggling. That proposal is usually played for laughs, but this film goes for pathos, really. For the first time in my very long history with Pride and Prejudice, I kind of wanted to hug Mr. Collins.

**** This movie takes the characters outside a lot more than the BBC version did, and I loved that. Sometimes it fell on the treacly side. I know it rains a lot in England, but does it really rain so conveniently every time Darcy and Elizabeth step outside to have a “moment”? But Austen herself is constantly pushing her heroines to go on walks, and Elizabeth is supposed to be a pretty outdoorsy girl, for her time and class, so getting her outside all the time was nice, I thought. Plus all of her walks around sweeping examples of English countryside contrast so nicely with that moment that Caroline Bingley asks her to take a “refreshing” “turn about the [stuffy, tiny, drawing] room.” Although I’m sure part of their motivation was that they’d already spent lavishly on the little bits of Netherfield and Pemberley that we do see; they couldn’t afford more indoor scenes.

Frivolity






Lately, I have been obsessed with fashion. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fashion designer, and now, with Project Runway in its second season, and blogs like Go Fug Yourself and Manolo, and access to sites like this and this, I can indulge this obsession as much as I please. (Keep in mind that this indulgence is not happening anywhere near my actual body. My wardrobe is almost entirely Gap and Old Navy, because I have neither the money nor the figure for the clothes I really want, nor the patience required to overcome the first two problems.) Also, something happened (I can’t remember what) in early November of 2004 that made me prefer staring at pretty things rather than thinking about the state of the country or the world.

In this veing, my current obsession is the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2006 collection. See, for example, the photo at right and above.

Is it not exquisite? Is it not (to borrow a phrase from Michael Kors on an episode of Project Runway*) “deliciously girly,” while, at the same time, glamourous, sexy, and sophisticated, as well?

Of course, one could argue that it is not exactly wearable. But actually, I sort of disagree. I mean, if one happens to not be a six-foot tall runway model, one might want to forgo the exposed lines of underwear and stocking top, and instead wear a demure slip. Still, one would need to be confident of one’s shoulders and arms, but that’s true of any strapless dress, and certainly, strapless dresses are worn by many. If one is less than confident, one could wear a shrug.

Or, what about this one?

Totally wearable! For non-sticks and sticks alike! And it’s actually really hard to find beautiful clothing that could be worn by non-sticks, but isn’t positively screaming, “No, seriously, fat girls can wear me! Fat girls! Over here!” And being modelled by a “plus” size-eight model.

They’ve also put out some lovely suits that would look good on anyone:

Who wouldn’t look good in those? Though the Everywoman – or really, any tastefully dressed woman operating in real life as opposed to on the runway – should probably choose a nice shell rather than a black lace bra to wear under the suits. Just a thought.

Not that wearability is a necessary standard for gorgeous and fun and sexy and girly, as these designs are. Check out these:

If you want to see the whole collection, click here or here. (If you click on the second one, and read the runway review, I just want to say, I’m confused, too. First of all, it’s not red, it’s hot pink, right? And second, bosomy?)

Enjoy! Perhaps something more serious will come up next time.

* Though he was not, actually, using the phrase in the positive, but rather to describe what a certain losing outfit was not. For more on that, see here.