Sunday, July 29, 2007

A bit more on modesty: the Divine Miss Ros

Amanda McKittrick, that is, bless her, fervently.

The Old Home.

Don't I see the old home over there at the base
Of a triangle not overcrowded with space:
'Twas there I first breathed on the eighth of December,
In the year of Our Lord the month after November.

I've been told it was snowy and blowy and wild
When I entered the home as a newly-born child,
There wasn't much fuss, nor was there much joy
For sorrow was poignant I wasn't a boy.

I felt quite contented as years flitted on
That I to the coarser sex did not belong
Little dreaming that ever the time would arrive
That of female attire I would be deprived.

By a freak of the lustful that spreads like disease
Which demanded that females wear pants if you please,
But I stuck to the decentest style of attire
And to alter my " gender " I'll never aspire.

During that hallowed century now dead and gone
In which good Queen Victoria claimed to be born
From childhood her modesty ever was seen
Her exalted position demanded when Queen.

She set an example of decency rare,
That no English Queen before her you'd compare
Neither nude knee nor ankle, nude bosom nor arm
Dare be seen in her presence this Queen to alarm.

She believed in her sex being loving and kind,
And modesty never to march out of line
By exposing those members unrest to achieve,
Which pointed to morals immorally grave.

But sad to relate when she bade " Adieu "
To earth and its vanities tainted with " rue,"
That centre of fashion, so French in its style,
Did its utmost to vilify decency's smile

And mock at these garments which proved in their day,
At a glance-who was who-and wherein gender lay,
But alas ! Since the death of our great and good Queen
That attribute " Modesty " 's ne'er to be seen.

It wasn't long after till modesty grew
A thing of the past for me and for you;
Last century's fashions were blown quite aside,
The ill-advised folk of this age now deride.

The petticoat faded away as we do
In circumference it covered not one leg but two,
Its successor exposes the arms, breasts and necks,
Legs, knees and thighs and too often-the ---.


queen emily said...

Those hussies, exposing their necks and arms. Disgusting!

A.W. said...

Nicely written, but I don't like the author's value judgment.

Rootietoot said...

She sounds like me.

antiprincess said...

"legs, knees and thighs, and too often the" WHAT?

"ass" doesn't rhyme.
"rest" works a little better.

what? what!?

assembling words to armory, she waits... said...

is she actually intimating we should all harken back to the 'good ol' days' of confining corsetry, consumption, bussels and fainting spells? lmao! i think this is my favorite line:

By a freak of the lustful that spreads like disease
Which demanded that females wear pants if you please

wearing pants is a 'freak of the lustful'?!? reminds me of one of my favorite celeb stories:

barbara walters was interviewing the devine katherine hepburn, 'notorious' for daring to wear pants in an all-dress/skirt era. ms walters dared to ask katherine if she even owned a skirt. hepburn paused, looked right at her and said: 'i have one, barbara. i shall wear it to your funeral.'
i only wish she'd lived long enough to do that... love her!

SnowdropExplodes said...

AP, I puzzled over it for a while, but then realised:

Phonetically, it begins with 's'...

...and ends in 'ecks'

Which word was obviously far too dirty for the author to spell out, but the author must have thought it, and was probably far too traumatised by having such a dirty thought to write anything else for a good long while!

fastlad said...


She finally discovers her theme by the fourth verse. But I LOVE how much energy she is willing to expend before arriving at it.

belledame222 said...


(oh, sorry)

Daisy said...

"legs, knees and thighs, and too often the" WHAT?

"ass" doesn't rhyme.
"rest" works a little better.

what? what!?

pecs? Showing their pecs?

I wanna know too!

Octogalore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Octogalore said...

SDE's right, it's good ol' sexxx. But I'm not sure what successor to the petticoat exposes that, unless one is Britney et al.

I think it's funny that in Victorian times the men would wear tight knickers and stockings and women were covered. Things have reversed. Although occasionally the guys at my gym do wear spandex, exposing the ---.

Chuckie K said...

I like the ironic function of ---. A typographic icon of the covering up she advocates. But the covering up compels the question, WHAT? So covering up draws attention to, provokes the search for, stimulates the imagination ultimately exposes. Lose/lose situation for our perplexed poet.

KH said...

Off topic – except for the Victorian resonance – but a story in today’s NYT reminded me of an exchange with, grumble grumble, Delphyne (my 1st or 1 of them) almost exactly 1 year ago, on Pandagon. (I’ve just re-read those old exchanges, &, dear God, she’s even more vicious & dishonest & relentless than I’d recalled.) She’d been insisting that sex work is inherently nonconsensual because, inter alia, sex is only consensual if it’s motivated by "sexual desire or attraction." The usual others have made similar arguments. I’d said, ad nauseum, that she was misusing the word “consent,” but she also has this weirdly narrow, Victorian-romantic sense of what motivates people to have the proper kind of sex. To quote myself:

People consensually have sex, like they do anything else, for diverse, obscure combinations of reasons. Lust (hardly a unitary concept), romantic love for a sexual dolt, compassion (mercy fuck), 10 kinds of fun, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, friendship, 100 other kinds of fellow-feeling, to get close to God, to get away from God, to repopulate the world after nuclear holocaust, vanilla procreation, eugenic master-race breeding, to improve marriage prospects, desire to emotionally bind a person, or to get them to shut up, or to talk, or to give you back the credit card, or to prove that you’re really not gay like everybody keeps saying, reward for a two-bit dinner date, for the inheritance, other nonspecific economic motives, other mercenary non-economic reasons, sex work. And only the first of these falls under the rubric of your ‘sexual desire or attraction,’ so all the others are coerced? Your idiolect, your right, but inconsistent with English usage. Sexual coercion is a species of coercion; the word does not mean what you think it means.

Anyway, that’s all by way of mentioning this Times story, which reports some systematic research on the subject. (The study’s co-author, Buss, is a bit of an ass, but never mind.) As the tête-à-tête w/ Delphyne illustrates, attacks not only on sex work but on other stigmatized sexual expression (BDSM, homosexuality, other non-reproductive & non-monogamous stuff) turns on a flattened notion of the proper reasons people should & do have sex. So file it away for future reference. The story is:

John Tierney, “The Whys of Mating: 237 Reasons and Counting,” NYT, July 31, 2007, pp. D1, D6. Available for the moment at:

It reports on this research paper:

Cindy M Meston & David M Buss (Dept Psychology, U TX Austin), “Why Humans Have Sex” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 36, no. 4 (Aug 2007): 477-507.


‘Historically, the reasons people have sex have been assumed to be few in number and simple in nature–to reproduce, to experience pleasure, or to relieve sexual tension. Several theoretical perspectives suggest that motives for engaging in sexual intercourse may be larger in number and psychologically complex in nature. Study 1 used a nomination procedure that identified 237 expressed reasons for having sex, ranging from the mundane (e.g., “I wanted to experience physical pleasure”) to the spiritual (e.g., “I wanted to get closer to God”), from altruistic (e.g., “I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself”) to vengeful (e.g., “I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me”). Study 2 asked participants (N = 1,549) to evaluate the degree to which each of the 237 reasons had led them to have sexual intercourse. Factor analyses yielded four large factors and 13 subfactors, producing a hierarchical taxonomy. The Physical reasons subfactors included Stress Reduction, Pleasure, Physical Desirability, and Experience Seeking. The Goal Attainment subfactors included Resources, Social Status, Revenge, and Utilitarian. The Emotional subfactors included Love and Commitment and Expression. The three Insecurity subfactors included Self-Esteem Boost, Duty/Pressure, and Mate Guarding. Significant gender differences supported several previously advanced theories. Individual differences in expressed reasons for having sex were coherently linked with personality traits and with individual differences in sexual strategies. Discussion focused on the complexity of sexual motivation and directions for future research.’

Additional Tierney blog post:

Meston & Buss’s list of 238 reasons for having sex (.doc):

How many of the 238 do you check off?

KH said...

That last link, to the list of 238 reasons people have sex, should be:

You can also link to it from Tierney's blog item.

belledame222 said...


I think my favorite line is "not one leg but two." I really hate these newfangled petticoats that only cover one leg...

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