Here chez Cleo, we gifted the hell out of each other. Family tradition, really. We were trading Christmas morning traditions the other night--Em's family makes mimosas, Brett's makes bloody Marys, and mine>? Nukes cinnamon rolls, if we can find them in the mountains of presents. If the economy suddenly picks up, you know whom to thank.
So I'm reading Betsy Prioleau's Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love (and trying not to eat my Swiss Lindor chocolate all in one go). On one hand, it's a little overwritten ("Lilith, Eve's predecessor, is the prototype [of the antithesis of virtuous femininity]: a promiscuous jilt who refused to accept the missionary position and dumped Adam for an eternity of revolving door sex with satanic superstuds.... Athena, Jupiter's stooge, turned the too sexy Medusa into a revolting monster, and women still demonize and assail fascinators"). I mean, on one hand, the souped-up mix of scholar-speak and hip lingo (mild eyeroll) is entertaining; on the other hand, it's laid on so thick, so constantly, that you get tired after a while. You know, once in a while, you can just say something with a simple subject and a predicate and a period. Damn. That, and she name-checks Liz Phair and Courtney Love and Salt-n-Pepa in a way that seems more desperate to sound cool than an actual discussion of why they're mention-worthy (which they are). Or maybe I'm just tired.
Style quibbles aside, I love what she's saying. I really think this book, judging by the sixty or so pages I've read so far, ought to be required reading for women. Because what she's saying is this: Seduction is not about being a cute, mute, dumb bunny. It's not about being a supermodel or even a femme fatale. Historically speaking, seduction has been about women who knew what they wanted and went after it with arsenals of charm and intelligence. A lot of them were actually pretty ugly (yes, Cleopatra. No, really), and some of them were on up there in years. And that's how seductive they were: the richest, handsomest, and/or smartest men in town breezed right past the beauties and made beelines for them. I think the pithiest line in the book so far was something to the effect of women taking control of their sexuality as seductresses--becoming sex subjects rather than sex objects.
Seriously: Go read this book.