We have breasts so that men might have something to fondle and breast cancer is way worse on men than it is on women
I read a great piece by Monica Hesse about Philip Roth, one of the first writers my mom ever tried to stop me from reading. My mom took Portnoy’s Complaint away from me, so I just went back to the library and read it there.
I got no further than the liver scene before I realized I was not interested in the problems of an adolescent boy who was looking for ways to masturbate.
(Related – I am also no longer interested in the problems of rich New Yorkers. It is a bit surprising to me that so many novels with this topic are published. Good thing I get my books from the library instead of buying them. Otherwise, I would feel compelled to finish a book I don’t like or where I don’t care about the people who are distressed because they cannot get their four year old into the $45,000 a year pre-school of their choice or one of the four nannies has quit. OH THE SUFFERING.)
Anyhow, Hesse is talking about some guy – Blake Bailey – who has written a biography of Roth. The title of the piece is Philip Roth and the sympathetic biographer: This is how misogyny gets cemented in our culture. If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will.
Bailey is a fanboy who, according to this piece, “reports his delight at overhearing the ‘muffled streams’ of ‘our greatest living novelist’ peeing.”
He has also been accused of rape and the publisher stopped the presses on publishing the book.
MY POINT is that Hesse quotes critic Linda Grant, who reviewed one of Roth’s books, in which
a cancer-stricken woman uses her last day before a mastectomy to visit her former professor/lover so that he may fondle her chest and say goodbye.
Grant notes that every woman she discussed this passage with burst out laughing at the preposterousness of this idea.Monice Hesse
When I had my bad mammogram right before Christmas 2019 and had to wait until early January 2020 to get the second mammogram – the one that would tell me I had cancer or I didn’t have cancer, all I could think of was letting someone else say goodbye to my breasts./sarcasm off
All I – and Mr T – could think of was, What if it’s cancer?
What if it’s cancer?
What if it’s cancer?
What if it’s cancer?
To make things interesting, I had just lost my job and we were going to go on cobra – $1,200 a month thank you very much – for our health insurance.
Is there a better name than “cobra” for health insurance? This coiled, hissing threat that terrifies everyone?
Neither Mr T nor I were thinking about anyone saying goodbye to my breasts.
Admittedly, my breasts are nothing to get excited about.
My grandmother observed that I didn’t “have much up top” and said I got that from her.
Which I did.
What I did not get from her was her 5’7″ willowy frame that even at her 50th wedding anniversary, still fit into her wedding dress.
I have to admit that in the movie Ordinary Lives, in the scene of the night before her mastectomy, Lesley Manville’s character and Liam Neeson’s character have a touching love scene, but a man wrote the screenplay. Would a woman write the same thing? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me – even a tight deadline at work has me too stressed for any of that stuff.
(Also, there’s a difference between a pre-mastectomy love scene between longtime partners and making sure that your former professor gets a chance to grope you one more time.)
Where was I?
A male writer writing about a woman whose last act before her mastectomy was to make sure that her former professor and perhaps current lover (it’s not clear to me) could fondle her breasts.
Not for her gratification.
I am thinking – and this is a wild guess – that no woman would every write a scene like that.
I leave you with this amazing poem I discovered.
He tells her that the Earth is flat –
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.
The planet goes on being round.He Tells Her, Wendy Cope