An hour or so ago I came across this gem from Clarice Feldman.
“From an email I received: ”
“Our side has done a good job of pointing out what real sexual assault looks like, so just for fun, I think I’ll take up what the PC crowd wants to fight. Fighting rape and real sexual assault in the inner cities and by predatory older males against middle and high school students is difficult and the statistics tend to stigmatize African-American males. So the P.C. crowd goes after the kind of ‘sexual assault” that if often quite benign and part of semi-modern/traditional courtship rituals.
“First person story: After what the PC police would call a “sexual assault” – but I considered a surprise but not unwelcome kiss, my husband to be, [snip] introduced me to that delightful little farce, P.G. Wodehouse’s Money in the Bank in which a shy guy named Jeff is encouraged to just grab and kiss the girl of his dreams before she makes a terrible mistake by marrying the wrong man. To this day, we call it “The Wodehouse method.” I mention this, not to excuse bad language, or to imply Trump had good intentions, but only to put the term “sexual assault” in proper perspective. (BTW, Money in the Bank also has a character named Mr. Trumper – whose role I cannot now recall, but he is neither the shy young Jeffrey, nor his older, wiser advisor.)
“Political Correctness has invaded every aspect of our lives; but the area where it is now being felt most intensely is in the sexual realm. While pushing Planned Parenthood’s “Kiddie Porn” to K-4 students as “health education,” and making statements in the press like this one: “girls have to get used to seeing male genitalia” as a defense for transgendered locker rooms” (paraphrased, but not inaccurately), the PC education crowd insists that college women are constantly at risk of “sexual assault.” If you properly define “sexual assault” as rape or intent to rape, college campuses are actually among the safest places for women of college age. If that were not true, no one would pay $50,000 or more to let their precious daughters attend college. And those of us who teach on these campuses, and are close to our students, would be aware that our women students were being constantly “assaulted.”
Here’s the book that was referenced.
Thing is, this is a breakthrough kind of comparison. I’ve probably read the majority of Wodehouse’s 90+ novels, and nowhere in any of them is there a single off color word or phrase or scene. He is probably as close to sexless as it’s possible to be. For him, romance was essentially the ultimate maguffin that drove his hilarious plots. The thought that spoiled college girls could be “triggered” by a Wodehouse kiss is about the most ridiculous thing I could ever imagine.
I know what I’m talking about. I’ve written quite a bit about this astoundingly innocent genius over the years.
“P. G. Wodehouse. …One I’ve written about before. I read the first definitive biography of him a few years back, and what’s clear about him — as for so many other humorists — is that his life was in many ways sad, even though he lived to great old age, produced about a hundred novels, and umpty-gazillion short stories. He was a man of baffling contradictions and therefore a more useful source of insight about the U.K. than most of the “serious” writers in his country who were contemporaries or came later. He seems to us locked permanently in the England between the two world wars, a fantasy realm of country estates, two-seat roadsters, gentlemen’s clubs, and aristocratic aunts with lorgnettes and no knowledge whatever of everyday English life. Yet he is the source cited by Evelyn Waugh, the deadliest satirist of his age, as the master of dialogue from whom Waugh learned how to eviscerate pretension and hypocrisy in the most maliciously brilliant novels of the twentieth century. In person, Waugh was witty and mean; Wodehouse was everywhere described as dull. Wodehouse was afraid of assertive women, indifferent to sex, not because he was gay, it seems, but because his personality was formed by distant, even cold, family relations, and then frozen for good in adolescence by his happier experience in boarding schools when he finally escaped from home. Then he managed to get himself exiled forever from Britain by being a “good sport” on the radio when he was interned by Germans in the early days of World War II. He never went home again. He never complained. Because that’s the way Brits are. No matter what they do to you, you have to petend to have the emotional range of a cricket bat.”
I was such a fan by my early twenties that I named my cat for one of his feline characters.
And I remain delighted at every opportunity to enjoy a soufflé that never ever goes flat.
If you’ve never discovered P.G. Wodehouse, I encourage you to do so now. I suspect we’re all going to be needing some first rate escapism very very soon.