Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “May 7, 2011”

>Tess Gerritsen’s The Silent Girl: A Review


Tess Gerritsen used to be a very unique mystery writer. Her Rizzolli and Isles series featured a police officer, Jane Rizzolli, and a medical examiner, Maura Isles, whose unconventional personal lives and intense personalities made the series especially interesting to follow. Gerritsen was a writer who did blood and gore especially well. If you are into the mystery novels filled with descriptions of human entrails glistening against the snow, torture and detailed autopsies, Gerritsen was the writer for you. She never shied away from explicit scenes and, as a result, managed to create some of the most memorable serial killer novels around.
And then television happened. A very stupid show started being filmed based on Gerritsen’s novels. The Silent Girl is the first novel by Gerritsen that came out since Rizzoli & Isles hit TNT. It isn’t a bad book at all, mind you. The mystery is good, the culprit is difficult to identify, the plot has quite a few twists and turns, the book reads very easily. The problem with The Silent Girl is that it isn’t a Gerritsen novel. It’s another installment of a very mediocre TV series. Rizzoli and Isles have been transformed into good girls whose personal lives are boring enough to be suitable for prime time. To give an example, Maura Isles isn’t engaged in her long-standing affair with a priest any more. She has now turned from a cold and harsh person into a weepy, miserable creature who is all of a sudden dedicated to wannabe mothering of a teenager more than to her career. Gory scenes have been substituted with descriptions that would look good on TV: Chinatown, martial artists, an obligatory scene with a mafioso, a grieving parent or two, mythical creatures leaping from roof to roof, etc. 
I used to look forward to Gerritsen’s new novels coming out. Now, however, she is no different than hundreds of other authors who produce sanitized, conventional mysteries that aim to be filmed rather than read. Until Rizzoli & Isles gets cancelled, it hardly makes any sense to read another Gerritsen mystery.
The Silent Girl will come out on July 5. 

>Promoting Yourself on My Blog


To those who are new to Clarissa’s Blog: you can only promote your own blog here if I have given you express permission. Ending each comment with a link to your own blog will make your comments end up in a spam box. However, if I have told you it’s OK to place your link here once, the permission is good for all future occasions when you might want to do it. If I come to your blog and comment there, it means I like you, so you can place your links freely. If I really like your blog, I will do all I can to promote it on my own because I love sharing cool stuff with people.
I also don’t publish comments from people whose nicknames promote products and link to sites that sell stuff. If you want to buy advertising on my blog, contact me and we’ll see if something can be worked out. But I really hate it when people try to sneak one past me. Nothing annoys me more than when people baselessly assume that they are smarter than I am and will be able to dupe me with such cheap tricks.

>What Causes Sexual Attraction?


“So, if neither your weight nor your looks have anything to do with whether people find you sexually attractive, then what is it that makes one person have a crowd of admirers while another individual sits there forlorn and abandoned?” people might ask after reading my recent posts. 
I know that this will come as a shock to people who have been brought up in a Puritanical tradition that expects human sexuality to be easily subjected to ideology and reason. Still, the truth is that sexual attraction has nothing whatsoever to do with easily quantifiable things like weight, height, size, number of college diplomas, IQ, figures in the bank statement, or anything of the kind.
It happens very often that a tall, beautiful, ripped guy with fantastic hair and a sunny disposition can’t find a date in a decade. And in the meanwhile, a short, skinny, balding dude with a nasty personality gets crowds of women flock to him as if by magic. (I know both these guys, so please don’t argue with me about it.) How often do you look at a female friend who is not only nice and kind but also stunningly beautiful with a modelesque body and wonder how the hell it is possible that somebody like her is single and can’t get to the second date for love or money? While the short-legged, plump woman with bad skin and an extremely bitchy personality is juggling four men at the same time and trying to carve out space for numbers five and six.

If you forget about what you see on television and look at people who surround you, you will, without a doubt, realize that appearance and weight in no way correlate with whether one has any personal life whatsoever or can get anybody give them a second look. When I was much younger, I would go out with four of my girlfriends with an express purpose of meeting guys. One of my friends was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in real life. She had Victoria Secret body and John Frieda hair that were completely natural. She is also a highly intelligent person with a fascinating personality and many interesting hobbies. As we’d hit yet another bar on one of our outings, each of us (and most of the other women and men there) would get interested people come up to us and try to meet us. Our beautiful friend, however, was consistently treated like she was invisible. She really wanted to meet somebody, she tried hard, but people didn’t pay attention to her. For the five years that I knew her, she was completely celibate. And not because she wanted to.

What really attracts people sexually is an exuberant, happy and healthy sexuality. Sexually healthy* people give off little tells that we observe and process often without even realizing it. A healthy sexuality entails, among other things, a different relationship with one’s body than the one that less sexually healthy people have and a different attitude to sensual experiences. A sexually healthy person moves in a less constricted, freer way, holds him or herself different. You can say a lot about people’s sexual health if you observe them select and ingest food and drink, buy clothes, touch different fabrics, choose scent. Whenever we meet a person, we immediately pick up on such things. Those who show many signs of a happy sexuality, attract a lot of people. Those who give off none, attract nobody.

It is a symptom of a sexually unhappy culture that one actually needs to explain that sexual attraction is caused not by how many inches your waist measures but by how sexually healthy you are.

* I don’t know if I need to clarify this, but just to be on the safe side I will. Sexual health is a capacity to enjoy sex for its own sake without needing to justify it or feeling guilty about it. It’s very similar to a healthy relationship with food. When we eat (or deprive ourselves of food) to relieve stress, exorcise emotions, punish ourselves, out of a sense of obligation, because of social expectations, etc. it is obvious that this is not a healthy relationship with food. It’s exactly the same with sex. 

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