Let Inga tell you: thank you but no thank you, Ben

It’s not just modern men in positions of power who have no idea about women. If Ben Franklin were alive today, I would love to hit him on the head with my Susan B. Anthony T-shirt.

OK, I’ll give him credit for the lightning rod, the bifocals, the Franklin stove, and for helping to lay the foundation for the Declaration of Independence. But according to many accounts, the guy was a serious womanizer.

In June 1745, Franklin wrote a letter to a friend about channeling the young man’s insatiable lust. The now famous epistle, “Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress,” has, to Mr. Franklin’s credit, suggested marriage as the best course of action. He noted that a woman seeks the “strength of body and strength of reason” of a man. For his part, a man really needs the “gentleness, sensitivity and keen discernment” of a woman.

Reading this, I had a sudden deja vu from my first marriage. At the time, I was drawn to my future husband for his composure under pressure and his decisiveness. He said he was first drawn to me for my warmth and vulnerability. Describing these same characteristics at our 10th wedding anniversary, I think I called him “cold and controlling” and he called me “neurotic”. During our divorce, we agreed that he was fed up with my vulnerability and had enough of his determination to last a lifetime.

But Mr Franklin’s friend had made it clear in a previous communication that he didn’t really want a wedding. Just sex. So how can you get it without “ruining your health and your fortune among the prostituted mercenaries”? (Damn those mercenary prostitutes! Just for the money!) A mistress is the ticket, suggested Ben, who then listed eight reasons why an “old” woman is better for the role than a young one.

Now let’s stop here and note that in 1745 the average life expectancy was 43.3 years for men. Nobody kept data on women because, like, who cared? They were women. So the “old” women Ben was referring to were probably in their thirties.

The eight reasons didn’t start too badly. Ben acknowledged that older women have “a better knowledge of the world … their conversation improves and is more lastingly pleasant”.

But it’s downhill from there. Reason 2:

“When women stop being beautiful, they study to be good. To maintain their influence over men, they make up for the decrease in beauty by an increase in utility. They learn to do 1,000 services big and small, and are the most loving and helpful of all friends when you are sick.

OK, and when She is sick? (OK, why am I even asking?)

Reason 5, perhaps the most appalling description of the aging female form ever written, essentially reduced women to “Slab of Beef with Aperture”: “The deficiency of the fluids which fill the muscles appears first in the highest part: the face sags and wrinkles first; then the neck; then the chest and arms; the lower parts continuing to the last as plump as ever. So that by covering the entire top of a basket, and as regards only what is below the waist, it is impossible for two women to distinguish an old woman from a young one.

Translation: Just put a bag on his head and you will never know the difference.

Given that Ben was only 39 when he wrote this letter, he seems to have already accumulated considerable experience as a mistress, starting early by fathering a son out of wedlock at the age of 24. He and his wife raised the child in their home.

It was the last and most compelling reason for Ben to take an older woman as his mistress that put me on the brink:

“They are so grateful!

Seriously, I had all 10 fingers down my throat reading this one. No, Ben, they are not so grateful. This is Clueless Guy Think. Ben had a large intestine in his portraits and was bald on top. People the sexiest man in 1745 magazine, he’s not.

The poor mistress was probably thinking, “Damn, what an ego on this one.” I really hope that he and these other founding fathers will be able to put some clauses on womenindependence in all those documents they fight for, because being unable to own property or vote, and sexually excluded from 98% of jobs in the settlements really slows my game down. I would drop that jerk in one. wink if I had more options.

Yes, we definitely needed founding mothers. Could we have avoided the epidemic of accusations of sexual harassment that plague us today?

So thank you, Ben, for all the inventions and your witty words. The irony is that I think you wanted older women to be flattered. I assure you we are not.

Inga’s light looks at life appear regularly in La Jolla Light. Reach her at [email protected]. ??

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