In reading an article about Helen Mirren in a magazine, something she said about sexuality caught my attention:

Sexuality for girls is so complex and tricky. I was never beautiful, but as a young woman, beautiful or not is sort of irrelevant. Being a sexual object is mortifying and irritating, yet it’s giving you power–an awful power that you’ve done nothing to deserve, a powerless power. I think some young women fall in love with that power…

The quote stopped me because the power of that power was what I was trying to portray in Princess Henriette in Before Versailles and hopefully portrayed in Rene de Keroualle in Dark Angels…..the heady excitement of knowing you’re noticed, of seeing your effect upon men….how that notice can become so needed….the power of beauty. Mirren contends that is may not even be beauty; it may simply be sexuality, a girl’s sexuality that makes her desired by the other…..I love the articulation of “an awful power that you’ve done nothing to deserve.” Is it truly powerless? I don’t think so.

What do you think about sexuality in girls on the verge of becoming women? What do you think about the power Mirren speaks of?  Did you have it? How did you navigate it?

Ah, the stuff of novels for me…….


4 responses to “power

  1. I look back on my youth and look at young women or any woman who spends so much time and energy on superficiality and wonder why we/they do this? It seems silly to me now. Are we that powerless? that all we have to offer is something fleeting and superficial?
    Why not work hard at being an achiever instead? That is what the men we are attracted to do. Something to really admire and respect? So, for females, although there is a fleeting power at work for a while, it arises out of a complete lack of real power. I don’t think most
    females understand how to obtain any other kind of power. We are a sad lot for the most part.

  2. I really loved this comment – thanks for posting it and the link to the article on this magnificent woman who flirts with a tree (if you can believe the magazine author)… As you know from our own talks, I’m struggling with a similar theme but in a far different time period in my own writing. So glad to see your Versailles book out!

  3. Regarding sexuality and young women– A man once told me that they have a credit card and don’t know how to use it.

  4. Anne… I am not sure what that means. Does it relate at all to something a piggish businessman once told me, by way of hitting on me, when I was in my late teens: “The biggest pot of gold is between a woman’s legs.”

    Even then, I found this comment revolting and makes prostitutes of us all. Fortunately he is dead now.

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