Today someone sent me some sort of statement, ‘In praise of older women’ (I received it a number of times already), falsely alleged to have been composed by Andy Rooney.
I wrote to her:
No, anyone searching his memory for a 60-minutes program in which he did say that will search in vain. It was not Andy Rooney who said or wrote it.
Here is the truth about that one: http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/rooney2.asp [You can find the whole piece she sent at that link.]
As you can see at his website, the true originator of it, Frank Kaiser, did not say the gross parts of it either. Which proves that one does not have to be gross to be clever, because clever he most certainly is, even though he is a feminist who is smart enough not to mention the female version of Western Chivalry. Still, perhaps now there isn’t a female version of that anymore, especially not to be found amongst the young women of North America today, although in some nations and cultures it still exists. I believe, if memory serves me right, that it was called femininity.
Mozart once wrote something to his sister about the power of women, and that one, I think, is truly clever. Here is a cheap and quick, free translation of a poem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (the poem was part of a letter he wrote in Vienna, August 18, 1784, to congratulate his sister on her impending marriage):
You’ll experience much in matrimony
that was half a riddle to you;
soon you’ll know from experience,
how Eve once had to deal with
giving birth to Cain.
However, sister, those matrimonial duties
you’ll do gladly with all your heart,
because, believe me, they aren’t hard.
But every matter has two sides:
although matrimony brings much joy,
it’ll bring you grief as well.
Therefore, when your husband offers,
what you feel you don’t deserve,
dark demeanor in his bad mood,
then think, that is male whim,
and say: Lord, Thy will be done
by day and mine at night!
A little later, in the beginning of the 19th century, Alexander Pushkin told us about the travails of Eugene Onegin and his views about the power that women exercised over their husbands. (The husband may think he rules the roost, but who rules the rooster? Right!)
She was like him and always sported
the latest fashions of the town;
but, without asking, they transported
her to the altar and the crown.
The better to dispel her sorrow
her clever husband on the morrow
took her to his estate, where she,
at first, with God knows whom to see,
in tears and violent tossing vented
her grief, and nearly ran away.
Then, plunged in the housekeeper’s day,
she grew accustomed, and contented.
In stead of happiness, say I,
custom’s bestowed us from on high.
For it was custom that consoled her
in grief that nothing else could mend;
soon a great truth came to enfold her
and give her comfort to the end:
she found, in labours and in leisure,
the secret of her husband’s measure,
and ruled him like an autocrat –
so all went smoothly after that.
Mushrooms in brine, for winter eating,
fieldwork directed from the path,
accounts, shaved forelocks,4 Sunday bath —,
meantime she’d give the maids a beating
if her cross mood was at its worst —
but never asked her husband first.
— Alexander Pushkin, “Eugene Onegin,” (begun in 1824) Chapter Two, (Translated by Charles Johnston)
[From the translator’s notes]: 4. Serfs chosen for the army had their forelocks cut off. [Note, as always during the history of mankind, it was the men, not the women, who were chosen for the army and to die on the battlefield, but that, like so many other things that men do (anyone can see the evidence all around), is something many women readily forget about. —WHS]
Aside from the bit from Snopes, all of that is — except for a couple of very small edits — from the web page at http://fathersforlife.org/hist/gerst.htm, which presents the translation of a somewhat longer poem about a prison pastor who had his very own patriarchal ways of looking at and dealing with dissidence in marital relations in the late 1840s.
Here is another side of the story. It is more about the things that your story alluded to, “The ‘evil’ that men did.”