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Wild Words from Wild Women
An Unbridled Collection of Candid Observations and Extremely Opinionated Bon Mots
By Autumn Stephens
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 1996 Autumn Stephens
All rights reserved.
Can We Talk?
Once we loved Barbie, the dishy doll with the missile-shaped bosoms and the pouty, slightly parted plastic lips. Unfortunately, little Miss Implant didn't have much to say for herself: she was too busy trying on all those cunning size ½ costumes (though I think she did occasionally emit a coy giggle when Ken tried to get cuddly).
Then came Chatty Cathy, flagrantly flat-chested and corporeally quite charmless—but oh, how that baby could babble! We pulled her string and pulled her string, until one sad day her motor-mouth simply sputtered and died, never again to blurt out those startling, solipsistic demands for juice or a journey to the zoo.
Finally, we fell for Madonna, a self-proclaimed boy-toy (though obviously she liked girls just fine too) who proved that you could have mammary glands and a jaw that opens all the way. "Listen," she said, "everyone is entitled to my opinion." And just in case we didn't think her smile was smug enough already, she wrapped it around a Coke bottle to prove her point.
This book is for Andrea's daughter, and Margaret's, and all the other little Madonna-ettes who will, I hope, grow up knowing how to do more with their breasts than beat them, and more with their mouths than paint them stop-sign red.CHAPTER 2
I'm tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.
I can throw a fit, I'm a master at it.
—Madonna, chameleonesque queen of chutzpah.
The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.
The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink.
Success didn't spoil me; I've always been insufferable.
—Satirist Fran Lebowitz, an inspiration to every sarcastic smart-ass who ever got herself booted out of high school.
Besides Shakespeare and me, who do you think there is?
It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.
The Jews have produced only three originative geniuses: Christ, Spinoza, and myself.
—Writer Gertrude Stein, who loomed large in the avant-garde circles of her day, and larger still in the privacy of her own mind.
Just being in a room with myself is almost more stimulation than I can bear.
—Kate Braverman, agitated author of the cult classic Lithium for Medea.
I would live in a communist country providing I was the Queen.
—Stella Adler, Methodic mentor to big screen kings Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, and Robert De Niro.
("If she were a character in a Greek play," one interviewer concluded, "her flaw would be hubris.")
I have a horror of death; the dead are so soon forgotten. But when I die, they'll have to remember me.
—Emily Dickinson, a poet far too singular to slip anybody's mind.
I now know all the people worth knowing in America and I find no intellect comparable to my own.
—Margaret Fuller. The brilliant Bostonian who wrote Woman in the Nineteenth Century was a shocking exhibitionist when it came to her brain.
The more articulate one is, the more dangerous words become.
—Prolific poet/prosaist May Sarton, a major menace to society.
I have a simple philosophy: Fill what's empty. Empty what's full. Scratch where it itches.
If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.
—Alice Roosevelt Longworth, one of America's nastiest national institutions.
Show me someone who never gossips, and I'll show you someone who isn't interested in people.
—Broadcast newswoman Barbara Walters, a very caring conversationalist.
Learning to speak is like learning to shoot.
—Professor Avital Ronell, comparative literature specialist, and a self-proclaimed "ivory-tower terrorist."
The people I'm furious with are the women's liberationists. They keep getting up on soap boxes and proclaiming that women are brighter than men. It's true, but it should be kept quiet or it ruins the whole racket.
—Screenwriter Anita Loos, who maintained that gentlemen were incapable of appreciating either brunettes or the basic facts of life.
I wasn't allowed to speak while my husband was alive, and since he's gone no one has been able to shut me up.
Nobody's interested in sweetness and light.
—God-like gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. With a flick of her poisonous pen, she could write a Hollywood hopeful right out of the picture.
I think if women would indulge more freely in vituperation, they would enjoy ten times the health they do. It seems to me they are suffering from repression.
So long as women are slaves, men will be knaves.
—Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the strapping spokeswoman for nineteenth-century suffragists.
Be critical. Women have the right to say: This is surface, this falsifies reality, this degrades.
—Tillie Olsen. After twenty years of transcribing other people's words, the long-suppressed author of Silences finally found her own voice.
We are all born charming, fresh and spontaneous, and must be civilized before we are fit to participate in society.
—American etiquette maven, Miss Manners, née Judith Martin, apparently not to the (excruciatingly correct) manner born.
I am terribly shy, but of course no one believes me. Come to think of it, neither would I.
—Carol Channing. Shy, perhaps, but scarcely retiring: in her eighth decade of life, Hello Dolly is still a happening thing.
I personally think we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.
Reality is the leading cause of stress for those in touch with it.
Delusions of grandeur make me feel a lot better about myself.
—Writer Jane Wagner, the wry collaborative mind behind some of Lily Tomlin's best lines.
Gossip is news running ahead of itself in a red satin dress.
—Syndicated columnist Liz Smith, dedicated to keeping a news-hungry nation apprised of the triumphs, tragedies, and predictable little peccadillos of those who live in (or for) the limelight.
A gossip is someone who talks to you about others, a bore is one who talks to you about himself, and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.
—Singer Lisa Kirk, waxing eloquent on the subject of oral emissions.
People call me feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.
—Writer Rebecca West, puzzled (but not insulted) by the F-word.
My goal is to be accused of being strident.
—Susan Faludi, scribe of the stinging Backlash.CHAPTER 3
I don't have the time every day to put on makeup. I need that time to clean my rifle.
—Henriette Mantel, cosmetically incorrect comedian.
You'd be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap.
Lots of women buy just as many wigs and makeup things as I do. They just don't wear them all at the same time.
It's a good thing that I was born a woman, or I'd have been a drag queen.
—Dolly Parton, rags-to-riches country music mogul. (In her dime-store days, desperate Dolly saved face by rouging her lips with Mercurochrome.)
If you have formed the habit of checking on every new diet that comes along, you will find that, mercifully, they all blur together, leaving you with only one definite piece of information: french-fried potatoes are out.
I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?
—Jean Kerr, perfectly attractive playwright whose modest goal was "to make a lot of people laugh and to make a lot of money."
Taking joy in life is a woman's best cosmetic.
—Rosalind Russell, minimalist Auntie Mame who also suffered from the misconception that an appealing lunch could be fashioned solely from an assortment of cheeses.
Nature has made women with a bosom, so nature thought it was important. Who am I to argue with nature?
—Ida Rosenthal, inventor of the modern brassiere. She figure out how to gently lift and separate the women from the girls.
My husband said he wanted to have a relationship with a redhead, so I dyed my hair red.
—Activist/film star Jane Fonda, capable of changing her colors at the drop of an aerobics sock.
I've never been lifted. But I do like a bit of glamour in the morning.
—Artist Louise Nevelson. She preferred to be the sculptor, not the sculpture.
Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.
—Hedy Lamarr, A much-coveted property pursuant to her elegantly unclad performance in the 1933 film Ecstasy; lovely Lamarr was smarter than she looked.
I dress for women, and undress for men.
—Angie Dickinson. In or out of uniform, TV's leggy Police Woman inspired illicit fantasies.
It is possible that blondes also prefer gentlemen.
—Mamie Van Doren, the other platinum bombshell of the fifties.
I have too many fantasies to be a housewife ... I guess I am a fantasy.
I've been on a calendar, but never on time.
I'm always running into people's unconscious.
I have never quite understood this sex symbol business, but if I'm going to be a symbol of something, I'd rather have it sex than some of the other things they've got symbols for.
—Marilyn Monroe, dead movie star. Was too much feminine mystique her fatal mistake?
A comparison between Madonna and me is a comparison between a strapless evening gown and a gownless evening strap.
—Kim Campbell, erstwhile prime minister of Canada, criticized for emulating America's sexy boy-toy when she bared her forty-six-year-old shoulders in a pre-election photo.
I had to use ham. I took a piece from the deli platter and rubbed it in my hair. I had to— that fluffy thing was really bothering me.
—Alternative rock 'n' roller Kim Deal, on how to handle a bad hair day when you're way too cool for gel.
We're supposed to be attractive to the male to procreate the species, after all. That's why you've got to wear makeup and you've got to f***.
Women should try to increase their size rather than decrease it, because I believe the bigger we are, the more space we'll take up, and the more we'll have to be reckoned with. I think every woman should be fat like me.
People say to me, "You're not very feminine." Well they can suck my dick.
—Roseanne, outsized sitcom star known both for her cheeky charm and for the cheeks themselves, revealed to an entire stadium of World Series fans during a 1989 mooning spree.
A diet counselor once told me that all overweight people are angry with their mothers and channel their frustrations into overeating. So I guess that means that all thin people are happy, calm, and have resolved their Oedipal entanglements.
—Wendy Wasserstein, perpetually plump ("I was an elementary school Falstaff") winner of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
There's nothing on earth to do here but look at the view and eat. You can imagine the result since I do not like to look at views.
—Famous wife Zelda Fitzgerald, in a moment of Jazz Age angst. Flappers were supposed to be flat, not fleshy.
If American men are obsessed with money, American women are obsessed with weight. The men talk of gain, the women talk of loss, and I do not know which talk is the more boring.
—Marya Mannes, journalist/OSS intelligence analyst. It didn't take her long to crack the nation's conversational code.
I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
When women go wrong, men go right after them.
—Sex goddess Mae West, honored in 1933 by the Central Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for "popularizing the natural plumpness of the female figure."
When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking.
I'm just a person trapped inside a woman's body.
—Comedian Elayne Boosler. Rejected by the Joffrey Ballet school for being non-bulimic, she became a substantial Showtime star by default.
I deliberately overeat to give my body the ... most voluptuous contours I can acquire. Growing fatter is one of the most intensely sensuous things that I have ever experienced.
—Margaret Deirdre O'Hartigan, sensuous woman at large.
A woman is as young as her knees.
—British fashion designer Mary Quant, revered by the leggy and reviled by the lumpy for creating, during the sexy Sixties, that very minimal method of covering the gluteus maximus still known as the mini-skirt.
I know there are some nights when I have power, when I could put on something and walk in somewhere, and if there's a man who doesn't look at me, it's because he's gay.
—Super-self-confident movie star Kathleen Turner. If he doesn't leer, he must be queer. (Or could it be that his mama just raised him right?)
Scheherazade is easy; a little black dress is very difficult.
Elegance is refusal.
—French couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, celebrated by modern young women of the 1920s for liberating them from the bods of severely structured clothing and by any number of modern young men as well, for succeeding where they had not.
There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.
—Helena Rubenstein. Hard work made her a makeup magnate.
It's not what you'd call a figure, is it?
—Twiggy, Sixties supermodel famous for her lack of flesh. Spindly but not stupid, La Twig was hip to the fact that less is definitely more (to the fashion media's taste).
My weakness is wearing too much leopard print.
—Hollywood novelist Jackie Collins: often leonine; seldom lionized.
I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn't itch.
—Comedian Gilda Radner. Fortunately, sensitive-skinned Gilda wound up as a Saturday Night Live star and not, like so many other unfortunate females of the polyester-and-pantyhose generation, as a resident of a nudist colony.
I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty.
—Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines, setting the record straight on her vast (but not quite so vast as previously assumed) collection of stilettos, slippers, scuffs, moccasins, mules, platforms, pumps, loafers, loungers, booties, button-ups, espadrilles, high heels, Mary Janes, tennies, golf shoes, and riding boots.
Anyone with more than 365 pairs of shoes is a pig.
—Barbara Melser Lieberman, setting the record straight on Imelda Marcos.
It matters more what's in a woman's face than what's on it.
—Claudette Colbert, one actress who didn't lose any sleep over her lines.
So many women just don't know how great they really are. They come to us all vogue outside and vague on the inside.
—Mary Kay Ash, founder of the fantastically successful Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. Ironically, Ash proved her own mettle by selling lots of ... makeup.
I never go out unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.
—Actress Joan Crawford. For her fans, Mommie Dearest put her best face forward.
You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word.
—British journalist Jill Tweedie. Oh, go ahead and smash the state if you must—but just this once, it wouldn't kill you to put on a little makeup!
What is beautiful is good, And who is good will soon be beautiful.
—Sappho, gal-loving Greek poet. And who is neither beautiful nor good, it seems, is just plain out of the loop.
Never darken my Dior again!
—British actress Beatrice Lillie, displaying great Christian charity toward the waiter who accidentally dumped dinner onto her dress.
What you eat standing up doesn't count.
—Creative calorie-counter Beth Barnes, the right-brained dieter's answer to Richard Simmons.
Kiss my shapely big fat ass.
—Country crooner K. T. Oslin, whose much-publicized menopause made her a trifle less petite, and far more impolite.CHAPTER 4
Political Animas & Public Enemies
I want to be more than a rose in my husband's lapel.
I want two passports. I want a passport that says "wife of the Prime Minister" and a passport that says I'm free.
—Margaret Trudeau, a sexy side-kick in the pants to her Studio 54 pals; a mondo thorn in the side for poor Pierre.
Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
—Abigail Adams, wife of the second president of the United States of America.
Sometimes when I look at my children I say to myself, "Lillian, you should have stayed a virgin."
—Lillian Carter, mother of the thirty-ninth president of the United States of America.
Well, I've got you the presidency, what are you going to do with it?
—Florence Harding, wife of the twenty-ninth president of the United States of America.
Every politician should have been born an orphan and remain a bachelor.
—Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the thirty-sixth president of the United States of America.
Behind every successful man is a surprised woman.
—Maryon Pearson, former Canadian prime minister's wife.
The position of First Lady has no rules, just precedent, so its evolution has been at a virtual standstill for years. If Martha Washington didn't do it, then no one is sure it should be done.
—Paula Poundstone, social satirist with no political or marital ambitions whatsoever.
Excerpted from Wild Words from Wild Women by Autumn Stephens. Copyright © 1996 Autumn Stephens. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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