Saturday, October 04, 2008

Hell hath no fury...


Let me start. With her breathless "tell-all" book, released at a point in the campaign calculated to do maximum damage to the fellow who threw her over, Julie Couillard is doing what she does best: making money through her association with affluent and powerful men.
She's a jaw-dropping looker, she knows it, and she uses every voluptuous inch of it.

There are words, kind and unkind, to describe such a woman. What I need to establish, though, right at the start, is that I'm not making any kind of moral judgement here. For the record, I have no difficulty whatsoever with courtesans, mistresses, sex-trade workers and other folks on the distaff side who use their physical charms to extract advantage or pelf. A lot of other people do just that, both women and men.

Take, for example, the leadership issue (about which, I frankly confess, I'm a little obsessed). The bearing and physical attributes of a male leader are a subject of constant comment in both the peanut and press galleries. Whether it's Layton's moustache, Harper's hair (mea culpa), a kinder, gentler Mussolini in a sweater-vest, or Dion's gangliness, this stuff counts bigtime. Never mind the issues, which, for far too many folks, are plain boring. They'll vote on looks alone.

We are told by Couillard that Maxime Bernier was relieved to have her as a girlfriend (God, I hate that word being applied to anyone over 19) because people were beginning to think he was gay. This is just one of many things she has to say about him, and frankly I don't put a whole lot of weight on any of it. From my perspective, the man was an empty suit with
matinée-idol looks. He had great leadership potential.

But Couillard, hanging around the tough guys, the connected guys, the powerful guys, and doing OK by it over the years, is not the victim here. In fact, there are no victims that I can see anywhere. A Con investigation did try to blame her for the Cabinet document fiasco, and Bernier didn't utter a word in her defence, but no one really took any of that seriously, and no charges have been laid.

Now we have The Book. She'll no doubt rake in some serious bucks from this shameless, money-grubbing oeuvre, and may even bring down her heel of a boyfriend--a possible two-fer. Bravo.

We live in a society in which people, not just goods and services, are commoditized: friendliness ("Hello, I'm your waiter, Irving"), sex, emotions. There's a price-tag on everything--after all, this is late modern capitalism. Born into such a world, we do what we do to get by. And that involves selling ourselves, literally or figuratively (figuratively, hell). And women, in particular, are at once encouraged and condemned when they enter that market in rather too-obvious ways.

So in some respects I do have sympathy for the jilted Julie. But this bit of gossip-porn is a classic act of petulance and mean-spiritedness that diminishes her. Onto the best-seller list it will go, though, because a thoroughly conditioned public is encouraged to consider character defects well worth paying for, if oiled with a little salaciousness--check out the supermarket tabloids. Julie and her book are just more of the same. If Bernier drops on October 14, maybe we can anticipate a counter-book, the "he said" to go with her "she said."

I can't wait--can you?

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