I really should love Portrait of a Lady. A near-smothered rose, barley hanging on under a ton of peppery incense and patchouli. The darkest rose scent that I’ve encountered that I still consider being rose-centric and not something else. So, what’s the issue here?
The problem starts with the name, especially the ”Lady”-part of the name. To me, a ”Lady” is a woman who gains appreciation because she fits into the slot society has given her and abides the rules of a patriarchal world. (I know that Portrait of a Lady is a novel by Henry James that might or might not have anything to do with this. I have not read it, therefore this post is not a discussion of the novel, only of my own thoughts and experiences while wearing the scent with the same name.)
As I’ve always only worked in male dominated work places, fitting in into ”male” surroundings is a topic I’ve thought much about. ”Men” are, of course, a very large group of people to generalize about, just as women they come in every size and flavor, ranging from lovely to vile. But in every workplace of mine, there has been a certain type of male character present which I very much doubt that men in female dominated workplaces encounter. It’s the guy who thinks that womens only role in society is to sit around, smile, nod and look at them approvingly.
What’s interesting is that I don’t think these guys themselves understand that they’re that guy themselves. They all for women being in the workplace, getting great positions and equal wages, but they are so busy projecting their mother on whoever they meet (or whatever their issue is) that they just can’t process anything a woman says or does (as long as it isn’t clearly an expression of big eyed admiration).
I have no definite answer on how to tackle these guys, but there are different strategies. One way is to play along, dole out fake smile here and there, be gentle and accommodating. In exchange you’ll get help around the workplace and a great reputation of being such a nice lady that everyone wants to be friends with. It will only cost you your soul.
The alternate way is to to talk to them and explain your point of view, that you’re a person of your own and not happy to be shoved into the mold they’ve allotted you. When they don’t understand, explain again and again, louder. Be prepared that it will take a lot of explanations until the penny drops and that you will be called things like ”an annoying bitch” or worse behind your back until (if ever) that happens.
I’ve tried both paths. When I was younger, my greatest aim was to fit in, so I tried very hard to do just that. Nowadays I’m proud to announce that I more and more take the second approach and serve up the red pill, weather these guys are ready or not.
And what does this have to do with ”Portrait of a Lady”? Well, nothing, except that this very issue is what keeps popping up into my head when I wear the scent. I keep remembering all the times when I took the ”Lady”-path, when I depleted my soul in order for those guys to feel their delusions about how the World is working. It makes me sick to my stomach and SO FUCKING ANGRY. I both hate those guys and I hate myself for being so stupid. That poor scent, bringing on all this rage. Why on earth couldn’t Fredric Malle call ”Portrait of a Lady” something like ”Obsession”, ”Divinity” or even ”Rose Noir”?
Anyone else having a similar reaction to a perfume? Or thoughts on Portrait of a Lady or ladies in general? I’d love to hear!
Image: Nicole Kidman starring in the Portrait of a Lady movie.