Lady Chatterley’s Lover: A Saucy Romp Through Unexamined Prejudice

18 02 2011

First things first, yeah. I am the last human being on earth to criticise anyone for objectifying Northern dudes, yeah? Cause thanks to Jarvis Cocker existing in my formative years,that is like basically all I do. Though obvs Mellors isn’t even Northern because he is from Nottingham, which is in the Midlands and not the North, no matter what a million Lawrence critics and anyone from Nottingham who doesn’t want to be lumped in with Brummies tells you, it is just not the North. And no-one has ever tried to eroticise the midlands as the midlands; it cannot be done.

Northern or not, yeah, fair enough, if I lived in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do all day than talk to a grumpy pretentious bumface about plays, I would certainly be out there in the woodshed giving it to him every which way. But he’s still a total arse. It is the mysterious way of lurve however that hitting that often results in for some reason tolerating the batshit offensive opinions of that, and before you know it you’re up the duff and have left your minted husband and are living in some crappy bedsit receiving waffley letters from that. Living the dream.

Apparently no-one told Clifford that there is still totes sextimes you can has even if your bits aren’t fully functioning. But then that’s probably because THE CLITORIS IS EVIL. Seriously. And now that you can’t bum a lady against her will you’ve got nothing to live for. She loves it really. I mean, she actually does because D.H. Lawrence writes it so that contrary to all physical and emotional probability bumrape is great. Although you may have to read that (back) passage a few times before you even realise bumtimes are happening, because it sounds more like she is on acid and/or having an out of body experience. Anyway, conveniently it doesn’t really matter that Clifford is crippled for life, cause he was never that into doing it anyway, and so he isn’t really a human being cause wanting to do it to ladies is the only thing that matters, and it’s not like disabled people have proper feelings and that. Let’s just consider him a clunky trope with a face.

Lawrence makes it sound like it is a moral failing for a lady not to come from the mighty powers of cock alone. Apparently ladies do this intentionally in order to piss off the men by having power over them, because not having enjoyed sex makes you powerful. Yes it does. You might think it just makes you frustrated or feel bad, but no, it is totes powertimes. Unlike men ladies have the ability to choose whether they want to have an orgasm or not, and obviously they decide not to in order to control poor old men who can’t help it because they are no better than animals. But being an animal is a good thing whereas being a cold frigid evil woman is bad. With me so far? I’m not sure if I am. But it gets better, because it turns out that even though you might think that a lady enjoying sex is a Good Thing because it means she isn’t using her amazing not enjoying sex powers to ruin everything for men, that’s ALSO bad, because of reasons. Like, er.. ummmrhhrumfsh. Yeah that one. Therefore Mellors’s wife is a terrible evil harlot because she wants to have actually enjoyable sex with him. What a bitch. And it is all the fault of her “beak” which is what Lawrence brilliantly calls her clitoris. She does this on purpose to hurt him because she for totes hates him because obviously wanting to have sex with your own husband and expecting him to be ok with you enjoying it is the work of satan himself. YOU WILL ORGASM WOMAN FROM MY MIGHTY COCK BUT ONLY WHEN AND HOW I TELL YOU TO AND IN NO OTHER WAY.

Speaking of Lawrence’s brilliant use of words, I really think someone should have given him a thesaurus for Christmas. I mean, he published three editions of it, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that each time he changed it he went through with big red pen circling the synonyms and taking them out. I have lost count of the times he uses the phrase “bitch-goddess Success”. OVER AND OVER. And in case you don’t want to punch him enough from first of all that being an embarrassingly clunky and self-satisfied (and let’s not forget: misogynistic! Never forget that!) I am pretty sure he stole the phrase off of Waugh anyway. The whole thing is rife with that sort of drawling clever-clever “smart” ’20s slang that makes it sound like it was narrated by a yammering toff at a cocktail party, which is just jarringly discordant with all the yokel-y tomfoolery you get from Mellors, who’s two parts pompous windbag to one part borderline-tourettes like some sort of ‘offensive uncle who backs you into a corner at wedding receptions’ cocktail.

Even the ‘rolling about in brambles’ mad love of nature bits are hypocritical and exploitative, because it’s not nature as of itself, it’s nature that is cultivated, used for livestock, and turned into gardens that resemble an untouched landscape but aren’t; it functions as basically just a bulwark against the masses who have the temerity to want to earn money and enjoy themselves and go to the cinema. Given that Mellors is supposed to be some sort of working class hero or at least a symbol for the working classes in popular imagination, he has got some pretty serious contempt for his own kind.

Richard Hoggart just called, he reckons you’ve got a lot to talk about.

It’s not Lawrence’s fault that people are stupid, I suppose, or that the popular perception of books tends to smooth out nuance. As a result a lot of people have wasted time arguing with what the see as the Smutty Snigger school of interpretation. In doing this they’re all like “no, it’s about freedom and selfhood and earthy sensuality and that”, which to me seems to be just as much missing the point. Just cause a novel has sex in that doesn’t make it a novel about sex. Hell, think about real life, how many times have you had actual sex without it being about sex?

(Or maybe that’s just me. Er.)

Ignore both the people who think this book is all sex and the people who think it’s liberating and earthy and made the 60s happen. It’s just some badly written twats being twats to each other in the middle of nowhere and trying to control each other, and for the ones that are woman its pretty much the suck, blah blah.

Which is kind of what Wuthering Heights does except at least everyone’s dramatically a twat in that.

Living in the middle of nowhere: it is dangerous to your taste in men and your ability to make decisions that wont be terrible. I know this to be fact.




11 responses

18 02 2011
Tweets that mention Lady Chatterley’s Lover: A Saucy Romp Through Unexamined Prejudice « Burn Your Books --

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alex Herod and Jess Haigh, Het. Het said: Book rant. Correctly pasted this time. […]

18 02 2011

I don’t understand this. What is this? The internet is confusing. I may have to go back to writing rants on parchment with a quill pen.

18 02 2011

Het, the thing above means someone linked to your post in a post of theirs. It’s not an actual comment.
This is brilliant. I always feel bad because I really can’t stand DH Lawrence. Also, Nottingham is NOT the North speaking as an actual Northerner who moved to Nottingham and now lives about as far South as you get.

18 02 2011

I feel like a doddery old lady having the telly remote explained to her.

Don’t feel bad, I am deeply suspicious of those who can.

18 02 2011
Ms Belsey

Thank you so much for this! I just read LCL myself and my review went like this:

“What an absolutely horrendous book. No, not the dirty words or the sexual content–the overwhelming unexamined misogyny, classism, and racism–not to mention the general poor writing. People protesting this book were protesting the wrong things.”

So I’m glad someone else agrees (and does so entertainingly and at length!).

18 02 2011

For further assenters might I suggest this:

I do not agree with all of it, obvs, and also the whole Is Stephen Fry A Big Sexist Or Was It A Malicious Misquote Or Something Oh God It Just Goes On And On thinger is for props boring now.

18 02 2011

I knew there was going to be a reference to Wuthering Heights at the end!

Funny how some of the classic books about women’s feelings and sexuality (anything by Lawrence, also Portrait of a Lady etc) were written by men and were so hideously off the mark. Even if you get five totally different women to write about their own you could never hope to represent all the variety and complexity out there, so what on earth possessed one sexist man to attempt it?

[we won a copy of Women in Love in a pub quiz once. We rewrote the ending (whilst drunk) then donated it to the library on the way home by pushing it through their letterbox. Make of THAT what you will, library staff!]

18 02 2011

Ah, but you see as a sexist man he knows everything about everything, and the bits he doesn’t know about don’t matter anyway cause they are just about women and thus unimportant.

Mind you, there are plenty of women internalising sexism, and you and I and probably everyone we know are among them to some extent thanks to the Manocentric Manocracy shaping our minds and ting. SIGH.

[That is brilliant, I think that might legally make you a genius. Or a siutuationist, anyway. Did you hear about Joe Orton’s brush with the law over library book crimes? If not, it is here, and you and he are kindred spirits:

18 02 2011


19 05 2011

it will please you to learn that the people of Eastwood genuinely thought DH Lawrence to be such a massive tool that they refused to have a museum there for years and years. they have one now though. it’s shit.

just seen this blog for the first time and it’s made my life considerably better

13 07 2011

Both of these things please me immensely.

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