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Aphrodite's got some issues

Feb 14, 2013 - By Clair McFarland

And they are painfully apparent on Valentine's Day

It had occurred to me to write about St. Valentine's legacy, and how it pertains to the festivities of today, but, after some reflection, I realized that our culture doesn't celebrate St. Valentine today, but Aphrodite instead.

Yes, the music and television icons with whom we are enamored are actually Aphrodite on full display: the romantic-love goddess of Greek mythology.

(And if you don't think Americans are into idolatry, just ask the 18 million "American Idol" viewers. Har, har.)

So how do we know this?

When we listen to country music, Aphrodite is forever dancing on tailgates, she has a preference for cheap whiskey, and she's turned her best pair of jeans into cutoffs.

The poor dear. It gets worse...

When we listen to rap, she's chillin' in da club, or wobblin,' as it were. People call her "shorty," though she's not short, and "boo," though she's not scary. She's also subject to constant booty scrutiny within this genre. Sometimes she gets tired of this and just wants to say "my heavy-duty-lacquer-encrusted eyes are up HERE!"

When we listen to rock, she's got issues. She's mad at her dad (which doesn't make sense to the Greeks, because her dad was the sky), she's in the erotic dance business, she's just in your head, she's got terrible taste in clothing, and you can't stand to look at her now. She's fast, she's thorough, she's sharp as a tack...

When we watch movies, she's riding fast motorcycles with her bosom exposed. We fear she gets cold while doing this. She's also curving that bullet and beating up the bad guys while wearing high heels.

The Aphrodite of today is more ubiquitous than food, which is saying a lot here in America. She's as pretty as Megan Fox, as fierce as Angelina Jolie, and as loud as Carrie Underwood. She is the heroine of entertainment carried to a level of excess that leaves nearly every music and movie patron guilty of surfeit. For men, she is a symbol of overindulgence in fantasy. For women, she is a symbol of unfulfilled self-expectations -- a sort of alcohol for the ego.

In the scope of our relationships, this figure has significant influence. She's driving women to a strange intersection of both narcissism and self-loathing. We ask ourselves, "why does her man worship the ground on which she walks, and mine merely shares the ground on which I walk?"

We carry a sense of entitlement, a sense of incompletion, deep in our hearts, when we grant Aphrodite space in our lives. Aphrodite, if she were more than a mindless figure whose blouse-buttons grow loose in strenuous situations, would want us to think that our situations are unfair. She would want us to believe ourselves capable of reaching goddess status in our respective relationships.

As for men, the effects are obvious. Aphrodite is a distraction. No big deal, you say. This she-columnist ought to know that men need their girlie images. And yet, I keep wondering what good a Megan Fox really does anyone, besides the man to whom she actually belongs.

Can she cook you dinner, can she help you get a promotion, can she dish out a good debate? Or, if we shift back a few generations, into a more absolute realm of Aphrodite-ism, let's consider Marilyn Monroe. The only talent she carried to its full potential was her ability to be beautiful. She wowed millions of women, distracted millions of men, but, ultimately, finding herself mortally idle, destroyed herself.

That's a little dark for a Valentine's column, you say, and you're right.

So today, instead of trying to make your girl feel like a deity, simply admire what she really is. She whistles your favorite song, or she always misses the same spot while mopping, or she wears a different perfume because it's Valentine's Day. How pretty is that?

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