“Ladies, never let anyone tell you you are past your prime,” actress Michelle Yeoh (楊紫瓊) told a rapt audience as she accepted her Oscar on Sunday.
She made history from a number of directions with the victory — the first woman from an Asian background to win Best Actress in 95 years, and only the second Asian lead even to be nominated.
The first was Merle Oberon in 1936, and there is no better barium meal into the bowels of Hollywood racism than Oberon’s life story, but give the place a break. Only 87 years later, it is fine not to be white.
However, on the age point, Yeoh was thought to be taking a wider swipe at culture as a whole, specifically referring to CNN anchor Don Lemon, who last month said that Republican US presidential candidate Nikki Haley was “past her prime.”
Challenged live on air, he sought to clarify his statement, saying: “A woman is in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.”
When that did not wash with his cohosts, he said that it was not according to him, and to Google it.
Lemon is said to have “sparked outrage,” but the phrase bugs me. It suggests that the response is intemperate, sudden, unforeseeable, labile.
That is just how it is with “woke armies.” One minute we are eating tofu and listening to Belle and Sebastian, the next we are choking on anger.
The response could easily have been foreseen.
“Prime” has no fixed meaning — which is to say that everyone knows it relates to some murky, “manosphere” combo of fertility, beauty and hip-to-waist ratio, but there will always be some dude with the brass neck to argue that what he is really talking about is competence or self-assurance.
Like all bigoted arguments everywhere, it makes its point — that it is OK to judge a woman professionally by whether or not you like looking at her — through the back door of bad faith.
I remember when that argument used to come in through the front door, when it was for example routine to explain English Queen Elizabeth I’s late-career challenges with the fact that she was no longer hot by 1601. Her inner circle did not fancy her any more. (Did you know the arsenic face cream had eaten through her teeth? Of course you did. That is the main thing we all knew) and so what else is a reasonable royal to do but revolt?
Exactly the same razor-sharp analysis was deployed to explain the demise of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
In my life, these two events — having to know about the Virgin Queen, watching the fall of the Iron Lady — coincided, so 1990 was a real eye-opener for me. I discovered just how many people who thought they were serious people in the world could not make any adjudication on a woman in the public sphere beyond whether or not they would hypothetically bang her.
There is a companion idea to the concept of a woman’s prime, which is that of knowing you are past it — aging gracefully. It’s basically a way of enforcing obsolescence via rules on the age at which at woman should stop wearing, saying, doing or drinking certain things, in the interests of her dignity.
Over the age of 20, she should not get falling-over drunk; over 30, she should not wear miniskirts or sleep around; over 40, no more spaghetti straps or, for that matter, spaghetti. That persisted well into the 2010s, when it was destroyed by a single humorist, Molly Hodgdon, who produced a list of 20 things “No Woman Should Wear Over 30,” which included “necklace made of human ears” and “police uniform that you stole from a police officer.”
I enjoyed Lemon’s moment so much that I did not want it to end, so I did Google it, but the results were inconclusive, which is to say that there is a user on Quora who thinks his wife is in her prime and she is 37, and nobody else is sure.
If you Google it today, of course, all you will find is magnificent Yeoh.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) founder Morris Chang (張忠謀) has repeatedly voiced concern over the weakening cost competitiveness of its US fabs and challenged the US’ “on-shore” policy of building domestic semiconductor capacity. Yet not once has the government said anything, even though the economy is highly dependent on the chip industry. In the US, the cost of operating a semiconductor factory is at least twice the amount required to operate one in Taiwan, rather than the 50 percent he had previously calculated, Chang said on Thursday last week at a forum arranged by CommonWealth Magazine. He said that he had
The Twenty-Four Histories (中國廿四史) is a collection of official Chinese dynastic histories from Records of the Grand Historian (史記) to the History of the Ming Dynasty (明史) that cover the time from the legendary Yellow Emperor (黃帝) to the Chongzhen Emperor (崇禎), the last Ming emperor. History is written by the victors. These histories are not merely records of the rise and fall of emperors, they also demonstrate the ways in which conquerors embellished their own achievements while deriding those of the conquered. The history written by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is no exception. The PRC presents its
In August 2013, Reuters reported that Beijing had been gaining soft power with investment commitments and trade with countries in Latin America. However, instead of jumping on the chance to make new allies, China stalled requests to establish diplomatic relations with the countries to avoid galling Taiwanese voters. Beijing was also courting then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), and the tactic left China with a trump card if cross-strait relations turned cool. China had rebuffed at least five countries’ requests to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing, the report said, quoting a China analyst. Honduras could become the ninth diplomatic ally, and also the fifth
The International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant issued on Friday last week for Russian President Vladimir Putin delighted Uighurs, as Putin’s today signals Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) tomorrow. The crimes committed by Xi are many times more serious than what Putin has been accused of. Putin has caused more than 8 million people to flee Ukraine. By imprisoning more than 3 million Uighurs in concentration camps and restricting the movement of more than 10 million Uighurs, Xi has not only denied them the opportunity to live humanely, but also the opportunity to escape oppression. The 8 million Ukrainians who fled