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Sometimes I’ll rewatch a film I’ve matured into like Alan J. Pakula’s 1971, dark thriller, Klute. It’s not that it was beyond my comprehension when I saw it the first time in the theater. But having seen it again, recently, I better understand the motivation of prostitute, Bree Daniels, and Jane Fonda’s Academy Award-winning portrayal of her.

Bree was light years ahead of me when it came to understanding men.

Bree realized men came to her for more than just sex. In many cases they wanted compassion. While she stayed arm’s length from her clients, it was her own loneliness and vulnerability that made her compassionate. That may sound like an odd choice of words to describe a prostitute. Actually it’s a Catch 22. Bree’s jaded, off-the-grid lifestyle isolated her, but it was what also enabled her to see into the dark lonely places inside the men she encountered and to better understand what they needed. 

In one brilliant scene Fonda shows us Bree’s intuitive sense of what her client—an elegant, lonely, older man—needed. Bree understood how to be relatable to a cultured, European businessman who, more than likely, preferred not see her as a prostitute. Bree, too, was cultured. She was skilled at turning her clients’s needs into erotic soundbites designed to make his time with her memorable.

“I love inhibitions, because they’re so nice to get rid of.”

The world has changed a lot since 1971 and Klute, especially with the relationships between men and women. During the last year our society has found itself in the midst of the #MeToo movement, and women are outing men who’ve sexually abused or offended them in some way. And in return men are scared of making any kind of move to get to know a woman or to hire her.

I’ve been sexually assaulted by men in power, so I’m not unsympathetic, but in many ways it seems the #MeToo movement has backfired on women. Whether it was intentional or not, today’s young women have put a fence around themselves and have alienated themselves from men and from jobs.

Tonight on the national news there was a story about a law requiring companies to have a quota of female employees and to bring women on their board of directors. At least Bree Daniels was selling something men weren’t afraid of, and she was setting the rules for what she was paid and how she would be treated.

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there are lots of young Bree Daniels on the scene, filling a need with “compassion” and the inherent, unthreatening understanding there will be no public outings or legal harassments.

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16 thoughts on “WHO’S OUTING WHO?”

  1. Here in Northern Ireland we have developed “positive discrimination” to the point of crippling industry and I think the #MeToo movement is creating the same issue – it found its way into the folk music world here earlier this year, putting the focus on women not getting their share of the work but does that mean a spontaneous music session cannot go ahead now without having equal numbers of boys and girls in the circle?!
    While I’m totally proud of the girls who stood up to be counted and who have outed the creeps, (and there’s a few more to be gotten rid of I think) we have to watch out that we stand up for the men too.

    • Hi Fil, “Positive discrimination… ” That’s an interesting way of phrasing it. Is that what it’s called there? I agree something has to be done about men who think they’re free to come on to men or women, but I don’t know what the answer is. I read a reason why men are so sexually aggressive, and it makes sense: It’s programmed into their DNA to “spread their seed” to continue the population. Therefore they’re indiscriminate about when and who they target. There are a lot of characteristics we can trace back to our DNA. Not to give them a free pass on this, because it’s unacceptable, but having been married to a scientist who talked about things like this a lot, I think there’s a lot to be said that sexual aggression is programed into men. A man at my church came on to me, Sunday. I was disgusted but his wife is a friend of mine… She had walked away and didn’t see what he did, and I didn’t want to cause a scene so I deflected it. Grrrr…. Thanks for your interesting input. I appreciate it. Brenda

  2. My favorite scene from “Klute” – the music, the dialogue, the dress, the hair! I was 27 that year, with a new baby and a husband flying over Viet Nam. I was also eight years “”gone” from a #MeToo moment with a lonely older man who was my boss in a trucking company. It was only a furtive hug and kiss, then he went to his desk and sobbed with apologies. That scene brings back those memories and makes me cry. When Al Franken was forced to leave the Senate I believed the movement had gone too far.

    • Thanks for your comment, Lynn. I find it thought provoking and wonder if a man would have that kind of regret, today… where he felt so bad about what he’d done that he actually cried and apologized then and there. I can seen how it’s still an emotional thought for you as well. Thank you for sharing. xoxox, Brenda

  3. I think the outcry against the Christmas song Baby It’s Cold Outside, crossed the line for me. Sexual assault or harassment is never ok. But crying wolf over a song? Are women too easily offended these days? Come on! Men are afraid to even flirt these days. I don’t know about you, but flirting is fun. The Frenchmen still flirt and I believe the women would have it no other way.

    • Great comment, Joanna! My dear friend, singer/songwriter Kat Edmonson, and her dear friend, Lyle Lovett sang “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as a duet on one of his albums. It’s a sweet song from a different era. The #MeToo movement went too far on that and totally turned me off. In an earlier comment Lynn said she thought the movement had gone too far when Al Franken was forced to leave the Senate… While I wasn’t sorry to see him go, I thought it was too faced. The Senate has always had a large “fund” specifically to pay off accusers to stay quiet. In Franken’s case perhaps his fellow Senators weren’t sorry to sacrifice him to the movement and get rid of him, but who knows? And yes… It’s a shame men and women have this fear now… no flirting. It seems as thought the Bill Cosby case might have kicked this off, but Cosby’s a very different animal from most of the others. Thank you for adding to this discussion, Brenda

  4. I remember those days too well. But, I was never shy about putting any man in his place if he crossed a line. Growing up with a mother who could have been a prostitute if she’d been smart enough to charge, I’d seen too much before I ever hit my teens. I knew early on how to protect myself and to avoid the gropers. The new ‘movement’ is not a bad thing at all but, it is often taking the pendulum too far. The younger women/girls in this movement need to understand it is totally all right to grab back and to let them know that means NO.
    Seems like we’re coming full circle.

    • Barbara, I remember some of your history with your mother; situations and things a young girl shouldn’t be subjected to.. The movement isn’t a bad thing at all. Men should be put on notice it’s a different day, and we’re not going to put up with it, but ruining a guy’s life over it in such a public way… That’s not something I’d be comfortable doing. It was the early 90’s and my attorney brought an investment banker from out of town to my home to talk to me about funding a company I was running. The attorney left, the banker and I continued to talk with the understanding I would take him to the airport when we were finished, but when we got to my front door, he pinned me against the door. Without hesitation I opened the door and said, “There’s an Exxon station down the road. I’m sure you can call a cab from there,” then pushed him out the door and closed it in his face. That felt good!! xoxox, Brenda

  5. It is simply too soon to declare this movement anything other than a vast change. That’s like trying to determine the effects of a car crash while the glass is shattering and the crunch of metal on metal still sounds in our ears. There will be unnecessary peripheral damage but it’s unavoidable. To understand the true ramifications, we have to step back and wait.

    The film looks intriguing. Never saw it. Must watch! Looks like beautiful cinematography. Not sure about the music though — I keep imagining the scene without the music and it takes on a sillier tone.

  6. Hi Mithra, I think the music is key to this scene. The older man chose the music, so that tells us a lot about him. It sets the stage and tone that allows us to know a bit about him, European, old school, and there’s nothing silly about Bree. She’s telling him sexual fantasies that would resonate with him, allow him to see himself with her on the beach in Cannes. He didn’t have the little blue pill so perhaps instead of getting him into bed, right away, she worked up to it. A good friend of mine was a madam, a high class call girl, like Bree, with lots of famous clients. From the moment she walked in the door, she was “on… ” Playing a role. Men don’t want Jane Doe to walk in and all of a sudden become this different person. They’re expecting something erotic. “Telling” them fantasies and acting it out in front of them, like Bree, was what my friend did frequently. Oh… the things I learned from this girl…………… I should teach a class! xoxox, Brenda

  7. I work as a personal trainer and many of my clients are older men. They may verbally say things to test me, I learned to just change the subject, or give an exercise that left them breathless! I never forget, they are men, and work with that in my mind. I often say, “ I work in a gym” as an icebreaker, that tells them I understand men, as well as women. No manuals on psychology in a gym, you just learn as you go.

    • Eileen, I can imagine you’ve heard a lot of things as a personal trainer and have gotten very savvy, yet diplomatic, about handling it. I get massages from a female masseuse and she encounters the same thing. That must get “old,” but men will be men. It’s in their DNA. It’s good you realize that and nip it in the bud. Thanks for the awesome comment, Brenda

  8. Maybe at 68, I look at things differently. I agree that the Bill Cosby’s and Harvey Weinsteins of this world need put away but when it gets to the point that no one can flirt things have gone too far. I have been in awkward positions between husband and wife before but I managed to get myself out without being traumatized. Sometimes I put myself in bad positions by my own decisions. I feel that ppl take no responsibility for their own actions. I agree women should be able to wear anything at any time but on the other hand, if you are half naked and over-served at 3 am you bear some responsibility. Just my thoughts.

    • Victoria, You and I are the same age and of the same opinion about this. Younger women are more… shall we say “militant,” but then I think they hear a different rhetoric in their schools and growing up… about everything. I’m all for equal rights and standing up for ourselves–and I have, numerous times, but I didn’t turn it into a public incident–but in some of these situations younger women have gone too far and that includes dressing. I don’t understand why women want to dress half naked other than they want the attention. Last night I looked at all the Kardashian women on a fashion site aimed at Millennials. The site was complementing them for wearing nothing underneath a thin, crystal studded dress, or in Kim’s case of being naked underneath and holding the long, see through gown “closed” with just her hands. They are the antithesis of class. Thank you for your awesome comment, Brenda

    • Michele, I spent the Christmas holidays with four 30 something men and their families. Men are not just afraid of women these days, they’re angry, don’t trust them and resent them on so many levels. Young women don’t want to hear it’s coded into men’s DNA on a primal level to spread their seed so the species continues. That’s not giving me a free pass, but it is some valid insight into why they are the way they are. We wouldn’t get angry because the lion and tigers in the jungle come after us… They see us as weak prey and a food source. It’s in their DNA. Thanks, Michele! Brenda

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