Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tweaking The Female Id

The scandalous career of the artful "Swiss Gigolo" has come to an end:

The 44-year-old wined and dined a string of rich wives and widows, including Germany's wealthiest woman Mrs Klatten, winning their confidence and then asking for money. If they refused, he threatened to blackmail them with secretly filmed footage of their encounters in hotel rooms around Europe

Shocking! But not really. Furtive middle aged love affairs are often the silliest for their piquancy and betrayals.

Sgarbi, who was nicknamed 'James Bond' by some of his conquests for his good looks and smooth-talking charm, is also accused of conning three other women out of £2.2 million. Sgarbi, who told his wealthy conquests he was a "special Swiss representative in crisis zones" according to the charges against him, now faces the prospect of up to 10 years in prison.

Perhaps these women had an inexpressible yearning in their "crisis zones"that only "James Bond" (aaauuugh!) could lance. You know, my default position is that women are smarter and more capable than men, but these ladies are making me look bad.

The Swiss Gigolo's greatest conquest was Frau Klatten, the middle aged heir of the BMW fortune, but she was also his downfall. She was the only one of his conquests who overcame her thralldom to testify against him.

At first the married mother-of-three spurned Sgarbi's advances but began an affair when the smooth-talking Sgarbi turned up unexpectedly in the south of France where she was on holiday the following month.

Later in August 2007 they met in a Holiday Inn hotel in Munich – where Klatten believed she would not run the risk of bumping into any acquaintances – for an "intimate" encounter that Sgarbi secretly filmed, according to the charges.

Hmmm. That almost could have been written by Turgenev! Or maybe Danielle Steele. "My head said, 'No! No!" but my heart said 'Yes! Yess! Yesss!!'

On a slightly more serious note, this story is interesting for offering a rare, indirect look into the female id. Society is quite comfortable with discussing, deconstructing, and (of course) mocking the travails of the male id. But the deepest, primal desires of women are an undiscovered country, despite the millions of words spilt each year purporting to explore the subject. 

Feminists and "women's studies" scholars often repeat the cliche' that society's famed double standard regarding female desire arises from "fear of female sexuality." Actually, I think it's the opposite. Women, themselves, fear their OWN sexuality because - at it's most unbridled - it can lead them into the arms of their own "Swiss Gigolo," and then betrayal and public humiliation. 

The female id, however, does not relate solely to a woman's sexuality. That is relatively easy for her to understand, rationalize, and grapple with. Her id is much murkier. It is that dark primal part of her that causes her to completely lose herself in a man; to become so subsumed in him that her very identity and sense of self-preservation becomes lost in the nearly frenzied quest to give herself over to the pleasures of her lover's arms. No woman will admit to this, of course. But all women have seen it, either in a friend, a sister, or perhaps even themselves.

At this level, it really doesn't matter if you are a Bavarian milkmaid in the 18th century or the richest woman in Germany in the 21st. And that is the thing women fear: that their desires will betray them so that they are no longer a powerful Modern Woman, but merely Woman as She once was, and always will be. 

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