American author Anita Loos, a self-proclaimed cinematic elitist cavorted with Hollywood bigwigs such as John Emerson, Frances Marion, Douglas Fairbanks, and H.L. Mencken in the golden years of cinema. In her years working in the movies, she came upon a startling discovery: Men, even the smartest, most cynical and critical, generally prefer a blonde to a brunette.
In writing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which began as a series of sketches in Harper’s Bazaar, Loos broadened the terms “blonde” and “brunette” to describe the two types of women in the world; the smart and the beautiful.
Team Blonde was represented by Lorelei Lee, a fictional satire of a New York socialite hailing from Arkansas, the state Mencken called “the Sahara of the Beaux Arts.” Lee was based off of New York performer Mabel Minnow, a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies who had bewitched Mencken.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is written in Lee’s perspective as a personal diary. In it, she tells the reader of her travels, and her many many love affairs. By the time she gets to Paris, Lee is less afraid of being open about her main motivation: to procure as many expensive pieces of jewelry as possible.
The rhetoric of the book is hilarious. Lee’s perspective of the world and her quest for “education” unfolds and becomes more honest as the book progresses, or as she gets acquainted with writing.
An excellent study in American satire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes progresses feminist thinking by presenting an anti-feminist woman, comfortable with the ideas of dependence on men and abusing femininity to climb the ladder of success.
Read these quotes from the book, and when you’re in the mood for a fun, interesting, easy read pick up a copy of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
-“But the good thing about French gentlemen is that every time a French gentlemen starts to squeal, you can always stop him with five francs, no matter who he is.”
-“And Dorothy says that when we get to London nearly everybody speaks English anyway.”
-“I mean I seem to be thinking practically all of the time. I mean it is my favorite recreation and sometimes I sit for hours and do not seem to do anything else but think.”