Once, I read this romance novel (not literally once; I've probably read thousands), and because it was a Harlequin Presents, the hero and heroine were English (maybe not the hero. Apparently, while white English women are teh shit, the white English men are all bland and blond and boring. No, the hero was probably Italian. Or Greek. Or some "exotic other." But I digress.)
The heroine had a really hard life (her parents had done one of the standard Ds necessary in the line--Died, Disowned her, or Distanced themselves), as hard as it can be for the 21 years that you're gorgeous and brilliant until you meet your BILLIONAIRE husband (speaking of which, I don't read the Presents line anymore, but as I pass the titles, I am amazed by how many BILLIONAIRES there are in the world. And virgins. And sheikhs. But I digress). Because her life had been so hard, the hero, who back then was probably only a meager millionaire, revealed his love (after being a complete asshole out to ruin her for 180 pages) by telling her something like, "If I could, I would wrap you in cotton wool and ease all your pain."
And, being the ignorant American, I thought, "What the hell is cotton wool? (And fortnight. And gaol. But I digress). When I realized it was just cotton, I thought, "Ohhhh. How sweet."
That phrase has stuck with me since I was a teengager. The feminist in me balks at it--another attempt to pedestal-ize and "protect." But, part of me can't help loving the sentiment and that tenderness implied in the statement (even if it is a sentiment and tenderness predicated on the concept that this is a "hard, cold" world for women). And sometimes, I feel that way about people.
See, this isn't just a sarcastic explanation about why I no longer read that particular line. It is a response to these posts by Bint and Kactus. These are strong, smart, wonderful women whom I respect. When I hear of their suffering, I think about that phrase.
The cotton wool seems impractical, but I hope they know they are wrapped in love, respect, and admiration. And I hope it does ease the pain.