Letters to relationships expert Dr. Sterling pertaining his artist

Dear Dr. Sterling,

I have a complaint about your advice column, but it’s not about your advice specifically. In fact, I was delighted by your response to my letter on how I should deal with my husband [see Issue 8, 2016]. I was afraid our problems would lead to the dissolution of an unhappy marriage, but ever since I began to act the compliant, chirpy wife, per your suggestion, we not only get along better, but we make decisions faster. No, my complaint is about the artwork you feature inside your column, which I don’t feel reflect the tone of your advice. You may need to speak to your artist, one Ms. Josie Aurelio, about her art direction. For example, in your response to my letter, Ms. Aurelio created a collage cut from magazines depicting a nude Barbie doll in a wheelchair, her head cut open with a pink, gummy brain floating above her. Jumper cables connect the brain to a 2017 Jeep Wrangler (cut from some Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ad), in the driver’s seat of which sits a nude Ken doll, who I can only infer is revving the engine. I found this image to be disturbing and insulting and possibly misandristic. Would you have a talk with the young lady?

Sincerely,
Victoria Greene


Dear Dr. Sterling

Again, I have good and bad news. The good news is that my husband and I have taken to reading your column together, which has immensely increased our compatibility in the household and the bedroom. Who knew that he sought a quiet and submissive wife on which to complete his manly desires? You did, of course, and our success is due to some combination of your benign male authority, with its calm, confident timbre, and your very practical counsel. Just the other day we read your reply to Ms. Harris in Emmetsburg, IA, [see Issue 11, 2016] in which you described how women throw curveball after curveball, leading to increased stress and imbalance, and my husband and I recognized (together!) how I fit the bill. We tried your list of tips, including being forthcoming with information, communicating plans for the future, and eliminating all my female friends, and it’s worked wonders in re-establishing harmony between us. The bad news is that you continue to include disgusting "art" in your column. Of course, the abstract nature of Ms. Aurelio’s work is open to interpretation, but I can’t imagine how else I am to interpret assembled magazine clippings which depict a man in business attire reading a newspaper on a train, with a golden skeleton key hanging by a twine cord around his neck, while beside him his “wife,” actually a detached female genital locked in a bird cage, drones on and on, represented by a dialogue balloon containing childish scribbles done in ink pen. Another dialogue balloon stretches to the man’s mouth, inside of which reads: “Uh huh, that’s great, dear.” Underneath this is the caption: “We’re Back On Track.” How else am I to interpret this than a rude “take-that” at the supposed flippancy and domination of the male gender – a caricature which fails to depict the kindness, importance, and security that men bring to us? – a caricature that also fails to portray a woman’s uses outside of sex, such as home improvement and children? Marriage is not sexual prison, Dr. Sterling. I would come to your office to speak to this young lady, but my husband needs the car for work.

In devotion,
Victoria Greene
 

Dear Dr. Sterling,

I continue to be thrilled and confused by your column. Is there some peculiar reason why Ms. Aurelio remains under your employ? Is she friend of the Editor, or daughter of the owner? Is she some celebrity (I don’t know my modern artists), or did you accidentally sign a contract for x amount of years? Are high costs, declining readership, or other desperation causing you to take terrible measures? Because I refuse to believe you have remained ignorant of how your artist, Ms. Josie Aurelio, consistently undermines every mote of your advice. You continue to publish my letters. Therefore, you must read and find something of merit within them. And yet you continue publishing Ms. Aurelio’s anti-male perversions. Why, since my last letter [see Issue 13, 2016], you have printed three separate images depicting female genitalia lying on the side of a freeway while it's picked apart by dick-shaped vultures. Three! By a piece on how Social Darwinism accounts for the male-female hierarchy, images of a rotund, balding male devolving into excrement. In another, on how women are naturally over-anxious (I thought it a stroke of genius the bit on how we should say, “Sorry I’m bothering you” three times daily), a horrible gym full of women carving the meat off their bones. In an another, responding to a father upset at his son’s transsexuality, multiple hands tear the skin off of a crying woman's face. In Issue 19, she included some of your own writing in her art, which depicted Marilyn Monroe biting into a burger whose beef patty has been replaced by a grenade, the sauce on her chin forming the words: "Always date girls with an eating disorder." I remain your faithful reader, and only yours.

Sorry I'm bothering you,
Victoria Greene


Dear Dr. Sterling,

I thought you’d finally taken my advice to heart when in Issue 21 Ms. Aurelio painted (a painting and not a Dave McKean assemblage!) a grandmother knitting a wool scarf. The piece had a nice repose of whites and blues (the zaffre of her blouse, the bleached-bone of her hair, the midnight of her scarf, the ivory-peach of her skin) and I thought all was good in the world. That is, until I noticed that the elderly woman was using her husband’s penis as a pin-cushion. The caption read: "Liberación."

Sorry for bothering you. Sorry for bothering you. Sorry for bothering you,
Victoria Greene


Dear Dr. Sterling,

ARE YOU SERIOUS, DR. STERLING? Why am I the only person in the world who understands that you cannot have a proper advice column on proper relationships between proper men and proper women if your every argument is undermined by postmodern feminist propaganda!

Let me go ahead and describe my day, and if you end up publishing this letter [We did! - Ed], maybe my careful articulation of these events will finally break through the sinful haze in which I suspect your editors are lost. When I spotted your magazine on my doorstep this morning, I almost couldn't breathe as I opened its crisp, cut pages to your column. I was having heart palpitations just thinking about whether or not Ms. Aurelio continued her campaign of feminist terror. Yet lo and behold, I found regimented black-and-white letters, including one of my own creations [see Issue 23], like little black rocks jutting from a clean, white snow, and not a drop of perversion! No child with a black-eye and the words "still a virgin." No bimbo blowing up her boobs with an air pump. No housewife staring into a mirror and seeing a clothes iron staring back. No wife making a sandwich using sausage links that squeeze out of her own stomach. With a squeal quite natural to my species, I took the paper to my dear husband, who patted my head fondly and commended my letter campaign, which he says is "the mark of a strong woman, and strong women make strong babies."

I noticed the centerfold not long after. My hands shaking like when I take my daily chardonnay and Xanax, and with a flare of trepidation that squirmed through me like ice, I unfolded the poster to reveal another Aurelio puke-pastiche. I nearly puked myself, and I describe the contained image only so the casual reader, and the editors of your magazine, and YOU PERHAPS, might share my repugnance.

On a three-page papier collé is Aurelio's pornographic and toxic signature  an exhibition, of course, of female bodies, naturally. The image is of several women engaged in a lewd sexual act, in a line, on hands and knees, their faces embedded in each other's rears, in the fashion of dogs-in-greeting. The first woman, however, is in fellatio with a young, endowed sailor, and if it's not just my imagination, the sailor's donations are leaking unceremoniously out of the last participant, implying travel from girl to girl through interlocking digestions. On closer inspection, I have noted that all of the women's faces are my own, pulled from Facebook or some outlet!

But on to the most surprising part! Above and below my likeness is a text, cut-and-pasted by the artist in a ramshackle Ransom Letter font like the sort you see in Calvin & Hobbes. The text reads: "Men are more affectionate when they have their egos stroked," which is actually not terrible advice, and is something I will have to try with my husband.

Keep it up!
Victoria Greene