Thursday, November 28, 2002

What the hell is WRONG with women?

Chekhov's View?

Ivanov treats Sarah like crap

Sarah loves him anyway

SVIETLOVIDOFF can't get chicks

A social explanation for why some women might be doormats

Tons of Chekhov stories online

Reading a certain blog prompted some thoughts about niceness and men. The blogger says: "I never have good luck with women because they all want the fun, dangerous, interesting guy. They want the law-breaker, the pot-smoker, the wife-beater." Sorry...I'm not going to give the link because I don't want to make the guy feel bad and PRAY he never stumbles across this little essay.

Hmmm. I cannot speak for all women but this is far from the first time I've heard such sentiments expressed. It's like the 10,000th time. It rarely goes unchallenged for some reason even though it is deeply confused.

I think the unnamed blogger is making a kind of 'category mistake.' He seems to think women want the law-breaker, potsmoker, wife beater qua law-breaker, pot-smoker, wife-beater. (We'll just leave the idea about whether smoking pot is a vice to one side.) I think he is trying to explain a real phenomenon: Why do women end up with someone who is not good. More than not good--cruel, vicious, selfish, self-destructive, stupid...and sometimes (although not always) not even all that physically attractive? His explanation is rather troubling since it suggests that men who have no luck with women must do the foolish thing of treating women kindly, generously and with complete respect.

Of course, a man who believed this could not completely respect women since he is compelled by an explanation that is extraordinarily dismissive of women and really suspects them of something pretty base. Since other explanations are available (e.g.: Perhaps some men successfully trick and manipulate women? Perhaps some of them are even kept in a relationship through fear and violence? Perhaps these women are not aware of the man's vices and will leave him when they become aware?) yet he opts for the one that is the most suspicious of women.

So already I'd say: Are you a 'nice' guy? And do you think women don't like you because you are nice? And does this bother you? My friend, look inside because if you think that then what you are doing is acting nice without truly wanting to. You think we don't notice the niceness lies only in the realm of action and not in the realm of feeling? This belief merely reveals that you are restraining yourself from quite a few un-nice things. And it's getting to be a bit of a burden for you. You look at others who don't restrain themselves and rather than feel disgusted and appalled at their cruelty you feel envy.

The idea that women will always turn away from a man if he treats her with love, compassion, respect is absurdly false for many reasons but I'd like to explain some of them here.

(On the contrary: The man who desires women but whose desire is informed with knowledge...who identifies with women--has lots of older sisters, e.g. always gets plenty of chicks.)

(Again--generalizations about anything as complex as a human being are impossible. But don't fall back on the simple explanation that women want to be mistreated through masochism alone. E.g., the 'Belle Du Jour' exception. She wasn't looking for mistreatment for its own sake. She was also looking for freedom from the oppression of being loved for what she was not. Her husband's love erases her with its pedastal building. She doesn't know who she is, but she knows she is not worthy of that. So she does something else instead...OK, she becomes a prostitute and gets into S&M but I still say it's not as simple as it looks!)

(Special note to Zarathustra: I'm imagining what you are going to say in my head already and already want to sock you! I challenge you to say something devastatingly brilliant and not just some kinda pimpin' thing. But I'll leave the brilliance to you.)

First of all I do want to say that the nice man who is acting merely from self-restraint while the resentment at his lack of power builds up inside just isn't all that attractive. It isn't all that hard to feel the rage and resentment simmering below the surface. But should they be angry at women? Or at society for offering such a one-dimensional model of what it is to be a man--one that leaves out so many other variations on manliness? (At this point you're supposed to say: Society! It's society's fault!)

Second, such men often haven't successfully integrated their sexual and romantic passions with a real interest in connecting with the passions of women. Sometimes it's the old virgin/whore complex. Sometimes it's just that their sexual passion takes the form of contempt, uncomfortable with the contempt they then repress the sexual passion and interact in a way that seems devoid of passion. Yes, many hetereosexual women do want someone who is in touch with his passion and who can act on it without extreme levels of inner conflict. (Perhaps in the blogger's experience these men were often pot smokers and law breakers...this could never be true of a wife beater.)

So shoot us! (Oh, I almost forgot. Sometimes men do shoot us...) Is this a crime to want unconflicted passion? So sometimes women go for someone who is a little less of a conformist, a little more 'bad' because for such people overcoming inhibitions seems to be easier. You may think that the women want to be treated badly...but it is always so much more complex...and even interesting than just that.

Then there is the pedastal problem, brilliantly dissected in the movie Magnolia... The man who talks about some woman who rejects him. What a bitch she must be! Without of course realizing that if she did love him his interest would die immediately. It's brilliant.

I've always wondered: Why do American men react with such rage at rejection. Rather than sorrow? In the Russian novels some men do hate women...It takes such a different form. Well, perhaps not. Rage does sometimes occur when the idea that the woman chooses to sleep with a rival. So maybe it is because American women are free and will inevitably sleep with a rival should they reject you.

After all my Chekhov worship I just read about 20 Chekhov short stories. He doesn't have a very high opinion of women--at least not judging from many of the stories. This doesn't affect my adoration for him though--Naturally, there are women whom it is hard to admire so I guess...he just paid more literary attention to them. (See, I can rationalize with the best of them!)

Finally, I guess there are plenty of weird things about women. I suppose I'll get into those eventually. There is this obvious psychological trick that is played but it seems to devastate some women. The I worship you/now I am indifferent to you/now I might worship you if you just did the right things/now I am indifferent and somewhat scornful. It's sort of simple behavioral modification. But oh so effective!


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