Bitching Brew

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Modern love. And ritual.

Welcome to November folks! And in four weeks, I've passed a thousand hits. [Pats self on back, strains shoulder muscle in the process.]

I read an intriguing piece in the New York Times magazine this weekend. Maureen Dowd wrote about the new situation of women, especially in relation to dating. In Ireland, we don't have the same, almost institutionalised system of dating that's evolved in America. I have a few observations to make. Partial as ever.

This was a freakish quote: "There are plenty of ways for me to find out if he's going to see me as an equal without disturbing the dating ritual," one young woman says. "Disturbing the dating ritual leads to chaos. Everybody knows that."
That sort of adherence to ritual is revolting. Worse still is the context. It's become ritualised for a woman to offer to split the bill at the end of the night. However, the ritual dictates that if the man accepts, he's gone. Kaput. No second date mate: "If you offer, and they accept, then it's over." I won't deny that kind of trickery occurs here, but it's much less widespread. No prizes for guessing that such chicanery won't get you a second date with me. So everyone's happy, I suppose.

Yes, that's me denouncing women for a change, or, more accurately, articulating a whiny male grievance. There are other points of (greater) interest in the article though. Take the following excerpt:

At a party for the Broadway opening of "Sweet Smell of Success," a top New York producer gave me a lecture on the price of female success that was anything but sweet. He confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating. Men, he explained, prefer women who seem malleable and awed. He predicted that I would never find a mate because if there's one thing men fear, it's a woman who uses her critical faculties. Will she be critical of absolutely everything, even his manhood?

He had hit on a primal fear of single successful women: that the aroma of male power is an aphrodisiac for women, but the perfume of female power is a turnoff for men.

You know what, Mr. BigShot has hit on something there. There is a blatant inequality at play. From observing my own acquaintances, I suspect that's the majority male desire all right. But it's far from universal. I'm not like that. Some of my friends aren't like that. These media pieces, telling me "what men want", always make me feel alienated. I can't abide the thought of a submissive, servile woman. I admit to getting a real kick out of being criticised. (Sublimated masochism, anyone?) The combination of intellect and assertiveness is a smoking turn-on - for me. Yes, even a woman who's "critical of absolutely everything, even his manhood". It's hot. But - let me clarify - it's not hot when it's done with a disparaging sneer, or a sense of smug superiority. I love an assertive intellect. Not a petty one.

Finally: "Women can stand on the Empire State Building and scream to the heavens that they are equal to men and liberated, but until they have the same anatomy, it's a lie." So true. The feminine form has the advantage of being aesthetically pleasing and delightful. (Translation 101: it looks good.) Sadly, this comes at the price of an infinitely more volatile body. I suspect that women have a far greater awareness of their body (at times) as prison, as limitation, than men have. We generally have to wait until middle-age (or obesity) to cop that. It's no wonder that the mind-body duality nonsense was conceived of by men.

We live in interesting times. I'm happy that I do. The sexual revolution is still underway. Objectively, it's going to be fun to see how it turns out. Subjectively, we're in for quite a ride. It's going to be fun, full stop. ;)

Now, if you haven't already, go read the article; I've only touched on a smidgen of it. It's more enlightening than my post. And secondly, leave me a comment!

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  • Ciao dall'Italia!

    By Anonymous 100tek, at Tue Nov 01, 03:08:00 p.m.  

  • See that’s the rub, you say you aren’t like that, your friends aren’t like that, but that it still holds true for many (on topic of assertive intellectual women). How is a girl to know if it’s ok to use her wit, or to tone it tone a bit for the sake of securing her chosen one? And don’t say, just be yourself. That’s nonsense since history has had us in a tailspin from day one. Many of us in the in-between generations are so confused by the time it becomes time that we don’t even know who we are anymore, or who we are supposed to be. It’s all so confusing.

    By Blogger gonedoneoverfinished, at Tue Nov 01, 03:45:00 p.m.  

  • 100tek: Hey, Perugia's a good football club. But I can't read Italian, sorry!

    nectere: I won't even pretend to offer advice. It'd be bad advice, and I'm not experienced enough to cast myself as a real-life sage. Plus I'm... erm, quirky. :)

    All I'll say is - if you want to use your wit, do so. If your 'chosen one' doesn't like smart women, choose another. That's what I do. (I'm not saying that's the most fruitful path...)

    Most people are confused. Guys and girls. Don't forget that. ;)

    By Blogger Martin, at Tue Nov 01, 08:12:00 p.m.  

  • I'm glad you like the intelligent girls.... can you move to NYC already? ;)

    By Blogger --, at Wed Nov 02, 06:41:00 a.m.  

  • Heh, maybe I'll do just that! So you're implicitly telling me there's an abundance of hot intelligent women in New York, eh? Airport please! ;)

    I like the group blog, by the way.

    By Blogger Martin, at Fri Nov 04, 01:22:00 a.m.  

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