Friday, July 10, 2009

Because men pretend not to understand women

mann frau mit megafon

May years ago, Simone de Beauvoir argued that men deliberately don’t understand women, call them ‘mysterious’ so that they don’t actually have to do anything about them, and they can relegate them to the position of ‘other’.

On this particular issue, I would argue, nothing has changed.

Men will still say, woman is a mystery; they will equate her moods with her period and the moons cycles, they will say no one can understand her, and they will pretend that it is her lack of rationality that prevents them from ‘interpreting’ her ways.

These claims mask the laziness of taking the time to find out, and the fundamental belief that men are ‘accurate’ when in fact they are ‘opinionated’. (As we have previously seen)

In the past, when a woman did crazy things, like demand the right to work, or get upset when her husband took a mistress, these bouts of madness were dealt with simply, by putting her in an asylum. The disease was blamed on genetics (much as it is today) and the woman’s illness was pared down to a misfortune in marriage. It was, of course, one of the few circumstances in which a man could remarry easily and with the previous wife’s families blessing.

These days it’s a little more complicated than that. If a woman is ‘moody’ or ‘erratic’ she is isolated, her friends are turned against her (a remarkably easy feat for a flirtatious male) and she is secretly publicly ridiculed. Despite all the advances women have made in the last 100 years, there is a remarkably affable desire to brand the difficult ones as mad, and an astonishing readiness to accept them as so.

In romance novels, madness is prized by the alpha male. He finds, a thinking, challenging woman exciting and relishes the opportunity to engage with a fierce, not easily domesticated female.


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