I ranted my internal monologue to bits on this topic yesterday. Let’s see what comes out now.
Someone I know recently went to an event for single people. It was supposed to be advice workshops, one for each gender. Ironically, she went with a guy, and afterwards they compared notes. The guy came out with one message in his brain: get a smart girl, the smartest you can, and get her quick! “It doesn’t matter if you’ve fancied the girl next door since you were seven; give it a month and you’ll be head over heels for your smart girlfriend.” The guy had asked the speaker if it was fair to ask anyone else out if you were still in love with the girl next door. The answer: “she’ll move you on and make you grow up.”
When I heard this, I smiled. And then I thought about it, and I got angry. For a start, intelligence is zero reflection on what it means to be a good girlfriend. And that got me wondering what the speaker had meant by ‘smart’. Not intellectual credibility, but feminine credibility. The smart women, the good girlfriends, are the ones who know how to satiate masculine vanity. Guys don’t go out looking for clever women—they avoid us! Guys take the hot ones, the ones who’ll use themselves to craft the great illusion. Women pretend that men have the power, hiding their own wiles and caprices and, in the event, giving men the power.
And that leads me to the message in the women’s workshop: be cute, always; make the man feel useful, always; keep him wanting, always. So the women go out worrying about how much make-up they’re wearing and how overt it would be if they bulked it up. They’re completely ignorant of the power they have over men, and what abusing that power does to society.
At first glance the messages in the two workshops seem to be a cross-purposes. It doesn’t take much to realise they’re objectifying and manipulating both genders as much as ever.
(Huh. Last night I ranted in my head for a decent twenty minutes. I should’ve let the muse run its course on paper. Still, please add your own thoughts and you might prompt the rest of mine!)