Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The name of a woman who openly declares her dislike of other woman was bandied about in a drawing room I was sitting in.

"I cannot stand it when women declare that they dislike all other women," I said. "They say they prefer the company of men as if men were somehow better."

"I thought all women hate other women. All the women I know do," said a man whose admiration of women is so subtle as to be invisible.

"Well, I don't," I declared. "I like most women, including the ones who claim they don't like women, and I try to get along with them all. Men, on the other hand," I added for the man's benefit, "are scarcely to be borne, and I don't know know why I bother."

I looked pointedly at the man across the room, who smirked in a superior sort of way. The only way to deal with men who slyly insult women-in-general over drawing-room drinks is to insult men-in-general right back. They enjoy it and stealthily plot out their next insult.

"Well, I like both men and women," said the woman next to me.

"You don't," rumbled the man. "You don't get on with women."

"I do," said my neighbour indignantly. "I get on with all sorts of women." She listed a number of women. "And I get along with Seraphic."

"Yes, she does," I said.

"Anyway," she continued. "I take people as they come. When I meet someone, I either get along with them or I don't, whether they are a man or a woman."

This struck me as sensible, and I said so.

As Lonergan would say (and Aquinas, once the terminology was explained, would agree), "Only the concrete is good." All this airy-fairy theorizing about "I like men-in-general" and "I hate women-in-general" means squat next to real, historical, lived experience. You meet a real, concrete person and you either like that person, or you don't.

This is becoming Men and Women Are Different Week because once again I have thought of a another difference. Men do not go around telling other men that they do not like men and much prefer the company of women, "who have the interesting conversations", but some women do go around telling other women that they do not like women and much prefer the company of men, who talk about philosophy and politics, etc., etc.

This is a sure-fire way to alienate other women, for most women think at least a little about philosophy and politics and don't think these subjects the property of men. Women also vaguely remember that our ancestresses had to fight for centuries to be taken seriously when they spoke about philosophy and politics. The woman who moans and groans about how trivial women are is to us a Quisling, pure and simple.

Whereas a man--or any man worth talking to--would take an analogous verbal attack (e.g. "There is no point in talking to men about feelings. You all have an EQ of zero") as a challenge or an excuse to dazzle the attacking woman with his brilliance, women aren't so easily charmed. We have enough people (e.g. Madison Avenue) telling us we're unattractive, unlikeable and stupid without some hoity toity madam adding to the din.

In such situations, we tend to close ranks and say mean things about Ms. I-Prefer-Men, which makes her dislike us all the more, just as it did in the playground 20 or 30 years before.

The horrible irony of the statement "I don't like women, and I much prefer the company of men" is that it does not ingratiate a woman with men any more than it ingratiates her with women. This may come as a horrible shock, but the kind of men who are at all marriageable do not enjoy hearing women decry women. Only men who really dislike women enjoy that, and men who very much dislike women do not usually make exceptions for women who dislike women.

So I would say to those women who love men so much that they wish to be found by them attractive as women to stop saying how much they themselves dislike women. The Blessed Virgin Mary is a woman, and I've yet to meet a devoutly Catholic bachelor who is not head-over-heels in love with her.

Update: This was sent to me by a pharmaceutical company's blog, and normally I wouldn't post it, but it happens to be about sunscreen. You know how I love to nag about sunscreen. In winter I wear a MAC tinted moisturizer with SPF 15, and in summer I wear SPF 30 lotion and, if I can find one, a hat. I must buy sunglasses today.


Steve T. said...

Men who go around telling other men that they do not like men and much prefer the company of women, "who have the interesting conversations", overwhelmingly suffer from SSA.

I assume this is not the case for women who do not like women.

Jeffery said...

That is a bit of a broad stroke my good sir, but I suppose you might be onto something. All in all though, it seems that harmony wins on all fronts if you want to go somewhere socially with a man/woman!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Men *are* better, and in very particular ways, not merely "somehow".

Kate P said...

I have been enjoying "Men and Women Are Different" Week, Seraphic. There is a nationally syndicated radio program here in the U.S., the Dennis Prager show, and he has a "Male/Female Hour" that has speakers and callers discussing issues involving, well, pretty much the ones that affect men and women (especially communication)--and it respects and celebrates the differences. I don't get to hear it that often because it's during the workday, but I enjoy it when I do catch it.

Also, I loooove sunscreen. I like tinted moisturizer but I don't trust it to match because I'm pretty fair-skinned. I'll look into M.A.C.

Seraphic said...

Men could be made of gold and women of carrot peelings and it would still do a woman no good to proclaim men's superiority from the housetops. Men would still think "But I rather like carrot peelings" and women would still think "Bitch."

What goes up, must come down. E=mc2.

sciencegirl said...

Well, it's just basic manners, isn't it?

Since women and men are different, it makes sense that a person would feel more comfortable in general around one or the other sex. That's okay.

I like women and men about the same, but I prefer talking to my coworkers and friends to talking to their delightful wives & husbands and parents because I know my coworkers better. We don't tend to have awkward pauses in conversation. But at a party, I do NOT loudly declare "I just like Fred and Stephanie and Tim SO MUCH BETTER than their wives and husband and children! They are SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING!" No! I make awkward chitchat with the delightful spouses and sip my beer hurriedly in the hopes that the alcohol will kick in and tipsy volubility will override over my social anxieties. Stating the truth would only hurt the delightful spouses and anger the co-workers, who would NOT be flattered I like them so much, but enraged that I hurt their loved ones with my appalling rudeness. Rather, it is much better to be polite and nice to everyone and about everyone. I've never seen a friend disappointed that I got along with their family. Making general insults, whether about lawyers, doctors, religions, or sexes, will offend in a specific way anyone who loves a particular lawyer or dentist, etc. You don't want to say "I hate dentists! They should be banned!" only have your friend say through gritted teeth "Meet my husband. He's a dentist." But at least you have a bit of an excuse: you didn't think it was likely a dentist was overhearing you.

Insulting one of the sexes, on the other hand, is guaranteed to annoy someone because everyone has a family member, friend or beloved teacher of the opposite sex. Most men love at least one woman even if only their grandmothers, and most women love at least one man even if it's her step-father's uncle, so blanket insults about either sex are going to at least irritate the vast majority of people you meet. Why do it?

If you hear this, be gracious and say to yourself:

"Maybe this rude individual has Asperger's or early onset Alzheimer's and is tragically unaware of social boundaries. She is probably even more frustrated by her social ineptitude than I am. I will be extra kind to her because her alienating rudeness must make her life rather difficult and lonely."

Anna A said...

I tend to be more comfortable with men, and have since junior high.
I have also a chemist, who works in male dominated fields.

But, it would NEVER, EVER cross my mind to say that I don't like all woman. (Isn't self-hatred a sin or at least a big problem?)

So, I can understand why some people are more comfortable with one sex or the other.

Sheila said...

I like both men and women. Before I was married, I hung out with men most of the time, I'm not sure why. Now that I'm married, at parties I've found we women always sequester ourselves in the kitchen and talk about the men. I always used to prefer mixed company, but now I'm really appreciating the girl talk!

My husband, though, says that I am "not a typical woman" and that mentally I'm "much more like a man" because I am rational and can discuss issues without getting emotionally involved. I do NOT find this a compliment, but an insult to all other women! Luckily, when I press him, it turns out he doesn't know any "typical women." He just kind of imagines that the kind of woman he isn't friends with is "the typical woman" and is irrational and overemotional. Perhaps I need to introduce the poor fellow to more women. On second thought, maybe he's already been ruined by having had seven sisters. In any event, I'm glad he doesn't lump me (or my friends) in with these mythical "typical women."

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this. Am an engineer and just ended up knowing more men than women. My office mate was sleeping under his desk one morning because his lunatic wife (we all screened her calls so she couldn't bother him at work and security knew who she was).

Some women don't like me because of that and I really wish I had more women friends - am finally meeting some at my new church.

But I would never make a public comment like that. Neither gender has a monopoly on being idiotic.

And: to those women who will never see this, it actually interferes with my dating life somewhat because many of those guys I'm with are friends and would probably be horrified if I fell in love with them :)

Can't win for losing. (if this is a dead subject, I gave up blog reading for the most part after Passion Sunday and am catching up)

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