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.