Saint Augustine, when considering the Lot of Woman, believed that consecrated virgins (the nuns of his day) had it best because they had only to please God. He thought married women were next in the queue because they had only to please their husbands. But he thought single women who wanted to get married had it worst because they had to please many men, and Saint Augustine recoiled at the idea of young women all dressed up and acting as attractive as possible to get a husband. I wonder if the young women ever talked to him about this. I was going to add "in the confessional", but I don't think there was a confessional in the fourth century. (Good heavens. Imagining getting in the box knowing that Saint Augustine was in the priest's compartment. Eek!)
And I have to say that I agree with Saint Augustine. Although we live in a world absolutely obsessed with appearances, nobody really cares what nuns' faces look like. Some Catholics judge nuns on their habits or lack thereof, and some Catholics judge nuns on whether or not their charism attracts young women, but Catholics don't worry about whether nuns are pretty or not. Nuns, unlike all other women, are completely exempted from our beauty obsession. Thank heavens somebody is.
Nobody except their husbands (to an extent) really worries about the beauty of married women, either. Married women are judged on the happiness of their husbands and kids, to tell the truth, and heaven help us if we flirt outside the bounds of what our community thinks is okay for married women. Once upon a time in working-class communities in the UK, married women who dolled themselves up to go shopping, e.g. chat with the butcher, were considered harlots. Husbands who marry for love and stay in love seem not to notice or care that their wives eventually look like wrinkly old boots, and thank heavens.
But then there are Single women, and unless you really do not want to get married, and really are happy to do your own thing and to heck with what the men think, you are in thrall to humanity's beauty obsession. This is especially true if you are in your early twenties and want to attract a guy your own age. The young look beautiful to the old just because you are young, but when you are the same age as a man... And we cannot really complain because we, too, have our ideas of what a cute man looks like.
Of course, I don't think we would go as far as to rate men from 1 to 10 and supply photographs for each category. Last night I meant to read some classic horror tales, but instead I surfed the manosphere. And the manosphere provided me with the same shocks and enjoyment as classic horror tales, but only because I am happily married. If I were Single I would have been out of my mind with rage, contempt and fear. You know young men in general no longer have the power to hurt you when you can stare at their helpful photographic guides to beauty and ponder in tranquility if you might count as a 6 or, on your best days, a 7.
Blogging pick-up artists portray a Godless universe in which most women are like flies at the picnic of existence, and the point of this short existence is to have sexual congress with as many of the few worthwhile (i.e. kind and pretty) women as possible. You will not find, on such blogs, much interest in spiritual or intellectual pleasures, in botany or zoology or theology or walks in the countryside. The ideal is to travel to Eastern Europe, chat up slim and friendly young Slavic women intrigued by American glamour, and roll around with them in bed until both man and woman (conveniently) get bored and agree to "move on". The PUAs bridle at the accusation that this makes them sex tourists. After all, they are giving these women the most romantic and incredible experiences of their short and otherwise meaningless lives on earth, and as wrinkled old crones on their deathbeds, they will remember the American PUAs with gratitude. Yeah.
For all their posturing, PUAs are not very rooted in reality. And they are slaves to their desire for sex with women. In fact, they are worse than slaves. They are rutting animals who use their human reason primarily to figure out how to rut with as many attractive female animals as possible, only without, of course, having any offspring they will have to care for. Which, ontologically, makes them useless and pathetic.
And worse, of course. While I pondered their degradation from this humanist point of view, B.A. seethed, "Haven't they heard of Don Giovanni?", which directed my mind to Christian truth. Actually, the Eastern European women on their deathbeds may very well be cursing their naive fumblings with American sex tourists and imploring the mercy of God. After all, extramarital (as I don't think we can call going to bed with tourists premarital) sex is a SERIOUS sin with SERIOUS consequences for both the sinners and society.
As I always say, you can ask men what they think, but you will not always like it. Men tend not to think what we want them to think. We have our idea of what they should be like, but instead they are like what they are like, and we have to accept that, if not them. We can pay attention to what they say they find attractive in women (and the slimmer side of healthy-looking weight appears to be a majority demand), or we can simply ignore it. Ignoring it completely does, of course, come with a price tag. Some will happily pay that price; others will simply not understand why it must be paid. (Rather like men without jobs, looks or character who seethe because women don't want them.)
I wanted a man, I have a man, and now I can ignore what all men on earth, save one, think about attractiveness. I am fortunate. But I worry a lot about Single women who lurch from one relationship to the next in the quest to find the man who will free them from the intolerable burden of wanting a man. Looking at break-ups and unrequited crushes from a married point of view, I now realize how awful it is to hear a weeping woman say, "But where will I find another [guy who gets me, clever intellectual, romantic poet, serious Catholic]?" I want to shake them and yell, "STOP LOOKING! JUST LIVE YOUR LIFE!" But that's easy for me to say; marriage has killed that restless longing.
But marriage has only killed that restless longing because I am married to a really good guy, a guy who hears about PUAs and thinks at once of the fate of their immortal souls, and who protests loudly, when I mentioned perhaps being a 7 on really good days, that I am beautiful, almost like a little kid who naturally finds his own mother more beautiful than anyone else's mother. And all I had to do to find this guy was to live my life as a Catholic in a relatively public way, writing my blog and my funny stories, making friends, trying to stay in good health, having decent company manners and--which has more to do with Providence than with me--looking like the kind of woman to whom B.A.--this one, unique man--is usually attracted. In short, although I did a number of things that were most likely to "find me a husband", it ultimately depended on God.
When we get in the habit of constant crushes, or an unhealthy lifestyle in which Eros dominates, only God can free us. God's laws, which sound strict and almost impossible to obey nowadays, actually protect us from seducers and men who are just vacillating and weak and, indeed, our own weak and vacillating longings. God's invitation of permanent virginity to nuns, monks and priests shows us that Eros does not have absolute authority on this earth, not over women, not over men. And God who can do anything can take away our own inordinate attachments, whether to sex or to boyfriends or to the sexual approval of men or just to "looking pretty", and may if we implore Him.
(My old spiritual director said that He always does, but I'm respecting His freedom here.)