Friday, July 13, 2007

Men are beasts, get used to it

Here's Boris in the Telegraph with an alarming tale about how the cult of ickiness has got so out of hand that teenage girls are obsessing over bridal magazines.

No, they were discussing marriage. They were planning their wedding days, down to the last sugared almond and the exact cut of their dresses. Not only were they consulting a magazine called Brides, these 14-year-olds, but they had a special supplement of Brides, featuring a hunk in morning dress.

Rather than pause to retch, throw up his hands in despair, or tell the ickle Princesses to get a grip because no boy in his right mind wants to go out with a girl obsessed with bridal stuff; Johnson then does a bit of his subtle bumbling on about, gosh, wouldn't it be nice if there were more young chaps who liked the idea of marriage, it's a jolly good thing you know and, I say, isn't it frightfully good that the Tory party is so keen on it that you'll get 20 whole pounds a week for it?

Leaving aside the curious phrase "if a £20 tax credit would really begin to bubblegum together our broken society, then that would clearly be a price worth paying" which suggests to me the policy is a cheap, disposable bit of instant gratification which will soon become a nuisance; I'm baffled at his call for more marriageable men.

He observes, correctly, that most teenage boys ain't that interested in getting tied down for life. Delicately he skates over the reason: namely that they are seething masses of uncontrollable, indiscriminate, maddening lust who would do anything, almost, to get their ends away. To be honest, we're like that as grown-ups we get older too, except maybe a bit more discriminating – as Boris's own track record shows – and some keep it under control.

I'm not accusing him of hypocrisy here: he may well love his wife and believe it best his family stays together. Fine, but it illustrates a deeper truth. For men* love is at best an inconvenience – albeit a potentially delightful one – something that mars one's freedom to pursue one's simple, uncomplicated desires (however base) and a loss of one's identity as the seething mass of etc.

The worst of it is, in most relationships men will believe it's the woman who really has the upper hand, especially in starting or ending them. Because the bloke can never really be sure if a girl wants to go out with him or end it all, whereas women, who are far more clued up when it comes to emotional stuff, will usually know exactly where they stand and act accordingly. Plus men, having pretty basic criteria for fancying someone, are more susceptible than women, who are more discerning about where they bestow their affections.

And the fellows know damned well that being kind and intelligent count for little, despite many pleas to the contrary, but having lots of cash and – in a depressingly large number of cases – being an utter dickhead are great ways to attract the ladies. If you're a dickhead, of course, you will exploit this knowledge for shags. (All this with the caveat that love does tend to destroy one's judgement, so a woman in love with a man who doesn't love her back is basically in the situation that chaps usually believe themselves to be in).

Small wonder that romance is not a staple of a typical male fantasy (I think you can guess what is typical) and why so many of us chaps are emotional cowards and cripples who actively fear anything that smacks of talking about one's feelings. Moreover, I'm willing to bet that behind most real bounders or brutes is a once tender heart that was broken by some girl.

While the emotional rewards are potentially great – or at least quite nice in as much you're forced not to drink yourself to death so quickly, change your underwear regularly and will have someone with whom to go on holiday – it's far easier (emotionally, intellectually and imaginatively) to concentrate on the simpler things that keep one fulfilled: achieving stuff, buying gadgets, going to the pub, getting laid, being important, making fun of Tory politicians in a blog not that many people read. To quote Kingsley Amis quoting Lord Byron.

Man's love is of man's life a thing apart
Girls aren't like that.

We men have got love well weighed up; our stuff
Can get by without it.

And, of course Boris isn't like that. In amongst his usual tics there's this rather utilitarian view:

The crisis in the family has many causes: selfishness, atomism, changes in housing. But the root cause is the change in the respective role and accomplishments of the sexes.

In other words, women aren't going to marry some feckless loser who isn't as smart or wealthy as they are. (Except for the ones who aren't very bright which is quite a lot and they've an equally large pool of dimwitted deadbeats to choose from). No matter, it might address the "crisis in masculinity" (oh, do stop blubbing, you big girls' blouses) if women were forced to stay at home and do the cooking; but I don't think that's what Johnson means. I think he's saying we won't have healthy relationships between the sexes until more blokes are turned into useful and productive members of Great Britain inc.

Yeah, sentiment is never enough. Emotions won't get you that far. Perhaps I should try and get a high-paid job and buy a flashy motor in order to help some lucky lady fulfill her girly fantasies. Only I'm not motivated enough to do it: all that romantic stuff, see, it's far too messy.

* I'd initially typed "for me" here. Paging Dr Freud.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Quink said...

Reads like a confessional.

Of course no woman is going to look twice at someone who believes that love is at best an inconvenience and refuses to compromise on what he wants (loss of identity, pshaw - you just don't want to be bothered by listening to someone else or being asked to clean up the kitchen from time to time).

Do you really think "being kind and intelligent" should count for more in a relationship? "I'm sorry dear, I'm afraid I couldn't possibly take an interest in you or what you think, but don't forget I'm essentially rather benign and I'm actually rather intelligent. Therefore I can do what I want and you should be grateful, because I am most excellent, and let us not forget kind."

Men might have "pretty basic criteria" to judge whom they fancy, but if they're half-way bright they're extremely discerning about whom they marry. And they can take the fact their new bride doesn't come with an instruction manual wholly in their stride.

9:05 am  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Personally, I've never understood the desire to marry - it strikes me as being rather a bum deal for girls. If I want to wear a fabulous frock, I don't need to chain myself to a lifetime of being a mother replacement for some emotionally stunted chap.

Trouble is, regardless of what they say, many blokes don't want a woman who is their equal, they want one who will hang off their arm and make demands they can refuse to fulfil.

Yes, Bill, I probably am as cynical about relationships as you are. And I am deeply disappointed that so many young girls see marriage as the most meaningful event in their lives.

Puss

11:02 am  
Anonymous An enthuisastic reader said...

I would be inclined to pay greater heed to quink's views on such a subject than i would bill's.

proof of the pudding and all that

11:35 am  
Blogger bill said...

Puss says: Trouble is, regardless of what they say, many blokes don't want a woman who is their equal, they want one who will hang off their arm and make demands they can refuse to fulfil.

Precisely. And, no Quink that's not a confession, just an observation. Curious you'd read something with vague Boris bashing theme in that way: sort of weakens your slightly patronising points about the importance of trying to understand how others are thinking.

Quink also writes:

someone who believes that love is at best an inconvenience and refuses to compromise on what he wants

Why should the one follow the other. Compromise is inconvenient. Doesn't make it wrong.

Do you really think "being kind and intelligent" should count for more in a relationship?

I meant as opposed to being a selfish moron. I can't see how you interpreted that in the way you did, especially when I go on to talk about emotional cripples and dickheads.

if they're half-way bright they're extremely discerning about whom they marry.

You know that about half of all people fall below the half-way mark? Do you think those pushy mothers who scare you so are the mark of people being discerning?

2:57 pm  

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