January 16, 2005

What kind of man prefers a servant to an equal?

Good and Happy turns up this opinion about the Maureen Dowd piece I can't stop talking about:
I don't care how smart one is -- I'd say my husband and I are equally smart (2 Ivy League professional degrees) and that he he wants a smart woman as a major criterion -- there's a lot of self-discipline called for in dealing intimately with another person. And I'd say, especially a man. (A man has a veto power on the relationship for physiological reasons I don't care to belabor).

A lot of women have come to believe that a selective project of deliberate self-denial, giving up "rights" in a particular situation, putting someone else first in some areas for the sheer joy of it, somehow is unequal. Well, men, and probably people, really respond to that kind of affectionate focus. And are sometimes walking around in a stressed-out trance like anyone else, clutching at straws for relief and meaning in life.

Yes, those women who are willing to deny themselves and serve men will please men who prefer servants. And if the women are able to believe there is joy in service, isn't it all just a very lovely arrangement? I do consider that inequality, and I think that when a man and a woman find inequality comforting, they suffer a diminishment of themselves as human beings, even if they are too complacent to notice. I believe there is a great loss, even before one takes into account the damage to those other than the happy couple. As long as women are willing to play the comforter role, why should our somnolent male character bother to deal with a relationship with a woman who wants to be treated as an equal? Our somnolent man might want to awaken from his sleepwalking life and ask: What kind of a man does not love equality? What kind of man prefers a servant to an equal? What kind of woman wants a man like that, especially when the deal for her is to be the servant? What a weak and sniveling way to go about living!

Good and Happy's informant continues:
And, frankly, it's not unusual to encounter a woman who thinks that she is smart and stimulating, but isn't particularly, just stuff-fed like foie gras geese with the latest opinions and accumulated degrees, trotting out some unexamined cliche from her pals or NPR. Since MoDo made herself the focus here, I'll observe that apart from a few cute turns of phrase, I haven't heard a new or intriguing idea from her in years. What if the ranks of secretaries and nurses have a lot of women who pay attention and think for themselves? They may actually be smarter, more fun to discuss things with. I know who I'd rather see a movie with.

Of course, social critics who opine about the dynamics of relationships and don't themselves have good relationships may very well be undesirable partners for all sorts of reasons unrelated to the relationship dynamics they write about. I'm sure plenty of them are boring, mean, and irritating, as are many people who don't write about relationships. No one has said being smart is enough, and many people who act like they're smart are not as smart as other people who don't. And many of Maureen Dowd's columns are not that good. But I stand by my opinion that the one I linked to was a good one, and I hold on to my conviction that equality in marriage is best.

No comments: