June 25, 2015

"Seduction is the art of coercing somebody to desire you, of orchestrating somebody else’s longings to suit your own hungry agenda."

"Seduction was never a casual sport for me; it was more like a heist, adrenalizing and urgent. I would plan the heist for months, scouting out the target, looking for unguarded entries. Then I would break into his deepest vault, steal all his emotional currency and spend it on myself."

Creepy unpleasantness that would never have been published in The New York Times if it were written by a man.

I've got to call it female privilege — this sense that what would be stalking rapacity in a man is rather adorable in a woman.

The writer is Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the memoir "Eat, Pray, Love." Yeah, sic, it's "Pray," not "Prey," as you might think if all you know of her is this op-ed, which is, in fact, all I've read of her. But I do know of "Eat, Pray, Love." And I did finish this op-ed, which becomes instructively self-helperish in the end. She eventually "forced myself to admit that I had a problem" — there's a phrase — and realized after 20 years of "[s]tealing other women’s boyfriends" that her behavior wasn't, in fact, "feminist" — nice to get to some sisterhood after not noticing until you're — what? — 40?

She determines that "There is no way to stop a destructive behavior, except to stop" and goes "celibate" for the amazing time span of 6 months. She was "serious, working with a good therapist, trying to learn if I even existed at all when I wasn’t blazing in the heat of somebody’s longing gaze." And if you like reading sentences like that, you should be up for the cheeseball ending where she meets a guy she likes, wins an invitation back to his apartment, but she passes it up, and the two go get Italian ices instead. In the end, she walks away, "alone but calm" and "realized that the better part of my life had already begun."

Or she walks away alone and planning a piece of writing and realizing that she's got the better part of a neat narrative arc already composed in her head.

33 comments:

fivewheels said...

Wait, wait, let me guess ... she "decided" there were moral reasons to change her behavior suddenly and coincidentally at the exact time that she started to get old enough that her fading attractiveness could no longer reliably entice her targets? And now she has written a cover story to rationalize the whole thing?

Nah, it's probably not that.

tim in vermont said...

^^^ LOL

rhhardin said...

It's a chick flick played by Julia Roberts apparently.

I hope the screenplay tightened it up a little.

Sebastian said...

"Seduction is the art of coercing somebody to desire you, of orchestrating somebody else’s longings to suit your own hungry agenda."

Prog PUA approach to women voters. Exploiting female privilege against them.

Bruce Hayden said...

We discuss this sort of thing on occasion, and neither of us really understands it. Both of us are the type who would never take someone away from their partner. Either you belong together, or not. Something like that. I do remember one woman thirty odd years ago trying for maybe a year to take me away from another woman. Interestingly, when that primary relationship ultimately failed, this woman pounced, and then we quickly discovered it just wasn't there.

This behavior on the part of the author is not all that cute or attractive. You see a lot of it in high school, and into college. My partner explains to me that these young women are practicing using their new feminine allures and wiles. The problem is that the only person they really are concerned with is themselves. The males and other females they hurt along the way are irrelevant. (A lot of the boys are no better). Much of it seems quite vicious to me, as they see a guy with another woman, decide to take him away just to see if she can, and then when she succeeds, drops the guy for her next quarry.

Bruce Hayden said...

Just read the article, and wasn't that surprised. She essentially admits how selfish she was, hurting both her many men and their former partners with similar zeal and indifference. Not someone I would like to be romantically involved with. And the type I would run from, starting part way through college. Back then, it was maybe more a moral issue, but I think the real issue was that this trait didn't lead to steady long term relationships, which is really what I was mostly interested in. I know several women from that time whom I thankfully ran from. They had everything - very bright, attractive, money, etc. One seems to have given up marrying around 50 or so after four husbands. Another is on number three. I met her 45 years ago, watched her and her sisters mature, get married, have families, etc, and it was always clear that she was the one who was trouble. She was the one playing seduction games before giving up her virginity, and then moving to the next level after she had, while her sisters would never divorce, or need to.

Tarrou said...

fivewheels in the ten ring with the first comment!

traditionalguy said...

Great insight into female competitiveness. The art of seduction Olympics Level is a favorite indoor sport that has its rules and awards its trophies.

It also has its season that lasts about 6 months before it is time to crown the winner and abandon the loser and move on. Then a new season starts with new draft picks.

Like any sport it is an economic booster. Jewelers and florists are provided good jobs. Divorce lawyers offices, and wedding chapels also provide good jobs. The entire psychological profession is supported in high style.

La Laisons Dangerouse are not for wimps.



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Henry said...

Subtitle this one: The seduction of the book advance.

rhhardin said...

Politicians are seducers. Mostly of women.

Anonymous said...

So, how are family courts aiding and abbeding this female privileged behavior? Go.

Larry J said...

She sounds like a sociopath to me. She's a good person to avoid at all costs.

Skeptical Voter said...

Hey Laslo she's all yours. You can have my share.

Scott said...

"I spent the next six months celibate and serious..."

Wait, I didn't read the part about her taking a religious vow. Did she really mean abstinent?

Bay Area Guy said...

Crazy woman writing about her craziness in the New York Times......

MaxedOutMama said...

You are in a cynical mood. I hope things aren't going badly for you.

traditionalguy said...

The meat of the Lord's Prayer after petitions for daily bread and forgiveness is to not be lead into this woman's temptations and if you are to be delivered from her power . Jesus was a realist.

Owen said...

Something missing in her, that she needs to steal others' hearts and break their hearts. Something angry and envious? Which comes from fear? Her writing is a seduction also: look at my clever turns of phrase, my deep honesty.

Sorry, no sale. Laslo can have my share, too.

Peter said...

Well, it's all about her. Me, me, me. I'd think someone so self-absorbed would quickly become tiresome, but what do I know? It seems to work for more than a few celebrity-class actresses.

Henry said...

It's interesting how compelling a confession can be to people. Read the comments at the link and the word "brave" comes up. The confession "works" because self-immolation reads as sincere. Yet what is one to make of a confession of duplicity? I am a person, Ms. Gilbert tells us, who lies to people about the most profoundly personal matters. And that, dear readers, is the truth.

It takes one back to the old logic puzzle of knights and knaves, except Ms. Gilbert of the past and Ms. Gilbert of the present may both be knaves. By asking one yes-no question can you figure out which is which?

Anonymous said...

I remember being at a college party, and there was a girl who'd landed a book deal to recount her days as an 'Ice Skating Princess' back when this was a thing.

This was a pretty big deal for most in attendance, and apparently she was a pretty good writer. Not bad looking either.

Anyhow, she proceeded to get falling-down drunk and find the the two biggest assholes at the party and practically beg them for attention all night long. She was a mess.

Maybe there was a connection.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'm not quite sure how anyone could get "adorable" out of that.

Etienne said...

Scott said...Wait, I didn't read the part about her taking a religious vow. Did she really mean abstinent?

In current english celibate normally connotes a religious vow, however it is still within the definition to call abstaining from sex celibate, even if you are just a sex addict. The crazy Catholics don't own the word yet.

Matt Sablan said...

I wonder if the NYT would have let a man get off with calling himself a "seduction addict," or if they would have called him something else.

"I often traded good men for bad ones; character didn’t much matter to me."

-- It's probably for the best for the good men. They deserved better.

"Soon enough I seduced someone new; the marriage collapsed."

-- No. The marriage did not collapse. The marriage was not the one with agency.

"Yes! My God, how I wanted to unwrap this man like a Christmas present!"

-- So, it was about the sex, despite what she said above.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm not quite sure how anyone could get "adorable" out of that."

Through self-delusion. I didn't say she was adorable because she's a woman. I said she has the sense that she is adorable doing something that would be easily seen as despicable in a man. The fact that she displays this for us is female privilege.

YoungHegelian said...

I can well imagine a young woman, of high school or college age, indulging in this sort of immoral behavior for a few years. Just checking out the powers of her attractiveness, as it were.

But until your 40's?! I think we're talking about underlying issues of which her predatory sexuality is just one aspect.

I'd give this chick a wide berth, and don't go into business with her, that's for sure!

Bill said...

I offer without comment the reported fact that both Elizabeth Gilbert and Taylor Swift grew up on Christmas tree farms.

Bilwick said...

If it involves coercion, it's not seduction, it's rape. I like economist Walter Williams' analogy when he states why he favors a free market over a statist economy. He says it's because he favors seduction over rape--seduction being "You do something nice for me and I'll do something nice for you," versus, "You do something nice for me, or I'll do something bad to you."

Anonymous said...

The "Hot Crazy Matrix" video comes quickly to mind. And I've never heard of someone going to two different counselors with two different partners at the same (but I havn't seen all of Woody Allen's movies).
That sounds self-defeating by definition.

Char Char Binks said...

No attractive woman needs to seduce a man.

Valentine Smith said...

Eat pray love indeed. Her love is like pernicious anemia.

She reminds me of the William Blake quote that he'd "rather strangle an infant in its cradle than to nurse unacted desires."

She also reminds me of Melodie Beattie who wrote Codependent No More in 1986 and 8 more since then. As of 10 years ago she was on her 5th husband in Malibu.

So the message is go thru other's lives like Typhoid Mary, write a confessional memoir and become a moral authority.

tim in vermont said...

Beautiful women don't need to "seduce" men. They just need to make it clear they are available. This strategy may become less powerful as the woman ages, however.

Sammy Finkelman said...

She doesn't say she coerces someone to have intimate relations with her - she says she coerces someone to desire her.