This post should actually probably be called ‘more stuff about all men are liars‘ or something, but … there just isn’t a song called that, okay? Also it’s my blog post I can call it whatever I want.
You only have to click on the ‘wouldn’t cry if they died’ tag on this blog to see that I Do Not have a ladyboner for Sam de Brito’s column on www.smh.com.au, but I only realised today that BITCH DOESN’T LIKE US EITHER.
I feel … oddly validated. Kind of like the time I walked past a girl in chenille hotpants and she made a face at my outfit.
In response to his blog on men being more romantic than women, our girl Jessica left a comment stating what I can only describe as the blindingly obvious, especially when the topic was romance outside of long-term relationships.
Men don’t want us to be romantic. They interpret that kind of behaviour as clingy, needy, suffocating. It freaks them out.
Tell me boys, do you really wish that a random girl would:
“… send some footy tickets to the cute boy in marketing or ask that tasty tradie does he have dinner plans? Terrifying, huh?”
And no, you can’t lie when you answer this question. It would be terrifying. Only not just for the lady risking her heart. More like terrifying for the poor bastard getting the tickets and feeling that inevitable lurch in the guts as he has nightmarish visions of family station wagons and mothers-in-law and thinks (as most men would in this situation) that she’s trying to get her talons into him. Because women who pursue men are either man eaters or desperately looking to trap a husband, right?
I’m not saying that thought is accurate. It could well be alarmist and ridiculous (it is in my case at least). But I know you’d be thinking it.
And in fairness, I should also post the reply to her comment:
Jessica, relax. It’s just a blog post, which was just a column. I know sometimes my writing can be taken as fractious, but it all springs from a desire for greater understanding and communication between the sexes. Do I achieve that all the time? No, but this is the 357th post I’ve written in two years, so forgive me if my tone wanders outside those parameters at times. – Sam
Wow. Perhaps we have found a worthy adversary, ladies. Look at how he uses her first name (even though she didn’t leave a full name in her comment) to imply a sense of omniscience and control. Observe the brilliant use of “it’s just a blog column”, which I believe can also be translated as “being patronising”, or even “calm down you hysterical woman”.
But best of all, I enjoy “this is the 357th post I’ve written in two years”. DING-DING-DING we have a winner! It’s such a compact and efficient way to say to a commenter I HAVE A REAL COLUMN ON A NEWSPAPER WEBSITE AND YOU DON’T. Aaaah dear. Amazing.
WE LOVE YOU DE BRITO. KEEP ON STOPPING BY!
But this blog isn’t going to be about That Other Column and why I mock it so often (let’s just say everyone needs a hobby and leave it at that).
I want to talk about romance. That Other Column asked women “when was the last time you did something spontaneously romantic?” What I would like to know is when has anyone done anything spontaneously romantic?
Surely the very idea is a contradiction in terms. What could be less immediate or spontaneous than what we call romance? Love can be unexpected and sudden when it appears. And when you look at a person the rush of love that you feel in your guts can make you do unexpected things on sudden whims, like pressing the top of your forehead under their jaw just to feel how warm their skin is, flinging your arms around them so the whole length of you is touching, or offering them the last party pie.
(Greg Bird suggested that last one. He’s so sweet)
But romance? Spontaneous? Never.
Romance is the product of thought, planning, and – possibly most of all – cultural conditioning. Everything that we brand as romance has an air of calculation about it, including picking the right restaurant in advance, or planning a trip to Paris. It’s not fresh in the sense of being spontaneous, just as it’s not fresh in the sense that these are learned behaviours, the same gestures that thousands of men have made before because That’s What You Have To Do.
Surely romance is nothing if not the descendent of that most artificial and mannered expression of love in western culture, Courtly Love, where love was made a pursuit or a discipline. Men sought to win a woman, so they created forms of writing and speaking and addressing a woman to flatter her, and deeds to demonstrate their worthiness. It was inevitable then that the ideals of Chivalry (that most Masculine of codes) became bound up with Courtly Love and proving yourself as a Knight became yet another way to win a woman.
Only now, Courtly Love has been renamed Romance, and times have changed the words and the deeds the way they change everything. Rather than deeds on horseback to show bravery, or addressing sonnets to a noblewoman, the rules of romance have men writing notes to send with flowers to demonstrate devotion, or booking French restaurants to show their prosperity and savoir faire. Rather than being taught Chivalric tenets, men are raised to know that they should open doors, or at the very least that they must never hit a woman.
I think CS Lewis was more insightful than anyone when he called it “love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, Adultery, and the Religion of Love”.
Romance is a religion, of sorts, with its own particular acts of penance and devotion. We are born alone – solitude our original sin – but with effort and with ritual (a christening, or three expensive dates) we can be washed clean of it.
We are taught to honour the sacred days: St Valentine’s Day, the name days of our Patron Saints, our anniversaries. We learn that the right kind of penance(ten hail marys, twelve long-stemmed roses) is sufficient to atone for misdeeds.
And even though women fall in love every day, this isn’t love we’re talking about. This is romance. If women were called fools when they first dreamed they could be priests in the Catholic Church, they are greater fools if they think they have any role to play in romance.
Just as women did not write sonnets of courtly love, they do not perform the rites of romance. They are not its subjects, but its objects.
And if women making romantic gestures troubles men or makes them uncomfortable, should we be surprised? For straight men and straight women at least, the roles of romance have developed over hundreds of years with man as actor and woman as prize.
Reversing those roles as a woman, sending tickets, buying romantic gifts, planning expensive trips, is still culturally shocking.
And if women like me already find romance cloying and confining, is it really likely that we’ll start buying disgusting stuffed toys and empowering ourselves through romance anytime soon? There’s no incentive to turn the tables and participate in something you’d rather didn’t exist at all.
I’ll ask again. When is the last time you did something spontaneously romantic?
When was the last time romance was spontaneous at all?
Would you like the last party pie Greg Bird?