All The More Reason

Woman as Man
May 9, 2007, 2:12 am
Filed under: Sex, The Guardian

Here’s a pretty fascinating excerpt from a book by a woman who passed as a man on and off for 18 months. It discusses many aspects of male behaviour. For example, far from being cutting to each other, men in a group appeared to be somewhat supportive of her efforts in bowling (keep in mind, they thought she was a man). Well, this alone makes a lot of sense because the price to pay for cutting another man can usually be quite severe. In other words, there often is no middle ground between amicability and death blows.

The author, Norah Vincent, also discusses the fact that men have to deal with rejection from women on a continual basis.

Simple enough, right? A brush-off. No biggie. But as I turned away and slumped back across the room toward our table, I felt like the outcast kid in the lunchroom who trips and dumps his tray on the linoleum in front of the whole school.

Too true. However, I believe the author fails to understand how this continual rejection changes the impact of sexual pleasure in the end. Surely one of the great moments in a man’s existence are those brief minutes after the act where he feels paradoxically both complete and spent at the same time.

One other interesting aspect of this excerpt is how it deals with women’s conflicted desires in a man.

Yet as much as these women wanted a take-control man, at the same time they wanted a man who was vulnerable to them, a man who would show his colours and open his doors, someone expressive, intuitive, attuned. This I was in spades, and I always got points for it. But I began to feel very sympathetic toward heterosexual men – the pressure to be a world-bestriding colossus is an immensely heavy burden to bear, and trying to be a sensitive new age guy at the same time is pretty well impossible. Expectation, expectation, expectation was the leitmotif of Ned’s dating life.

Ah yes, how does one be both at the same time? Perhaps it’s just easier to encourage your girlfriend to have girlfriends to have those conversations with and allow yourself to focus on the more manly aspects of living.

At some point in the 60s or 70s enough people in the West with intellectual power decided that differences between men and women were constructs that we built ourselves. Personally, I believe that because this idea is so unbelievably asinine that to state it with conviction made one a curiosity – and hence perhaps its attraction within intellectual fields.

Jonathan Smith


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