"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Casanova, Valmont, And The Irresistible Allure Of Sexually Confident Men - Women Weep At Their Attention

Todd Huntley knew how to play upon and manipulate women's anxieties and insecurities - women's fears that they might become exactly like their mothers or fall for men just like their fathers - and used these insights to gain what he saw was men's rightful place in the family.  After all it had been only a few decades since the first cracklings of women's liberation, Betty Friedan, The Female Eunuch, Gloria Steinem, and bra burning, and every woman on the psychiatrist's couch still felt she must core out every last, nettling, upsetting seed - every painful memory of complaisant mothers and loving, ideal fathers. 

"All it takes is to swab a few toilets", Huntley was fond of repeating to his friends, men for whom the feminist agenda had had had a progressive appeal; but who now found themselves hectored, henpecked, and dismissed by their once quiet and demurring wives. 

His friends ran the gamut of feminized men.  There was Bob the lawyer who had been bitten early and often and who, once infected, took up the cudgel of women's rights as if their struggle was his own.  He went to women's conferences, marched on the Mall, and attended colloquies, seminars, and roundtables.  

Although proud of his allegiance, happy in solidarity with his wife and her feminist sisters, he was as clueless as an upcountry cracker when it came to understanding women who had no patience for this interloper, this self-abnegating thing, and despite their midnight howling about patriarchy, male dominance, and sexual abuse wanted a real man, not this groupie, this wannabe, this...sycophant. 

Despite all their claims to the contrary, these women wanted the attention of strong men.  Not the bulldozing, incompetent goons who loitered until the coast was clear; but the confident seducers who were patient, who listened, who charmed, and who appreciated them.  

Their mothers had warned them about these wolves in sheep's clothing, these duplicitous cads who would say anything for a sexual favor; but no matter how stern the warning nor how harsh the punishment, they could not stay away from men who wanted them, who looked at them with interest and desire. 

So it was not difficult, given this simple sexual equation, to solve it - to see how the quadratics lined up in order, how a + b = c was as true in bed as on the blackboard; and savvy men like Todd was an Einstein; and the more lovers he had, the more applied.  Women couldn't help wondering what it was about him that was so desirable; so desirable in fact that for every woman who slept with him, two were left on the curb wondering where the dream went bad.  

Ruling the roost has never been a simple matter.  Women have always found ways around clueless men.  Shakespeare was but the first of many to create strong, determined, Nietzschean women who not only were never intimidated by men, but bested them at every turn.  Poor Coriolanus, brilliant field general and aspiring Consul of Rome, done in by a scheming genius - his mother - who had use for him when it was convenient and useful; but who tossed him aside when it was to her advantage.  Poor Cleon, wife of the jealous Dionyza who plotted to murder Marina, the beautiful daughter of Pericles who outshone her own daughter like the sun compared to a distant planet.  Cleon had no chance against his willful, unstoppable wife, and sat by disconsolately as she engaged Marina's assassins. 

Poor Rosmer, taken in by the ingeniously seditious Rebekka West; or the Master Builder by the more quietly dismantling Hilde Wangel; or poor, naive Lovborg, former lover of Hedda Gabler - all clueless men easy prey for women whose only ambition was dominance.  Not to mention Rosalind, Viola, and Portia, lovely, feminine women of Shakespeare's Comedies who ran rings around their dopey but wealthy suitors and lured them into their beds. 

Poor Lear, poor Macbeth, poor Hamlet

Todd Huntley, a well-read man, had no intention of falling into the tender trap. He had never had any qualms about prosperity and survival - he was a Jack London man prowling in a Jane Austen world - and took what he could get thanks to his innate understanding of his prey.  The thing of it was, and the ultimate supreme irony of Darwin, was that only the human female put up no guard against the fox in the henhouse.  They opened the gate for him. 

He saw himself as a latter day Casanova and Viscount de Valmont - men with an irresistible sexual allure and attractiveness and the moral diffidence to ignore - eschew in fact - women's love.  Valmont's seduction of the young, innocent, aristocrat Marie de Tourvel plotted with the beautiful Marquise de Merteuil was his ideal.  Nothing could be more satisfying, so confirming of his understanding of  women's weaknesses than a successful affair with Mlle. de Tourvel. 

Nietzsche was right - the only validation of the individual in a meaningless world is the expression of pure will; an amoral pursuit of life above the herd, worrying not about consequences but victory.  None of this made any difference to Todd's lovers who were willingly seduced, happily listened to and loved for who they were if only for a while.  Hidden intentions were of no interest since the overt ones were so appealing.

Less sexually successful men criticized him for the vanity of his pursuits.  What did it matter, after all, how many women he seduced in this nasty, brutish, and short life?  Their interests were more substantial - the changing climate, the plight of the black man, income inequality - and they would die knowing that they had made a difference. 

All nonsense to Todd who saw no overarching purpose inherent anywhere.  Goodness was as fictive as concept as evil. La dolce vita was far too romantic a concept to describe his view of the world.  Indifference was many steps above sensuality, beauty, and pleasure.  Hedda Gabler's ambition was simple - she wanted to control someone, anyone, completely; and in so doing would have fulfilled her particular destiny completely. "For once in my life I want to have power over a human being" she said - no ulterior motive, no reason; and it was this exertion of pure power that interested and defined Todd Huntley.  He had no interest in influencing politics or international affairs.  Controlling women,  reasserting a Jack London-like feral superiority was enough. 

This was not a cruel ambition, for as D.H. Lawrence wrote in Lady Chatterley's Lover, it was the complementarity of sexual dynamics that mattered.  There would always be sexual dominance and submission, but these were debatable and fungible.  It was up to couples to figure out who would be on top. 

And so it was that Todd Huntley died without any regret whatsoever - no troubled conscience, no regret that he had not done more for others, that he had been kinder, more gentle, more appreciative.  He had led the life parceled out to him without conditions.  It was for others to worry about the restrictive codicils they had written into their contracts.  

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