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

Friday, February 16, 2024

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned - The Myth Of Sexual Parity

In yesteryear, there was something vital about marriage.  It mattered.  A woman needed security, economic support, and defense.  A man needed a mother for his children, a keeper of the hearth, and a good worker.  The two sexes were never meant to agree, and romantic love was invented only in the 14th century.  The sonnets of Petrarch were the first recorded verses to sing the praises of one's beloved, and the medieval courts of Europe were venues for knights in shining armor and their fair maidens.  The poor, of course, stayed the course.  Marriage was an economic contract nothing more, negotiated and concluded simply and early.


The rules of sexual conduct for kings, queens, and courtiers were the same as those for the peasantry - men had to be sure that their wives were faithful, and women certain that their husbands would not stray.  The peasant had no time, energy, or will to work his fingers to the bone for someone else's child; and no king wanted a bastard on the throne after him.  

So jealousy - spousal control is perhaps the more apt term - has been common to marriage ever since the first contract.  Marriage has been a business proposition right from the start, and good businessmen and women first and foremost know how to protect their investment.  The pining for lost lovers, the sense of betrayal of love, honor, respect, and commitment have always been artificial, irrelevant sentiments which in modern times have spawned a profitable business of their own. Where would Turkish dizis and Mexican soap operas be without fantasy love?


The billions made from romantic television, novels, and comic books is surprising since, if one is to believe the statements of modern-day feminists, sexual equality has finally, or penultimately been achieved.  If a man strays from the nest, so be it.  Prenups and marriage contracts have made divorce simple and favorable to women.  There should be no need for jealousy, spite, and anger in today's marriages.  The door has always been left open, so the recriminations and nastiness of the past should be permanently gone.  

Under the new rules marriage itself need no longer be feted and promoted as it was in the past. Who needs it? 'Sexual association' is more appropriate for the evolved 21st century.  Love the one you're with, the old-fashioned meme of the Sixties, should make a comeback. 

Nonsense.  The soaps have got it right. Women still, despite everything, despite favorable contracts, codicils, and contracts; despite their notable economic potential and mobility, are as furious with wayward husbands as Guinevere was of Lancelot. Pissed, vindictive, and vengeful. 'How could you do such a thing to me?'


Obviously hardwired behavioral instincts, honed over time, cannot be excised so simply.  Women with no reason to feel scorned, abandoned, or left on the curb, still are; and wives take their pound of flesh in a thousand cuts from men every day of the week. 

Savvy men understand this and go about their business accordingly.  They know that despite the modern anointment of women, their ease of passage, and their growing social and economic independence, they are no different from their great ancestors of the Paleolithic.  Residual sentiments perhaps, but still in play. 

These men get it and know exactly how to maneuver, negotiate, and deceive under the new ethos just as they always have under the old. The front lines have gotten closer, skirmishes can quickly turn into firefights, and before long a sure thing is no longer; but men paying attention are as enthusiastic about the battle as the Russian soldiers at Borodino.  Better to die in glory than from an infected foot.

Savvy men know exactly how far to push the perimeter, how much leeway they have, how much of a grace period, how likely an easy forgiveness, and are in other women's beds in an instant.  They have practiced the art or hangdog, abject apology - such is the new art of adultery replacing the 'Shut up, woman' troglodyte bullying of the past - and get exactly what they want. 

Feminists say that thanks to them some of this vestigial machismo has been eroded or dismissed but this is just whistlin' Dixie.  Some men have fallen for the story of sexual revision, but most have not.  For every man attending women's conferences, marching on the Mall in lockstep with their sisters for equality and recognition, there are ten in lovers' boudoirs.  Human nature does not change, and the feminist ideal of eliminating gender differences is no more than an idle dream. 

Edward Albee, well-known modern American playwright, famously noted that 'marriage is the crucible of maturity'. Duking it out within the narrow confines of marriage is the only way to get to the heart of the matter, the elusive soul, to find out who you are.  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf Albee's most famous play about a couple who 'flay each other to the bone' but after two hours of brutal bloodletting finally remove all artifice, unnecessary posture, and arrogance and see the truth.

Maybe this is all that can be expected of marriage.  Maybe that's why it persists.  The scorned woman stands for something - principle, rectitude, some basic honor; and a man's indifference is indicative of society's own, larger, duplicity. 

In any case, couples are parading to the altar at the same rate as always and the number of marriages per thousand women has barely budged in the past few decades.  Marriage simply won't go away, and as long as it exists, the same squabbling, suspicions, indifference, cheating, and umbrage will continue. 

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