It’s funny how people make sweeping statements about women and men’s nature and then almost in the same sentence, describe something from their own experience which contradicts it – but they don’t seem to realise. In October 2007’s Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Helvin writes about her enthusiasm for flings and lack of desire for a monogamous relationship. It’s a jumbled article full of contradictory statements about men and women and their supposed attitude towards relationships.
First off, the title of the piece, ‘Dating Like a Man’ implies that all men are not interested in monogamous relationships and just want sex. Therefore a woman who wants the same is being ‘like a man’. The fact that she is a woman and wants these things is assumed to be the exception and presumably not something a ‘normal’ woman would want. Helvin comments:
[My] libertine attitude is all down to my marriage… I was married to David Bailey, my first – indeed, my only – husband. But it wasn’t always a happy marriage. Bailey screwed around (don’t all men?).
No, actually. All men don’t. This ‘boys will be boys’ / ‘all men are bastards’ attitude is insulting, sexist and simply gives excuses to those men who do behave badly.
But then later on she says:
I have male friends who are exactly the same [as me and my friends]: some happily married; others who are searching. But it seems to me that it is the men who do the pining for the ultimate relationship; they’re the ones looking for the romantic ideal.
So, they don’t all screw around. Right. But didn’t you suggest earlier that they did?
Then she says:
…men are genetically programmed to spread their genes far and wide…
So they are genetically programmed to do this, but at the same time they all want romance and to be married? Eh? Which one is it?
It’s the same confusion with the women.
As women, we are hardwired to be nurturers.
But then in literally the next sentence she describes herself in completely opposite terms:
I care about people, but I also care about myself. I don’t want to ‘be’ with someone. I don’t want to be in a relationship with someone. I don’t want to know someone’s birthday – I’m not interested. Perhaps its self-preservation. Perhaps it’s why I never wanted children… At the moment I’m single, in the sense that I’m not sharing a house. But I’m sharing a bed. It’s casual, it’s sexual… I’m not interested in ‘taking’ him: I don’t want to live with him, marry him, be engaged to him. I just want to have sex with him.
So what is it? All women are hardwired, except you? If all women are hardwired how does that explain what you just said? It doesn’t – it directly contradicts it.
I’ve no problem with Helvin’s opinions or actions – but why pepper the article with this Mars and Venus, ‘hardwired’, evolutionary biology stuff if what you’re describing actually directly contradicts that? Is it some kind of weird blind spot that people have? Or maybe it just demonstrates how easy it is just to regurgitate stereotypes when even the evidence of your own life proves differently. It’s like those female columnists in the Daily Mail who claim that women are naturally suited to not having paid jobs and staying at home with the children, forgetting that if that were true, they should hand in their resignation there and then.
Oh and by the way – the image above is my actual receipt from WHSmiths for this mag a while back. Made me chuckle, anyway.