The misogynist who gets the girls is a male fantasy

Ever since SBG wrote about “How I Met Your Mother” recently, I’ve been thinking about this character I see on screen everywhere. He’s mean to women. The women know they’re being mistreated. And yet they can’t get enough of being used and abused by him.

He doesn’t exist.

Let’s just dispel that myth right away. As presented in TV and film, he doesn’t correlate to anyone in reality. He’s actually a fantasy concocted most likely by male screenwriters who have issues with women.

iStock_sleaze

You know you want him, oh, yes.

Here’s how it probably works: a heterosexual male screenwriter finds he cannot just go out to bars and “pick up chicks.” He notices other guys can. He is jealous of those guys. He needs to rationalize in his head how the women really should be putting out for him and not the other guy. He concocts (unconsciously, perhaps) the delusion that he is a super nice guy, and the guy who can get women into bed is a jerk, and there’s something wrong with those women that they prefer a jerk to a nice guy. Bitches! I know – I’ll write this into my screenplays and teach ‘em good.

That’s probably how it started. Now it’s been handed down from hack to hack for so long, even female writers don’t realize it’s based on a male fantasy. Now people really believe there are women out there who realize “I am being treated like garbage” and decide “I like it – I want me some more of that, oh, yes.”

Those women don’t exist either.

In reality, women sometimes go to bed casually with men they find attractive or entertaining. Women do not like being treated like crap, but they will even sleep with a sexist pig if they haven’t known him long enough to know he’s a sexist pig or don’t care at the moment. They may even ignore some icky traits in order to have a sexual adventure. The main points here are:

  • Most of the men who “score” at bars are at least as kind and decent as the guys who don’t. In addition to being decent, they’re also attractive in some way – good-looking, funny, interesting, etc.
  • Those men who are jerks but can “score” at bars are hiding their jerk nature in order to appeal to women. Jerks, like people who rob liquor stores and kids who bully other kids, know how to hide their true nature from people who would deprive them of something if they knew better. That’s why whenever a serial killer is caught, all his neighbors are all like, “Wow, he was always so nice, went to church, smelled good.”
  • If a woman sees that a man is a jerk but decides to go to bed with him anyway because he’s just so cute or she’s just that bored or whatever, this is a case of her deciding how she wants to spend her time, not of him tricking the naive flower (who couldn’t possibly want casual sex, being female).

The thing about this writing trope is that it puts the men exclusively in the position of power. It depicts women as helpless things that need the constancy of relationships but sometimes get tricked into casual sex. It assumes women who have their own reasons for having casual sex are damaged goods. It assumes men are by nature sex seekers and women are by nature sex awarders, thereby stripping women of any power in the scenario… other than the power to award sex to the dull and/or obnoxious who are being framed as the “right” choice.

There’s another interesting shade to the evolution of the Sexist Jerk Who Scores character: he serves as a punishment and warning to all those great-looking girls who turn down dull, boring and ugly guys in favor of attractive guys. It warns women that sexy men are wolves in sheep’s clothing, so women should settle for the sheep right off the bat. It reminds women that men are allowed to be incredibly shallow about women’s looks and personality traits, but if we start to think like that, we’ll be punished.

Comments

  1. Ramblin Rabbit says

    I think you’re right, but I also think there’s another myth at play. The idea that all men are boorish, but will magically change with the love of the right woman. This Monday’s episode of How I Met Your Mother seemed to focus on that myth more than usual. Perpetuating the myth works in men’s best interests because it keeps women squandering their attention on men who really have no desire to change.

  2. Miss Ree says

    I found myself nodding at your words, especially the “Those men who are jerks but can “score” at bars are hiding their jerk nature in order to appeal to women.” This fits my brother to his core. He pretends to be charming, nice and even likable. In reality, he’s a condescending sexist jerk. Trying to tell the women dating him the truth doesn’t always work because he’s developed a method which adds to the behavior of deceiving jerks.

    It’s rather simple. The jerk’s family knows the reality of who he is. They can reveal it and destroy the illusion of him being a good guy. Rather than allow that, the jerk attacks first. He creates a negative impression for the women he dates. His family is horrible and vicious. They are all hateful liars. He tells his girlfriends that she shouldn’t believe his family. Because he’s tricked her into thinking he’s a nice guy, the warning are dismissed as malicious gossip. We only find after they stop dating about all the things he’s said or implied.

    Most women eventually discover his deception, causing him to move onto the next woman. Due the number of girlfriends he’s had and the two he married, my brother has perfected his method of character assassination. I don’t think he sees anything wrong with it.

  3. Hayclearing says

    The ‘Male Fantasy Character’ subject reminds me of a couple of similar examples from British Comedy – Flashheart from Blackadder and Ace Rimmer from Red Dwarf.

    Flashheart is obviously, obviously constructed to be the ultimate antithesis to Blackadder: hyper-masculine, gregarious, and extremely popular with everyone – for no apparent reason, since everyone in the audience is just as annoyed with him as Blackadder is. The fact that he is inexplicably and immediately attractive to every woman in the scene is mystifying from a female point of view. But if you think of him as a male fantasy of ‘that guy I hate’, it all becomes clear – and women become just another way of keeping score.

    Ace Rimmer is a bit softer around the edges, since the show decided to devote some time to building his character as a genuinely friendly person, and also made of point of having men inexplicably immediately attracted to him as well. But he’s still out of the same mold as Flashheart – he’s that ‘guy men hate’ character, framed with jealousy.

    I find that character off-putting, because he immediately assumes I’m not in the audience – or maybe that I’m part of an audience I’m not.

  4. says

    I can’t speak to Flasheart, but I don’t see Ace Rimmer as quite fitting the mold Beta set up — he doesn’t exist as a warning or punishment for women; he exits specifically to juxtapose Rimmer’s neuroses and selfishness. He’s very much a parody of the James Bond/Indiana Jones hyper-masculine action-adventure hero character type, but everyone’s instant adoration of him is also in parody of that. If anything, I’d think he points out the ways such characters are actually ridiculous.

    British comedy-wise, I’d compare Beta’s post more to Patrick from Coupling. (A show I really enjoy, despite its terrible, terrible gender politics.) Patrick can pick up any woman he wants; he literally doesn’t see women as existing for the purposes of having sex with him. While he’s much more endearing than Barney on How I Met Your Mother, he’s of the same, non-existent-in-real-life mold.

  5. harlemjd says

    I agree that Patrick is a much better example than Ace Rimmer. Ace is introduced as what Arnold could have been, if he had worked hard and appreciated other people instead of expecting things to magically go his way. And in the only episode I can think of featuring Ace and an actual woman, she’s someone he’s known for a while, so it’s not an instant, mysterious attraction. The only new people we see him meet are the Red Dwarf crew and they like him cause he’s nice to them.

    If anything, Ace shows that the Nice Guy (TM) idea of popular guys as jerks is often jealous nonsense. Rimmer can’t figure out why everyone likes Ace, but that’s because of his own issues with people.

  6. says

    @Ramblin Rabbit, I hadn’t thought to connect that myth, but you’re right. It also puts the responsibility for fixing misogyny in women’s laps. In fact, you could connect this whole mess to the “if only some hot babes woulda loved him, he never woulda killed all those people” trope you get in a lot of horror and suspense stories in all psychotic male behavior gets attributed to sexual frustration.

    @Miss Ree, you said it. Nasty people can play nice when it suits them, and many of them are very good at it. Now that character, I would believe.

    (I have nothing to add to the Red Dwarf, Black Adder, Coupling discussion, but carry on!)

  7. says

    That’s awesome, Firebird! I like this bit:

    The biggest problem is that most Nice Guys ™ are hideously insecure. They are so anxious to be liked and loved that they do things for other people to gain acceptance and attention, rather than for the simply pleasure of giving. You never know if a Nice Guy really likes you for who you are, or if he has glommed onto you out of desperation because you actually paid some kind of attention to him.

    I’ve never exactly thought of it that way, but this rings true to me. With the caveat that some Nice Guys are actually obsessed with being liked by other guys, and the women they date are just a tool to impress the boys rather than a human being. Newsflash: women sense that. While a misogynist who knows he’s a misogynist can grasp that he has to pretend not to hate women for long enough to get one into bed, the Nice Guys for whom women aren’t even actual people aren’t self-aware enough to know they need to be better actors.

  8. Patrick says

    I know that HBI is intended largely as a venting site, but I have SERIOUS issues with their “Red Flags list.” It claims to be warning women away from manipulators, but mixed in amongst valid warning are lost of criteria that reject men as “manipulators” simply for not meeting a writer’s standards of maturity, some of which really make me see red.

  9. LostExpatriate says

    Call me crazy, but how is an utter lack of maturity or responsibility NOT a red flag? Oh, wait… The “right woman” will be more than happy to “mommy all over” him and grow him right up, since his behavior and immaturity are obviously not his responsibility to begin with…

  10. says

    Hmm, Patrick. Yeah, I can see why some of the Red Flag items are troubling. Like “sleeps constantly” – there could be a lot of reasons other than maturity for that. And “no other hobbies than watching TV” is true of a lot of mature people who don’t have time for hobbies that involve more than them collapsing into chairs at the end of the day. And the refusal to hear about past sex experiences – that CAN be a mature choice if the person realizes he SHOULD be able to hear that without feeling inadequate, but can’t, and is in other ways a good partner. Calling Mom isn’t necessarily immature, either – depends.

    I think if you take the list as a whole, you begin to build up a workable profile that sounds like the Nice Guys I’ve wished it was legal to shoot. I can see however why some of the individual items are troubling.

  11. MaggieCat says

    I’m only half way through that list, and there are several I have issues with. Yeah I get that it’s meant to be a rant, but the part that’s actually the most troubling is the header at top that ends with:

    “If the person you are with does any ONE thing on this list, put on your running shoes. If they do TWO or more things, lace those shoes up tight, and start RUNNING.”

    I’m all for ranty and pissed off in its place, but prefacing it with a message that says that it should be taken as a hard and fast line is just irresponsible.

    Note: this is not my being defensive for the one or two items I’ve seen that I fit. I happen to hate talking on the phone, and am awful about returning calls. I warn people about this. And yes I will leave the room to talk on the phone if I simply must when there’s someone else present because I have trouble not paying attention to everything being said everywhere and think it’s rude when no one‘s getting my full attention. It also bugs me when people gaily chirp on for half an hour on the phone while I’m sitting right there, so at least I’m consistent.

  12. Patrick says

    Lost Expatriate:

    Call me crazy, but how is an utter lack of maturity or responsibility NOT a red flag? Oh, wait… The “right woman” will be more than happy to “mommy all over” him and grow him right up, since his behavior and immaturity are obviously not his responsibility to begin with…

    Certainly, someone with an utter lack of maturity or responsibility is someone to stay away from. But the problem is that many of these Red Flags reflect anything that one person perceives as a lack of maturity. And, as MaggieCat pointed out, the Red Flags are presented as dealbreakers – women are explicitly warned to stay way from men who meet any ONE of the Red Flags.

    Some of the specific Red Flags that I’m referring to are:

    He is a film critic, a history major, and poet. You are almost intimidated by his “artsy” side. He is intelligent, well-versed, and well educated. You think to youself, “How did I snag such a GREAT guy?” As time goes by, you notice that his film reviews (especially historical war films) and poetry are the ONLY areas he “comes alive.” You wonder why he has such a strong connection to certain things, yet emotionally he’s aloof.

    There are any number of great men who have trouble socializing outside of their comfort zone, which generally involves whatever their big interests are. This hardly makes them immature men-children or manipilators (and remember, this is a list of Red Flags warning women of manipulators).

    They have had a chemical dependency problem in the past. Addicts usually replace one addiction with another, if they ever leave on addiction behind at all. Alcohol today, pr0n tomorrow.

    According to HBI, a recovered alchoholic has a character flaw, not a medical condition. WTF?

    Men who have juvenile hobbies such as comic book or action figure collections. This is a huge sign that they’re not all the way grown up.

    What the hell? So cars and sports are “grown up” but comics aren’t? This is just judgemental bullshit. Declaring that anyone with a “juvenile hobby” must be a manipulator to stay away from pisses me off.

    His entire wardrobe consists of clothes from trade shows like Comdex, bearing the logos of software and gaming companies.

    That’s right, folks! Geeks with no fashion sense are manipulators. Stay far away.

    She still calls her mother every time she has to make a major life decision.

    What the hell?!? This is HEALTHY. I’d be more worried about someone who doesn’t call their mother when they have to make a major life decision. But apparently, in order for someone to be mature (and therefore not a manipulator?) they have to have cut off all ties with their parents.

    He/she is under 23 and has already been married and divorced and has kids.

    So anyone who made a youthful mistake and rushed into things is a manipulator?

    And the worst:

    He has ANY history of childhood abuse (abusive parents or siblings), ESPECIALLY (but not limited to) sexual abuse, and he hasn’t been in YEARS of therapy (and I mean YEARS – like a decade or more, depending on his age), working through his issues. Men who were abused have a very strong tendency to become abusers. It takes many many years of therapy to overcome this, if they can at all. And when they start therapy, they often get worse before they get better. Manipulative men who have been in therapy for only a year or so or are probably at the WORST stage to get involved with.

    This makes me see red so much that I have no words.

  13. SunlessNick says

    I think there’s a wish fulfillment element to this trope as well – the wish being that you can treat women as crap as you want and they’ll come running – or that you can be rewarded for not thinking about other people.

  14. Patrick says

    Oh, absolutely. The “NIce Guy” can convince himself that he is a martyr for putting so much effort into being nice to women that he wants to sleep with, and fantasize about how the day will come when he finally decides to treat the “bitches” the way they obviously want to be treated.

  15. Firebird says

    Well, I’m glad you guys read around the site. I only read that one particular post (that is, until it became redundant about half way through). :-) I just thought they said that particular issue better than I could. It does sound like maybe they are a bit bombastic (and perhaps trying to be a bit humorous with their exaggerations) in their advice. Of course, sometimes it is necessary to exaggerate to get people’s attention. They are talking to – I think – the kind of girl who wouldn’t notice that “nice guy” they are describing in that list until it’s too late, and so sometimes you have to over exaggerate to get that person’s attention.

    In any case, I did find the tone rather caustic, which is always prone to making enemies. :-)

  16. says

    “It does sound like maybe they are a bit bombastic (and perhaps trying to be a bit humorous with their exaggerations)”

    I think the problem is that, in trying to be funny, they turn to perpetuating stereotypes about men. A lot of the stuff that Patrick was rightly complaining about is the sort of stuff that more experienced women tell younger women on stereotypical TV shows. (What kind of job does he have? Is he too attached to his mother?) That sort of thing.

    Which might have actually been sensible advice in the 1950′s when people married young and women didn’t have a whole lot of options for leaving a bad marriage. But now? The potential problems that these particular questions are trying to tease out are not the kind that make leaving a relationship dangerous, so they really shouldn’t be mixed in with comments about men who insist on ordering for you or begin stalking you.

  17. Patrick says

    Exactly, thank you. It’s one thing to vent about people’s faults. It’s another to mix peevish things in with warning signs of abuse and manipulation with nothing to distinguish them.

    The abuse victim-blaming, though, is absolutely inexcusable.

  18. Legible Susan says

    Patrick,

    The first time you mentioned the Red Flags list I looked and didn’t find it; now I’m glad I didn’t. I was getting annoyed at the anti-geek prejudice you were calling them on (but thinking it was a bit off topic), then I got to that last entry … sheesh. That is, as you say, inexcusable.

  19. Legible Susan says

    Administrators,

    I’m not sure where to put this, as the “Advertise on THL”page has no comment box, but this is the first page I noticed it on.

    The “BlogHer Ad Network” ads (at least, the ones I’m seeing – I hate moving ads with extreme prejudice, so I use FlashBlocker) are for eDiets. They’re all about losing weight, with very-small-print saying exercise is also necessary. I don’t think this is the sort of thing you want to be advertising.

    (Btw, the site menu link to the opinion register also says “Advertise on THL”.)

  20. says

    Susan,

    I haven’t seen those particular ads, and don’t have granular control over every ad BlogHer puts up. I took a quick look at eDiets’ site, and I’m not seeing anything that suggests I need to reach a size zero to be loved, or that I’m disgusting if I don’t use their service, or anything else that strikes me as particularly anti-woman. I don’t consider weight loss services to be evil by default, because there will always be legit reasons for individuals to lose weight amongst all the bullshit reasons. Did the ad specifically invoke any of the bullshit reasons, or did it just invite women who are interested in losing weight to try out their services?

    I fixed the link to the Opinion Register – thanks! I was looking for it the other day and could’ve sworn I’d put it on. I didn’t even notice the Advertise link appeared twice. This is what happens when you work 80 hours a week for a few months without a break. :)

  21. Scarlett says

    They have had a chemical dependency problem in the past. Addicts usually replace one addiction with another, if they ever leave on addiction behind at all. Alcohol today, pr0n tomorrow.

    One of the most honest, emotionally stable people I know is a recovering addict. (Food addiction, which pisses me off all on its own that so many people don’t grasp adddiction can extend to non-chemical things.) Part of it is because she knows she has to recognise her triggers so she doesnt slide into a destructive binge, and identifying the indulgent personality that helped the addiction along in the first place. I’m yet to meet a non-addict who can say ‘I’m only doing this because I’m upset over something so I’m going to call someone rather than indulge in destructive behaviour’ to the degree she can.

    For the most part, I think HBI has some interesting things to say (and I have a very sarcastic, OTT sense of humour so I get the feeling a lot is meant tongue-in-cheek) but that comment made me lose a whole lot of respect for the writer and the site.

  22. says

    I have to add that I’ve known several people with chemical abuse issues in their past who are mature, responsible and concerned about not hurting their friends and lovers.

    I would venture a guess that the only people you need to worry about for having prior dependencies are those who have merely swapped one addiction for another, rather than actually grappling with the dependency issues themselves. So, really, what you should be looking for are signs of CURRENT dependencies, some of which can be hard to recognize.

  23. Legible Susan says

    BetaCandy,

    I didn’t look that closely at the ads – I just reacted to “diet site” and thought you might not know, since I assumed you don’t get to preview the ads. Now of course, they’re not turning up again so I can check! If the site looks OK to you, fine.

    (80 hours a week – whoa! I wouldn’t last a month.)

  24. Scarlett says

    Betacandy, that’s what I WOULD have tried to say if I wasn’t so pissed off about the sweeping statement about addicts replacing one addiction for another :p There are definitely plenty of addicts who do swap one for another butr it’s incredibly dismissive to imply they all do and it’s something that gets myback up very quickly.

  25. Saiyne says

    But you have to admit it is fun to roleplay/act the misogynist and/or misanthropic male.

    And the FICTIONAL ones can be very attractive (*not* appearance wise). eg. Depp’s Sweeney Todd

    AND there are some women (and men) that like been treated badly. Just look at the Goreans, for one. (I know, I know. They’re “actually” equal… <_<)

    But male script writers piss me off in general. “Oh! Only a guy could be intelligent, cunning, etc. What roles shall we give the women? Oh, I know! The girlfriends.” Y’know. Piss off.

  26. says

    But you have to admit it is fun to roleplay/act the misogynist and/or misanthropic male.

    Being female, I wouldn’t know. I do enjoy being a misanthropic woman, though.

    AND there are some women (and men) that like been treated badly. Just look at the Goreans, for one. (I know, I know. They’re “actually” equal… <_ <)

    Anyone who likes to be mistreated is not quite right in the head. That said, throughout this discussion I’ve been toying with bringing up one additional point, which is:

    You know who likes to be mistreated by the opposite sex? Heterosexual men. We have thousands of years of men complaining about marriage and how wives and girlfriends treat them, as if monogamy and marriage evolved under a matriarchy. Men created this system, then they claim to hate it, but with all the power they have they won’t change it. Why not? Because they created it for the express purpose of having something to complain about. Which is, if you think about it, not particularly sane or healthy.

    Of course I’m not talking about each and every man in the world when I say this. But clearly, there’s a very big element in patriarchy that likes to indulge in a sort of bondage fantasy, in which the big strong man who really can (and often does) abandon his wife and kids or girlfriend the second he gets bored imagines himself bound to them by a force stronger than himself. I guess that’s a lot of fun when it’s not real. I wouldn’t know; for women, it’s historically been a reality, and often a hellish one.

  27. Jennifer Kesler says

    Susan, I finally saw an eDiets ad. Not sure it’s the one you saw because there was no mention of exercise. It felt to me like it’s merely putting out a weight loss offer to those who want to lose weight for whatever reason. To my eye, it doesn’t use scare tactics, shame tactics or invoke a beauty standard. It’s just saying if you want to lose weight, try us.

    I totally get where you’re coming from, with the whole diet industry targeting women more than men. I just feel that rather than boycott all of them, I’m okay with running ads for the ones that DON’T yap like NutriSystem about how your husband will think you’re hot again if you get skinny or use underweight models as examples of who should be dieting. Maybe even that’ll show the ones who DO use those tactics that they’ll have a bigger market share if they try something else.

    ETA: I submitted this and then saw another ad asking if you’re healthy or heavy. It had a chart of heights, ages and weights, and according to it my weight is at the top end of “healthy”. Visually, most people would call me “fat” but I am in fact in good health. This also tends to make me want to keep their ads because it reinforces a more realistic view of what we should weigh – a huge range, depending on build and muscle mass.

    Thanks for your input. :)

  28. Saiyne says

    Beta, I AM female.

    I just roleplay males to so all the… well, nerds, don’t go.

    OMG, you’re FEMALE!!! *drool*

  29. Saiyne says

    Also, males have more freedom plot wise. You can have a powerful male character without been seen as it being something sexual. (What IS it with men and wanting to be dominated, anyway? Just look at the “Drow” in WoW, I mean I like the idea of female been in charge once in awhile (fictionally, in reality is should be EQUAL) but they made them all overtly sexual, and no wearing ANYTHING. That’s not clothes, it a piece of cloth.) And you don’t have all these coments on your *pixualated* breasts. While were at it. Why don’t women get proper armour in video games. I don’t want someone with half a brain decided, “Hey all this body exposed, I’ll stab there” y’know. It’s not logical damn it! XD

    Also, it *is* fun to PRETEND (the whole, bondage etc) but when it crosses over to reality, just, no.

  30. says

    Saiyne, I didn’t realize you were talking gaming, LOL! I get it now. :)

    I probably still wouldn’t enjoy roleplaying a misogynistic male because I spent the first 20+ years of my life being quite the reverse sexist pig. Growing up in the South, white men were a subspecies, as far as I could tell. They were all weak, whiny, but obsessed with making everyone think they were butch. And I loathed women who dated them because how could you respect something that would date a little fool who fell apart at the first hint of adversity and defined “getting my shit together” as beating the crap out of the nearest woman, queer person or black person?

    Then, as soon as humanly possible, I moved out of the South and found… well, white men in places like L.A. aren’t a whole lot better. But I began to understand that the way the culture privileges them, they don’t generally get challenges to overcome that I can respect. Oh, they think climbing to the top of the corporate heap is something I ought to respect, but I saw them start off from a position 10 rungs above me on the ladder, so I’m not that impressed. And so on.

    At which point I became happily misanthropic to all! :D

  31. Saiyne says

    My misogynistic males are always on the “evil side” anyway. And they eventually have something really bad happen to them, like DEATH!!! XD Hehe.

  32. littlem says

    The “Nice Guy” is all too frequently a passive aggressive jerk with no social skills who spits out “B*tch!” as soon as he’s rejected.
    You will also note that the only women he approaches most frequently are the tropes in BC’s earlier post that possess 75+ percent of the traits on her fembot list.

    Straight hair is, among American men, currently preferable. So is blonde hair.

    Other women don’t really even exist in his world as female. The “Nice Guy” will walk right by them — sometimes walking right into them — without seeing them.

    I do believe the tropes have gotten worse recently because the current Administration’s attitude, in all things, has filtered from the top down into the general majority culture, in terms of what racist and sexist sensibilities are permitted public expression without censure .

    (Anyone remember the Blackwater assaults?)

    It’s also been exacerbated by economic pressure (“them wimminz/them immigrantz/them culluds are takin MY JOBZ! They must be put back in their place!”).

    When a fish begins to stink, it usually starts at the head.

  33. Fraser says

    The argument from HBI that once a man (or anyone I presume) hits 16, their personality is fixed … No.

    Interesting post, BetaCandy

  34. Patrick says

    Considering that the human brain still isn’t fully developed at 16, I second that no.

    I’ve been running into various Nice Guy things recently and I’ve noticed that earlier comments regarding their definition of “women” are very true. When the Nice Guy talks about women, what he means are “women that I want to have sex with.” Anyone else is even less of a nonentity.

  35. says

    You know, I think they’re confused. I believe what psychiatrists call “personality” IS indeed fixed by around 16, but that’s not what we mean when we talk generally about personality. Psychiatrists are talking about really core developmental stuff, really basic identity – the sort of stuff most of us aren’t even aware of having, but people with serious psychiatric disorders lack (which causes them to behave as they do).

    I can see that the core of who I am has never changed since 16, maybe earlier, but the outer Me – how I live, what I do, the opinions and beliefs I hold – that’s all changed in ways I never imagined. You know what I mean? There’s something fundamental that gets set in stone, but only for people with serious psychiatric issues is change not possible. So to say, for example, someone who can rape or stalk or hit people at 30 might not be able to change… yeah, that’s true, and it’s something people need to be informed about. But to say someone who wastes time on video games at 30 might not be spending his time very differently at 40 would be wrong.

    Hope that makes sense.

  36. Daomadan says

    I believe what psychiatrists call “personality” IS indeed fixed by around 16, but that’s not what we mean when we talk generally about personality.

    In my studies of developmental psychology they state that it isn’t until a person is about 30 that our personality really becomes fixed. As for 16 as a marker of personality development, depending on the person, it may be fixed at that age but it might also take years later for a person to really develop their core beliefs or the elements that make up personality. Many teenagers and young adults are still in a developmental stage where they are forming their own opinions and beliefs which is not necessarily personality, but may influence it. The interesting thing about development of the brain is that it is different for everyone, but they can pinpoint certain markers that most people will hit at some point in their lives.

  37. says

    I think we may still be talking about two different things. I’ll be more specific.

    My father has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. His diagnosing psychiatrist explained that such disorders can’t be treated. They can be prevented (somewhat) if a patient is reached before the age of 20, when the disordered part of the personality is still a bit flexible. After that, they can’t be reached deeply enough to fix a problem of that magnitude because the rigidity of the disordered personality is part of its defense mechanism. It can’t tolerate intrusions from reality like the rest of us – what it can’t handle, it ignores. What it can’t ignore, it destroys. This makes perfect sense to it, and it can’t understand why you’re not happy when it does its best to destroy you – you were, after all, defective in trying to make it see reason. And so on.

    Therefore, if a woman is learning about an emotionally abusive man in her life, she may come across information that says he was set in stone long before she met him. This is a good message for women and kids of men like that – it lets you know you can stop wasting time and energy trying to help your abuser stop abusing you and get on with your life. It lets you know he’s not like other rude or selfish people she’s met who changed when they realized the error of his ways; he is incapable of realizing error because his sense of self is so fragile.

    I’m speculating that HBI has come across that info and extrapolated it to normal personality development, hence the confusion. A man who can rip people apart without guilt in his 20s is not likely to grow a conscience about it later. But a man who wastes time at 25 may be a super-busy dynamo at 50. Because there’s nothing substantially different between a personality that wastes time and one that doesn’t – could simply be a lack of motivation. But there is something substantially different about someone who can destroy lives without a second thought.

  38. says

    There’s also the fact that misogyny isn’t like a fascination with sports, say (I refuse to accept that “tennis” is a more worthwhile occupation, intrinsically, than “videogames”) and the attitude that Woman qua Woman is ontologically inferior to, and by the order of things in the natural world, subject to and properly so to the male of the species, now and forever, is one that is inculcated in many boys by each other on the playground, and by their fathers both overtly and as demonstrated by their speech about and actions towards womn, by the time they’re six and seven.

    Unless their parents make a conscious effort to raise them against the prevailing culture, and to talk about it and explain why it’s important to reject the othering , demeaning, and objectification of women, that’s the way they end up, feeling entitled to it the way they’re entitled to breathe the air, or buy a dog and treat it however they wish – and thus entitled to troll and harrass and threaten women who even dare to object to being objectified, othered, and demeaned. Or beat them up, or worse, if they object in person (or even if they don’t object, but just aren’t able to conform to their impossible expectations for the other half of the human race.

    –I don’t say it’s impossible for sexist men to redeem themselves, because there are a number of posters who claim to have been former Kotaku types who have seen the light and rejected the phallic Idol of Brittle Masculinity – but it’s darn hard, and if you meet a guy who is a sexist jerk at 16, odds are good that he will be one still at 30 – though he may have learned how to put a smoother surface of Nice Guy(TM) on in public, at least.

  39. says

    Further thoughts, given my annoyance at the coding of “video games” and by extension all other fannish things as inherently male, as well as trivial, though I was only a casual gamer, partly because I wasn’t so good at it, which was partly because I had to give the majority of computer time to my brothers or take care of the rest of the family, being The Big Sister and I *should* be spending all my free time doing housework and being cheerful and noble about it, or else I was a defective unwomanly selfish wretch.

    The problem isn’t Video Games, or even time spent playing them: one of the longest-together couples I know are hardcore WoW players, and this is how they maintained contact daily when work kept them hundreds of miles apart. “The family that slays together, stays together” I joked to them, once.

    The problem is the common masculine attitude that “Whatever I am doing is more important than anything any woman might be doing” , not “video games” per se. In my own family, it was usually whatever books or scholarly journals my father might be reading, vs whatever “trivial” interests my mother or us children wanted to do or talk about, frex. But also his right to the computer game playing time trumped ours, his right to the TV trumped ours, whatever he wanted to do (or not do) trumped everyone else’s desires, always, because “I am the man and I bought all this stuff and you live here at my sufferance, peons” – and then he wonders why we moved out as quick as we could and hate coming home even for holidays…but this is part of the whole Male Entitlement Syndrome, the patriarchal attitude that I am The Man, I Make The Money, So I Own You (and gods forbid you go out and get a job, woman, that’s against Nature and will shame me before my fellow human beings, ie the men I work with.)

    The excluding of “trivial” female (equated with family/childish) interests for such lofty goals as staying late at work, reading serious academic matter, and schmoozing with one’s male colleagues in the coffee shop are *every bit* as pernicious as “OMG loser playing video games!” – being married to a guy who’d rather be married to his work and spend fun time with the old boys’ club on or off the job, doing serious manly things like working on his golf score or talking about office gossip around the water cooler is *not* an improvement over being with someone who thinks his right to the joystick trumps yours because he has the phallus and you don’t.

    If a guy has this attitude impressed into his mind by the time he’s in high school, as so many do – then it’s going to be very hard to shake it out thereafter. Where, after all, do all these “Nice Guys” and Kotaku hordes – many of whom ARE up-and-coming professionals, like the law school creeps who hassled Jill at Feministe – keep coming from?

    No amount of added age (growing like a tree) is going to fix this, without strong external correctives leading to a rejection of fundamental attitudes and the dominant culture. But they are bound and determined to NOT be enlightened of this privileged mindset at any cost, but to shout down anyone who tries to remove it, and then to whine endlessly about how come they can’t get laid…’cause all those heartless bitches out there don’t appreciate their wonderfulness, of course!

  40. Fraser says

    It occurs to me, rereading this, that there may be one other reason we see this kind of character so much: The writing sucks.
    Not in the sense that the Misogynist Who Gets Girls is a bad character, but that writers may–at least in some cases–think they’re creating a charming rogue and they’re wrong (or the actor can’t play a rogue, I’ve seen that too).
    In Olivia Goldsmith’s novel Bad Boys, for instance, I think the heroine’s boyfriend is intended to be irresponsible-but-sexy-and-charming which is why she stays in a lousy relationship. The way it’s written, he’s a good looking jerk. So maybe she was doing the misogynist route, but maybe Goldsmith wasn’t a good enough writer to make him charming enough.
    I’ve seen the same thing in nonsexual contexts, characters who are so incredibly charismatic and charming that doors magically open for them, rules are waived–but whatever the author had in their head, the character is a dull stick of wood on the page.

  41. Maria V. says

    I’ve been watching Tripping the Rift (I have bad taste in TV) and have been thinking about this a lot. In case you haven’t seen the show, the premise is that Chode is a “lovable jerk” who captains a crew of misfits. Six is his sexbot, and is often the main voice of reason in the show. She also looks profoundly unhappy every time Chode acts like a jerk, and it’s REALLY DEPRESSING, since I think you’re supposed to interpret her sadness as resignation/love instead of depression.

  42. Karakuri says

    I’ve actually lost all faith in the conventional idea of what makes an attractive man. It makes no sense how, while you always hear men talking about how they don’t know what women want, we’re simulataneously being told what we want by men. Images of the ideal man all around us are created by and for men. Things that would impress a woman also have to be things that would impress a man (power, courage, personality, etc.). Even penis size, supposed to be something valued by women, is just a way of proving your virility, not a sexually attractive trait. I don’t know any women among my social circle who are overly concerned about the size of a man’s penis.

    I’ve met women who seem to have no idea of the ideal man in mind beyond what men think is ideal for themselves. It’s only natural that good looks and anything that could possibly lead to objectification would be absent from these ideals. Although women who’ve internalized male insecurities call “pretty” men wimps and clowns, I believe a lot of women quite like seeing men pretty and made up, or seeing them vulnerable, or even engaging in flamboyant (an thus impractical) behaviour. An eroticized man is made a target of the female gaze, and doesn’t hold interest for the straight man, a double minus as far as straight men are concerned, so he just doesn’t exist in our media (except as comic relief or a pathetic villain). I’ve finally come to realize why I was so frustrated when I was a kid that all these men on TV with women swooning all over them, who were supposed to get us girls all hot and bothered, just had no erotic appeal. It’s sad to think women who aren’t in touch with their desires can only know this “ideal” man.

    Sorry, it might have gone a bit off-topic.

  43. Karakuri says

    By good looks, I mean something that goes beyond just rugged handsomeness, which is safe as it takes no effort and doesn’t make a man more “vulnerable”.

  44. Karakuri says

    Sorry for spamming the thread, but I’d like to clarify: it’s a triple minus, because such a man is also being impractical, a sin for any walking the path of “manhood”.

  45. Sylvie says

    I dated a “nice guy” once. He turned out to be an awful, abusive man.

    But, this is why I’m writing:

    This sort of reminded me of a feminist reaction I’ve seen to BDSM, especially scenarios wherein the man is dominant and the woman is submissive. I’ve run into any number of situations in which submissive women have been chastised as having been brainwashed and as repeating – and perhaps even encouraging – an unhealthy balance of power between the genders. Can you comment, or point me to a link where The Hathor Legacy discusses this?

    • Maria says

      Hi Sylvie!

      As far as I know, that’s not something that comes up a lot in Hathor posts. I try to include kink blogs dealing with feminism in our Links of Great Interest (here’s an example of a recent one: http://thehathorlegacy.com/links-of-great-interest-1110/). I also talk a little about some of the attitudes in Gor here: http://thehathorlegacy.com/witness-of-gor-john-norman/.

      I personally wouldn’t judge a sub for submitting… but if s/he tried to front that there is something radical about a female body submitting to a male body, or that there’s an essentially feminine quality to submitting, or whatever, I’d have a problem. I’d also have a problem with a kinkster blaming DV laws or feminists for ruining sex/kinkdom, or dismissing feminists as all being anti-sex prudes.

      Sorry to derail your post Jen! :p

  46. snobographer says

    Karakuri says:
    October 9, 2009 at 1:52 am

    Images of the ideal man all around us are created by and for men. Things that would impress a woman also have to be things that would impress a man

    Sean Connery is a perfect embodiment of this. Aside from the actresses in his movies, who are paid very handsomely to act like they dig him, I’ve never heard any woman IRL express any sort of sexual attraction to Sean Connery. Ever. Not even older women. The closest I’ve seen is women reiterating the CW that women dig Sean Connery, but that they personally can take him or leave him and that they don’t actually know any women who are all that into him.
    I have heard lots and lots of guys say that women are totally hot for Sean Connery, like it’s an unassailable fact.

    Also, the knight in shining armor or prince on a white steed, galloping through a meadow or along a beach. Total male fantasy. Has nothing to do with actual women’s actual sexuality.

    It just goes to show most men – and really society at large – get their ideas about women from other men. It’s a big part of why we continue to baffle them. “You’re still mad at me? But I bought you jewelry!”

    • littlem says

      , I’ve never heard any woman IRL express any sort of sexual attraction to Sean Connery.

      My mother digs him. (And I’ve heard other Bond fans of her generation swoon over him.)

      I, on the other hand, am a Pierce Brosnan girl.

      I’ve heard some interesting things about how Connery treats women, and I’ve observed (from my shameful readings of Hello! and other equally vapid media) the lovely way Pierce treats his wife Kelly.

      I think there’s something significant in that, even if I can’t quite put the finger on it.

      • Casey says

        I don’t know at all about the way Connery or Brosnan treats women, so I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not in the “lovely” department. (I never seem to find articles on them in the trash mags I read…either that, or I’m just not paying enough attention! :P)

        • says

          From Wikipedia’s entry on Connery:

          In her 2006 autobiography My Nine Lives, as well as in subsequent interviews on radio and in print, Diane Cilento claimed that Connery had beaten her on several occasions. Connery vehemently denied the accusations.[37] In a December 1987 interview with Barbara Walters, he stated that it would be acceptable for a man to hit a woman with an open hand, if she continues to provoke the man after he concedes an argument to her.[38] Connery had made similar remarks in a November 1965 interview with Playboy magazine on the set of Thunderball: “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman … If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it.” In 1993, Vanity Fair quoted him saying there are confrontational women who “want a smack”.[39]

          So, you know, even if he didn’t hit Cilento, his thinking on the topic reeks. Unless he went on to state that women are also entitled to hit their male partners if the male partners are getting on their nerves with their silly male opinions and habits and such, and the publications edited that part out. Somehow, I doubt.

          There have never been allegations of mistreatment by Pierce Brosnan of either of his wives. In fact, by all accounts (including film people I knew who worked with him directly), he was deeply devoted to his first wife throughout their marriage. She eventually died of ovarian cancer, and apparently he rearranged his whole life around supporting her through her illness. When she died, he struggled with his grieving process, as you’d expect from someone deeply in love.

        • littlem says

          Hi, Casey –

          I got this message three times in email but it wasn’t showing up here.

          As for Brosnan, I wasn’t being sarcastic. He treats his wife, also mom of both his kids IINM, with loving solicitation. There’s a lot of fan sniping because she does things like appear in a bikini in public even though she’s not size 0, so you get all this woman-on-woman hate about how James Bond “should” be with someone “more attractive” … and the two of them just blithely ignore it, which has always pleased me.

          In contrast, a sharp one, I think, to some of the things JK has dug up for you on Mr. Connery.

          • Casey says

            Oh, I think I remember some Best/Worst Bikini Bods show on E! where they were talking all kinds of shit about Brosnan’s wife being “fat” or something.

  47. voodooqueen126 says

    I have seen Sean Connery when he was younger and he was handsome. Sad to find out he is a gross beater…
    I think the men who are portrayed as being the mysoginists who pick up chicks are often kind of pretty blond men (like Barney from How I met your Mother or Joffrey Lannister from AGOT when Sansa liked him). Now Barney and whichever actor plays Joffrey (James Gleeson I think) would be pretty girls and no doubt appealing to men if they were women. But that pretty blond look is a big sexual zero for me.
    Men who are incredibly sexy include, most Bollywood stars, Rory McCann, the guy who plays Wolverine, Daniel Craig, maybe George Clooney… Personally I think having a wonderfully muscled body like that would be incredibly high maintanence, far more high maintanence then being a pretty little blond like Barney or Orlando Bloom (who isn’t blond but still fragile looking), which merely requires dieting than actual weight-lighting and running. So I kind of assumed that men were projecting: they know they find fragile blond elf girls attractive, so they assume that women find fragile blond elf boys attractive, and whilst that sort of look was attractive to me before I was 12 (remember girlhood crushes) it changed at 12 and the beginning of adolescence. So they have this terribly pretty men with horrid personalities, getting laid.
    As if in real life.

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