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.
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.”
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.