To the beach with A on Saturday where we reviewed our past love affairs and laughed ourselves silly. O, the inauthenticities! The martyrdoms! The deceptions! And though we met only a year ago, and lived in different places and families, our stories are the same. They go like this …
A goes to a party. Day or two later, a man rings her. “Remember me from the party? I’m really attracted to you and I’d like to see you again.” A doesn’t remember him from the party. She dissembles. She thinks to herself, “Ha! I know what I’ll do”, and tells him she must consult her diary. She’s extra busy at this time, she thinks with satisfaction, and I can be totally honest when I tell him I’m full.
“Every day and night is booked, would you believe? All I’ve got is two days spread through the month”, she says gaily.
“I’ll take ‘em”, he says.
And that was that. Snookered.
Four years later, she finds the wherewithall to end the relationship.
God, we laughed. And while the details vary, the structure is the same in every story we told. In each case, there’s a moment very early on when something is stepped over, when something that is there for us to say, is not said. When instead of saying that thing – “I don’t remember you” – we choose looking good (or to say it another way, avoiding looking bad).
And in the world of agreements which women inhabit, looking good means choosing to seem “nice”, “good”, “helpful”, “self-sacrificing” … ugh, I’d write more only I’m making myself sick.
In our desire to look good and avoid looking bad, we trap ourselves.
When I got home that day, I was cleaning out some old papers and found this vigorous quote about Germaine Greer’s book, The Whole Woman. It was written by Australian literary critic, Peter Craven.
… the intensity and savagery of her critique of the false feminine woman, the castrate with her poisonous altruism and masochism and sookiness that has allowed the male dolt and the myth of motherhood to usurp her soul.
A word, to end, on the phrase “male dolt” …
When a woman is being inauthentic in the ways women be inauthentic, it is only natural she is with a male dolt. Her inauthenticity calls forth the inauthenticity of the man. Inauthenticity calls to inauthenticity.
She creates the man as he is, just as the man creates the woman as she is, just as we are creating all those we are in relationship with.
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