This is a fascinating article. It is the conflict between two relational consumers. In this case the man just wants companionship and the woman wants sex, the ironic reverse of where they would have been thirty years ago. She decides at his rebuff to go somewhere else to get sex. He liked her for her other qualities and maybe decided he’d get sex from someone younger but have her for companionship. They are both using someone else as a function of their needs. They both demand that people mirror back to them the affirmation they desired. She wanted to be affirmed through sex. He wanted to be affirmed through companionship.
She’ll likely be able to find someone willing to have sex with her, and he’ll likely find someone willing to give him companionship. What they both will have difficulty with is finding someone who won’t treat them as a commodity partly because both are approaching relationships as consumers of persons.
What is this article about? Why is it so powerful? What nerve does it hit? For both parties, what is the relationship for? What did he violate that is both so common, common to men especially in the articulated form and what can this tell us about ourselves? Why did I talk about consumers?What did she want out of the relationship that he deeply violated? What did he want out of the relationship that she was unwilling to accommodate and for what reason?
Didn’t she want to be known and loved, wrinkles and all? What character wrinkles was she unwilling to overlook in him? Now maybe you say his deficiency wasn’t a mere wrinkle, but a deep deficiency that it would have been wrong of her to overlook. Maybe she was wise to get out when she did. We quickly judge him (on her testimony) to have deeper flaws because he was shallow.
Weren’t they being mirrors for each other and didn’t they want for the other to project back to them the self they wished to be? Do we use people to affirm us? We all say people shouldn’t be used but what we are hoping for is an exchange.
If you watch the economics of sex video it runs through the use case, the consumer case. It is all about pricing.
She raised the price in the middle of negotiations. “You must affirm my true body.” Was he shallow? Sure. Did he love her? No. What if he simply lied? That would be adjusting his market price.
Did she love him? Is writing about him now an expression of love? Is it justice? Ought he to be punished? What punishment?
No one wants to be used either for sex or as a mirror of our identity issues. It is common to exchange sex for assurances to assuage insecurity.
The piece itself is a piece to mobilize women to drive the price of sex up. I won’t argue with that. Sex has been priced far too low for women. Mostly religious groups have been making this assertion.
She is the “hero” of the story because she asserted her own value in the face of his reflecting a value back to her lower than what she knew was right. There is a lot of this in our culture. What she does with the piece is try to address his depreciating her with the readers appreciating her. It’s again an ego transaction. She was willing to offer sex for affirmation.
Huffpo knew what it was doing with this piece. Who would cheer, who would shrug.
What does she really want? What we all want. She wants to be loved for who she is, even despite who she is. She wishes to have her wrinkles seen and still be loved and affirmed. Was she willing to do the same?
Now we might say “good thing she got out. From what we’ve seen he’s not capable of this kind of love.” Perhaps not. This kind of love is very difficult for people. We want to receive it, of course, but to give it? Then we do a price analysis. And there is the rub.
I would assert that any hope for this kind of love requires more than intention to receive it, it requires a context for there to be a chance of it, and even then it is never assured.
They were both consumers, acting like consumers negotiating in a market place. Neither came into it promising to even try to love the other. Both came into it “trying each other out” to see if the cost/benefit was in their favor, hopefully mutually so, at least for a while.
Relationships have become vehicles for the constructed selves.
Normal people depend on others for their sense of identity, self-worth, and security. We do so because we are generally at a common modest level of personal development. A reflected self is the first self we have. Many people never develop much of a solid self and engage in borrowed functioning all their lives.
Schnarch, David (2011-07-01). Intimacy & Desire (p. 46). Beaufort Books. Kindle Edition.
When he defined her she was hurt. Now she turns to have her readers define her. She is still a consumer and so are we.
Learning to love solidifies the self, helps the self reduced borrowed functioning.
This story is about the price of sex, sex verses borrowed functioning.
Huffpo wrote the title no doubt. It is written with the skill developed by the click economy. “She reacted perfectly” is most telling. Perfectly implies that she took power, used power, set the world right.
What she did was demanded a higher value for herself. She still didn’t get what she wanted. She just made a different exchange.
The assumption is that she goes back into the market to look for a better deal. She remains a consumer in the market.
I’d assert that this isn’t perfect. People should be loved, not used. Markets are about use.
There are so many layers to this, that’s what makes the piece rich.We want to flatten the story. “She’s right, he’s wrong.” Sure. “She’s seeking something deeper, he’s shallow.” Yep. but you can learn more from this article if you pay attention to t
he layers, like an archeological dig.What is happening here on a biological level.
As a society we have said “you shouldn’t scorn people for their biology. You shouldn’t scorn people for what they are naturally predisposed to do.” This is the argument about gay marriage, they are born that way. OK.
The man is born to optimize his choice of sexual partners for reproductive reasons. This is why he’s born to be attracted to youth. He’s born to be attracted to thick hair, symmetrical features, full breasts and hips, etc. Watch any biology lesson on mammal sexuality. He’s honestly expressing his biology.
Watch the same program and you’ll see she’s biologically disposed to seek other things: a provider, a committer, a stable person who will be there for her and their offspring.
Huffpo is betting on biology here. Women will take her side motivated by biology. Men wont take his side because we’ve learned that it doesn’t get us anywhere to speak against women’s biology. Shutting up about what a man naturally wants gets us less sex, so we learn to tell the women what they want to hear and to not be so shallow and stupid as to defeat our biological mandate.
Women socialize men via sex. Women train men. Women have a biological stake in marriage that men don’t naturally have, at least at this level.
Culturally we have wanted to say “why can’t a woman have sex like a man”. I don’t mean this crassly. I mean “why can’t she seek to get out of sex what a man does, and approach it like a man does.”
This is a “collateral damage” approach to the power question. Men have used power against women, so now women will use power against men. But why should they? At the biological level it really doesn’t work for them.
You might say “oh, that’s a religious traditionalist talking…” Or you could read that religious traditionalist tract called the New York Times. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/…/women-find-orgasms…/..
Huffpo is banking on the biology of sex like McDonalds banks on the biology of taste.
Men need marriage for different reasons than women. Marriage helps men transcend their biology in a way that meets women’s biological needs. We have, however, forgotten how to balance these equations. It helps men when women increase the price of sex. This helps men transcend their biology. Women have not, however, been doing their sex a favor by devaluing sex. It has enabled men to act more like biological men. People might not like this video because it seems to diminish the powerful gift that birth control technology is, but what can’t be denied is that the sexual market is out of whack, and this makes both men and women more sad because it enables men to be shallow and forces women to sell themselves short. http://youtu.be/cO1ifNaNABY
Then there’s the power layer. Women have traditionally been the losers here and the anger is in the piece. Men lose too though but they don’t feel their loss as easily. Women feel their loss more naturally because it is a direct need that is unfulfilled. Men don’t feel it because it’s an acquired good that they are missing out on. For women it is like not getting food. For men it is like missing the joy of learning to play an instrument when they’ve never learned one. If they had learned they would be feeling the loss too, but many don’t.The cultural narrative says “women should respond in anger and make the men pay.” OK, you can use power this way. It might help a bit at making sex more expensive but this really hasn’t been happening. There is a cultural norm that has been lost and getting angry is insufficient to compensate for the loss.
Anger also simply encourages the men to lie and to become more sophisticated in it. He could have gotten sex if he had lied. If he had lied, would she have really gotten what she wanted? On a shallow level yes, but not deeply.
Again, this is a sad story, sad for both of them. They are both victims of things too large for them but they also participate in them feeding the thing that is hurting them.