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Valar Qringaomis

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Men are Evil

"WHAT IS a man, anyway? Everything I see around me in popular culture tells me a man is he who screws and kills. But everything I see around me in life tells me a man is he who makes money. Maybe these two are related, because making money in our world often requires careful avoidance of screwing and killing, so maybe the culture provides the unlived part. I don't claim to know, and I don't even care much. I figure that's their problem. Women are trying hard these days to get out from under the images that have been imposed on them. The difficulty is there is just enough truth in the images that to repudiate them often involves repudiating also part of what you really are. Maybe men are in the same boat, but I don't think so. I think they rather like their images, find them serviceable. If they don't, it's up to them to change them. l do know that if that is what men are, I'm willing to dispense with them forever and have children only through parthenogenesis, which would mean I’d have only female parthenogenesis, which would mean I’d have only female children, which would suit me fine. But the other side of the image, the reality, is just as bad. Because if the men I've known haven't much indulged in killing and are no great shakes at screwing and have made money (for the most part) in only moderate amounts, they haven't been anything else either. They’re just dull. Maybe that's the price of being on the winning side. Because the women I know have gotten fucked, literally and figuratively, and they're great.

One advantage to being a despised species is that you have freedom, freedom to be any crazy thing you want. If you listen to a group of housewives talk, you’ll hear a lot of nonsense, some of it really crazy. This comes, I think, From being alone so much, and pursuing your own odd train of thought without impediment, which some call discipline. The result is craziness, but also brilliance. Ordinary women come out with the damnedest truths. You ignore them at your own risk. And they're permitted to go on making wild statements without being put in one kind of jail or another (some of them, anyway) because everyone knows they're crazy and powerless too. If a woman is religious or earthy, passive or wildly assertive, loving or hating, she doesn’t get much more flak than if she isn’t: her choices lie between being castigated as a ball and chain or as a whore. What I don't understand is where women suddenly get power. Because they do. The kids, who almost always turn out to be a pile of shit, are, we all know, Mommy's fault. Well, how did she manage that, this powerless creature? Where was all her power during the years she was doing five loads of laundry a week and worrying about mixing the whites with the colors‘? How was she able to offset Daddy’s positive influence? How come she never knows she has this power until afterward, when it gets called responsibility?

What I'm trying to understand is winning and losing. Now the rule of the game is that men win as long as they keep their noses comparatively clean, and women lose, always, even extraordinary women, The Edith Piafs and Judy Garlands of the world become great by capitalizing on their losing. That the world become great by capitalizing on their losing. That part is clear. What is not clear is what game we’re playing. What do you win when you win? I know what you lose, having some experience with that side. What I don't know is what rewards are involved with winning besides money. Maybe that's it; maybe that's all there is. I guess so, because when I look at all the winners, all the Norms of the world, l can’t see much else: money and a certain ease in the world, a sense of legitimacy.

You think l hate men. l guess l do, although some of my best friends . . . I don't like this position. I mistrust generalized hatred. I feel like one of those twelfth-century monks raving on about how evil women are and how they must cover themselves up completely when they go out lest they lead men into evil thoughts. The assumption that the men are the ones who matter, and that the women exist only in relation to them, is so silent and underrunning that even we never picked it up until recently. But after all, look at what we read. I read Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and Wittgenstein and Freud and Erikson; l read de Montherlant and Joyce and Lawrence and sillier people like Miller and Mailer and Roth and Philip Wylie. I read the Bible and Greek myths and didn't question why all later redactions relegated Gaea-Tellus and Lilith to a footnote and made Saturn the creator of the world. I read or read about, without much question, the Hindus and the Jews, Pythagoras and Aristotle, Seneca, Cato, St. Paul, Luther, Sam Johnson, Rousseau, Swift. . . well, you understand. For years I didn't take it personally.

So now it is difficult for me to call others bigots when I am one myself. I tell people at once, to warn them, that I stiffer from deformation of character. But the truth is I am sick unto death of four thousand years of males telling me how rotten my sex is. Especially it makes me sick when I look around and see such rotten men and such magnificent women, all of whom have a sneaking suspicion that the four thousand years of remarks are correct. These days l feel like an outlaw, a criminal. Maybe that's what the people perceive who look at me so strangely as I walk the beach. l feel like an outlaw not only because I think that men are rotten and women are great, but because I have come to believe that oppressed people have the right to use criminal means to survive. Criminal means being, of course, defying the laws passed by the oppressors to keep the oppressed in line. Such a position takes you scarily close to advocating oppression itself, though. We are bound in by the terms of the sentence. Subject-verb-object. The best we by the terms of the sentence. Subject-verb-object. The best we can do is turn it around. And that's no answer, is it?

Well, answers I leave to others, to a newer generation perhaps, lacking the deformities mine suffered. My feelings about men are the result of my experience. l have little sympathy for them. Like a Jew just released from Dachau, I watch the handsome young Nazi soldier fall writhing to the ground with a bulletin his stomach and I look briefly and walk on. I don't even need to shrug. I simply don't care. What he was, as a person, I mean, what his shames and yearnings were, simply don’t matter. It is too late for me to care. Once upon a time I could have cared.

But Fairyland is back beyond the door. Forever and forever I will hate Nazis, even if you can prove to me that they too were victims, that they were subject to illusion, brainwashed with images. The stone in my stomach is like an oyster's pearl—it is the accumulation of defense against an irritation. My pearl is my hatred: my hatred is learned from experience: that is not prejudice. I wish it were prejudice. Then, perhaps, I could unlearn it."

--- The Women's Room / Marilyn French
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