Women Being Women, Men Being Men
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By etrigan - Last updated: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - Save & Share - One Comment

I was “nodding”:http://thesaurus.reference.com/search?q=stoned the other night and watched my current “favorite movie”:http://www.rollerfeet.com/etrigan/ww/archive/000319.html again with a slightly different perspective. I focused a little harder on “Emily Watson”:http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0001833/ and how the Lena Leonard character was developed.

Some of the time Lena seems in control and empowered. Seeing the picture of Barry she makes a point of taking her car to a mechanic near his office so she can check him out in person. When he leaves their first date without kissing her, she stops him before he leaves the building — siren-calling him back. Then there are times that she seems flighty. When she is bleeding in the car she appears incapable of grasping the situation. She puts herself under the control of Barry. At dinner during their first date she often demures the conversation to him. This duplicity of her character mirrors a similar perception men have about women. At times they seem to be so together, at other times they seem to be incapacitated.

A “story”:http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2003/09/15/repo_man/index.html in the “Life”:http://www.salon.com/mwt/index.html section at “Salon”:http://www.salon.com by Ann M. Bauer follows this same idea flipped on it’s head. Ann tells the true story (as far as her POV allows) about calling her ex-husband when she gets in a bind. It is carried by the thing I value most in narative art forms, a compelling story, while the writing is fairly barebones and only occasionally waxes poetic. (This is the value of a compelling story, no flourishes are neccesary.) Ann’s ex-husband is what I picture the balanced female concept of a difficult man to be. It shows a man who cares and is willing to go to (maybe even invigorated by the) extreme lengths needed to help a friend in need, yet still carries the burden of being unreliable (even inadequate) in standard day-to-day life.

bq. ??I told him the story in shorthand. It all made sense now that he was on the other end of the line, interrupting only to say, ‘Yes,’ and How much?’ and ‘Bastards.’ He asked none of the questions I’d heard before. When I finished, he had only one: ‘Which airport is closest to you?’??

bq. …

bq. ‘I told you to leave because …’ A truck with a 10-foot-long mermaid painted on it rushes past and milliseconds later there is a gush of air. I lose my hold on the wheel for a minute and we shimmy loosely. ‘Because you kept leaving,’ I hiss, easing off the gas, regaining control. ‘Even when you were there, you weren’t really there. I was always lonelier being with you than I am being alone.’

bq. ‘I know.’ He speaks softly and stares at his hands, at the wedding ring he still wears that is tarnished the dull gold of a dying fire.

Nary a man would disagree with this depiction, but deep down, in places we often have trouble verbalizing, the reasons for our behavior are more than this. Proverbial still waters run deep in men. As general pagmatists, though, we are educated to believe that our inner demons mean very little and that our actions are the only things that count.

This may be where women and men differ…but maybe I’m generalizing like these narratives did.

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One Response to “Women Being Women, Men Being Men”

Comment from cynsmith
Time September 17, 2003 at 11:37 am

While I am never one to deny differences (We must celebrate diversity, after all. Celebrate, dammit!) I would argue that what we all have in common as individuals is that most of us are unfathomably complex. This is why my mother continues to learn things about my father five years after his death, why marriages can last for 50+ years without the spouses running out of things to talk about.

However, I think that “simple” men and “high-maintenance” women are not really that dissimilar, and the thing that most of them have in common is their honesty. We all have little rules for our relationships, things that can upset us if our expectations aren’t met. Some of us are able to be honest with ourselves and others about these “rules” and some of us aren’t. In my opinion, it is that dishonesty that can cause the most conflict in relationships between the sexes.

So, a simple man in the mold of the Salon story can be clear that his actions speak louder than his words in emergency situations, and be honest about the fact that he’s not going to be around for long. A complicated woman like the character in PDL (keeping in mind that I haven’t seen the movie and only have your description to go by) can be upfront about her weaknesses, letting the man take control in certain situations, but not bothering to hide her strength or desires in another situation. What they have in common is their honesty.

I’ve completely lost what I meant to say in relation to your original post, but I’m just rambling along anyway.

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