Part five in a series of eight posts written back in April of 2012 during and after a trip to Thailand to teach advanced first aid. Parts One, Two, Three, and Four are here.
The truth is that women simply don’t operate like that, for the most part. The more of a libertine you are, the more blatantly obvious that truth should be. After all, it should have become obvious in high school. The captain of the football team who has all the local beauties fighting over him might seem to be the irresistible male of legend, but he of all people should know better. He still has to put in the work. He has to argue, cajole, flatter, tease and wear down the girl’s resistance before he can get into her pants. The fantasy on one hand is that sheer masculine perfection is enough to conquer any reasonable woman in a few easy lines, or at most one evening of food and drinks. The observable experience of most men contradicts this, and they all lament the amount of work it takes to get a woman in bed with them, and yet the fantasy is still stronger than reality.
I think the answer is that it is a cover up for inadequacy and emptiness. The fantasy defines manhood as the ability to conquer a woman with little or no effort. The fact that woman don’t usually play by the same rules is seen as proof that they are weird or uptight about it, but the fantasy is never called into question. No matter how many times it fails it is still believed, partly because it is so all-pervasive and partly because it is so flattering to our egos.
My strongest experience with this comes from Afghanistan. At this point I no longer remember what exactly was going on, but I remember that I was having a bad day. A combination of loneliness, physical exhaustion, lack of sleep and inability to sleep (I don’t recommend the combination), left me feeling empty and worthless more than a few nights. When a phone call home failed for some reason that was always the worst, so I would usually go to the gym to work off the angst. I never really felt like working out at times like that, but it works if you can get into it. At least you sleep better. At any rate, on this particular night I walked into the gym and the first thing that met my eye across the room was a girl working out near the weight benches. She wasn’t bad looking. It’s not easy to make Army PT gear look sexy, but she was doing her best. She was wearing her army PT shirt with the sleeves rolled up inside, which is unauthorized, uncomfortable, and not easy to do, but it drew the front of the shirt tight across her ample chest. The reason I noticed her, however, was because at the exact moment I walked in, she looked up and saw me through the mirror. She made eye contact with a cold, kind of appraising look, pushed out her chest a little more, and started stretching her arms behind her back, all the while looking me dead in the eye. Perhaps I misjudged her at the time, but it seemed to me then that all I had to do was walk across the room and say “Hi”, and she would have had sex with me that night. I might have been quite wrong about that, but that was my automatic read of her.
Part of me was a little intimidated and disgusted, but a good part of me at the time was also intensely attracted. The part that was feeling empty and worthless instantly felt filled and validated by the idea that she had picked me, out of every guy at the gym, to flirt with (which was probably not true, by the way.) I was more disgusted by this attraction than by her action, and I went to another part of the gym to work out. When even there she kept watching and I kept half wanting her to watch, I cut my workout short and left.
The attraction, while a real phenomenon that I really experienced, was not a happy emotion. There was nothing happy in her face, and nothing happy in that magnetic attraction that I felt. It was not wholesome at all, but black, ugly and disgusting. I don’t know for certain, of course, but if I had to make a guess I would guess that her mood at that moment was an exact mirror for mine, and she was looking for the same validation that I was. Again, maybe I read her wrong, but that was my assessment. Perhaps I was projecting my own feelings into her actions. It’s always a danger when dealing with women, to interpret her actions in light of my assumptions. Whatever her story was (I never saw her again) what was suggested in my mind was not any kind of personal connection, and certainly not love or even a desire for love, but simply two empty people using each other to fill the emptiness. As I said, part of me, perhaps the most dominant part emotionally, was intrigued and attracted by that idea. Thank God, logic is almost always stronger in me than emotion. The whole analysis I’ve written down in this post was present in my mind at that moment, in at least a basic form, and I chose what logic dictated and walked out of the gym into the dark. I believe someone, somewhere was praying for me at that exact moment.
I suspect that this is the strongest reason why the fantasy persists. Things always work the way they were designed to work, and in moments of emptiness nothing props up a man’s flagging sense of self like a beautiful woman’s affection. Failing that, simulated affection will work in the short term. That’s just the nature of beast. No matter the reality of sin and mutual dishonesty, it will still make the partners feel validated, even if only for a moment, before that wears away and leaves the emptiness worse than before. It takes years and years of abuse and perversion before there is no longer even a hint of that validation left in the act. By then, we will have forgotten that it was ever there in the first place.