God’s Gifts To Men

Early on in the lightweight adventure film Romancing the Stone, the novelist character played by Kathleen Turner is in a bar with her publisher, who looks around and summarises all the men present. This she does in one or two words, such as “loser”, “creep”, “too this”, “too that” and “too the other thing”. The fictional publisher’s intimate and accurate knowledge of these strangers is impressive, all the more since she is not actually interacting with any of them; they are not only several metres away but also entirely oblivious of her. Which perhaps explains her hostility and contempt. The world has moved on somewhat: nowadays any man who did not immediately admire her across the crowded room would be “gay” (though ghod continue to help the regressive males who suggest the equivalent when a woman ignores them).

Also impressive, in view of the publisher’s self-confessed desperation to get herself a man, is her strong-minded rejection of so many candidates as not measuring up to her exacting criteria. Most impressive of all is a triplet of assumptions: (1) her delusion of perfect insight into complete strangers, (2) her failure to see any connection between, on the one hand, her inability to find a man, and on the other, her ultra-fastidious standards, and (3) her certainty that no one gets to apply similar winnowing processes to her own precious self.

Lest anyone play the “misogynistic portrayal of women in the media” card, I would point out that precisely the same approach may be found in your nearest newspaper that has female journalists writing petits and other columns. It may likewise be overheard in any fashionable café. This is indeed how the modern woman laments to her friends, and it is therefore how she truly sees the world. The movie is drawn from life.

In one of her articles, Elizabeth Wurtzel claims that she knows “competent single women” but no “resigned bachelors” other than the ‘misfits, druggies and the mentally ill”. I wonder if this is in fact a tautology; that is, Wurtzel is simply choosing to regard all resigned bachelors as ex officio mentally ill, and choosing to regard all single women as competent, whether or not the bachelors are truly mad and whether or not the single women are truly competent, simply because this maximises the collective self-satisfaction payoff.

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