excerpted from caro's journal: topic: on being a woman

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It has been ever so long since I last wrote. I am amused that my last entry has been sitting there all this time, portending great scary revelations about being periodical, while I've been having great scary periodical revelations.

One of the things I had on my mind at the time of that writing was that premenstrual syndrome has its advantages, if only a woman can recognize and take advantage of them. I can't claim to speak for all women; not being a realist, I don't think that there is a woman-essence that means we're all the same in this respect. I only want to share my discoveries with the women who are physically capable of benefitting from them.

Even the psychological pain that sometimes accompani es PMS can be used to good advantage. Two months (i.e., cycles) ago, I decided to do that in earnest, which is why I haven't been writing here. My thoughts have been too important, and too spectacular, to publicize. But I can describe what I thought and h ow I thought it, in general terms.

Everyone is familiar with the irritability, melodrama, or bitchiness that frequently accompanies PMS. But few people seem to know what is really going on, perhaps because it is very likely that most of the data, whether factual or mythical, has been put about by well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning males. And growing up with this mix of fact and fiction, young girls absorb all of it as though it is true. After all, menstruation is a great mystery, and women espe cially are keen to have rational explanations for things. I'd like to contradict some of the most deeply revered myths, as I know how crippling they can be.

Irritability is not itself a direct result of hormonal activity; rather, there is somethi ng else that is going on as a result of hormonal activity, that can come out as irritability.

I think that the something else is energy. In my long experience with strenuous exercise, I can say without hesitation that I am strongest , fastest, and have the most stamina just before and during menstruation.

While you're putting that in your pipe and smoking it, I'll qualify: most of my life, I experienced miserable cramps and headaches and nausea and sometimes terrifyin g dizziness to the point of blacking out. I remember several incidents in college, in which I was sitting in a dormatory bathroom stall when the world started to spin, realizing that I was alone and stuck there but unable to say "help!" above a whisper. A nd one day, I went into partial paralysis and hyperventilated as my boyfriend, even more frightened than I was, held me helplessly as I watched my fingers stretch out by themselves and turn blue.

But then, most of my life, I didn't exericise in a ny concerted way, although I was always naturally active. I can also say without hesitation that the best and fastest "cure" for the symptoms is strenuous exercise. Even if I feel dizzy or weak, I'll go for a run or do some pushups, and it goes away. Just the opposite of what they tell us.

Although I've seen that this is true for a long time, it never really sank in completely until last winter, when I was training the hardest of my life, because I thought I might have to face the biggest extende d physical trial of my life. Some days, the cold misty evening rain suggested that maybe this once I should give in to headachey dizzy periodicality and not ride my bike to the gym; but the trepidation with which I viewed the possible impending disaster p ushed me out the door anyway. Each month, the same thing was true: I was able to make the hilly 4-mile ride faster and more easily than usual, and was able to step up my weights past point that I thought were the farthest I could go, and still have tremen dous stamina for the step aerobics class. My nausea and headache would be gone by the time I got to the gym, and I'd still have plenty of energy left when I got back three hours later.

What this suggests to me is that, while the pain and nausea a nd irritability are real, they are merely side-effects of something extremely precious. Rather than being the time of the month when a woman is her weakest, this is the time when she has the most power--but because the power comes with the more imm ediate (and outwardly observable) symptoms of discomfort and irritability, it is the symptoms that get the attention and create the mystique. Because there is no one to tell girls how they else they might interpret the information their bodies are giving them or how to cope with the symptoms, and because there are plenty of people who don't know what they are talking about who tell them the wrong thing, the mystique is perpetuated, and women just "feel weak" at this point in the cycle.

This is th e physical advantage. There is a psychological advantage, which I've only just discovered recently.

This is a common example of the disadvantage: It's PMS time, and a woman is suddenly finding all her boyfriend's irritating habits to be especiall y irritating, and she complains bitterly, wondering whether she should end the relationship.

My interpretation: There's something wrong. Really wrong, not just wrong in her imagination. The difficulty is, it may not be her boyfriend's irritating habits themselves, but something else; the habits are just the trigger.

The nice thing about the emotional turmoil of PMS is that it is your subconscious, or your memories, or your child-self, ego, conscience, or however else you want to name i t, tapping at the edges of your mind and saying, "Pay attention. This is important."

So two cycles ago, I said, OK, what's so damned important? Tell me. And I listened. And thus was begun the most painful self-examination of my entire life, which has been going on for two months. I'm happy to say that I'm slowly coming out the other end, but I wouldn't have missed this for the world. When the second period rolled around, I was just at the beginning of the long, steep descent into myself, and the knocking was unbearably loud and the exhortations to pay attention were irresistible--all of it fueled and magnified, I'm convinced, by the heightened sensibility of being periodical. The psychological pain was blinding.

My usual technique for de aling with the upsetting thoughts that plague me during those first couple of days, is to remind myself that it's period-time. Knowing that there is a physical cause to all this maudlin rumination usually makes me laugh, and the thoughts recede. But this time, I wanted to experiment with giving in to them, asking whence they came, and what I could learn. The difference between what I did this time, and what I have sometimes done, is that I didn't simply let these thoughts roll randomly through my head. I did a tremendous amount of writing, lots of sentence completions, a lot of pointed day-dreaming, all of it focused on discovering the causes of some long-standing mysteries in my life.

I don't expect to do this every cycle. On the contrary, I hav e remained immersed all this time because I am looking for something specific. I know that there is something very serious that needs examination. When I find it, I know for a fact that it will go away and never return. Knowing how much better this is goi ng to make my life is the only thing that has let me do this to myself. I've churned up a lot of forgotten memories and integrated them into the rest of my life and things are already much better. But now that I know how I can use the hormonal activity to my advantage, I am going to make a regular practice of answering the door at the first knock, and spending some time wandering down forgotten hallways. If I do it regularly, maybe there won't be as huge a pile of unresolved Stuff to hit me so hard unexpe ctedly.

So my new rule and resolution is, when I'm experiencing the psychological turmoil of PMS, the cause is almost certainly not the issue that is on the surface of my mind--but nor is it just an epiphenomenon of hormonal change, and I promise myself that I will dig deeper to find out what it is.

Side note on being a woman: Why do women not take well to being told that they are being irrational, when they are menstruating? Because you are being an ass, and you don't know what y ou're talking about. There is a difference between being irrational, and being highly emotional. Why do women not like being told they must be on the rag, when they are arguing or complaining? Because, whether they can name the fallacy or not, this is jus t bad reasoning: you don't feel like taking out the garbage, so if your woman is arguing that you should do what you promised, you try to divert attention from your error by making a personal attack on her instead of addressing the issue (that's an ad hominem). Fallacious arguments are tremendously irritating, even to people who are not menstruating. What should a man do, when a woman friend is suffering from any of the above effects? There's little you can do in a positive sense. You can't "solve" this "problem" for her, and you can't control the situation. Respond to what she is saying, not to what you think her chemical motivation is. Many women are on the defensive because of a history of attacks on their femalehood, so if you wa nt to talk about how she is when she menstruates, you're better off doing it when she's not menstruating. And remember, we put up with you.
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I was all geared up to write about the wonders of menstruation today, but I got too busy and just had to put it off. But I know if I start the topic I'll come back to it, and if I don't I'll forget, so here it starts. I will say only this for now: that there is strength here that can be tapped, that some of the very characteristics of menstruation that most make it seem like a problem can actually be used to great advantage. There are a few hurdles to overcome, most of them social but some physical, before a woman can see it this way; but once she does, the entire precious cultural mystique about it is blown out of the water, and it turns out that primitive peoples (read, "men") were not so stupid after all, to have fea red it so desperately and attempted to make women feel weak. It is a terrible force indeed.
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2001_07_31:00: More Leg, Less Personality

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Everyone, male and female, should read this article, "Scientists are Exploring Aspects of Female Sexuality. Doesn't matter that it's 4 years old; most people seem to be working chiefly from old myths and desperate fantasies anyway, so this will be news to them.
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2001_04_19:15: Interview With Farsam

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Another interview with a Man, Farsam, 26.

Caro: I got cell phone minutes to burn before they expire. Wanna chat? Where are you?

Fars: Yeah! I'm in the car.

Caro: Can I interview you?

Fars: Yeah. What's your interview question?

Caro: Has a woman ever turned you down for a relationship or a date on the basis of your income?

Fars: No.

Caro: Do you have any male friends who have been turned down by a woman because they weren't making any money?

Fars: No. I can't know what this is about?

Caro: No, you can. I'll tell you when I'm done. Do you have any relatives or friends of the family who chose their mates on the basis of the man's earning potential?

Fars: Do I have to tell you who?

Caro: No.

Fars: Yes, one.

Caro: Is she an American? [Farsam's parents are Persian immigrants, and they are members of a large cliquish community of extended family and other random Persians.]

Fars: No.

Caro: Persian?

Fars: Yes.

Caro: Was she born in Iran?

Fars: Yes. Why can't you tell me what this is about?

Caro: I will. Is that the only one you know of?

Fars: Yes.

Caro: Do you believe that women commonly choose their dates or fiances primarily on the basis of how much money the man will make?

Fars: Oh, yeah! You know they do!

Caro: How do you know?

Fars: College women? Oh, yeah! They do that all the time!

Caro: How do you know?

Fars: Don't you think they do?

Caro: Do you have any friends you knew in school who did this?

Fars: Yes! I knew a girl in high school who got married when she graduated from college, and she's pregnant already!

Caro: And her husband makes a lot of money?

Fars: Yes.

Caro: And you think that the guy's earning potential was the reason she married him?

Fars: Oh, yeah, it had to be!

Caro: Did she tell you this?

Fars: No, but it makes sense.

Caro: So you believe that college women generally choose their boyfriends on the basis of income?

Fars: Definitely! It has to be a factor!

Caro: Why do you say that?

Fars: There's a really well-defined stereotype. There wouldn't be that stereotype if it weren't a common phenomenon.

Caro: The stereotype of a woman who will only date men of a certain income?

Fars: Or education level. They won't date anyone who isn't in law school or med school, because those guys are going to earn good money.

Caro: But you don't know any such women?

Fars: No. Can't you tell me what this is about?

Caro: In a second. Tell me more about the stereotype of the college woman who will only date men of a certain earning potential.

Fars: They know they aren't going to do anything, they want to stay home, so they pick somebody who can take care of them. I think most women are like this.

Caro: You believe most women figure in income when choosing to date someone?

Fars: Of course. They'd have to. It's a very important factor.

Caro: Really? Why?

Fars: Because it indicates something about the person's character.

Caro: Like?

Fars: Ambition, determination, responsibility. Don't you think so?

Caro: Yes I do, but now we're not talking about income level as a deciding factor anymore. We're talking about character traits as expressed through the ability to earn a self-sufficient living.

Fars: My brain isn't working right right now. So what's this about?

Caro: Have you read The Myth of Male Power?

Fars: No.

Caro: Remember that SOLO discussion I said I was engaged in? Someone started citing statistics from the book, especially regarding how men have to prove their financial worth before they get to have sex. I wondered if maybe I was just out of the loop on this issue, because I don't know any women who even consider this a factor. So I started interviewing people.

Fars: Oh, it has to be a factor. It just makes sense.

Caro: Ah.

I'd actually expected Farsam to give me a lot of empirical data to support the theory that men don't get to have sex until they prove their financial worth to women, given the way I've heard members of his community talking about wealth and marriage. Surprise.
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I have a need to write about Territory.Too sleepy now; just fixing pictures.
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2001_04_12:14: Quiet Man

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It is not unusual for my male companions to grunt quietly in response to my philosophical reflections and questions, and then hours later burst into vigorous debate when another male person is available--only to fall silent again when the other males are gone.

An early boyfriend of mine seemed like a perfect companion, at first. We were both philosophy majors and were enrolled in some of the same classes. Our friendship started because we spent a lot of time talking about philosophy. Once the romance developed, he spoke with great gusto of sex, and threw himself happily into long strings of puns, especially upon words I was using in some philosophical argument I was developing. But other than that, the conversation from his end ceased almost completely from the moment he was allowed to come into contact with my body. At first, being young and stupid, I continued to talk as I always had, filling in his end of the conversation when necessary. When I noticed that he no longer spoke, I began waiting silently for responses to my words. It became a waiting game on my part, to see just how long he could go without speaking. Days, it turned out! I can remember having "conversations" during which I'd ask him a question, and then stubbornly refuse to prompt him or add anything else. I might wait as much as half an hour to 45 minutes for a response, which usually came in the form of an incomplete sentence. If I didn't make any statements upon which he could make sex-puns which devolved into suggestions that we repair to some more private venue to make good on the pun, he said absolutely nothing.

But there were a couple of other philosophy majors around, all boys, and a few other friends of ours, also all boys. If one of them was on the scene, suddenly my boyfriend became Mr. Socrates, engaging in intense philosophical disputes with the other boys, sometimes about our course readings, sometimes about life. He frequently repeated theories and textual interpretations that I had put forth to him earlier, though to my consternation he never, ever said, "Carolyn and I were talking about this," or "Here's what Carolyn said this morning." When we were alone, I would confront him about his failure to give me credit, and especially about these sudden verbal outbursts in the presence of boys. He always said that he didn't know what I wanted.

Conversation seeming like a basic feature of being human, I didn't know what to tell him I wanted. All I could say was, "Why can't we have a conversation, the way you were having a conversation with them?" And he said, "You keep saying that! I don't know what you mean by 'conversation'!" I can remember one fight during which I said, "You know, conversation! I say something, then you say something, then I say something, then you say something!" If I pressed him on the issue for more than a few minutes, he would say that I was "nagging." Sometimes I talked to my sister about this, and she suggested ways of getting responses out of him, but of course they treated the symptoms, not the causes, and were thus doomed to overall ineffectiveness.

The year in that boy's presence was my Year of Silence. I became very taciturn myself, since there wasn't any point in saying out loud what I could just as well think in my head.

I only spent one year at that school, and transferred back to my women's college after that, where conversation was abundant. He never wrote me a letter, this philosophy major (that would have involved Words), but he would call me on the phone occasionally. At first I would happily talk into the silent receiver. I think I just granted that we were having a conversation because that is what two people do over a telephone, so we must have been doing that. After a few of these monologues, though, I at last figured out that
the only reason I hadn't ended this silly relationship was that my need for conceptual interaction with human beings was being supplied by my girlfriends. As my sister said at the time, when I consulted her regarding the idea of breaking up (and I quote verbatim), "You know what you like to do, Carolyn. You like to sit up all night with a stupid pot of tea and talk. Is he giving you what you want?"

Looking back on it, I have to conclude that he was so unconscious and so habit-driven in this area (certainly in most other areas, so really no surprise), that he wasn't doing any of this on purpose. He didn't purposely clam up when he was with me, and he didn't purposely change when he was with the boys. He literally was unable to comprehend the difference between the way he was interacting with me, and the way he was interacting with them.

Although his resolute silence in the presence of a woman was extreme, I have seen degrees of this behavior all my life. I assume that some guy just doesn't talk about ideas at all, given my inability to engage him in discussion. I've known lots of men with a professed interest in objectivism who were willing to be pleasant and silly with me, but unwilling to discuss philosophy unless there was another man around. And I've also known men who I knew for a fact were getting together for the purpose of discussing philosophy with each other, but one of whom would not say a word in front of me even if his buddies and I were talking. Some of these same split-personality men have complained bitterly at the dearth of intelligent women!

I presently offer no hypothesis to explain this, nor connections to other kinds of behavior or stated dissatisfaction with women. I entreat men to suggest explanations. It occurs to me to mention this because of the puzzling claims I've heard recently regarding the difficulty finding idea-oriented women to talk to. In this particular case, the hypothesis that I myself have nothing interesting or abstract or idea-oriented to say and so couldn't expect an intelligent man to be bothered to talk to me, simply won't work. It makes me wonder how often the complainants actually talk to women.
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2001_04_02:23: One Little Academic.html

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Yow! Do I ever have an earfull to dump about speed seduction! Had a look at Ross Jeffries's site, read one of the Playboy articles, went YIKES, and started an essay. Everything starts an essay with me. That's because I'm a woman. You know how we are. We can't shut up. Hhhmmmm...no concepts without words, words make up sentences, sentences represent propositions which is the basic component of arguments which are the province of reason...

No time for that now. There are flowers to discuss!
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One of my favorite things about Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the attitude toward women, specifically the attitude toward the stupid attitudes toward women.

Mike (or Joel) and the bots watch a lot of older movies, and that means that they watch a lot of sexist movies. During one of their many monster-horror movies, in which women are being mistreated, insulted, or killed by men and monsters alike, Tom Servo comments "I wonder how this movie really feels about women."

Another favorite line is snapped out in response to a scene of a woman who picks up an object to try to fend off someone's violence, drops it, trips, and falls. Crow comments, "It's so funny when a woman tries to do something.

And my absolute all-time favorite occurs during Crow's and Tom's presentation of their new Woman calculator, which tells people how many times a lady they are (you know, like the song that goes, "You're once, twice, three times a lady"). It turns out that Mike is 8 times a lady. He strongly objects to this diagnosis, but his protestations that he is no times a lady are lost in the ensuing battle of insults between Tom and Crow: "You big woman !" "Oh, yeah? You giant lady".
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2001_04_18:17: Appeal To Schizophrenia and Three Interviews

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Interviewed three Women today, as I ran into them. Each time I began the interview with, "Can I ask you a personal question?" First, H, 27 approx. She's been married several years, one six-month-old daughter. We don't talk often, but whenever we do, I'm behaving like this, so H's not surprised, and she says "Sure!"

Caro: Would you have married J if he wasn't making a lot of money? [note: I don't know how much J makes, but he's an engineer]

H: [laughing] When we started going out he was making $7/hr. In fact, I was dating a guy at the time who had a lot of money and his own house. I didn't even consider J, because I was 22 and he was 20, and at the time that seemed like a huge difference. He was just this little kid! But I had a lot more fun hanging around with him that I did with the guy I was dating. So I broke up with him. So, yes.

Caro: Do you know anyone who chose to date or marry a man on the basis of how much money he was making?

H: [pondering the sky] Nooo... Well, I tell my sister her boyfriend doesn't seem right for her because he tends to be irresponsible [late for or skipping appointments, e.g.]. But she keeps saying he must be OK because he owns his own house.

Caro: So is it that he has enough money to buy the house, or that he must be responsible, despite the evidence, because he has house?

H: He must be responsible because he has a house.

Caro: What about your mother, or your grandmother?

H: All the women in my family have always worked. So I don't think it was an issue for them.

Caro: I've been having a discussion online, and some people seem to be indicating that they've run into women who rejected them because they weren't making enough money. I wonder where they could be meeting such people.

H: [contemptuously] Nightclubs!

Caro: Or maybe personals ads, such as ones that say other shallow things like, "Like long walks on the beach, dinner, and wine."

H: I think these people just don't want to wait. You don't find people like that at nightclubs. J and I were friends first, then we started going out.

Next, M. M is a new doctor, 31, married several years to T, no kids.

Caro: Would you have stopped seeing T, if you didn't think he was going to make good money?

M: [eyes wide] NO! I LOVE him!

Caro: I mean, what if, while you were dating, he had said suddenly, "You know, I changed my mind. I don't want to become an engineer. I want to teach English in college and make $10,000 a year. Would you have dumped him?"

M: No. That wouldn't have been important. But I think I was probably attracted to him because he's that engineer-type. I don't think I would have done very well, given my personality, with an artist, or an actor. Too many ups and downs. Too unstable.

Caro: Do you know anybody would have decided against a boyfriend on the basis of how much he was making?

M: I can't think of any cases.

[At this point, a neighbor, A, stops by M's open door. I have only met the poor woman once before, but what the heck. A is 33]

Caro: [to M] Should I ask her too?

M: Absolutely! [explains to A:] She does this sort of thing. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy.

A: Oh, OK!

Caro: I have a personal question that's none of my business. You don't have to answer. First, do you date men?

A: Yes.

Caro: Would you refuse to date someone, or would you stop dating someone, because he wasn't making a certain amount of money?

A: It would depend on why. I wouldn't be interested in someone who just wanted to surf all day, and maybe wait tables once in a while to get by. I guess I'm interested in his having more ambition than that. But no dollar figure, no.

Caro: What do you do?

A: [holding several business suits; just back from the cleaner's] I work in development at the Salk Institute. [translation: she's a professional and makes good money]

Caro: Do you know anyone who makes their decisions regarding men on the basis of how much they make?

A: I put myself through college by working at a department store. There were women there would wouldn't date a man who didn't have a certain kind of car or wasn't in college. But they weren't educated; I think it was because they didn't have those things, that they wanted the man to have them. It seems like the more educated you are, the less those kinds of things matter.

Caro: What about your mother?

A: My parents understood that my mother would stay home with the kids and do everything else, and my dad would make the money. I think it was probably important to her to know that he was a steady person and that if they needed more money for the family he would do what he had to to get it. But that was their arrangement, and the work of the family was equally divided between them.

Caro: I ask because I've been having this conversation on a web forum with a bunch of libertarian/objectivist types. As soon as the Personals section opened, they started talking about the fact that it would be difficult to get women signed on, since most of the people there are intj and interested in abstract ideas, whereas women don't enjoy that sort of discussion.

A: And these are supposed to be intelligent men? [everyone laughs]

Caro: I assume they must have run into some women who rejected them on the basis of their not making "six figures", as one of them said. I wonder where they're getting this idea.

M: [derisively] Television!

Talking to Tom on the phone last night.

Caro: Have you ever about any women you know rejecting men because they weren't making enough money?

Tom: Ever read a bodice-ripper? A Harlequin Romance?

Caro: No.

Tom: I've read three or so. They're all about the fantasy of a powerful male coming to solve all of the woman's problems.

Caro: And that's supposed to be because of his income?

Tom: No, it's the powerful male who can do anything. There must be a market for the books, because they sell, and they're very formulaic; the bodice-ripping sex scene is on page 149. So there must be a lot of women who dream of a man who will solve all their problems. Maybe the books are creating the dream, or the dream sells because that's what they want.

Caro: There are other ways to interpret the popularity of those books. The people I've known who read that sort of book are very practical, down-to-earth people. They want to fantasize, but they're not interested in science fiction or fantasy; they want to read about "real human beings". Nevertheless, it's a fantasy. They believe in magic, in the idea that something will magically come and save them. But they are still reading about human beings, not elves, so it seems more sensible.
Today, T and G, also residents here. G is 66, T is 65.

Caro: You've both been married before this. Have any of your decisions to get married had anything to do with the man's earning potential?

T: [snicker]

G: No, not at all. The most important thing is being able to talk to the person and feeling comfortable with him. We're very good like that. He doesn't like as many intellectual things as I do--he only has a 7th-grade education, and I finished high school; I read books and I watch informative tv, and he likes junk. But other than that we can talk to each other. [She and he both go on for some time about this factor of relationships.]

T: You can't do it the way people try to do things today, going to bed the first time they meet. It takes time. You have to get to know somebody. People don't want to do that anymore.

Caro: What about your parents?

G: My mother was 16 when she married my father, who was 33 and decided he wanted a young wife and my grandmother was a pushover so he won. He was very domineering. But that's what women did in those days.

T: Women couldn't just get jobs; they had to marry a man.

Caro: How about your friends and relatives your age--do any of those women reject men on the basis of income, or have any of the men told you that some woman wouldn't go out with them because he wasn't making enough money?

G: I can't think of any.

T: No. Well, what about L! [they both laugh]

Caro: She chose a husband on that basis?

T: She didn't marry 'em; she used 'em! She always made plenty of money herself, but she wanted them to make money so they could spend on her. Then she'd dump 'em. But she went both ways: she'd take a man or a woman and she treated 'em both the same.

G: She treated all her employees bad too, and borrowed money from her friends and didn't repay them. She'd go to bars and pick up men.

T: Or women!

Caro: So she met them at bars? Did she check out what they were wearing to see how much they might be making?

G: Or what kind of car they drove.

T: How much they spent on her in the bar!

[now ensues an extended series of tag-team stories regarding the woman's generally psychotic behavior]

Caro: So this is pretty much the only one you know--what about your children?

T & G: No.

G: In fact, my daughter has children by two different husbands who don't pay child support, and she doesn't care; she just pays for it all herself and never goes after them.

Caro: Well, people I've been talking to seem to think that men don't get to have sex until they prove their earning potential to women. Where do you think they are getting this idea?

G: I'm sure there must be people like that. Bars, probably.

T: Communication. That's what's important. And nowadays it takes TWO people to earn a living; it's hard for somebody to make it on their own.

Caro: Don't I know it.

Just after my conversation with them, my dear pooky Lizzy, 41, calls with some news. I think I already know her own answer to this question; I've known her for 10 years and she's my best friend. But I've only asked whitish Americans so far; she's American-born Chinese, her parents are immigrants [her mother calls her 'eeLEETsabett'], and she has lots of Asian friends, many of whom are foreigners, so maybe I'll get a different perspective from her. She and her man S are business partners.

Elizabeth: Well, it tends to be an indication of what the rest of the person is like. F [an old boyfriend] didn't make any money, and that was on principle, and he was never going to make any money. But his overall ambition was low, and it affected all areas of his life. It's more on the basis of that kind of thing that I'd reject someone as a possibility. It's not the money.

Caro: Why did your parents get married?

Lizard: Oh, I think they had similar educational backgrounds, and they were pretty young, and they were both attractive people--I don't think it was much deeper than that, really.

Caro: Was it money?

Lizzybear: My father was going to make good money as an engineer, but my mother had a science education too and she was working. I think it was just that there was a male and a female there, you know, and they didn't think too hard about it.

Caro: Your sisters?

Blizzard: D's boyfriend makes money now, but he didn't always. And C's husband isn't ever going to, probably, and C has started law school so she can make the money. What're all these questions about?

Caro: I'm trying to find the women who are supposedly choosing their mates on the basis of proven earning capacity. I've been talking to some people who are citing statistics.

Lizzups: Oh. Well, S says that at Walmart he overhears women talking about things like that sometimes; they all turn their heads to look when a handsome man walks in and they whisper. But they don't have any education. They're probably looking for a way up in the world. I'm sure there must be women like that; you hear about it all the time.

Caro: You hear this from friends? Or in books?

Eliza: I don't want to say I just saw it on tv or in books. It seems like I've heard it, maybe not from my friends. But from acquaintances, or someone who knows someone. I can't really say. There must be some because I hear about it. I don't think it's very important to most people, though. Most women seem to want someone they can talk to. Women used to have to do that; it was the way they made their living.

Caro: It seems like even then, it wasn't because that was their choice, but because they had to. That's why novels like Pride and Prejudice were written.
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2001_09_09:23: Unnamed

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Why aren't women supposed to be muscular?

Because then then would be strong. They might be able to take care of themselves. They might even be able to fend off an attacking man. That wouldn't be good.

And they might make men feel insecure about their own strength. That would be terrible. Really, it's a direct, deliberate assault, organized by Women Everywhere, most especially feminists, on defenseless, innocent men.

How do you keep women from being muscular? It's easy. Tell them they're weak, from the time they're born. Babies have no reason to distrust the assertions of their elders. If you start early enough, they'll absorb the information wordlessly, so it'll be inaccessible later. Tell them they are uncoordinated. Prove it by putting them in dresses and slippery plastic shoes.

Tell women that men love curves. Conveniently leave out the fact that muscles curve, that the stronger the human being the more curvaceous he or she is, and it is only emaciated people who are angular.

Tell them they're fat. That will make them stop eating, which will sap their energy and cause them to digest their own muscle tissue. Tell them that it is meat, especially, that is fattening. Don't ever tell them what football players and weightlifters eat. Get them to eat lots and lots of carbohydrates, and as that makes them fatter and fatter, tell them that it was that one ounce of meat that they ate last week that is causing them to get fat.

If women do start to put on any muscle at all, tell them that they look like men and are no longer attractive. Use phrases like "Too much field hockey!" and "Do I smell testosterone?" Teach little girls to say similar things to each other. That way, any particular man need only get peripherally involved. The constant focus on whether women are really really fat or only just kind of fat, also conveniently diverts attention from the fact the vast majority of men are fat and out of shape, and half of those are quite obese; they can thereby continue to pig out on donuts without fear of censure. Any woman who dares to suggest that a man could stand to exercise puts herself at risk of having her own fat highlighted.

Make pregnancy a cultural taboo: it's ok to have kids, but you're really butt-ugly when you're pregnant and of course no man could be attracted to you in that hideous state. Never, ever, observe that a man puts fat on in exactly the same way that a pregnant woman does, and if he drinks enough beer and eats enough pie he'll look just like one.
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2001-04-05:02: Porn, Dogs, and Seduction.html

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More on Ross Jeffries's speed seduction techniques:

Opinion: This man is preying on helpless men desperate for company and in need of real information. Hopefully, he actually gives them some. Judging by his ads, web site, interviews with him, and articles about the technique, he doesn't give much.

Last entry, I noted that women have this tendency to talk, and to get frustrated when men don't. Why might this be?

Theory: Because females (in my society, anyway) are permitted to express their thoughts and provide explanations and reasons for them, whereas males are strongly discouraged from doing so. More: males are provided with other suggestions for how to make their way in the world, such as physical fighting, whereas females are strongly discouraged from using such methods.

The upshot: all their lives, females have more occasion to resort to reason, argument, persuasion; while males have more occasion to resort to nonverbal efforts at communication, to sullen silence in response to unexpected and unwelcome reasoning, or even to violence.

The horror: by the time they reach adulthood, men have had much less practice at communicating rationally than women have had.

Combine the following ingredients: rational women expressing their desires, arguing for their demands, expecting reason in return; and men failing to express their desires, unable even to argue against someone else's demands, and unable to return reason when it is expected.

This is why someone like Ross Jeffries is appealing. How in the world does a man deal with this thing that won't stop talking, keeps giving reasons, won't have sex until the man talks, keeps asking him questions, and gets upset when he doesn't respond with that dreaded vehicle of reason: words.

Further: These same males grow up with the very comfortable myth that females are irrational. Thus, it probably never occurs to them that they might bone up on their logical and conversational skills in order to appeal to women. If they had any idea how females actually spend their time, they wouldn't be going to Ross Jeffries to learn how to trick women into thinking that they are interested in them. They would enroll in every logic course, speech class, and psychology seminar they could find, so that they could rise to the level of the elusive female. So that they could actually be interested in this creature that they want to have sex with, instead of having to take a course in pretending how to be interested.

Hint: We talk. We spend all our time together, talking. We have hobbies that we share, some of them similar to hobbies that men share amongst themselves, but all the while we are engaged in them with our girlfriends we are talking. Know what we talk about? Everything. We just plain like to reeeeaaassonnnnnn about things. In much the same way that someone might bitterly complain that he really did throw a good pass but the other knucklehead screwed it up and missed, people who don't listen try to make it out that women's conversation is nothing but a babbling string of nonsense. A friend of mine even theorizes that women can't shut up because they have evolved as the language-teachers of infants.

Really big hint: I've had many girlfriends. I attended a woman's high school and a woman's college. I have seen them in every condition and every kind of activity. Aside from talking, one very important thing that they are furiously engaged in is not making sexual puns and innuendoes. Ross Jeffries would have you believe that words like 'penetrate' and 'hole' and 'tunnel' and 'key' are going to slip into our minds like lubricating jelly and make us sink into bed with you more easily than you could ever manage it by spiking our drinks with Ecstacy. Sorry, it's not true. These words are supposed to make the target woman connect the idea of You with the idea of Sex, so that by the end of the conversation she can't think of anything but having sex with you. Ha. Because women spend so much of their time talking, and hence reasoning, and because women spend so little time devising ways of turning every common word into a sexual innuendo, particular words don't have this kind of deep, penetrating, sexual meaning for us. These are the kinds of jokes that boys make, often to the great humiliation of the very women that they'd like to go out with. These words do not affect women the way Jeffries suggests they might. (Ancillary hint: humiliation = turn-off)

Most women that I have known are very adept at picking up weirdness in language and gestures. That's because of that logico-linguistic activity that our brains are constantly engaged in and all that practice we get at interacting with people verbally and rationally. Someone who used a preponderance of words with this kind of imagery would eventually get noticed, all right, but not the kind of notice he wanted. If the woman didn't suspect that the guy was trying to make her think about sex (a very stupid woman indeed), still she would find it uncommonly odd to have such imagery repeatedly invoked during an alleged interview regarding her goals in life. I have stories to tell about this, later.

Speculation: If indeed Jeffries's students sometimes have success (remember that there's that wonderfully convenient excuse you can make for yourself, along the lines "I guess I was wrong about her")--IF they have success, it is highly unlikely that it is because they were using words which one of his male buddies might consider an opportunity for a stupid sex-pun. It is much more likely that either (1) that woman had gone to the bar with the intention of picking up some random man for sex; or (2) the poor woman thought that the man really liked her and that they had a lot in common, and those are the circumstances under which she'd be likely to have sex as a prelude to . In other words, she was tricked: the man was talking to her and seeming to follow the conversation and wanting to engage with her intellectually, the way she engages with people she is comfortable with, unlike other men she'd met, who were unable to hold up their end of the conversation because they'd never tried it before and didn't think women were capable of reason anyway.

Fact: In all my vast, lengthy, deep experience with women and girls, I have known exactly one who deliberately "played hard to get." I'm sure that there are others, but the phenomenon is not nearly so wide-spread as fiction and cultural myth make it out to be. Thus, it seems more efficient, if one wants to have casual sex with strangers, to simply ask one woman after another if she'd like to go home with you right now. Women like me will always say no; women who came to the bar for the same reason that you did will probably leave with you. By using this patented technique, you will assure yourself that she won't mistakenly become interested in you as a person and try to see you again or talk to you on the phone or something obnoxious like that.

Aside: Farsam told me about speed seduction parties, where a mass of people who just want to have sex get together and attempt to speed seduce each other. That sounds good to me! That way they're all in the same room together and the rest of us can get on with our boring, conversation-and-reason-filled friendships and romances without the bother of having irrational men come up to us and tell us that we have penetrating eyes and that they felt comfortable with us right away as they pondered how all their best ideas came from b'low them. As if.

Notice I'm not saying that the problem is that Jeffries is encouraging men to deceive innocent women (he is, but nevermind that right now). I think that the problem is that he is defrauding men with techniques that are just laughable from a woman's perspective, and the only thing he's really giving them is his permission to lie.
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Stopped by FreeRadical.com this evening, to check out the Solo site, and ended up writing more than I planned. So I saved it.

What a fun coincidence. I just wrote in my online journal the last couple of days about the implications of speed seduction a la Ross Jeffries. And I stumble upon you all here theorizing about women! I'm responding to all the posts so far, though I've attached it to the first post; I'm afraid of what I might say if I try to respond individually to each note. :-)

It would be helpful to the discussion, posters' relationship prospects, and the culture at large, if sense-of-lifers at least would be as precise as possible with their terms. What, exactly, do you mean by 'reason'? 'Abstract thinking'? 'Rational'? I contend that men on average are just as bad as women on average at the activities _I_ denote by these terms, and that women engage in them as often as men do. But in my experience, men tend to puff themselves up about the importance of their abstractions a lot more than women do: if they are the kinds of abstract discussions they've heard women engage in, then they are woman-things, and not as important, rational, interesting, or even abstract, as the kinds of discussions men have. Few things, for example, are themselves more concrete, or concrete-intensive, than watching a 4-hour baseball game and then following it up with lengthy recitations of the named individuals who threw the ball in certain ways at particular moments; and yet I have been entertained for hours at a time listening to men attempt to portray this as one of the most importantly abstract activities that someone can engage in! The very essence of all life on earth, a microcosm of the universe in a baseball diamond! "A thinking man's game" I have heard over and over. Naturally, I believe that one can think abstractly about a baseball game or its components. I also believe that one can think abstractly about any subject about which one may also think concretely.

I think that the reason that you don't find as many women posting here is that women have always had a comfortable, accepting, fully-human outlet for what men seem to be seeking in organizations like freeradical. Women have always had each other. We've always been permitted to sit around and talk to each other, and theorize, and abstract, and speculate. Men have actually _laughed at_ us for it, characterizing what we are doing as "chatting" or "gossiping". If you only knew, my potential male friends, what we are doing when we go shopping, you would have to reconfigure your entire world-view. We are exercising our minds, our reasoning skills, our abstraction and conceptualization and categorization skills, almost every single time two of us are in a room together.

Women are _allowed_ to do this to a much greater extent than men are, from birth. Some of what we theorize and speculate about is our own emotions and those of others; this happens not because we are more emotional, but because emotions are part of the human mental reality and are simply one more thing to discuss. Men are strongly discouraged from even recognizing that they have emotions. If you're discouraged from talking about your emotions, talking about other things that are on your mind are going to be more difficult especially when you are young and can't tell the difference between a thought and an emotion until you express it and someone beats you up or calls you a fag (meaning that you are like a female).

This kind of punishment-for-thought rarely happens to women; generally, we're only criticized for putting our thoughts into words by...men! Other than those rare occasions, we get to live natural human lives, whereas men have to look for it in organizations devoted to what women are doing all the time; there, it's safe to be human. These organizations tend to have official themes, so it _looks_ more sophisticated and cool than two women speculating as to the motivations of a boyfriend. I swear to you: This conversation we're having here? Women have these kinds of conversations while shopping for jeans and going to the toilet. This is how we _live_.

That's just a working theory. It's not based on evolutionary psychology (I think most of that is a crock, and is largely used as a defense of very conservatively old-fashioned behavior), but rather on my observations of boys and girls and men and women in my relationships. (By the way: in the logic and ethics classes I taught, the women _always_ far outstripped the men in ability to grasp and master concepts and logical connections; and sorority women, to my initial surprise, were always the sharpest knives in the drawer.)

I'm writing a small book intended to assist males with their understanding of and relations with females, inspired by my own experiences. Some of my journal notes will be incorporated. I would be happy to get tough questions!

Specific suggestion for you right now: if you would like to meet women through this forum, maybe you should be a little less insulting and condescending. This discussion so far has been very uninviting, and you have no way of knowing how many beautiful, intelligent, abstractly-thinking, fun women are listening without speaking, hoping to find a rational man for fun times + possibly more.

Also, to help you understand why most _public_, _visible_ innovators have been male, consult some history texts regarding the social status of women since we all slithered out of the primordial slime. Take a quick glance at the little box'o'facts on the first page at http://www.gate.net/~liz/SUFFRAGE.HTM. Very often men (and conservative women) suddenly get very bored and dismissive when these kinds of facts are brought up, which may be why so many people are turning to evolutionary psychology to explain the obvious. If one is careful, one can almost talk oneself into believing that no sort of oppression or discrimination between the sexes (or the races) has ever occurred, and that the current lack of women in the places you, as emancipated males, would like to find them is due some genetic difference that it is beyond the hope of free will to overcome.

I really do mean all this with the best will. I know most of you don't intend to insult. You have simply been handed some really bad premises and theoretical frameworks which have some initial plausibility, and I'm asking you to question them.


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2001_04_25:14: Interview With Gail

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Interview with neighbor Gail, an emergency room nurse, originally from New York City. We discuss her garden for a while, then move on to The Zone. Then I remember I'm collecting data and ask suddenly:

caro: Do you know any woman who married for money?

gail: No.

caro: Any woman who refused to date a man because he wasn't making enough money?

gail: No.

caro: No one at the hospital, the other nurses, your daughter, your mother....

gail: [responds 'Uhn-uhn' to each on the above list].

caro: Nobody?

gail: No. I was married twice. I divorced my kids' father, then remarried him for security.

caro: Security? You mean financial?

gail: No, just the whole thing. I couldn't stand him the second time either.

caro: How old are you? [thinking maybe early fifties]

gail: 61.

caro: WHAT? You are not!

gail: Yep. I got good skin.

caro: [staring] Wow.... I want to be just like you.

gail: And I'm sassy and I used to have a smart mouth.

caro: A smart mouth keeps you looking young?

gail: Oh, yeah. Burns a lot of calories too. Before I moved to California I used to go out dancing all night, til 3 in the morning. I was crazy. Then I got all quiet when I moved here and started to gain weight.

caro: A smart mouth and sassiness burn calories?

gail: Yep.

I explain to her why I'm asking the questions, thinking it might provoke her into rethinking her answers, but she's adamant.
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2001_04_10:18: Irrational Man

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On the one hand, intellectually-inclined men complain that "there aren't any women" who can argue with them at their level. On the other, they are devastated by a woman's making a decisive argument against them. Is it because they aren't used to it, that it hurts so badly when it happens? Or is it because that wasn't really what they wanted, and have tended to choose female companions according to how sweetly compliant and error-blind they would be?

Women are supposed to be nice no matter what. We're not only supposed to turn a blind eye to errors; we're also supposed to listen sympathetically, empathically, self-involvedly, to stories and complaints and hardships that a man would never be told. We are also supposed to listen to evolutionary arguments about why we are not only born sympathetic, but why we are unable to argue at a man's level. Failure to agree is proof that we are stupid.
Just back from a bike ride to the bank. Do some people enjoy have horns blown at them? I have to wonder every time I see some guy hanging out the window of his car to look at me after he's just scared the crap out of me with a blast from the horn. If I weren't a steady rider I'd be startled off my bike and under the wheels of the man expressing his admiration. Today, it was a truck. Do men not have any idea what it's like to have a truck horn blown in their naked ear while riding in traffic on a bike? For me, it would only take one time to learn how unpleasant that is, and to never do it to anyone else. I would never blow the horn at someone on a bike, no matter what. It's just too dangerous. Which makes me wonder, are these men really expressing their approval, or erection, or whatever people interpret it to be? Or do they hate women, with our upstart ways and our pretentions to be as good as they are? Do they want us to fall off our bikes and into traffic so that the only women left alive are the ones who stay off the streets? At least the second one today merely whistled. Whistles I can interpret as more friendly and less deadly than an air horn. But still, it's distracting when you're trying to balance on a bike in traffic.

I want someone to explain this to me. In fact, I want lots and lots and lots of men to provide explanations of this, in their own words. Then, after they've explained that all these multitudes of men simply cannot control themselves even when they are behind the wheel, I would like it explained how anyone ever managed to put forth the notion that men are more rational than women.
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Judging Judging Amy

With my newfound ability to receive tv stations came a host of programming that was new to me. "Judging Amy" had sounded pretty interesting through the buzzing snow of interference, so when it starting coming in clearer I was excited and I checked it out.

I've seen four episodes. So far I'm very disappointed.

I like to watch shows that have role models with whom I can identify very closely. I like to see how other people would handle situations that are unique to women, and thus female role models have additional significance for me. General problems that apply to everyone are also very important to me, as a philosopher and as a person. But when the popular media deals with women as though they are more than just furniture, it's is for me cause for a celebration.

But as a woman, and a philosopher, and an American, I find "Judging Amy" to fail in major respects.

Let me cut right to the heart of the issue. Amy is a judge. She handles juvenile cases, as far as I can tell. It's not clear how old she's supposed to be; one way that the popular media screws with my mind is by casting women who either look to be about 16 but are supposed to be in their 30's, or by casting women who look to be about 50 who are supposed to be in their late 30's or early 40's. Maybe the acting profession takes its toll on young people in ways that I cannot imagine, but I really wonder where all the women who are actually in their 20's and 30's are.

So Amy looks to me like she could be in her early 50's, but she's probably supposed to be in her forties. Close enough. Having gone to law school, become a judge, had a child, and reached this respectable age, I would expect her to be smarter, and to think better.

But she can't think her way out of a paper bag. It's embarrassing to watch. In the last episode I watched before writing this, she decided she wanted a dog. So she went to the shelter. Like most responsible shelters, it had an adoption policy: as the adoption counselor explained, they were interested in making sure that the animal would be going to a permanent home, rather than popping in to an ambivalent family that wasn't sure on the whole whether an animal was desirable. Why? Because sending an animal to such a home can mean that the animal will end up back in a shelter, or simply dumped out in the country or maimed in city traffic. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable and fairly common policy to me. Not to Judge Amy! Despite her years, her active, thoughtful profession, her familiarity with juvenile delinquency (most probably including abuse of animals by children, and abuse of children by adults), not only was this policy a surprise to Amy--but she also found it personally insulting!

Maybe she really didn't know about this current trend in animal distribution. Nevertheless, I'd expect a judge, of all people, to be ready to think on her feet. She just isn't. When the animal adoption counselor told her that the next step was to visit the home and make sure it was a suitable environment, Amy looked aghast, and said, "Are you saying there's something wrong with my home?"

Wow. All that law school training, and Amy thinks that's a relevant response. What could have gone wrong in her education?

To give the writers credit, at least the counselor was able to think on her feet, and she responded quite appropriately, "No. But I haven't been to your home. Have I?" I could have done without the snotty condescending tone, which unfortunately made it seem like the counselor was just being "bitchy" (what can you expect from a woman with that kind of power?) rather than reasonable. But at least she showed some presence of mind.

Amy engaged in other similar exchanges in that episode. Take the conversation between her and a girlfriend about Amy's new relationship, who is her son's martial arts teacher, a man many years her junior. She kept repeating the words "But he's my son's karate teacher" in response to the girlfriend's quite reasonable arguments that the man was obviously good for her, making her happy, something she needed, etc, etc. Again, it was too bad that a judge was so stupid that she was unable to articulate anything about the problems she was having with the relationship. I had trouble staying interested in the story at this point; she obviously thought the man was too young (whatever magic spell that's supposed to cast), but she kept saying that he was her son's teacher.

This of course has nothing to do with Amy, who doesn't exist outside the script. It's about the writers, who do. They are charged with the consistent portrayal of a judge. I can't help but suspect that they are confused by the fact that the judge is female. We all know that women, being the spastic emotional little creatures that they are, can't think very clearly, especially if they feel that their homes or families are being attacked, right? So even though Amy knows the law inside and out and listens to arguments all day and has to sort through them to pick out the good ones and make judgments among them, nevertheless when she leaves the courtroom she completely loses her mind and becomes one of us again.

Maybe, in the case of the counselor, the writers were trying to express something about the absurdity of all this care just for a dog. If so, they didn't do it very well, since they gave the better case and the more reasonable lines to the adoption counselor. The only person who came out looking absurd was Amy.

Or maybe I haven't seen enough of the show. Maybe they are trying to show that Amy has been chronically under such tremendous pressure (after all, she's a single mother living with her mother and engaged in a full-time career in, of all the draining things, juvenile law), that she's headed for a nervous breakdown. It's possible. But if a basic premise of the show is that Amy is losing her mind, then it's something that the writers need to keep reminding us of. You know: Starship Voyager is still lost in space and trying to get home to Earth, and everything they do is consistent with that premise. Amy is all stressed out from her overtaxed life and can't think straight. That sort of thing.)

Possibly the writers are trying to show how hard it is (it isn't, incidentally) to balance an intellectually demanding career and the emotional life of a woman. Now we're getting into evil territory. Either the writers are all men, or the women writers never did very well in anything but literature class and have come to believe that that was because they were busy with the more important business of being emotional women. While it is undoubtedly very hard to maintain a full-time career and be a single mother, being emotional is part of being human. Some people just hide their emotions better than others; but hiding your emotions doesn't mean that you are any more logical than someone who doesn't. The relevant issue is whether you base your actions on unexamined emotions rather than facts and reason. And Amy certainly does.

People who might be influenced by the ideas portrayed on television shows shouldn't watch them alone. Usually we think of that group of people as being comprised of children only. But this show is directed at adults, and since I've heard some of my own friends voice derogatory opinions very similar to the ones illustrated by Judging Amy, I thought I'd provide another perspective. This is not what it is to be a woman. It is not the case that normal women are just so emotional that they can't handle simple everyday arguments, even when they are trained in argumentation. It is not the case that a woman trained in law would suddenly find herself unable to reconcile her erratic emotional reactions with her sober, logical job. The writers have very active imaginations indeed, if they believe that women are that stupid, or that such an idiot could become a judge.

Or maybe I've got the emphasis wrong. Maybe it's really judges that the writers are picking on, not women. I would expect Amy to be a minor character who consistently makes absurd judgments, rather than the title character, if that were the case. But she isn't. She's not just the most important character; she's also a good judge. In the courtroom, anyway.

And finally, maybe it will get better. Maybe they'll hire a woman, or a lawyer, or a philosopher to help them get their scripts straight. But in the meantime, I have to ask, in good Mystery Science Theater 3000 fashion, "How does this television show really feel about women?

Postscript: A word about Ally McBeal

I have heard criticisms of Ally McBeal that take it to task for portraying Ally, a lawyer, as a neurotic idiot. But there's a fundamental difference between these two shows. Amy is a drama. Ally is a comedy. All of Ally's companions are also neurotic idiots. It's funnier that way. And it doesn't matter to the integrity of the show whether the characters say stupid things or smart things, as long as the air of hilarity is maintained. Ally isn't supposed to be a hero or a role model in the usual sense. But I enjoy Ally alot, not only because it is very cleverly funny, but because it is always refreshing for me, as a woman, and a philosopher, when a woman has the title role, and when women are treated as just more human beings rather than as furniture and wallhangings that are present exclusively for the purpose of men to look at and fondle. That's why I'd take Aly over Amy any day. Although Amy isn't a wallhanging, she is a relative idiot in her world.
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2001_04_15:12: How We Choose

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Here's a thought inspired by an article cited by Andrew Breese. The article reports that 'Mary Batten, author of Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates, argues that female mating strategies play a major role in driving men to compete for power and wealth, thereby fostering in all human societies the "social dominance orientation" of men.' (Please consult the full article to ascertain its author's position, as I won't be discussing that here.)

I know some women. I am one, in fact, though I might be a complete weirdo. I have a sister and a mother, too. I've known a couple of women who were looking for wealth, power, and dominance in potential male mates. A couple out of hundreds that I've known. The rest of us thought that these women were very strange.

So the women I've known (including me) must be looking for something else in men. Let's start with physical appearance.

It may be hard to believe, given the rhetoric we all have to listen to every day, given the outrageous pairings we see in fictional media, but physical appearance is important to women. I can't call to mind any woman who ever said or implied "I don't care how a man looks, as long as he has a job commanding lots of people or making huge sums of money." Or even anything close to that. Women say "Ick!" a lot when we talk about men. 'Ick' can be response to some gross behavior; but it is very often a response to a neglected body.

Women I know like fit, cut bodies. Abs are high on the list of features that receive discussion. And abs are a pretty good indication of overall health and fitness: they are men's trouble spot, where the bags of chips, boxes of doughnuts, cases of beer, absence of healthy food, and a sedentary lifestyle, all congregate and organize the welcoming committee that is the first thing a woman meets. Men who are interested in touching women make a very grave mistake when they neglect their health and their bodies. I wrote a few days ago about the one woman that I know who played "hard-to-get." The rest don't play hard-to-get; they are hard-to-get, and one reason is they are so frequently and cavalierly confronted by a protruding belly.

Men I have questioned have a very weird idea of what counts as "ugly" or "handsome" or "cute" in the eyes of a woman. First, it is not the case that all women like the same facial features. Second, a man can have a very attractive face which is unfortunately preceded by a beer-gut. I often wonder about the men who think that their ugliness is the reason that they can't attract women, especially since I don't think that most of these self-deprecating men are ugly. It could be any number of reasons; one of them may be the shape of their bodies.

Disappointingly, intellectual men have a tendency to neglect their health, and this fact reveals itself plainly before any words are spoken. Worse, they think it's OK to be so neglectful, and will even defend it as a serious life-choice, demonstrating to selective women just how irrational they are willing to be.