“How you must think and wonder how I must feel out on the meadow while you were on the field. I’m alone for you and I cry.” Shaman’s Blues—The Doors
There is a great confusion about the genders these days; this is natural, since they mingle now more than ever; but the confusion does a great deal of harm, since romantic thoughts oppress us constantly, even if we revel in crude jokes.
One of the great misperceptions is that the female is more tender, more affectionate, more sentimental than the male. This is not true, and has never been true. Men are the sentimental ones. Women are pragmatic. Why?
The reason is simple. Throughout human history, women have borne children. In the 19th century, roughly half of children survived childhood—your own dear child drawing its last little breath in your arms: this was the one constant of motherhood—a task not for the weak; the human race would not exist if sentimental feelings rebelled against motherhood. For the most part, they did not. Women are tough. Sorrow would have made them insane had mothers been sentimental.
From simple, Darwinian reasoning we arrive at the secret. Women may wear pink frills and men blue stripes, but inside it is the opposite.
Women may doll themselves up, but the-tiger-that-feeds-on-the-lamb is the true nature of the womanly soul.
How could it be otherwise? How could the woman live through the historic sorrow of watching her own children die? Nature, the breeder, would not breed unfit, sentimental mothers. Woman is the ultimate pragmatist, while men walk the meadows and sail the sentimental seas of pretty dreams.
This is why romance is so problematic. Men want it. Women do not. Romance is sentimental and men constantly seek it as an end in itself. Women see it as a means to an end.
Take the lovely, romantic phrase, “I’d love you to want me.” It happens to come from a 1972 song, from an era when deeply sentimental, romantic songwriting was very popular, and expressed the highest genius. The post-war boom in the west was an era in which hardships in life, including high infant mortality, were fading, and all sorts of factors were contributing to an explosion of romantic sentiment—and it is surely no accident that during this time, with the phenomenal baby boom popularity of the Beatles, that men in general were overtly taking on sentimental, or “womanly” attributes, such as long hair and deeply sentimental, romantic personas.
What are “womanly” attributes? Such a discussion would be an interesting one, but let’s see what we can do with just a narrow piece of the whole debate.
For the man, “I’d love you to want me,” means “I get a tremendous thrill out of the fact that you love me—for the man, love is nothing more than this: I love that you love me; and here we have an infinite loop of mutual love; love for the sake of love; love loving itself with the aid of two people who are meant to love each other, etc. Love is all. The ultimate sentimental expression.
For the woman, “I’d love you to want me,” means “I am glad you want me to love you—because this means you are in the proper state to be highly loyal to me, and I can use this loyalty to produce children and a stable family.” Or, more cynically, if you like, “I can use this loyalty for all sorts of things, not necessarily for children”—sure, with modernity there’s an increasing number of women who choose not to have children; yet these women will still retain the same impulses towards men; it just plays out differently in a variety of social ways—impulses which converge on the confused and increased state of gender-mingling itself.
Gender roles will elude their true identity: we see this in our example of the woman truly being the gender which is less sentimental—despite the general culture seeing it the other way.
What makes things even more confusing is that oppressed cultures will flip—women will take on male attributes, and visa versa. A culture which is dominated and conquered, so that its men “do not feel like men,” will see this occur most radically. Men, for instance, will become more “macho” the more their society, their country, their community, is crushed and destroyed—but the gender-wheel is such that “more male” will turn into “more female” and “more female” will turn into “more male.” For example, in oppressed cultures, women will tend to become sentimental fools who rely on the authority of misbehaving men; we know the true nature of women is to not be sentimental; but here we see they are. Loyalty is what sentimental men should have to prove to the pragmatic woman—who requires loyalty in a father. In oppressed cultures, the man seeks and gets loyalty from the woman—which is not ideal. This is not to say that a certain amount of loyalty is not a good trait in both sexes, but it is the sentimental gender, not the pragmatic one, who should prove loyalty.
One could respond: what’s wrong with gender identity becoming blurred?
Whether blurring should occur or not, is not the point of our essay.
Here’s the point: if men and women have been hard-wired in natural, Darwinian necessity to feel and behave in a certain way, this is sure to be a source of social confusion and pain for the individual, if unconscious shifts occur, to say nothing of the impact on society in general.
The complexity of the whole issue is self-evident; cross-gender prohibition is not the aim here—only an understanding of the larger issue. To lament sentimentality or to censor pragmatism is not our purpose—and it should be added that any analysis of this subject should be made in the largest possible context, and with an understanding that the pieces are not as important as how the pieces fit.
A further example will help, and we’ll reference another popular song from the recent historical period in question: The Doors’ 1966 song, “The End,” the eleven minute, theatrical piece on their first album, which rode the charts in the Summer of Love, in 1967. The Beatles and Stones are the better showmen, but Jim Morrison’s shaman may finally exceed the showmen when it comes to lasting, historically significant, recorded music.
1967 is roughly the same window of time in American culture as the 1972 song mentioned above, “I’d Love You To Want Me” by the artist Lobo—a passionate song of romance, not critically acclaimed, but effective, nonetheless. In “The End,” Morrison, the singer, evokes explicit oedipal rage and lust—and if we examine what “killing the father and loving the mother” entails, we see it is nothing more than an extreme example of the impulse of the romantic male we are attempting to illuminate: killing the father and loving the mother is the ultimate expression of that loop of love (and yes, it’s loopy, too, of course) which is love endlessly loved in a purely unconditional manner: the love of the child for its mother. The oedipal impulse is the example par excellence of sentimentality, or romance, crushing, in heightened passion, pragmatism.