I have at least three major issues with McCain’s analysis of sexual politics here, at the same time I do believe there are two or three nuggets of wisdom hidden therein, like flakes of gold in a panful of sand.
See if you can figure out which is which, and then we can discuss it. Rather, you can all set me straight on how terribly wrong I am.
UPDATE: Okay. Here we go.
First of all, Stacy’s displaying his usual contradiction between the nice side of his nature and the casual brutality that leads him to blog about how Meghan McCain must be a slut, and Maureen Dowd’s vagina must be nasty and yeasty. Which is his prerogative, but I’m not sure that it enhances his arguments to hit below the belt (almost literally, sometimes) with as little provocation as it seems to take. And it isn’t sexism, exactly, because he engages in the equivalent behavior with some men, as well. His meanness seems to constitute a sort of rhetorical tic.
Secondly, he does indeed get the goals of the people involved a bit confused. It sounds perfectly likely that the woman Stacy was talking to at a party simply wanted a non-abusive relationship with an emotionally available guy. She may not want marriage at all, but Stacy’s strategies don’t just tell her how to get that—whether that is what she seeks or not—they also imply that the only way for a woman to get a non-abusive relationship is to get married. Which is rank nonsense.
The fact is, if someone is seeking out abusive relationships, the last thing one should tell them is to get married in a hurry, as it’s more difficult to extricate oneself from an abusive marriage versus an abusive relationship.
There is also the problem of tackling marriage as a rookie in the world of relationships: Stacy is suggesting that a lot of us ought to compete at the Olympic level without any training. I don’t buy it.
And then there is the “economic” side of things. A few people made the utterly reasonable inference that I was referring to money in that, and the couple’s future as an “economic” unit. No, no: that is a complicated issue, though, particularly for people who would like to have children (and aspirations such as Catholic school or home-schooling further impact that endeavor). But I was referring to Stacy’s garbled analogy about the cow and the milk. In the original saying, the woman is the cow: “why buy a cow when you can get the milk for free?” Stacy switches this around so that the man is the cow, and tells the woman he is advising to “lock the cow in the barn.” (Because we all know that men are happiest when they feel trapped, or “locked up.”)
This refers to the “economic” side of things, and the traditional approach to marriage wherein men engaged in it as a way to ensure, theoretically, a steady supply of sex. Though once we’ve cast the man as the one who wants sex more, and the woman as one who’s relatively aloof from it (that is, in the original truism, rather than McCain’s inversion of it), I’m not sure how marriage solves the problem of how to keep the cow producing milk once it’s been bought, and it’s safely in the barn. (Though of course woman are also happiest when they feel trapped, controlled, and “locked up.”)
If I thought, of course, that remaining virginal until marriage would save the heartbreak that everyone seems to go through in their teens and twenties, I might be able to advocate it on practical, rather than nominal spiritual grounds. But heartbreak is a function of the emotions, and one’s emotions can become deeply entangled without any exchange of bodily fluids at all. Alas, alas.
The fact of the matter is, nearly everyone gets their heart broken quite badly once or twice. And it takes a little time to recover from that.
People who find themselves gravitating toward those who are unavailable in some sense, or abusive, or inappropriate, should look into the reasons for that and fix it, no matter what it takes: a better shrink, an enhanced prayer life, adjustment in medications, superior nutrition, dialing up the exercise routine. Life is too short to engage in endless rounds of melancholy.
But attractive people are no less vulnerable to heartbreak than anyone else, and keeping their flies zipped and their legs crossed is unlikely to save their psyches from that experience.
As for self-image, well . . . it’s difficult for a sex goddess such as myself to speak to that to a huge degree—but McCain is correct in his formulation that thoughts can have a huge impact on reality. They change the relationship “market” a little. Positive thinking always does that, as long as one still takes account of the facts on the ground.
Finally . . . sheesh. Never run after a bus, or a man: there will always be another one along soon enough.
UPDATE II: More from Bride of Rove.
UPDATE III: Cassie, as usual, hits it out of the park. Dang, woman!