Thursday, May 19, 2011

Men Behaving Badly

So much is being discussed on the bad behaviour of men, that Gail Collins in the New York Times has dedicated a column to it: The Year of Living Adulterously.

I'm afraid I've done a rather inelegant 180 on the Schwarzenegger/Shriver situation, which I mentioned in passing yesterday.  While it is true that no-one knows what goes on inside of a marriage -- while we only see the public front of even those couples we are closest with -- the act of coupling with a domestic employee inside the house you share with your wife and your children, her bearing your child within days of your youngest son being born and keeping it quiet until 10 years after the fact because of your political career sounds like something out of The Borgias.  Maria Shriver, wisely, has hired Laura Wasser, widely known in Los Angeles as the pitbull of all divorce attorneys, and is seen beaming through the tragedy with sister-in-arms Oprah Winfrey.

Shriver is an elegant woman. We'd see her sometimes at Laker games, with her son Patrick, her hair in a neat pony tail, dressed in little suits and heels -- chic and serene.  There is much comparing of Shriver with the woman with whom Schwarzenegger bore a child -- the woman is plumper, more homely, pleasant-faced if not beautiful, but certainly not the femme fatale people expected.  Of course, it didn't matter what she looked like, what mattered, it seems, is that she was convenient. So convenient, in fact, that he didn't have to leave the house.

The Daily Mail has made the unfortunate and unnecessary and possibly damaging choice of printing a picture of the child.  The press are camping outside the woman's house in Bakersfield, much to the chagrin of the neighbors in the quiet cul-de-sac where she lives.  This seems to be the modern day equivalent of knitting, toothless, at the guillotine.

There's something rather quaint about the idea of a man that can't keep it in his trousers. Despite our leaps and bounds in technology and human psychology and personal awareness, we are left with this -- that we are, in fact, no different, no more evolved than bonobos, and in some cases less so.  So often we forget the frailty of human nature.  In Arnold's case, perhaps we should blame it on all the testosterone injections. My friend's norfolk terrier humps various soft toys she leaves around the house for his sexual pleasure. Couldn't we find an equivalent for horny men?

Men, and I speak to a tiny group of you, I know -- women don't like being groped and mauled and rubbed up against. You may think yourself a charming lothario but I can assure you we don't usually share that opinion. We may even throw up a little in our mouths.

Which leads me to my favorite joke:
Q: Why does a dog lick its balls?
A: Because it can.

When I was about fifteen, my father's great friend, a charming, slightly scary bear of a man, offered to take me fishing.  He took me fishing in Hampshire, on a little bit of the River Test that he owned. I wasn't going to fish, of course. I was merely there to look decorous and give him something else to look at other than the river. I knew I was out of my depth the minute we got into his car when he suggested that I become his wife "in every way except for the bedroom."  He was joking of course, about the marriage (he was married) and the bedroom (obviously this was the only bit of the "marriage" he was looking for). After a day of ducking and weaving and avoiding and trying so very hard to be polite and sweet, and to behave the way I'd been taught to with adults, despite the aggressive behaviour being displayed by my father's friend, I was brought home in one piece. Fine, but utterly terrified.  Only years later I discovered that my sister had been through a similar experience with the same man, whom my parents continued to think the world of, and, it has to be said, was a most amusing person to sit next to at dinner.  Of course, I never told them what happened.


Belle de Ville said...

Brilliantly said!

LPC said...

That is awful. It makes me wonder if no man who ever offers to help take care of a child not his own is to be trusted.

jongleuse said...

There does seem to be an awful lot of it about. Sad, really. My theory is that (apart from assault and anything involving children of course-which is just evil) men want to believe that they are immortal against all evidence to the contrary.

home before dark said...

Agree with the brilliantly said part. I, the one who thought there was no real difference between boys and girls except for anatomy, have come to have the deepest reverence for biology. And when biology gets reinforcement through unchecked power, it can get really, really ugly.