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Correspondences From The Gender Wars
by Molly Lambert
I’ll paraphrase Hillary Clinton’s excruciatingly vulnerable letters from college in saying “Is it possible to be a misanthrope and still really like people?”
The problem is not men, or women. The problem is people. And there’s no use in trying to assign various characteristics to either gender because it just mutes the point. The point is that most people are selfish assholes, a lot of the time. We are supposed to be. But we’re also supposed to be able to function within a group, and when we can’t do that we are also fucked. Didn’t you read the thing in last week’s Science Corner about how amoeba groups punish cheaters?
Being able to assign blame to another group, be it women, Jews, or gay Puerto Ricans is comforting, but it’s also retarded and the root of all human problems between races, genders, classes. Basically all the things discussed in Mad Men and my last post. Ultimately people must learn how to hold themselves responsible for only themselves. You can’t control the actions of other people. You can barely control your own.
In fact this study just showed how much subconscious triggers like temperature or smells affect people’s moods and reactions to situations without them even realizing it. So when your own subconscious is already working against you to subvert your wants, you need to realize that you’ll never be able to convince anyone else that you have their best interests in mind, even when you do.
And if you do manage to convince someone to go along with your ideas for a while, it’s very possible that they will eventually end up rebelling against you solely because you’re the only person in their life telling them what you think they should do. This is a quality psychologists call “reactance” and it’s also responsible for things like teen angst, adultery, and that feeling you get at your family’s house over the holidays.
None of this is exactly uplifting, I know. But given how much of life is out of our control, it seems remarkable how much personal choice we still have. I mean, I’m just psyched that nobody’s going to sell me to a wealthy old man for a dowry.
Rachel is right though. Life is very long. Long-term love, platonic and otherwise, is difficult to keep going and requires work. People will disappoint, sure things will fall through, friends will break your trust. The whole purpose of art (as I see it) is to provide an outlet for those kinds of urgent feelings. That’s why people write songs, as Tony reminded A.J. when he tried to comfort him.
Or, to paraphrase Amy Winehouse, “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
Molly Lambert is the Senior Editor and Resident Sex Therapist at this recording.
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