Some anthropological context

You're dangerous, 'cause you're honest…
you tell me things I know you're not supposed to…
Well, you lied to me 'cause I asked you to;
Baby, can we still be friends….
U2, Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses

Interestingly, I read an anthropological study many years after these incidents (I'll have to try to re-locate the article someday), about an intelligent and independent woman in a small rice farming community in SE Asia. She did not wish to be married, but her society wasn't really set up to accept independent, unmarried women.

The anthropologist described an observed scene where a local man had decided this woman was the one for him, so strode up to her where she was planting rice with the other women, and proposed marriage.

It was obvious this woman would not be interested in this particular, not-very-bright man, and unsurprisingly she politely declined the offer of marriage. What made the scene most interesting to me and the anthropologist both, though, was the anthropologist's realizations afterwards.

The woman couldn't just refuse the marriage offer. That would cause the man to lose face, and in order to regain face he'd slander her and ruin her reputation in retribution, making it impossible for her to remain in her village — because the man would always be believed before the woman. So she had to not only politely decline the proposal, but also manage his feelings for him!

She did so quite artfully, apparently. She carefully thanked him for the proposal; then described herself as a foolish, inefficient, clumsy woman; then helped him conclude someone as prosperous, wise, and up-and-coming as he really couldn't do with the likes of her as a wife — she'd just be a liability.

And my thought was, 'Oh, of course — just like here and now. That's what I should have done, except I wasn't savvy enough at the time to know or want to pander to the guys by denigrating myself like that. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).'

In retrospect, I agree with the professor who noted a lot of culture exists mostly so we don't just kill each other. In other words, "culture" is a socially acceptable means of manipulating others, in the least harmful way, to get what you want.

As a friend noted, by using culture in this way you are in fact helping them not hurt themselves. Admittedly, you are helping them keep their thoughtlessness or their illusions — but (he added) that's not your problem to fix, is it?

Bad social conditioning

Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.
Billy Crystal

In the movie When Harry Met Sally Billy Crystal's character states a guy can never be friends with a woman, because he invariably wants sex with her. I find this really sad. How humiliating to guys everywhere, to be told they're just incapable of emotional self-control.

Furthermore, how tragic to see folks who still do that — who differentiate between people they're interested in, and people who are "unavailable" or do not interest them romantically — as if one group were sides of beef for consumption, and the other group was merely disposable room settings. The only explanation I can come up with for this is they truly believe they're the center of the universe, and everyone else is there solely for their pleasure and/or amusement.

I guess it makes sense to find these types truly don't understand why many people react to being treated that way with polite, distancing comments like, "let's just be friends." Makes sense… but I have to wonder.

Do guys really not comprehend how someone might feel, faced with a statement like "Men can't be friends with women because they always want sex with them"? Have they never tried considering how that might sound to a woman? She's being categorized as nothing more than a possible supplier of sex. Isn't that a little rude? If it happened enough times, I'd imagine most women would soon get heartily sick of it — I know I did.

Don't guys realize a woman might want her actions to be appreciated, or her intellect noticed — not just her cup size? Do these guys really not want to be friends with their lovers? Do they really want to be seen as nothing more than objects with no self control, or dildoes? Under that premise, either the guy is interesting and fun to be with because you're a sexual null — or you're just another sex toy to him. Bleah!

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