Sometimes, I’m just sad.
Cristina translated a piece by Mircea C?rt?rescu from Romanian to English called “A Few Reasons Why We Love Women,” and then she posted her own response, “A Few Reasons Why We Love Men.”
Now, before I start, please know this about me: I did find some of this very sweet. I’m a hopeless romantic. But when I read it, I looked at it again as a litany of all of the things I’m not, of all of things I’m supposed to be, and I came up lacking. This always happens when images of female beauty and “what being female is” are plopped in front of me by (usually male) writers, editors, designers, etc. Not that men don’t get this too, but it’s the reason written pieces like this bug me. It tells me what somebody wishes me to be. Something I’m not.
And Cristina did express worry that feminists would take it the wrong way:
Reading it as a Romanian, I was amused and nostalgic, and caught myself smiling wisely to myself several times. Then I couldn’t help but wonder, could this be written in English, now? Or would it attract irate replies and burrowing frowns from aggravated feminist intellectuals all over the US?… I believe that the spirit of Cartarescu’s text is not to be misconstrued as some patriarchal political statement, but rather as the quirky, tender voice of the writer-as-man. And as such, it’s endearing and funny.
And yet, despite the swooning in the comments over at Cristina’s place, I found the idea of dating a guy who thought these things really uncomfortable. What would happen when he woke up? When he realized I was just a person?
What I found interesting about both versions was the idealization of each gender, the emphasis on separateness, on difference, and the glorification of the “other.” A lot of romance, and putting people on pedastels, is built around language like this.
I’m a little weird when it comes to sexual relationships, I’ve discovered. I tend to look for egalitarian, buddy-buddy relationships. Instead, a lot of guys I deal with look to make me into a child or a mother, when all I really want to do is hang out with somebody funny and interesting and respectful who treats me like a real person, not an idealized “other.” I think that idealization is dangerous, particularly when you’re with a guy who finally gives up the ghost and realizes you’re a real person. Bad things can happen.
And I worry when I read about the reasons women are loved, and find that none of those reasons describe me.
I wonder what that makes me.
Which is exactly the sort of doubt the romance myths look to inspire.
I want to make new stories.