I have a love hate relationship with Katie Roiphe, ever since she published her first book, The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism, in which she argues, among other things, that expanding the definition of sexual assault to include any kind of sex a woman is later unhappy with ultimately results in a culture that fails to take rape seriously. Whiny, boo-hoo bitches who wake up ashamed have made it nigh unto impossible for victims of violent sexual assault to secure justice, or even just have anyone believe they didn’t consent to be dragged in a back alley and raped.
One of the triumphs of feminism: when every sexual encounter can potentially be defined as rape, every man becomes a potential rapist. Schrödinger’s rapist is a popular meme, playing off of Schrödinger’s cat, a thought experiment in physics in which cat in a box is either dead or alive, depending upon a random interaction between subatomic particles which may or may not have triggered the release of lethal radioactivity.
The general idea captured by Schrödinger’s Rapist is that every man should be treated as a rapist, no matter what the circumstances. Check out this little piece and allow me to draw attention to one passage in particular, addressed to MEN, the potential rapists:
“…you must be aware of what signals you are sending by your appearance and the environment.”
Wait a minute!? Are you saying that the clothing you are wearing and your general appearance and attitude can convey signals to people that they may or may not interpret correctly?? It’s neat how that applies to men, ALL MEN ALL THE TIME, but never to women.
Let’s get back to Katie. In this piece at Slate, she argues that online flirtations and relationships conducted across a computer screen are MORE real than relationships in real life.
It’s interesting that in all three examples she cites, it’s the man who is the cheating, dirty, scumbag and the woman who is the innocent, unsuspecting, put-upon victim. Actually scratch that. It’s not interesting at all. It’s getting downright wearisome to listen to the message over and over again. Yeah, yeah, we get it Katie. Men suck.
Just what is it about cheating online that seems so much more real to Katie?
Received wisdom tells us online communications are unreal, fake, and distant, but they can, in fact, be the opposite; they can represent very intense fantasies, distilled versions of romantic yearning, including its darker, more narcissistic sides, honest articulations, for better or for worse, of the inner life.
So relationships that are REAL, according to Katie, involve intense fantasies, romantic yearning, narcissism and the inner life. Hers, one presumes.
Oh, Katie. You’re operating on a set of assumptions that virtually guarantees you will never have a relationship of any length or meaning with anyone in your life.
Real relationships don’t involve fantasies. They are all about facing the nitty gritty details of life with humor and cheer and compromise and most of all, an infallible sense of being together in the storm. You can’t imagine away your partner’s flaws, nor your own. You have to face them, and try to keep your head and stay rational and sane even when you feel like you will lose your mind if he fails once again to break down the empty cereal box before piling it up on all the other recycling.
You hear that, Mr. JB? BREAK DOWN THE BOXES. That’s how you prevent an unwieldy pile of cardboard from sliding down the back stairs!
Real relationships may start with romantic yearning, but what are you yearning for? For love? Acceptance? Affection? Physical pleasure? Those things develop over time and grow more intense the longer you are together. They require the physical presence of another person and can never be replicated by a name on a screen or words on a page. Words can portray the intensity of feelings, but they cannot substitute for feelings themselves.
Narcissism and the inner life. There’s the nail in the coffin, darling. The key to happy relationships that last forever is that you always, always put the other person’s happiness first. And that applies to both people in a relationship. My happiness comes before his, his happiness comes before mine.
It’s the opposite of narcissism. Selflessness.
For the past seventy years, feminists have been shrieking at women to reject this definition of relationships. Selflessness is just another word for oppressed. No one’s happiness or well-being should come before a woman’s own. The only acceptable priority for any woman is HERSELF.
How’d that work out for ya?
Poor, Katie. Sitting in her apartment, typing on her computer with her sperm donor kids out with the nanny, wondering why she doesn’t have a relationship. She has all the qualifications: fantasy, yearning, narcissism and a pre-occupation with her inner life.
Like the proverbial cat in a box, wondering if she will live or die based on seemingly random events.
Here’s my advice: close the computer and get out into the real world. Go and meet some real, live flesh and blood men, and when you find one you can love, make a choice: put his happiness above your own. Choose selflessness.
That’s how the cat gets out alive.
Lots of love,