The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Women Are Mean to Me

Posted on | April 23, 2011 | 39 Comments

Little Miss Attila accuses me of advocating “sex-segregated Puritan libertinism.” What I was actually doing, of course, was having fun at the expense of spoilsport Caitlin Flanagan.

But let’s face it: I have too much fun.

Amanda Marcotte also decided to take a poke at me, for which I’m grateful, since she thereby called my attention to a very interesting article in Marie Claire magazine:

As Amanda Clark, 33, a caterer from Boston, walked down the aisle toward her fiancé, wearing a $15,000 gown and a 7-carat ring, she felt nothing but dread. I don’t want to go through with this, she thought, with each step toward the altar. . . .

After five years and two kids, Clark got divorced and, because the article is from a women’s magazine, you know that this anecdote must be part of a trend to be demonstrated by social-science statistics:

Clark is hardly the first woman to say “I do” when her heart wasn’t in it. According to recent research conducted by Jennifer Gauvain, a therapist in Denver, 30 percent of now-divorced women say they knew in their gut they were making a mistake as they walked down the aisle — and kept walking anyway. Only a handful backed out. The obvious question: If you know you’re marrying the wrong guy, why do it?

Note the unspoken premise: If your marriage fails, it is because you married “the wrong guy.” There is nothing wrong with you — no, you merely made a bad choice. And, remembering that this article comes from a women’s magazine, you should blame society for your mistake:

Women are raised with an unrealistic impression of what love is supposed to look like,” says Gauvain. “Girls read fairy tales where the woman gets saved by the prince, and when they’re older, the same message is enforced through romantic comedies where love always prevails, despite impossible scenarios. So women learn that love can always work, even when it’s unhealthy.”

This is Therapeutic Morality, the triumph of the Virtuous Self: Whatever your problems are, there is a ready-made excuse that releases you from any obligation to take responsibility for your failures.

Under no circumstance should anyone be expected to believe that their misfortunes have any meaning other than to prove that they are helpless victims of forces beyond their control: “Mommy gave me fairy-tale books when I was a child — I’m a victim!

Let us stipulate that, in the grand scheme of things, people who can afford to spend $15,000 on a wedding gown don’t have much claim to victimhood. And a 7-carat diamond ring ain’t cheap, either.

People who expect other people to bring happiness into their lives are, in effect, externalizing responsibility for their own moods and emotions.

Happiness is a very subjective thing, and is in some sense a choice. There are some people who, when life gives them lemons, always decide to make lemonade. There are other people who, when life gives them lemons, spend the rest of their lives whining because they really wanted apples.

Sooner or later, if you want to be happy, you must acknowledge that no one else is to blame for the seemingly unfair disappointments of your life, which usually aren’t as unfair as they seem.

Amanda Clark got a $15,000 gown and a 7-carat ring, and she still wasn’t happy, so whose fault is that?

Was it really the fault of her husband being the Wrong Guy? To believe that, you must believe that somewhere out there is the Right Guy, ready and eager to wed Amanda Clark, except for the fact that she goofed up and married the Wrong Guy. But shouldn’t we at least consider the alternative hypothesis, that Amanda Clark was to some extent responsible for the failure of her own marriage? Isn’t it possible that she was the Wrong Woman?

Start asking questions like that and pretty soon you’ll be on the receiving end of the kind of treatment I get from Little Miss Attila and Amanda Marcotte.

Women are mean to me, because I have too much fun.


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