Goddesses, Doormats, and Monogamy
The Personal Weblog of Edward W. Farrell   
Goddesses, Doormats, and Monogamy Wednesday, April 10, 2024
There are only two types of women: goddesses and doormats. --- Pablo Picasso

Men and women can only be friends if there is no promise or threat of sex between them. Otherwise what appears to be friendship is really a cordial truce in which friendship is conditionally accepted in lieu of something more desirable.  Where there is a promise of sex, men are more likely to regard women in accordance with Picasso's dictum: as goddesses or doormats. But this reveals a profound ambivalence towards women.

No man feels complete in himself. That's why sex, at its fullest potential, is an act of completion for men that only the right woman can provide. The desire for this completion never goes away until it is satisfied (though it never is without the necessary right man/right woman dynamic).  So long as there is the promise of completion, a woman is a goddess. But to see a woman as a goddess is not simply about a man's dependence and weakness; it's also about his desire to destroy idols and thus elevate himself. This is how men treat gods when they overcome their fear of them. That's why, when it becomes clear (perhaps for the n th time) that even sexual congress with a woman can't provide the completion he desires, she becomes a doormat, not a friend. Even when the promise of completion prevails, a man can make a doormat out of a woman if his dishonest intentions are threatened by what intimacy may reveal, or he fears being tied down by any woman, right or wrong. In this case if he continues on with the relationship it is a lie --- he fears and rejects the very thing he desires and creates a hell for himself and his lover or wife.

The only thing that has the possibility of changing this dynamic is monogamous marriage, insofar as both partners, in addition to being right for each other, resolve in themselves that there can be no other partners for either of them, and however they choose to deal with their fears it is within the context of a trusted monogomous marriage, which allows neither gods nor doormats to gain a foothold.

Right man, right woman --- what does this mean? The usual sorts of definitions don't apply here because it is a condition of mutual understanding, not a set of rules. It defines a condition in which both the man and the woman have a deep, intuitive understanding of their partner as they are, not as some personal romantic or ideological fantasy would have them. And this understanding fosters a powerful bond that is unique to them, and is in that sense completely private, unconventional, and incommunicable to anyone else. Since it's based on a mutually understood reality and not some rigid convention, this bond is more resilient to life's uncertainties. This would seem to be a relatively rare condition since most people's expectations seem to be determined by pre-existing fantasies, ideologies, peer groups, media bombardment, parental pressure, or frantic rebellion from such influences --- none of which are particularly conducive to fostering self-honesty, nor acceptance of the unknown in life, which routinely shatters conventional expectations of every sort. Thus Wendell Berry:

...in joining ourselves to one another we join ourselves to the unknown. We can join one another ONLY by joining the unknown. We must not be misled by the procedures of experimental thought: in life, in the world, we are never given two known results to choose between, but only one result that we choose without knowing what it is.

All site contents copyright 2024 Edward W. Farrell This page last updated on 2024-04-10