When it comes to discussing the main principles of how men and women interrelate with each other, it is important to be aware of what accounts for the biologically predetermined workings of the feminine/masculine mentality. The reason for this is apparent – once, we are being in such a position; this will make it so much easier for us to provide a psychologically sound interpretation of the different aspects of the interrelationship in question.
At their turn, these workings imply that; whereas men can be well deemed ‘quasi-biological’ beings, women never cease remaining 100% ‘biological’ (sexual) – even when they do not realize it consciously (Weininger 55). In this paper, I will explore the validity of the above suggested at length, in regards to the topic-related motifs, contained in the world-famous short stories/novels that we have studied.
One of the main aspects of how men interact with women is that, during the course of the process, the representatives of the ‘weaker sex’ never cease being aware of their rather submissive social status. This specific state of affairs can be explained by a variety of different reasons. The most important of them is the fact that, as compared to men, women are physically weaker (Burton 20).
Yet, as we well know, the Darwinian laws of evolution (to which men and women are equally subjected) do not tolerate weakness. Nevertheless, it is not only that, contrary to being weaker than men, that the majority of women in today’s Western countries enjoy the spoils of a gender egalitarianism – in many cases, women prove themselves more that capable of dominating men.
The reason for this is that, while socializing with men, women remain perfectly aware of what accounts for their advantage within this specific context – namely, their physical attractiveness to the representatives of the opposite sex.
What it means that it is in the very nature of every woman to go about striving to achieve the state of self-actualization by the mean of entering into the ‘marriage contract’ with a man so that the latter could be turned into a providing hunter-gatherer.
This explains why women apply a great effort into trying to look good – the measure of their physical attractiveness positively relates to the extent of the targeted hunter-gatherer’s willingness to have sex with them. Apparently, for a woman, sex is not merely the mean of conceiving children/experiencing a sensual pleasure, but also the tool of ensuring loyalty, on the part of a providing male.
The validity of this suggestion can be illustrated, in regards to the character of Mary in the short story Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood.
After all, as it appears from the story, Mary (in the part B) never ceased believing that by having sex with John, she would be able to attain the status of a married woman: “She (Mary) wants John to think she does (like sex) because if they do it often enough, surely he’ll get used to her, he’ll come to depend on her and they will get married” (1).
The case of Mary implies that the sexist idea that it is specifically men, through which women go exploring their own self-identity, is not entirely deprived of a rationale.
However, it is not only the social aspects of their existence, which naturally cause women to preoccupy themselves with the sex-related subject matters – the very specifics of the female bodily constitution determine the mentioned state of affairs. The reason for this is that the female genitals are ‘internal’, which in turn causes women to experience a somewhat hard time while trying to act asexually.
This explains why women’s sexuality is in fact the integral part of their innate sense of self. Whereas male sexuality can be compared to an incidental skin-itch, which goes away after having been scratched, female sexuality is best compared with an allergic skin-rash, the scratching of which only increases the itch’s severity.
Whatever inappropriate it may sound to one’s sensitive ears, but from the biological perspective – a woman’s whole body is, in essence, one big sexual organ.
This is exactly the reason why women happened to have several ‘G-spots’ all over their bodies. What it means is that women are psychologically predisposed towards leading a socially integrated lifestyle – while socializing with men; women are able to enjoy the atmosphere of sexual tension, created by their very presence.
The above-stated helps us to explain why the character of the Lantin’s wife (in the short story The False Gems by Guy de Maupassant) used to be so obsessed with attending theatre (1). Initially, she simply liked being noted by other men. As time went on, however, it started to dawn upon the Lantin’s wife that she could well turn her preoccupation with theatre into the money-generating tool – hence, her decision to become a prostitute.
This explains why, prior to her death, the Lantin’s wife used to be considered a very cheerful woman – apparently, she was able to realize her true calling, as a very intelligent and yet ‘sexually alive’ woman.
Yet, she was simultaneously able to maintain the reputation of a not overly bright/ religiously virtuous little ‘doll’, who could never be offended by the Lantin’s sexist remarks, such as the following: “You ought to appear adorned with your beauty and modesty alone, which are the rarest ornaments of your sex” (2). This, of course, gives the concerned character a huge credit, as an individual.
We can say essentially the same about the character of Laura Lyons in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. The motivation behind this suggestion is that, as it is being revealed at the novel’s end, Laura’s self-adopted posture of a morally upright and sensually frigid woman did not have anything to do with the fact that she used to derive great pleasure out of remaining a mistress to Sir Charles Baskerville.
It was only during the times of distress that Laura would not have any second thoughts about exposing her true nature, as a ‘weak woman’, utterly depended on men. The Laura’s letter to Sir Charles Baskerville leaves only a few doubts, in this respect:
“Please, please, as you are a gentleman, burn this letter, and be at the gate by ten o clock… L. L.” (171). This, of course, implies that while interacting with men, even the most rationally minded (asexual) women never cease experiencing the unconscious anxiety to be ‘seized’ and ‘penetrated’ – in full accordance with how mother-nature has prescribed them to.
There is another reason why the mentally adequate women cannot help experiencing the sensation of being strongly drawn towards men. Apparently, it is in the nature of just about any woman to feel that it is only after having been ‘reunited’ with a man (due to marriage), that she would be in the position to be able to realize her life-potential to the fullest (Kavka 124).
As the earlier cited sexologist Otto Weininger noted: “The male lives consciously, the female lives unconsciously… The woman receives her consciousness from the man; the function to bring into consciousness what was outside it is a sexual function of the typical man with regard to the typical woman” (61).
One of the reasons for this is that, unlike what it happened to be the case with women, men are capable of mentally detaching themselves from their sense of sexuality, which explains the phenomenon of many men referring to their penises as ‘little friends’ – as if the men’s genitals were endowed with the mind of their own. This also explains why most men think of their sexuality as something incidental, as something that comes and goes and goes.
After having had sex, men return to their ‘normal selves’, which in turn create the objective preconditions for them to consider indulging in a variety of ‘non-biological’ pursuits, which in turn enables the ongoing social, technological and cultural progress.
In light of this suggestion, we can well define the true significance of the motif of insanity, contained in the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Apparently, it was not the yellow wallpaper per se, which triggered the process of the story’s narrator beginning to lose her marbles, but rather the long absences of the narrator’s husband: “John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious” (649).
While being forced to spend prolonged periods of time alone, the narrator could not help but to grow ever more mentally unstable. This can be well interpreted, as a result of the narrator’s sense of irrationality having taken over her rational psyche – just as it is being often the case with women who remain bachelorettes well into their advanced years.
We can offer a conceptually similar explanation, in regards to what triggered the deep-seated insanity of the character of Carmen Sternwood in the novel The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (92). Even though Carmen used to lead a socially integrated lifestyle, while deriving a great pleasure out of being able to spend time with men, she ended up presumed quite insane.
The reason for this is that, as the novels implies, being driven by their irrational sense of greed, these men appear to have been alienated from a number of the specifically masculine virtues, such as one’s ability to act as he must, as opposed to acting as he feels like.
What it means is that, throughout most of her life, Carmen has been denied the opportunity to socialize with ‘real’ men, which in the end resulted in the concerned character becoming utterly unreasonable and violent-minded.
The validity of the line of argumentation, deployed up until this point, can also be shown from a somewhat different perspective – in regards to the short stories Araby by James Joyce and A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway. After all, the motifs, contained in these stories, do imply that the man’s sense of sexuality differs from that of a woman.
For example, while reflecting upon his affection for the character of ‘Mangan’s sister’, the narrator says: “Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance” (2).
What it means is that the narrator’s love of this character was ‘will-powered’. In essence, he strived to ‘conquer’ the woman in question, as such that had the value of a ‘thing in itself’, which in turn reflected his typically masculine attitude towards entering into the relationship with women.
The character of an old man in Hemingway’s story also appears to have been a domination-seeking male back in his early days. However, it was not his primeval strive towards domination, which allowed the character to succeed in becoming a rich person (as the story implies), but rather his ability to exercise a rational (will-powered) control over its irrational urges: “This old man is clean. He drinks without spilling.
Even now, drunk. Look at him” (2). This is also the reason why this man seemed to have been unaffected by his loneliness – being a master of its own, he did not need to enter into yet another marital relationship, as the mean of attaining the sensation of an emotional wholesomeness.
I believe that what has been said earlier is fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis. The reason for this is that, as the paper’s analytical part illustrates, there is indeed a good reason to think that, while socializing with each other, men and women act the biologically predetermined manner.
It is understood, of course, that the provided line of argumentation exposes the sheer inappropriateness of the suggestion that the difference between men and women is merely physiological and that it does not affect the workings of their psyche.
Atwood, Margaret 1983, Happy Endings. PDF file. 8 Mar. 2014. <http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~rebeccal/lit/238f11/pdfs/HappyEndings_Atwood.pdf>
Burton, Jonathan. “What makes us Different?”. Scholastic Update 125.11 (1993): 20-21. Print.
Chandler, Raymond 1939, The Big Sleep. PDF file. 8 Mar. 2014. <http://lucite.org/lucite/archive/fiction_-_chandler/chandler%20raymond%20-%20big%20sleep%20the.pdf>
Conan Doyle, Arthur 1902, The Hound of the Baskervilles. PDF file. 8 Mar. 2014.<http://www.planetpublish.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/The_Hound_of_the_Baskervilles_T.pdf>
De Maupassant, Guy 1880, The False Gems. PDF file. 8 Mar. 2014. <http://introtofiction2120.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/42364569/THE%20FALSE%20GEMS.pdf>
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins 1894, The Yellow Wallpaper. PDF file. 8 Mar. 2014. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/literatureofprescription/exhibitionAssets/digitalDocs/The-Yellow-Wall-Paper.pdf>
Hemingway, Ernest 1933, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. PDF file. 8 Mar. 2014. <http://www.url-der.org/a_clean_well_lighted_place.pdf>
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Kavka, Misha. “The ‘Alluring Abyss of Nothingness’: Misogyny and (Male) Hysteria in Otto Weininger.” New German Critique 66.123 (1995): 123-145. Print.
Weininger, Otto 1906, Sex & Character. PDF file. 8 Mar. 2014. <http://www.theabsolute.net/ottow/schareng.pdf>