Guest Post from Cheryl

April 10, 2012 § 49 Comments

[The Plankton writes: I forgot to say before posting earlier guest posts – and with no special reference to this one, of course – that I do not vet or edit or even copy edit guest posts in any shape or form.  I simply post what anyone happens to send to me, warts and spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and typos and all, and whether or not I agree/disagree with what has been written, think it is brilliant or a load of bollocks; just grateful for a different voice from my boring old droning for once, and that the guest bloggers have kindly donated something and have given me a day off – even though I have taken quite a few days off of late, but you get my drift!  Anyway, today, many thanks to Cheryl for her post below.]


The thought came to her lazily, like it always did, that maybe she was broken.  Not broken in a physical sense for that would be too easy to fix.  But she knew there were cracks in her being that she could not see in the mirror.

Like a corpse dumped in a body of water, every so often this thought would float to the forefront of her consciousness during the minutiae of her day.  She would prod it, poke it, worry it, and wait for it to sink back into the grimy depths of her quiet self-loathing.  Its malingering presence resisted burial at sea or burial of any kind and she felt towed under by its weight.

On the surface, her patina of normality, of being modern, empowered, sexually literate and free had a subtle shine that her female friends congratulated her for.  Wished for.  Remembered possessing before they themselves became the possessed of partners and children.

But the men…she was sure that the visibility of the cracks and decay and broken parts were gender-specific.  How else could she explain seeing the reflection of those cracks and decay and broken parts in the eyes of her lovers, for however briefly it was that they saw her?

She pondered therapy, yet doubted she would be of interest to a therapist.  Didn’t therapists like to drag memories, like corpses, out of the silt in which they were buried?  Work for them, coax and belabour them out of the depths then feast on the catch to validate their own existence?

She could tell a therapist the exact moment in her life when the first man that would set the pattern of her intimate relations rejected her sexuality.  Was blind to it, was off-handedly dismissive and disinterested.  Floating in a gentle current of loneliness and prodded with a long stick of bitterness, her reason for being intimately flawed rose from the depths, too easily caught and filleted.

She could recount the awkward attempts at attracting the dangerous yet desired sharks, list the unconsummated seductions.  Those long, grey times between lovers where the skin hunger dissolved into her deeper layers and ate away at her heart, time after time.  She longed to pulp the script from which those men read out their identical, nonchalent goodbyes. 

She could, with startling clarity and conciseness, tell a therapist of the common threads of timelines, behaviours and goodbyes that wove themselves into a shroud appropriate for burial at sea.   What was left of her heart knew that if she could find a way to kick off that waterlogged shroud, the woman who was drowning on land might eventually be able to breathe in love and live to tell the tale.


§ 49 Responses to Guest Post from Cheryl

  • Bridgit says:

    Wow! That struck such a chord with me and although I could never admit to having such dark thoughts to anyone close, it is however, exactly how I feel about myself. Thank you for such beautifully written words but I now feel more bleak than ever!

  • Lydia says:

    Very good.
    It makes me feel good of course as I do not think I have ever been rejected nor even divorced by a man (I wanted my own divorce) so rejection is not something to which I am used. As I think I said to someone rather nice yestersday whom I will meet when I get back from my business trip abroad, next week, anyone would be lucky to have me.. as he would… given his last girl had multiple personalities and the one before anorexia.. perhaps you would be better hanging out at the local psychiatric clinic, I quipped. Do you have a need to fix and cure and heal those with problems (many men do)? We seemed to hit it off despite my “chat”. Meanwhile the widower continues on and when he is in touch is okay. In fact meeting this other feels mildly deceptive although I doubt having met someone 3 times that implies any exclusivity.

    It is Spring. Sap rises. People are happier. They start to get their vitamin D levels topped up. Hope.

  • mel says:

    Most men I know and have known just LOVE to fix and ‘make things better’. If you appear (at least) a little bit ‘needy’ you’ll find a man more interested. So – be (at least)a bit attractive & in need of ‘fixing’ – you or your house or your finances – you’ll succeed in love. It’s in his DNA….I am smiling as I write this! But – voice of experience once again.

    • Lydia says:

      Indeed. I put that to him, nothing as attractive so some man as someone to fix (and as I tend to exceed most people in lots of ways at least in terms of coping, money, assets, life competence and ability) I would not be the person for him.
      He it was the most stimulating conversation in decades and we’re having dinner so may be my abilities (he particularly wants someone quite bright apparently) didn’t put him off.

      I’ve put off the wheelchair user though. I was only setting out some general comments – just writing about our differences – he had a very lavish wedding and I think they are absolutely dreadful and the more expensive the wedding the worse the people and the less time they have usually given to talking about issues that really matter, not that I put it like that but I think we’ve decided we rub each other up the wrong way which is a bit sad as I did like him in some respects. I am abroad now surrounded by people of normal weight who wear reasonable clothes so it looks like another planet from the typical UK. Just about every man is attractive.

  • EmGee says:

    Nothing is more annoying than a man who passes over the emotionally healthy, who may coincidentally be very pretty, woman, for the one who may be beautiful on the outside but is an ugly mess on the inside. I think the corollary on the women’s side are those who are attracted to the ‘bad boys’. After being hurt often enough by trying to tame these toxic people, the fixer walks away with the sour conviction that all members of the opposite sex are like that, despite abundant evidence to the contrary all around them.

    Cheryl, I don’t know if you are broken or not, but your unconscious implication that one goes to a therapist at the therapist’s pleasure (“yet doubted she would be of interest to a therapist.”), speaks volumes. I am not an advocate for therapists per se – they are only as good as their patient’s willingness help themselves – but I do believe in group supported self help which helps set goals and boundaries.

    Groups like CODA (for codependents), Al-Anon (for people whose lives are troubled by alcoholics) come to mind. Focusing on what’s wrong or what troubles you, instead of finding a solution (which may include having uncomfortable feelings and admitting that you may have a problem that is not caused by others) only serves to feed the voracious appetite of whatever’s causing you pain.

    Okay, enough from me.

  • june says:

    O dear can i slit my wrists now, god i dont ever think even when i have been truly down i have ever felt this bad, surely men are not worth this depression,you poor dear girl Cheryl that men have made you feel this way.

    I was never that attractive to men even when younger i dont know why, i just wasnt, im not unattractive, perhaps i just wasnt needy enough,maybe thats it,they couldnt “fix me” i was fixed. i think you right Mel men do like to fix women, good for their ego.
    I can remember being told by one man i was too bolshie, i “spoke like a man” he said,my plankton neighbour says men like “itsi bitsie women” not upfront bolshie ones, perhaps shes right,most of those kind of women even if get a partner, do seem to end up on their own, or with a really easy going laid back man of which there are few. I do know friends who are lucky enough to have them and my dad was one, but there are not many.

  • June

    I must take issue with your expression “men have made you feel this way.” NO ONE HAS THAT POWER OVER ANYONE. We feel the way we feel because of the narratives we tell our selves and our failure to resist the impulsive emotional reaction we have to another’s action (I include speech). Insecurities play their part; tell me I’m stupid I’ll ignore you, tell me I’m old and pathetic-not so easily. We can give that power to someone else; in fact it’s depressingly common. If you attach yourself, too strongly, too easily, too impetuously, in a word, too much-it will hurt you. BTW I did not come up with this; it’s from Kahlil Gibran, who warns the lovers :
    And stand together yet not too near together
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart

    “The Prophet”

    • ex-pond-slime says:

      I think Thomas that you and June are saying the same thing really – the protagonist in Cheryl’s story,and many other plankton, have given men that power.

      Cheryl, you describe so well a sadness I wasted too much of my life drowning within, though I couldn’t express it as well. I too could point to a long line of rejections, starting back in the primary school playground when the little boy who starred in my fairytale imaginings kicked me in the shins and generally acted like the little boy he was, despite those lustrous brown eyes and cute dimpled grin. Ah, Ricky! where is he now? fat and bald probably! But it wasn’t his fault I pinned my dreams on him, and all the unfortunate males who came after him, though some of them were a bit more proactive in encouraging my fantasies.

      The events are there, but the pattern you make of them is up to you.

      That’s not to say there is no reality. Demographics are against the older woman finding a mate, that’s all too real as June knows. But thinking that says anything about your worth is a choice you make.

      I hope Cheryl’s heroine learns to shine.

  • june says:

    Yes expond slime, i do agree, Thomas munson hasnt got it quite right, sadly a lot of women do let men treat them badly, I truly believe one of reasons ive ne ver had that many long term relationships is i wont. Perhaps as iv said before, my dad who really respected and liked women is to blame for that, as i was brought up to expect that from men, and didnt often get it. I think lots of men dont actually like women and i dont mean fancy them, i mean actually like them as people. I do know friends with really good relationships and good partners, but i also know lots who just put up with what they have not to be alone. Thats something i could never do. A friend of mine told me the other day reason im alone is i wont compromise,what she really meant was at my age, im so past my sell by date, that to get someone i wouldnt just have to compromise, id have to accept any man actually breathing, however he behaved and whatever he looked like. I have to say she is younger than me, and she thinks shes past her own sell by date, her relationship is rocky and she is constantly patching it up.

    As you say demographics are against women all the time, but i know as much as being a plankton can be lonely and isolating at times, accepting anybody or any treatment cannot be right and i wont do it, and nor should any other women,but sadly many still do and ever sadder always will.

  • rosie says:

    Yes, if more women refused to put up with endless oceans of crap – not that I haven’t but I do draw the line eventually – it would make life a lot easier for all of us. Can’t see that happening anytime soon though.

    Cheryl, I used to be a sucker for the ‘dangerous yet desired sharks’ until I came to my senses and realised they weren’t dangerous at all, just complete wankers!

    • june says:

      Sad Rosie but true and there i think you have the answer in why so many of us are planktons, you said it, we have all put up with a bit of crap, although i have to say my lack of long term relationships means i put up with very little crap, otherwise id probably have had more.But you said you drew line eventually, many never draw the line, and those who do and those like me who have rarely put up with it, end up on their own.

      So many women seem to define themselves by men, the friend i mentioned honestly thinks a women without a man is worth little, she once said to me everyone wants a relationship, why dont you. I said i did want one, but wanting one and getting the right one are too different things and if you never meet the right person you stay alone. Society of course doesent help, single women dont seem valued at all, socially we often seem isolated,even more so if we have never had a long term relationship and have no kids. I often feel that way even with some friends, though im glad to say not all. I know all women are not perfect,and some men have to put up with ones who give them a bad time, but somehow men always seem then to come out of it better than a women does, and of course they dont have a sell by date.

      • Lydia says:

        There are many men alone or with someone leading lives of desperation inside. Plenty are lonely or find it hard to relate to women and unlike women they can find it harder to talk about how they feel – hence more male suicides than women.

        I don’t think men have it any easier than women and now may of us women well outearn many too and tend to have our children more closely as it were I have often found women have a great time. Perhaps so many women are such miseries internally and externally those of us who aren’t have the best of times. Life is good.

  • EmGee says:

    I agree with TV.

  • My remarks were intended to be quite limited. Beyond physical pain, no one can MAKE me feel anything. A woman abandons me; this is a fact. The narrative I add to it, that I am therefore undesirable, unattractive, not worthy-that is all on me. Take it even further; I am unattractive, undesirable, not worhty (I’ve been called worse)-I must thereofre be miserable. No true, but if I tell myself this narrative it will be. POINT: Give people the power to hurt you, it’s at least 50/50 they will,

  • Lydia-
    Your point has an even more ominous aspect to it re: males. Many men view depression itself as a failure. And this extends to even the act of suicide itself, at least in the U.S. Male suicides here often take on the aspect of execution, as even surrendering to the overpowering urge towards annihilation is seen by the suicide as failure deserving of punishment.

  • Catherine says:

    Rings so true. I spent years of this, then made myself sick. Perhaps it is better to suffer aloud than this drowning. Hope you can swim to the surface and breathe.

  • PrestanSerbchingo says:

    PLANKTON: One middle aged man’s perspective

    Ran across this blog and it was an interesting read, making me more aware of the issues older women face in the dating “marketplace.” I am sympathetic to many of these issues. The “market” can be a harsh and unfeeling place, where the blunt demographics of life do not yield to wishful thinking or romantic yearnings.

    I offer a middle aged man’s perspective on the issue of plankton- because middle-aged men too are “invisible” to women in a number of ways. It is constantly assumed that they have all these favorable options, but do they really? Let’s look at the flip side in 5 parts.

    1— First, the general notion that middle-aged women “can’t get a date” is not at all true. Anyone can get a date from someone else, at some level. It would be much more accurate to say: “I can’t get a date with someone that fits my specifications.” That is the real crux of the matter.

    2—Plankton women often make themselves invisible by their list of requirements and specifications. Do we all have specifications? Yes and everyone is entitled to his or her preferences. But let’s be frank. The market has a lot of options for women- men from ethnic minorities, men at different ranges of physical type, and men at different levels of financial success. There are the key demographics. Plankton women (like all women) rule out numerous market options with their specification list. Is it wrong to have such a list? Not at all, but the point needs to be stated time and time again that there are many eligible men out there that are MADE INVISIBLE by plankton women. For example, women that have some height- say 5’ 7 and above – invariably rule out shorter men.

    There is a lot of denial on this point, and there are exceptions, but the specifications and/or behavior on the dating websites by such women tell the tale. I was told by one such woman for example who was an inch taller, that as a couple “we would not fit” because of “how it would look” when she was in high heels. Another factor is money Women are all too happy to date the male with seeming financial success, but are more grudging with he who is in more modest circumstances. So you have to understand that many men are skeptical when they hear women complain that they are “invisible.” To the contrary, they are very visible, but they reject possible male companions constantly. Men are not fools. They can see the contradictions.

    3—Women need to understand that males too have to guard their hearts and egos, because they are constantly rejected. In an era of female affluence and independence, this means that they face even more rejection than in the past. In other words, men have it just as tough. Look at the blunt realities for a man. He is expected to make the first move. Since not all such approaches will be successful, males will face more rejection. Fair enough, it comes with being male. But in an earlier “breadwinner” era, the “volume” was more manageable.

    In today’s marketplace however, where many women not only have more education, but may actually be earning a better salary, or have more job security, difficulty has increased. Women are invariably looking to “marry P” – putting men with lesser educations, or less financial success, or less job prospects at a disadvantage. Bluntly put, they are often looked down upon by women. Note- I am not talking the stereotypical lazy, no-gooder, always drunk/drugged/abusive male types, but ordinary men who do not have the easy cash or long-term job security in a turbulent economy, or a high powered jobs where they earn more than a prospective spouse. These men are not necessarily blue collar- to the contrary they may be college grads as well, only without the “superstar” job status. Again and again, you see women on the dating sites despising such men.

    “Guarding your heart or feelings” is a stock phrase for women. What they don’t realize is that men have to do it as well in an environment of constant rejection. On top of the initial approach rejections is the harsh reality that other males are out there actively competing for his potential prospects. This means that a man too has to constantly face being dumped or replaced by the competition. This is a harsh reality for men. It thus makes perfect sense for a man to cultivate as many options as possible, since going into the game, most of his work may receive rejection. It makes sense to not commit, to not get pulled in too soon, to keep options open. On a dating site for example, most approaches will simply be deleted or ignored on arrival. A man tends to use a “volume” approach because of this reality. Why invest an hour in crafting a nice, witty or sweet approach email when it will, in most cases, be simply be deleted on arrival? Better to invest less time per person and try to build a package of options. In the follow-up phase, men still face constant rejection. Sure things may progress to a face to face date, but women too are ducking and dodging as they get new emails in from fresh male prospects, and find the current man less desirable in comparison. Again, it makes sense for a man to keep his options open, to make less investment, given that new competition may oust him at any time.

    Women don’t seem to appreciate these issues that men face, particularly middle-aged men who are not high flyers financially. Again, we are not talking abusive unemployed slackers here, but decent, ordinary working men of modest means- white and blue collar).

    4—Faced with constant rejection, plankton women must realize that men will and have developed alternative outlets- the “three P” for example. They are not the only outlets- younger women are another, but the “three P” is always waiting in the wings.
    The “three P” are as follows:
    a) Porn- why invest in a real woman, warts and all, when perfect “dream” women, meeting every sexual fantasy are readily available?

    b) Prostitutes- these need not be the streetwalkers of yore on dangerous streets, but women in legally recognized massage parlors, strip clubs, “internet models” and other venues. Why blow $100 on a dinner –movie date with a constantly judging “princess” when the same $100 can get you a nice lap dance and maybe more at the right strip club or other venue, no questions asked?

    c) Playgirls online- playgirls are women on the Internet in various venues- web forums, chat rooms, instant messaging, webcams, web groups etc who are willing to engage in short term romantic and/or sexual relationships. They can actually arrange a physical meeting, or spend several hours doing online chatting, picture swapping or web-caming with interested men. Some women “specialize” in this, controlling a stable of eager males that will spend hours with them hoping for a glimpse of flesh or vulgar chat, or even more sophisticated erotic chat. A playgirl can come home and fill her nights will all sorts of male attention if she so desires.

    5—So what are the solutions for plankton women that might be effective- from a man’s perspective? Here are 5 suggestions:

    a) Use more common courtesy in your rejections. On dating websites do take the time to send the standard rejection/not interested email to men who have made a good-faith effort to contact you. The all too typical dismissal of good faith mail makes men more cynical, and less likely to invest in personally any particular profile, since he may likely be ignored, and must use “volume” to get any sort of response. Note- taking the time does NOT mean replying to obvious scammers, sleazeballs, etc. but to good faith men, who have taken the time to make a good faith approach. Alas, such common courtesy is sorely lacking among women on dating websites. Some argue that the men should simply “deal with it.” Fine. Likewise women must likewise “deal with” continual male cynicism and short attention spans.

    b) Use a mix of flirtation and genuine interest to hook desirable men, including making the first move. Many women are hesitant to make the first move for fear of rejection. To that men say- welcome to the club. But women should try the “neutral question” strategy. When making the first move ask a “neutral” question about some area of interest- like “how do you like riding that bike you have in the profile picture, how old is it?” Most men will respond to something like this. For those who don’t, you have not invested emotionally so the rejection is easier to take. But most men will be surprised by the expression of interest. Rather than face yet another self-styled “princess” waiting to reject the pleading beggar, they will rather appreciate this different female approach.

    The second part of this is to use whatever female assets are available in a subtle but unmistakeable way. It could be a low cut dress, a smooth bit of leg, anything visual. It should not be too direct. With your follow up e-mail you can include another picture showing a bit of cleavage (but not too much) and with your hair down. In other words crank up the feminine side, Make sure he sees it but be SUBTLE. Keep probing with questions and comments that build up his ego and express interest in what HE is about, rather than posture in “princess” mode, expecting him to coming begging. He has a lot more options these days than you, remember.

    c) Ditch the long list of specifications and be more realistic. Specifications are important but men are increasingly cynical and skeptical of female claims these days. They say: “You say you can’t get a date eh, yet when a guy 2 inches shorter is available you pull out the ‘height’ card on him. Why should we believe anything women say, and why should I invest in you when “the Three P” beckon?” There are many viable market options that would open up without “the list.” Be realistic about your long list of specifications. Many items may be simply irrelevant. And remember, why should he invest in trying to impress you when there are several other short-term options available?

    d) Phase down dating websites and cultivate other, more relaxed online hookup options like social Media (Facebook for example) or blogs, or web forums on a particular top of interest. A dating “profile” is like a stuffed resume in a sense- with pressure to measure up: “here are my “qualifications” – now what are your “specifications”? Profiles encourage endless option shopping, list making, and “check-boxing.” With a community of interests model, like say Aussie Football fans, or going to the same high school, there is a common ground without a lot of the pressure and posturing. Did you have the horrible Miss Jones for art teacher as well – versus the “how much money is he making” “checkbox” mentality.

    Once the connection is made, things can develop in more relaxed fashion, with more exploration, rather than the “checkbox” mentality dating sites encourage. I have met a lot of interesting women via blogs and Facebook, women who were willing to explore deeper connections (not all strictly online by the way), many more than I would have met if I had stuck to the “checkbox” dating site format.

    e) Try focusing on men who show a level of stability but are not rolling in financial success. They may not be earning as much as you or have the job security you have in today’s’ downturn economy- which has hit men harder than women. Also consider cultivating men also that have some sort of moral and spiritual thing going for them, above and beyond the media or sports. And don’t always look for “trendy” men. Give the “untrendy” ones an opportunity. This is hard for some plankton women, who have a shopping list they feel they must meet. They are perfectly entitled to their shopping list but keep in mind that men are more cynical today and will exercise other options rather than waiting around to be noticed. As noted above, women may be in fact making good male prospects “INVISIBLE”, viable prospects that are right before their eyes.

  • PrestanSerbchingo says:

    whoops ran out of space-
    There you have it- a man’s perspective. Run it as a “guest” blog or whatever. Keep up the good reads.

    • MissM says:

      Interesting view PrestanSerbchingo. I am not sure how many woman enjoy being treated as a number as though a woman, any woman is the goal, rather than someone you can develop feelings for and an emotional connection with. But I suppose if a woman can be viewed along the same lines as some porn, a prostitute or a lap dance with extras, then pretty much any woman could do. You are right, that man may as well spend his money on one of the sexual outlets available to him rather than try to find it on a dating site where the women are looking to find a meaningful relationship as opposed to relationship free sex.

      It is true women may have too many items on a checklist. But it is also true that a lot of plankton have pared that down to the barest minimum, since we have been told to lower our standards more times than you probably have had hot dinners. As you say everyone is entitled to have their list as long as they are aware that it is going to cut down their options. But then if my only option is an octogenarian with a prescription for viagra and an IQ in double digits, I would indeed prefer to stay single.

    • june says:

      Very interesting prestan but to be honest as one of the women you would obviously consider too choosey can i say i cannot understand why men of my age cannot look after themselves better and age better than most of them do. It is possible one of my friends husbands is 66, and to be honest he looks 50. so it can be done. As a female who has looked after herself,is slim and does dress trendily, i fail to understand why i should be prepared to accept men who havent and dont. You have to be with this man intimately and if you find him repulsive and in some cases not very clean, its hardly the basis for a good relationship is it. On websites men write you off if ov er 60 even if you are in better shape than them.,ive been told i am too old, even though i ,might look considerably better than the man. As MIss M says if all we can find are very elderly men with very little else going for them, then like her i wont bother. Also i find many men of my age have a very old fashioned attitude to women, and seem to overlook fact we are in 21st century and also dont have a lot of get up and go. My dad who died at 98 two years ago, was much more liberated in his ways than many men of my age. and he was born into edwardian england.

      Also your statement re porn etc, sums up how many men feel about women, wny when they contact you do they immediately mention sex, i had one today, to me sex is something that happens when you have got to know someone, as part of a lov ing relationship, i for one have no intention of having instant sex with anyone..

      So there we have it, i for one have no intention of settling for a overweight, repulsive looking ,man who has not taken care of himself and in some cases doesent even own his own property, i dont want riches, but i do want someone who is solvent , has place of their own, who is clean, in good shape, dosent smoke, and looks presentable,, doesent dress in old mans clothes, and has modern attitudes to women and if that is asking too much im sorry,like Miss M id rather be alone., Just how far have we older females to lower out standards, personally i think you men should start looking after yourselves more and adopting a more youthful attitude to life.

  • rosie says:

    “They may not be earning as much as you or have the job security you have in today’s’ downturn economy- which has hit men harder than women.”

    Hmm, not sure that’s right, not in the UK at any rate.

  • EmGee says:

    Well said, PrestonS, even though most, if not all plankton here are not going to like reading a good deal of what you wrote, we do ask for male input from time to time, and ought to respect it if it is respectfully submitted.

    Not much new here, although the mention of the 3 P’s is discouraging, in that what the perennially single, searching woman is looking for is a long term intimate relationship, not a hook up for sex, or ego stroking (the 3rd P). From what I gather, people here who have tried a lot of online dating, have had to wade through a tremendous amount of respondents settling for the 3 P’s.

    If what you are saying here is that most men who are trying the online avenue, are doing so because they’ve given up on both conventional dating and ever finding a suitable mate, it all makes much more sense.

  • Lizzie says:

    I think what Preston is saying is, that middle-aged and older men who are discouraged and disillusioned by the matchmaking scenario, will more likely turn to cynicism and the three p’s.

    It is the exact equivalent of middle-aged and older women, also discouraged and disillusioned, will more likely turn to cynicsm and settle into a planktonhood sisterhood.

    It was a good post Preston, very informative.

    A warning as it were for everyone (male and female) to pull up ranks and change tactics.

    How about kindness, softness, thoughtfulness, appreciation for starters? Or is the status-quo just too far gone for that?

  • Lizzie says:

    By the way, I though this guest post was brilliantly written. Congratulations Cheryl.

  • PrestanSerbchingo says:

    MissM said
    But then if my only option is an octogenarian with a prescription for viagra and an IQ in double digits, I would indeed prefer to stay single.
    lol.. agreed.

    June said:
    Just how far have we older females to lower out standards, personally i think you men should start looking after yourselves more and adopting a more youthful attitude to life.
    Also agreed. I do not any any way endorse the “any warm body will do” approach. I would also agree with you and MissM, don’t throw overboard all standards. And indeed, men should take care of their appearances and health more.

    Emgee said:
    in that what the perennially single, searching woman is looking for is a long term intimate relationship, not a hook up for sex, or ego stroking (the 3rd P).
    Indeed. See below.

    Lizzie said:
    How about kindness, softness, thoughtfulness, appreciation for starters? Or is the status-quo just too far gone for that?
    Agreed. That’s the definite ideal to shoot for. See below.

    OK, so given the above, where it is clear that women will not (and should not) settle for any warm body, what practical strategies can be implemented? Nothing new here of course just more or less a recap, as to what might work with a man. To put a label on it, perhaps a “triangulation” approach might be a viable one. Triangulation means manipulating male hot buttons and matching that manipulation to a woman’s (a) romantic objectives, (b) specifications and (c) self-improvement efforts. Nothing particularly new here-just trying to create some sort of visual picture, based on what I have seen.

    OK so what if you took a blank sheet of paper and drew a triangle.

    A- In one corner- list your romantic objective. Is it casual companionship with nothing serious, or actively seeking a deep, long term relationship? Certainly the love objective may shift and shade into various phases of ambiguity over time, so you might have to recalibrate at times based on the person and other factors. Long term is the most difficult. A realistic appraisal going in will soften disappointments later.

    B- In Corner #2 list your specifications. As said above specs have a trade-off. If you are a fairly tall woman and will not settle for anything less than a man over 6 foot high, you have excluded over 40% of all males. Is your specification “wrong”? No, not necessarily, but just be aware of the trade-offs you are making. There will be no free lunches. Obviously specs vary in importance, but determine your crucial bottom lines and be realistic.

    C- In Corner #3 write your current efforts at self-improvement. One should not go overboard on these items. The key Is STEADY progress, even if small. If you are 200 lbs, a moderate improvement over many months is much more realistic and comfortable than a “crash” diet, but make sure there is steady forward movement. It is true that there is other female competition to think of, and on a dating website with hundreds of profiles, what you are bringing to the table may not seem that impressive, relatively speaking, in a venue with endless shopping options. But improvement efforts tend to make your own good qualities the central focus. The “shopping options” do not determine your worth. You can indeed do without them. This of course is nothing new- the self-confidence, inner contentment benefits are much greater than any “profile market.” But again, is there steady FORWARD movement on your efforts, versus mere talking points that never get started?

    In any event, your “inner triangle” – yes I know- the imagery.. lol.. is your baseline.

    —————————————— ————-
    Now draw a bigger triangle around your inner one. This is your manipulation plan. There are 3 hot buttons that get “under a man’s skin”, and “inside his head.” Dr Laura in her book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” laid them out, but they are common sense. I am sure others can be added, but boiled down they are:

    1) Sex- self explanatory, but it does not have to be instant physical sex. Allurement, seduction and desire is part of the overall package. This means maximizing all available feminine assets- hair, clothing, strategic glimpses of smooth skin, etc etc. But don’t go overboard, and don’t be “over-done.” Your physical presence should send an unmistakable message of feminine desirability, using whatever nature give you. You can’t just show up and expect him to fall at you feet- not these days. Another part of this package is physical gestures- a stroking of your hair, smoothing your dress, touching of a man’s arm. Let him see these gestures as he talks to you, or watches your videotape, all the while applying one of the most powerful but overlooked methods- a smile.

    In other words, your target should KNOW you are there as a woman, whether in person, or via a photo or whatever. There should be no mistake about the sex appeal. Let the waft of that perfume hit him, or that delicately crossed leg sway, or the curvy tops of cleavage beckon. But at the same time do not be too direct or forward. A certain reserve will garner more respect in the long run. Make sure he gets the alluring feminine “message” though, and most men will respond. Again, the exact working out will depend on your style, target, etc.

    2- Food/domestic care- yes I know it sounds so old-fashioned. But the woman that can work this angle will have a leg up on the competition. This means not only providing food (hand cooked or ordered in), but small actions that signify care- mending a loose button, offering to get something. Small deeds indeed but they show clear signals of care- something important to men. Indeed this is one of the reasons men get married- for a wife able to do such things. The exact maneuvers used will of course depend on a mix of factors. It makes little sense as noted by the commenter above to invest in an abusive dullard. Note- I am not talking about taking out loans and going into debt for the man, but a constant stream of small caring gestures that will help bind your targets to you. A constant stream is in a sense, building a web around your target, versus the woman who expects him to come running just because she appears. But another bonus though is that if nothing else, your thoughtfulness will make you yourself feel good, not because you want credit, but something inherent. At least that’s how it appears to me when I see a mother tend her child, or a wife her husband. It’s not like they are clamoring for credit- they just do what they are doing.

    3) Ego stroking- another controversial label, but look at it this way. What does a woman expect from a man? Does she want a stream of criticism and belittling? No she wants positive, affirming stroking, So why is it that when the equation is flipped some find it offensive? Ego-stroking means being supportive, laughing at his jokes, applying praise, showing interest in the things he is interested in. If is seems somewhat “retro” look at it from the flip side. What does a woman want- as Lizzie says “kindness, softness, thoughtfulness, appreciation for starters.” Flip it around and use it on your target and your chances greatly improve. For relatively little work, a man will usually positively respond.

    Mix and match Keep in mind that manipulating the 3 variables in the outer triangle must interact with your 3 baselines as defined in the inner triangle. So you will have to shift and change tactics to fit. The 3 manipulations will work with almost any man, but discretion is obvious. If you want a deeply religious man, you might have to use a more conservative physical appeal approach (not that it should be “over-done” anyway). But at the same time there could be clashes with your self-improvement agenda. If you are working on ditching religion and being a better atheist it may make little sense to invest in a religious target.

    Naturally the variables on your triangles may shift over time. You way start out aiming for marriage but later shift to casual companionship mode. Whatever the angle the “triangulation” approach will get you some results. I can definitely say from a male perspective the 3 “hot buttons” above do get a man’s response and attention. You will have to mix and match these with your determined baselines for success, allowing time for results. In any event, your “small but steady” self-improvement efforts will yield some independent satisfaction, whatever the actual romantic outcome.

  • PrestanSerbchingo says:

    PS: I should add that I agree with comments above on someone being worth it – someone who seems worth the investment. Also a woman should actually expect to see some clear results from her efforts. I am not recommending waiting on someone had and foot. If she sees signs of a “player” she should back off and phase down the investment. Mutual female support may be needed to disentangle in difficult cases. The actual results too may be in stages. Long term may not work out, but agreeable companionship on a good note and good terms might be an acceptable trade-off. Each person will have to see what works for them..

    • EmGee says:

      Very nice, thought out post, Prestan, you ought to do do a guest blog.

      I nearly laughed out loud about 40% of men being under 6 ft. Most, if asked, will embellish by a couple inches, especially if they are close to 6′. I’m 5′ 8″, and most men I meet are about my height. All my partners have been my height or a bit shorter, except for my current bf, who really is 6′. I thought he was taller in fact, but no, he says 6′. It is nice to be hugged and have my head lay in that hollow below the collarbone…, but I digress. 🙂

      I pretty much hit all six points on your triangle with the exception of C some attention – I could do a little more with what I’ve got. I was trim and fit until my metabolism crashed at 40, and circumstances forced me into a sedentary occupation after doing jobs that required physical exertion. What a horrid combination to hit at the same time.
      I was a size 8US a few months ago, now I fear that I am creeping up on a 10. I can’t afford gas right now, let alone a gyn membership or getting my bike repaired, and I cannot stick to self imposed exercises, I have tried, believe me. I have breathing issues I can’t afford to treat, so I always feel like I am suffocating a little. Face it, I am getting older. But I know there are activities I could be doing that don’t cost anything, I could watch my diet more closely, not use food as my companion when I am alone at night.

      #1 is more on him than me – he is very afraid of intimacy, and while I can take sex, or leave it, the very idea that a cuddle or a kiss might lead to the bedroom, scares him silly. The first time we were a couple though, he was very affectionate and wanted sex, and I was in heaven. Ironically, his buried fear, and an ex who began to text him mercilessly and which reminded him of their old, controlling relationship, caused him to panic and flee the first time around. This time, I confess, I am a bit afraid to press the issue. Also, I feel fat and unattractive right now, myself (point C), so no wonder he doesn’t want to get too close to a fat cow like me, right?

      On the bright side, his return from his work in the city has been delayed by a couple days, and he called me 3 times last night, to let me know he was coming back today, wish me good night, etc. When I think about what our relationship doesn’t have, I need to remind myself of what it does have, and how no one person cannot fill my life, no matter how perfect he may be, and it is up to me to do the rest, if I want to be happy.

  • Lizzie says:

    Hmmmm……………..interesting. To reiterate, as you yourself said above Prestan, it is all really common sense. It makes logical sense that positive affirming behaviour is usually received and met with positive reactions.

    It worries me though that the status quo is indeed, too far gone for this. Men do not tend to make these efforts with us. To replace the cynicism and macho atmosphere that is prevalent nowadays with an appreciative one is no mean feat. Wish us luck!

    • Lizzie says:

      PS. “kindness, softness, thoughtfulness, appreciation” can get trampled all over and lost in the stampede that is the current rampant, sexually overt and provocative rat-race.

  • june says:

    Well this sounds wonderful in theory Preston, not sure if you meant women should lose weight or men, i am very naturally slim, and barely 5ft so i certainly wouldnt consider a man shorter than me, hed obviously be a midget if he was, so thats one stipulation i never make, average height men fine for me, Its finding any at all, in reasonable condition for a women of my age that is the problem.

    I went to london yesterday on the train but as we were going to the olympic westfield we had to change trains, to get off there, and as train was fairly full we had to sit near a man who i suppose was my age group, but looked and seemed much older, . I said to the two friends i was with who were late 30s and mid 40s now would you expect me to fancy him, they both agreed knowing me as they do and always telling me how youthful i am, no they defintely would not. And there Preston we have the problem,glad you think men should look after themselves, sadly few do.

  • PrestanSerbchingo says:

    Emgee said:
    The first time we were a couple though, he was very affectionate and wanted sex, and I was in heaven. Ironically, his buried fear, and an ex who began to text him mercilessly and which reminded him of their old, controlling relationship, caused him to panic and flee the first time around. This time, I confess, I am a bit afraid to press the issue. Also, I feel fat and unattractive right now, myself (point C), so no wonder he doesn’t want to get too close to a fat cow like me, right?
    On the bright side, his return from his work in the city has been delayed by a couple days, and he called me 3 times last night, to let me know he was coming back today, wish me good night, etc. When I think about what our relationship doesn’t have, I need to remind myself of what it does have, and how no one person cannot fill my life, no matter how perfect he may be, and it is up to me to do the rest, if I want to be happy.

    Not knowing all the facts it would be hard to say but I think you are right not to press the issue. It is better to spend the time patiently building your web. On weight and so on, it is a tough thing. For example, I did not know until recently that women have a harder time losing weight than men. It sounds obvious that men should know this but many don’t as far as I can see, Still, I would venture that a small bit of progress, as long as it is going forward, will create a positive frame of mind.
    On intimacy issues, the controlling ex is definitely a negative factor, but you still have the 3 manipulations going in your favor. My feeling is that he will become more intimate if you crank up the sex appeal factor for starters. Even with a full figure (men themselves need to shape up I agree) there are certain outfits, certain flirtations etc that will breakdown his defenses. The idea is to carry out a physical seduction- a constant state of subtle physical pressure on him, without seeming to do so in a very blatant manner. If it looks too blatant and rushed he will back off, But subtle pressure over time will likely work. Using plenty of physical contact- shoulder rubs, arms stroking, brushing with “full” hips, use of perfumes, hair arrangements, etc, together with your own feminine preening- hair tosses and twirls, dress adjustments etc will break down most men (I don’t say all). You have to appear casual or natural, not forcing the issue.
    Some of this may require a venue change. Subtly squeezing or stroking a thigh on a train, or in a restaurant, or on a day trip on the ferry may gain more ground than if you are doing that in the same old cramped apartment. My thinking (again, not knowing all the specifics) is that in general, this will lead to the cuddle and kiss stage, and then to something more. Looking at it from a physical standpoint, few men in good health can hold out long-term against seductive physical pressure (subtle but unmistakable). What happens is that they usually break down. This is precisely why some “unlikely” women seem to be so successful, even with men who may not find them physically attractive. They constantly apply those points of physical pressure- again- without seeing to throw themselves desperately at their target.
    The “long term seductive pressure” approach allows him to slowly adjust to the possibility of intimacy. Together with item 2 (domestic care) and 3 (ego-stroking) you should be able to move things along more. But the question may arise- why stick with this guy if he is not moving in the desired direction? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and rule out other possibilities, Downgrade him to a casual friend and move on to a more promising prospect. Don’t sell yourself short. Other alternatives are out there. The trick is to somehow get them in close physical proximity- could be a library book club, neighborhood party, or whatever. With physical proximity you can then apply seductive pressure, making it easier for them to overlook any physical flaws. A warm hip strategically placed, an ambiguous touch to the arm that seems to linger- or not linger, an “accidental” brushing of his shoulders with a hair flick I can pretty much say will “get inside a man’s head” even from a woman they may not find “their type.” The idea is to break the ice without looking desperate or too forward. You would need to follow up with items 2 and 3. Experiment a bit and see how it works. Don’t always look for a holy grail of total intimacy. There are various “intermediate” positions: cuddle-kiss-flirt-laugh for example, with both parties realistically knowing it will not lead to the altar. The “intermediate” position enjoys the process itself- the journey becomes an enjoyable end it itself, rather than any ideal outcome. Not saying that too will work, but it is another alternative.

  • PrestanSerbchingo says:

    June said:
    Well this sounds wonderful in theory Preston, not sure if you meant women should lose weight or men,
    I think men should make some efforts too June. One plus of the current “real guys” movement among men is that some do build in a self-improvement goal, like health. That is a positive step. It needs to be expanded.

    Lizze said:
    It worries me though that the status quo is indeed, too far gone for this. Men do not tend to make these efforts with us. To replace the cynicism and macho atmosphere that is prevalent nowadays with an appreciative one is no mean feat. Wish us luck!

    Indeed. I agree that the atmosphere is getting toxic out there, but from my own point of view there is a hunger on the part of men for feminine care, attention and yes physical intimacy. It may not seem so when you read all the sneering and bragging on the “pick up artist” websites or blogs. But if you read carefully, underlying the macho sneering is a frustration at being rejected. They will say “women only go for the ‘bad boys’ not the ‘decent’ men.” What do you say about this? I don’t totally buy it. The hidden message I pick up as a man is that THE WOMEN THEY WANT, THE NICE LOOKING “HOT BABES” – who have no end of male attention, THEY get to pick and choose about “bad boys”- and that is a massive source of frustration and bitterness among the “pick up artist” types. We men feel it all the time – hot babe walks by and you shake your head in frustration, almost disgust, because you know you will never get such a woman. That is a key driver of the anger you see on some of these websites.

    Hence the cynical man, burnt already, will apply “pick up” methods and brag about scoring, then “dump” his conquest. Translation: see I have rejected you, before you reject me. And the supposed massive number of “pick up” conquests bragged about it -seems to me- are successful precisely because they operate on targets already susceptible to being “picked up” – like women who troll bars. They are not a random female population. They are already “go” girls who “specialize” in trolling for attention. I am not saying “pick up” techniques don’t work- some do- but just that the supposedly massive number of “hot babes” easily conquered does not exist in the real world, with regular guys in that real world. 10% of women may be “hot babes” but what about the other 90%? They are supposedly jumping into bed with any drunk, abuser or dullard who can talk a good game? I don’t see these massive numbers claimed in real life.

    This atmosphere and vulnerability in men opens up an opportunity for plankton women to make some ground. To be sure they will have to reject and rebuff a certain number of men. Courtesy in doing this is essential. Let the man down easy- allow him to save face. Don’t sneeringly dismiss, or badmouth him to all and sundry. Lower the levels of toxicity. On the flip side though it is essential that a woman MAKE IT EASY for a man (I am not talking here obvious dangerous, abusive, scammer types) to approach her. In other words lower the initial barriers to rejection, and build a pool of potentials. From this pool, apply the 3 manipulations: sex/seductive physical pressure, domestic care, and ego-stroking. By appearing to welcome potentials, rather than dangling them before rejection, a woman will improve her chances. Make men feel welcome, then move in on the most likely prospects. That’s how I read some of the cynicism and macho atmosphere you mention. That atmosphere reveals certain male vulnerabilities a woman can capitalize on.

    • Lizzie says:

      Thank you Prestan! It is so refreshing to read the ‘other’ perspective – especially coming from a male point of view. For all of those who have moved on and are not still reading these postings – they are missing out!
      Some very helpful and introspective advice here.

  • zoe says:

    Prestan, I’m not saying your approach won’t work. But I hope I never use it. Manipulation openly advocated and embraced seems a sorry basis for a relationship. We need to treat people, including our men, as subjects not objects. This is the basis of all ethical behaviour. I can’t claim consistency or great success with this in my everyday interaction with the rest of the world, but I do try very hard to do right by the man in my life. Most of all this means honesty and the courage to live with its consequences. If I sew him a button in order to impress on him a caring feminine impulse I do not possess, I am making him a chump. I do not want to have a relationship with a chump.

    • Lizzie says:

      Zoe, I think you have taken this too literally. If you don’t want to sew a button on, don’t. Just do something caring/nurturing for him. That’s it.

      • zoe says:

        Lizzie, I think you have misunderstood my point. My problem is not about buttons. It’s about what Prestan quite accurately and quite precisely calls his “manipulation plan”. If you want to forge relationships based on manipulating a “target”, do so, but don’t expect gold to be spun from base metal.

  • EmGee says:

    I sort of understand what you mean, Zoe. I think it is human nature to to manipulate situations to get what we want, but there’s a line in there where it crosses into abuse and or dishonesty.
    Having an opinion about something is a form of manipulation, for example:
    if he’s coming over for dinner, you know he likes Italian food, and you have an outstanding recipe for an Italian dish, would you serve him something else instead?
    If he’s taking you out, would you dress like you do every day, or take extra special care?

    Most people would say, “Oh tish-tosh, that’s natural, everyone does that.” Exactly my point, everyone manipulates to a certain degree, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

    If you feel that something is dishonest, like serving Italian food just because he likes it, when you cannot stand it, then you know your line has been crossed. Boundaries aren’t universal, we each have to draw our own.

    • zoe says:

      Yes, EmGee. Everyone has their boundaries. None of the situations you outline is an example of manipulation in my view. And I would not seek to base my argument upon them. Although to pretend you like Italian food when you don’t where the pretence itself is calculated to insinuate yourself in someone’s affections would indeed by a manipulation. You are gaining something under a false premise.

      The specific problem with acting caring in order to secure someone’s good favour seems to me self-evident. By all means be caring – there’s not enough of it in this world – but to act caring in order to benefit from the appearance of being caring, when otherwise you would not have chosen to do so, is altogether another matter. When the act of caring is initiated in order to benefit yourself rather than another person it’s a form of corruption.

      But then I’m a purist in these matters. I like relationships based on authenticity, respect and autonomy.

      • EmGee says:

        Well put, Zoe!

        Eventually trying to gain under a false pretense leads to awkwardness or discomfort, if not disaster, anyway.

        I try to be as honest as I can in all my relationships, but there always comes a time when nothing will do but a little white lie.

  • PrestanSerbchingo says:

    Probably manipulation plan or target is a bad choice of words on my part. It sounds too explicit and clinical, so I agree with you Zoe.. A better way of looking at it would be to see the natural ebb and flow of male-female interaction and chemistry if you will. It is a fact that men respond to sexual allure, care and ego-stroking when interacting with a woman. The exact mix or circumstances will vary from situation to situation and person to person, but the facts of life are there. Actually using the 3 factors above is treating people like subjects, simply because you have to in order to progress the relationship forward.

    And women objectify men also- whether it be in height requirements that must be met (damn other more important factors) or assessment of a man’s financial success or resources. Time and time again the man with the money walks off with the most desirable or eligible women. Now why is that? Could it be that financial objectification is in play? It still the normal pattern even though these days women are often as well employed as men and are making good money.

    I would say that authenticity, respect and autonomy is in no way compromised or denied by a woman actively using the 3 factors above. To the contrary, I think whatever mix or style a woman works out might be genuinely and authentically a part of her. Now correct me if I am wrong on this.

    From a man’s perspective- it seems to me that most women actually like the sexual chemistry and tingle that comes when they groom and adorn themselves (according to their own style and taste) and then interact with a man that is positively appraising them. No, I don’t mean the drunken lout or the immature boor leering and whistling at you from a streetcorner, but normal interaction among mature men and women. From a man’s view- a woman likes being appraised, being “checked out” -as a man considers her overall aspect, hair, makeup, clothing, figure, personality. Naturally this will happen less in some settings than others. In a busy restaurant, a frazzled waitress could care less but that is a busy workplace. Since we are talking romance, and venues that may possibly lead to romance, my take is that woman, being a sexual being, and being more sensitive emotionally and physiologically than a man, enjoys this kind of male attention and appraisal. They enjoy the reaction they get from a perfume. They enjoy the gaze they get from a delicately twirled leg – again, in the right setting, I don’t think that is non-authentic at all, but very real. So sexual allure and desire is an authentic part of a woman’s natural makeup and her interaction with a man.

    Then I don’t think the sown button would at all be done consciously to impress necessarily. It is part of the caring aspect that comes naturally to a woman. That is why many men want to get married – they want that kind of care for them and any possible children, versus a party girl or dreary character who can’t be bothered, Same with ego-stroking- women crave it, and it can be effective with a man. The key is to let it flow naturally. Can it be overblown and overdone? Sure. Will subtlety, timing and discretion be needed? Indeed. But I don;t see any loss of authenticity, respect or autonomy from a woman who actively uses the features that make women attractive and valuable to men.

    The plankton women who sits back and expect men to come running will not get much traction as far as I can see. A resume of qualifications on the dating site profiles will not go far either if something long term or at least short-term enjoyable is sought. There are too may other alternatives available. From what turns a man on I can say- the woman who “customizes” the 3 factors above to fit her own style and personality, and actively uses them will be miles ahead of the woman who merely “sits back” and waits for them to stoop at her feet. She would not be losing any authenticity, self-respect or autonomy as far as I can see, by actively using what is feminine, according to her own style, timing and intuition.

    Written too much already but one final point- which applies to men as well. What’s a plantkon woman’s continual nightmare? The negative, slovenly, depressing male prospect. But this same nightmare applies with men. If a plankton woman appears negative, dreary, depressing or unwelcoming, why should a man bother to invest when he has the “three P” in reserve as well as other younger female alternatives? So I mention earlier, make it easy for a man to approach. Be welcoming. You will sift and winnow down the choices anyway. Why kill potential prospects with an unrealistic list of specifications or a dreary, tired, negative vibe? The plankton woman with an active, positive, welcoming outlook and appearance will fare a lot better on “the market.” I suppose the same positive aspect should apply to men.

    PS:ON the self-improvement thing above re the “inner triangle” I should add “social connections/causes” with that, because too often self-improvement gets into mere weight loss, which can be a depressing roller-coaster Social connections are broader and can be more affirming. It would mean doing beneficially things socially/community wise in churches, clubs and volunteer efforts. Another benefit of this is that it creates multiple support systems for dealing with the that most mysterious of characters- the human male.. heh heh.. See I have already had to modify my thinking by interacting with you ladies here… lol

    • The Plankton says:

      I am constantly going for men with not a bean, because I don’t find people attractive because they are rich (quite the opposite usually) and the church mice still reject me. I know one very spoilt and grabby but thin and beautiful woman who only goes for multi-millionaires and they are throwing themselves and fighting over her. She behaves appallingly, using and playing men entirely, and is exceedingly interested in money and gets it. I am not, and don’t even get men with a complete lack of it. No men at all, indeed. Life is shit. Pxx

  • PrestanSerbchingo says:

    Confessions of a former hot babe..
    The excerpt below details the passage of a woman- from “hot babe” to being invisible. In both stages of life, she claims that many of her tormentors were women. Does anyone think there is some truth to her tale?

    Full Link:

    That was only the beginning. For the next quarter of a century, going out in public alone was an endless challenge. Men’s eyes followed me everywhere, as did their comments. Strangers accosted me constantly, sending over unsolicited drinks in restaurants and asking me out without introduction. At one job after another, male colleagues I scarcely knew sent me poetry and short stories they had written about me, even a play about me and my dog—all imputing various characteristics to me based solely on my appearance. People I’d never met introduced themselves at parties and invited me to Paris for the weekend, or to the Caribbean. Men proposed to me on the first date, knowing virtually nothing about me except for the way I looked.

    Soon after I became a newspaper reporter, I was named one of the top young talents in the area by the leading magazine in the city where I worked—but it described me as getting the best assignments because I was a “blond bombshell,” while neglecting to mention all the writing and reporting awards I had won (or the fact that the man who wrote the snide remarks had asked me out and I turned him down).

    Finally, in my late 30s, I got married and had four pregnancies in quick succession. I had two children, two miscarriages and several operations; I gained weight and got older.

    And it was all over. When I walked down the street, nobody bothered me; when I stopped to look at a painting in a museum, no one sidled over to strike up a conversation. For the first time since puberty, I could go anywhere I wanted without being hassled.

    To me, becoming invisible in middle age was an enormous relief—but I had no idea that a much nastier phase lay ahead. When I was 57, I published a book about women’s economic empowerment that became a controversial bestseller—and suddenly total strangers were writing about my appearance again.

    But this time, they were vicious. Although I had been married for a couple of decades and was the mother of two teenagers at the time, people who didn’t like what I said in my book attributed the results of my reporting to the “fact” that I must be childless, bitter and lonely because I was fat, ugly, and old. Most of those who wrote such things were women.

    From then on, the vitriol resurfaced every time I wrote about women’s issues, particularly when they involved sexism, misogyny or any form of discrimination. The stronger the position I took, the more poisonous the attacks on my personal appearance; angry commenters of both genders attributed whatever I thought or said to my not being able to get a man because I was so undesirable.

    All of which has led me to the conclusion that if you’re female, you can’t win for losing. When you’re young, nobody pays attention to what you have to say or the work you do because of the way you look—and when you’re old, nobody pays attention to what you have to say or the work you do because of the way you look. Whether you’re perceived as an irresistible babe or a saggy, baggy old hag, it’s all about your appearance.

    And the Internet has only intensified the problem. Public figures are subjected to unrelenting scrutiny by the media and popular culture, and even private citizens can suffer an astonishing amount of body-snarking from their peers, because virtually no one is so private as to remain invulnerable in cyberspace.

    Moreover, women are often each other’s worst enemies; Ashley Judd noted that many of her tormentors were female. “That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient,” Judd wrote. “Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate… This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.”

    In recent days, Samantha “don’t-hate-me-because-I’m-beautiful” Brick joined the debate with an article about the advantages and disadvantages of being attractive, which included retaliation from other women. Her piece touched off an international furor, complete with a fusillade of sniping that neatly illustrated her point that good-looking people are trashed for having an unfair advantage even if they admit to it.

    Brick said she’s looking forward to aging out of the period when strangers sent her free bottles of champagne, because her looks provoked so much envy from other women. But most women disagree. For women, good looks are power. Social science has only confirmed their assumption, bombarding us with research and polling data showing that beauty gets rewarded with everything from higher pay to the attribution of positive character traits.

    • EmGee says:

      Help me out Prestan. I didn’t see any female vitriol in her ‘hot babe’ stage, mostly just leering and unwanted attention from men. I applaud her for not taking the easy way out and marrying some rich old man, etc… I did click on her byline which led to a page with her picture. She’s not svelte or gorgeous, but she’s hardly ugly, just ‘normal’ looking. People who attack others on assumptions and false perceptions (she’s an old, ugly, unmarried, bitter spinster, etc) are people who only find succor for themselves by asserting the worst in others they see as ‘better’ than they. And they tend to be very vocal.

      As far as “Don’t hate me because I’m Beautiful”, spare me. How about hating you because you are stupid? I don’t mean that, but one can hardly help being either now, can they? The truth is, is that people are envious of anyone who has a societal ‘advantage’, whether it’s looks, wealth, privilege, etc. , and it also makes some people very resentful.

      When I was in my early 30s and just starting to show my paintings, I had a 40-something male friend who would help me set up at shows and fairs. Everyone naturally assumed he was the artist. I pretty much just got the ‘hot babe’ treatment, and yes it was discouraging not to be taken seriously. Now I am taken seriously for my painting, but the bald middle aged guy who paints an ‘engineered’ canvas gray and paints a yellow stripe across it gets all the attention at gallery openings, and I’m invisible. So, basically it’s still the older guy taken seriously, same now as it was then.

  • rosie says:

    P, I think you can take some consolation in the fact that the multi-millionaires are probably as spoilt and grabby as your acquaintance.

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