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Battle Of The Sexes: gender, respect, who want’s to win?

guys and dolls

guys and dolls

The Battle of the Sexes – Zettel

Whatever happened to the battle of the sexes? No one talks about it any more. Did we win? Fat chance. The expression the ‘battle of the sexes’ like an old soldier, didn’t die it just sort of faded away.

That women often fall for bastards but usually marry the nice guys is a perfect demonstration of the triumph of pragmatic emotional insight over romantic passion. Men are the romantics, not women. We always believe love is all that matters. Women are far too emotionally intelligent to believe such a farcical proposition. They lack that metaphysical arrogance that persuades men they can make anything come true. And it is a cosmically stupid, definitively male perception that physical and moral beauty are indivisibly linked. But women quite like us to believe they believe love conquers all. Good strategy. Great tactic. Lulls us into a false sense of insecurity. Women lose their hearts to men. Men go out of their minds over women. QED.

If we men were in with the remotest chance of competing let alone winning, the military metaphor of a battle would hold up. But even current linguistic usage has surrendered the ground. This language game is no longer played. The form of life in which it lived just died. Peacefully, in our manly sleep. A battle is a good, honest, open confrontation. Naked even. But the other side, using its far superior secret intelligence, has infiltrated our lines. Only men fight battles they know they can’t win. It’s part of our charm.

Murky guerrilla skirmishes about our feminine side, our new man-ishness, have unmanned us. Our newly tender gender has landed us up to our necks in confusion. The marvellous subtlety and lightness of flirting has somehow darkened into a form of harassment. Someone took the fun out. And the gay guys have just laid down their arms so to speak. God help us, (if She will), they are even fraternising with the enemy half the time. And gay women are so confident they induce a sense of total inadequacy in me. Maybe Eddie Izzard’s on to something: he likes women so much he wants to be one. Can I join? I’m a bit anxious about the medical.

It is of course an a priori, quasi-mathematical truth, that we men are not ‘in touch’ with our emotions. This is in fact a deeply subtle sophism. Women really want to say that we are not in touch with their emotions. But this sounds like a complaint and as such could be honestly resisted. Not being in touch with our own emotions on the other hand is a fault requiring profound, and literally endless, self-improvement. Guess who we need to help us in this futile exercise? Everyone knows the typical guy is totally beyond emotional redemption.

I miss the battle of the sexes: the uncomplicated and seductive whiff of an honest fight. Ideally with no holds barred. Win, lose, or even more deliciously, draw, there was an endearing clarity and mutual respect about the whole process that the current subversive phoney war (and even more phoney, peace) demonstrably lacks. Then there were rules. Of course both sides flagrantly broke them and cheated mercilessly. But the bond between respectful opponents runs much deeper than that between polite but phoney friends.

(Zettel June 2004)

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