Are women cruel?
Growing up, like most North American women, I was taught to fear the lascivious male predator and his many motives, and succumbed to certain notions of victimhood regarding female biological weakness. As I began to get seriously interested in dating, my mother ambiguously alluded to men lacking a certain kind of control, and condoned female purity and her cryptic warnings translated into, “Men are sexual animals. Keep your legs shut even if you think you’re in love.” This coupled with a consistent stream of news stories regarding sexual assault, rape, and a general archetype of the male perpetrator taught me to be wary of a man’s capacity for cruelty.
Personal experiences also compounded my notion of the woman as victim. It was as serious as sexual assault on a train, and as seemingly trivial as cumulative relationship experience — myself as the giver, the male as the recipient of my devotion, and love. I always seemed to be the sacrifical party, the one that seemed to love more and the one that seemingly suffered more heartbreak at the end.
Introduction into the Roissysphere completely reframed the narrative for me. Women were manipulative creatures, unable to exhibit sexual control, and emotionally flighty. My favourite band of all the time (and arguably the best, full stop), The Smiths, often feature lyrics about heartbreak, albeit in an absurdly comic way:
Pretty girls make graves
I could have been wild and I could have been free
But Nature played this trick on me
Another man, he takes her hand
A smile lights up her stupid face
(and well, it would)
I lost my faith in Womanhood
Morrissey croons about being falling prey to a beautiful woman, who ignores him in favour of another man, disspelling the ideal he projects on her. When she is united with the rival lover, he depicts a smile lighting up her “stupid face”; perhaps the man was a bad-boy Alpha, and not the self-pitying white knight.
In ‘William, it was Really Nothing’, Morrissey depicts the betadom most men find themselves resigned to:
How can you stay with a fat girl who says “oh, would you like to marry me, and if you like you can buy the ring”, she doesn’t care about anything.
Morrissey explicates, “I thought it was about time there was a male voice speaking directly to another male saying that marriage was a waste of time… that, in fact, it was ‘absolutely nothing.”
My knee-jerk reaction to those lyrics, and the concepts in general, is personal offense. I grew up with idea that I, as a woman, was something to be sought after, won over, chased down, and maybe, eventually convinced to resign myself to someone. Morrissey inverts the narrative of the female victim into the female oppressor, while the male suffers under her fickle rule. Maybe a little beta, but hey, he’s a stud. He even cavalierly jokes about his ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ with something that sounds like victory at worst, and apathy at best.
So, are women cruel? Personal experience dictates the absolute opposite, as I’ve had the worst habits of making myself into a doormat (thereby executing very poor Girl Game by not making the man qualify). I think in spite of all Morrissey’s plaintive lyrics, and accusations made in the Roissysphere, men have worse habits of being too emotionally distant and not giving up their entire ‘selves’ up to their partners, like women are prone to do. What I think the Roissysphere does successfully attain is stripping women of projected ideals, especially that of the Madonna, which is pretty healthy in my view. The heartbreak in these songs, and I think the bitter disillusionment most men experience with women in general, result from the very same spoiled idealizations.
Women are fallible, and weak, yes, but certainly not especially cruel.