Sorta Sexism, with Some Game, but not so much Sexism in Gaming….

Posted: June 8, 2011 in Blogging, Gaming, Men, Sexism, women, WTF???

What?  So sue me…

 So, today, I wrote a post over in my LJ in which I wondered about an eerie fascination some women folk have with a character I play who is a seriously nasty piece of work and is not the type of person- fictional or real- that women should find….er…sexy.  Ever. Yet, for some reason I do not quite grasp, they do.

 And but whom should I end up talking about this phenomena (aside from Rootie)  with but, well, Hugo.  I asked him what his take on the Women Liking Bad Boys and Feeling They Could Fix Them theory was, as well as the White Knight who Feels He Can Save the Weak/Needy or Fallen Woman.  Hugo has written on these things before and pointed me towards some of his posts, which are good, and interesting, and I am linking them.

 Go read them.  THEN come back here….



You DID read them, yes?  There may be a quiz later you know…

 So then, well before too, the old noodle got to churning and an amazing realization dawned in my pasta like grey matter:

 One, yep, this whole routine is sexist, because well, it assumes women by nature fall into caretaker, “I have so much love to give”, nurturer roles or damsel in distress roles, and men fall into “bad boy” roles or I need to rescue and protect roles….

 Think about it: How often do you see these timeless tales….in reverse?  Men thinking they can tame the bad girl and fix her with their endless awesome amounts of love and nurturing, and women donning their armor, convinced they can slay the dragons and save the man is distress?

 Not too often, eh?  It is not, oh, a huge reoccurring theme in movies, books, sonnets, songs or…life.  The scale is tipped heavily by what people assume is, by nature and nurture, the essence of women and men.

 Which prolly explains really well why I do not…get it.  ‘Cause in the epic saga of my life, well, the mean, leather-wearing, hard drinking occasionally drug using foul-mouthed ill tempered fist fighting snarly surly anti-social type has always been…me.  That shit scares White Knights I guess, and does not necessarily lend itself well at all to the ‘delicate lady in distress’ trope, and well, were my door to swing that way, any woman who came along with the theory that her love and devotion could break me of my wild ways….well, now she’d get a stern and quite possibly snarky lecture….a few years back, she prolly woulda gotten a pop in the mouth for her efforts (and, if like many women who do fall into this save the bad boy –or girl in this case- a pop in the mouth did not dissuade her…well, a restraining order.) 

 It could be, what with my amazing empathy and all, that I do not get it in any way, shape or form that someone A) might think the “bad” sorts even WANT saving, B) That love will conquer jack shit, much less that shit, C) Or why someone would set themselves up for undoubtedly a serious amount of pain, trauma, insanity and quite possibly physical harm even trying.  Hell, I know how I react when people attempt to pull that kinda shit…so why would a guy be any different, and why would such a woman be so convinced that HER Mojo would some how be…that good?  And heck…what does it say about those women themselves when fucked up, half cocked and hostile are seen as “attractive” traits.  Sure enough, dangerous can get the adrenaline pumping, but it really should not inspire love and a willingness to possibly receive grievous bodily harm…

 The simple fact is, I think, the world would do its future generations a lot of good if they would quit letting kids watch Disney movies, ect.,  without discussions of fantasy vs. reality and start teaching young women and men that a partner is a partner, and not a project. 

 Loving someone is not saving them, taming them, fixing them, or rescuing them.  That shit is for shelter animals, not humans…and until people figure that out, there is a good chance decent people will continue to get their hearts (and possibly faces) broken by “bads” and their armor (and feelings) tarnished by “in distressers”.

 So now I am gonna kick back amid these words of advice, put my boots ON the table, and offer these words of wisdom:  Ya can’t save what doesn’t want or need saving, and if you insist on saving someone….save yourself.

 And well, for the hell of it, That Charming Game Dude and His Equally Charming Sister.  (Pfft, you think I prefer reading over looking at the pictures?  Come on…)

Some things are just not fixable, or dateable...

  1. rootietoot says:

    When I dated The Bad Boy, eons and millenia ago, it wasn’t to fix him or anything so deep…it was because he was Different and Interesting and probably a bit of “scare the parents to death” thrown in. I was, after all, 18 and had been A Good Girl my entire life. Then I married A White Knight, who admits he didn’t get interested in me because he thought I needed saving, but because I had a smart mouth and wasn’t impressed by him,apparently the first person who felt that way upon meeting him. He resents Bad Boys deeply, and wonders, like you, what women see in them.

    I think there are gender tendencies in behavior that go way back to when we were sitting in caves gnawing on mastadon bones. Men tend to want to spread their genetic material far and wide. Women tend to be nurturing, because we’re the ones who have the babies and it’s in our evolutionary best interest to want to take care of babies, and keep the man close for protection (because they tend to be bigger, stronger, and more aggressive, Anthony Weiner notwithstanding) That’s not a popular perception these days, but it’s how I see it. Like everything else dealing with humanity, it’s a spectrum, not a black and white this-or-that. I’m way over here on the nurturing side w/apron and pearls, you’re way over there with the camo and surly attitude, but there’s a bit of surly in me and probably an apron in your closet somewhere.

    I know that when I am hypomanic (a monthly PMS related occurence) I (to quote my 3rd child) “turn into a man” and start in with the cussing and gun cleaning and plotting various acts of mayhem. Usually a large piece of bloody red meat is involved somehow. Maybe it’s some sort of evolutionary glitch,or maybe the spectrum is more flexible than anthropologists or psychologists are comfortable with. Or maybe we all have a bit of The Other inside of us.

    • Ren says:

      See, I am big on the whole spectrum feeling. I really am not very “girlie” at all, except for when, well, you put a ktten in front of me. Then I turn into mush. Camo-wearing mush. I actually DO think that there is some of this stuff wired down in DNA via the eons and all that, but my DNA is lacking or something…which is funny, cause I am like, what? 5’2″….ah, funny guy, that God. But yes, I am sure part of the reason I often do-admittedly-feel VERY awkward around other women (I don’t hate em, don’t distrust them any more than anyone else, but yeah, often feel…off) is becuse when it comes down to it….we ain’t got shit in common. Most gals I know? Their idea of an awesome evening is not going to be gong out, having a few rounds, and then possibly getting in a fight. Of the fist variety. So yes, big on that whole spectrum thing- and sure enough, I know plenty of dudes who fall oddly on it too.

      Grin. I was the girl they guys used to date because I was different and interesting and pissed off their parents 🙂

  2. Kristen J. says:

    Never really got the bad boy phenomenon myself, but Hugo’s comment about control makes sense to me. I’ve always thought it was partially related to the idea of specialness – as in I must be super special since this dude who treats everyone else like shit treats me so well. Whereas if a nice guy (actual, nice guy) treats you well, then he isn’t demonstrating so publicly his devotion.

    • Ren says:

      Um….I think a lot of bad boys will “treat” those nice girls nicely to, well, get what they want (sex, attention, someone fawning over them, so on) and they might even actually love those girls back…but the second those nice girls come between the dude and something else he is into? She finds out where she actually rates in his life.

      • Kristen J. says:

        Agreed, but it seems like a great ego stroke until you run into that wall.

        • Ren says:

          Yeah, and then often, she FINALLY disengages herself from him, and repeats the whole cycle over with some other dude. Like Rootie said before, I think some YOUNGER women get with the bad sorts to irk mom and dad or maybe impress their friends or to have a different sort of person in their life- and well, will put up with shit because they are naive or something….

          But I truly start to wonder when they KEEP DOING it as they get older. How many in and out of prison/ players/ junkies/ tortured artists, so on does a woman have to go through before she figures out SHE is not Mojo Enough to change him?

          And I still never got why “BAD NEWS (mean, selfish, violent, mess up, whatever) = Attractive. Snerk, I somethimes think women (and men) who fall into these tropes should buy themselves a puppy. You can train, care for, love, groom, and adore a puppy…and dogs tend to grow up and be loyal and love ya regardless.

          • rootietoot says:

            I figured out fairly quicky (at 18) that Bad Boys were called bad for a reason. He treated me like shit and I took it for a while, then got fed up when he wanted me to wire bail money to Tennessee,broke up with him and told him to go find his own bail money. I also do not understand the women who keep going back to that, especially when they are old enough to supposedly know better.

            • Ren says:

              I think SOMETIMES, its because well, the bad sorts have worn ’em down and they don’t think they deserve or can get someone better.

        • dead_vladimir says:

          and the guy knows that and plays to that fact …

  3. Erik Schwarz says:

    Here is my perspective as a retired Bad Boy (as defined by drugs, drinking, car wrecks, occasional violence, lack of gainful employment and lots of punk rock attitude – though I always managed to wear a collared shirt to meals and RSVP in a timely manner). Now of course I am just an Old Boy. Back in the day I never analyzed why women were attracted to me. I assumed it was some combination of good luck on my part and bad taste on theirs. In retrospect, I think the unelucidated secrets of my success were:

    1. Making sure that all were well fed (mostly because I myself love to eat).
    2. Being polite to parents and other elders, despite manifest bad attitude towards everyone and everything else.
    3. Encouraging laughter.
    4. Listening (motivated not by goodness and caring but by genuine curiosity about the eccentricity of others).

    Not sure how my experience fits into Hugo Schwyzer’s typologies. Nor very keen on what he has to say. Whenever I see the word “discourse,” I reach for my revolver. Actually, what I do is prepare myself for a load of stereotypes and theory. There is more wisdom in Ren’s apercu that “a partner is a partner, and not a project” than in all of Schwyzer. I like rootietoot’s “spectrum” model too. And I do think that we all have a bit of the Other inside of us. Along with some undigested bits of lunch.

    • dead_vladimir says:

      If you really listened as opposed to pretend to listen to get what you wanted, i don’t think you count as a true bad boy-wild maybe but I think something more serious and anti social is meant here
      not just the rebeliious attitude but the actually treat them like shit; smack them around, pass them around your biker buddies like a party favor etc sort of bad boy

      • Erik Schwarz says:

        Really listening as opposed to listening to get what you want – “instrumental” or “transactional” listening. Hmm, are these mutually exclusive? To get what you want, to maximize the transaction, don’t you have to really listen? The more fully you understand another person, the more completely you can take advantage of her or him, But perhaps “really listening” means something more than closely attending to what another is saying. Let us suppose there is a kind of enlightened, compassionate “selfless” listening. I probably come closest to this in my capacity as a hospice chaplain, hearing the words of the dying. Even here, however, I think there are instrumental aspects. I am advancing my expertise in ministry and gaining precious insights into something not easily accessed in this culture – i.e. death and dying. This may not be bad – I certainly hope not – but it is not devoid of self-interest.

        As to whether my youthful character was bad or just wild…well, a useful distinction, and perhaps the latter is a truer than the former. I never smacked or otherwise physically abused women. There was some passing around of bodies, but it was more exploratory than predatory. As for badness… I only occasionally intended to hurt others; however, I was consistently careless of the collateral damage I caused or countenanced. Other sins of omission and commission could be added to the litany, but instead let me quote the Duke of Coffin Castle, from “The Thirteen Clocks” by James Thurber: “We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked.” You just can’t give a better confessional statement than that!

        • Ren says:

          And there is a third type of listening too, one that involves actually paying attention so one knows another humans weaknesses so when if the need arises, they know EXACTLY what buttons to push or trauma to rake out in order to rip whomever apart- which is truly a predatory sort of listening, and incredibly vicious and calculated…but it is done. And people who engage in this can often be amazingly manipulative to whomever’s strings they are pulling. I’d say the mutual listening is, well, normal. The listening Vlad talks about is selfish, and this last sort? Predatory.

          And not something merely Wild Types or folks mislabeled as bad do, but something that folk who actually are bad, or have a bad streak anyway, do.

        • dead_vladimir says:

          see in listening, there’s a listening becasue i care about waht you have to say, and i am listening to only gain an advantage even if it is deep

          there’s a difference between natural human self itnerest that exists in everything and predatory interest

    • Ren says:

      hey, I like hugo, be nice!

  4. Fascinating. I can attest that I have been saved by nurturing men and their caring–yes, I AM that woman! White Knights have knocked on my door more than a few times, especially when I was new in sobriety… I was still messed up, but by that time, showed some potential and looked okay (by contrast, the totally-down-and-out types scare men away bigtime). But I have also done the same to them, or as Julia Roberts so memorably said, she rescues him right back.

    It supposedly isn’t feminist to admit it, but I do agree a lot w/Rootie… keeping in mind the whole spectrum thing. I did not have a single mushlike part of my personality until I had a child of my own, which I suppose is like Ren’s kitten–the trigger of my gooey female self. It really was a lot like the movies, they put the baby in your arms and you go awwwwwww and melt into femininity and estrogen and oxytocin overdose.

    But you know, these other things are culturally defined/constructed. Example: If your kid bullied my kid, I would go to your house and threaten to kick your ass, just like any man would… worse even. But that is both a typical Mama Tiger response, and a redneck male response (upper class ladies don’t FIGHT, Ren!) … class and gender get all mixed up and it comes out something like Loretta Lynn’s song “Fist City”! LOL

    I think its interesting when certain so-called ladylike women (my current fave is Michele Bachmann) instantly turn into pit bulls when challenged. How much of our reactions are conditioning and how much is genuine ? (Which is the real Michele?)

    Blah blah blah! I could talk about this one for awhile! I loved the links, esp the one about “I have so much to give”–I hear that a lot from younger women/girls too, when I read the Tarot. I don’t remember growing up with that, or saying it myself as a young woman. Like he says, “Clearly, we’re not only teaching many of our girls to see romantic love as a source of the highest fulfillment, we’re somehow sending them the message that their own capacity to give love is extraordinarily potent.” … and I think this is a somewhat new phenomenon. (?) We never saw ourselves that way, that I recall.

    • Ren says:

      “upper class ladies don’t FIGHT, Ren!”

      nah, they just gossip and back bite…I’ll take the fists, thanks.

  5. dead_vladimir says:

    i’m going to post a real world example of what I would consider the sort of person I think this entry is talking about. When I was younger there was a person named Mike R——- who was not in my circle but tangential to my circle, as in you’d bumped into him in certain scenes etc, a fixture. He had a habit of picking up thos ncie young girls who wanted to fix hi bad boy exterior and reach down and heal whatever pain was at the center of his troubled soul. And he came off in that 90s version of james dean, aloof, brusque, rebel , but also tender and sensitive and artistic, and he’d gaze deep into their eyes nad listen you know really listen.

    But what he really did was trap them with their own intentions, beat down their self esteem, use them physiclaly, eventually moving onto physical abuse and then hook them on heroin and use them as deposits or payments for his drug dealings

    • dead_vladimir says:

      and of course you don’t blame the first girl, but after the third or fourth one goes in, and his past history wasn’t exactly secret, each one going i
      l will be different , i will change him, he’s not that horrible or the previous girl well she wasn’t a victim etc.

      you can’t even shake your head anymore

      It’s like moths to a flame

      and still even while he was destroying one, you’d hear others talking about his snesitive soul or his dark but enticing nature
      and you’d have to wonder if maybe you were living in a different reality than them

  6. Catlover says:

    I admit to reading through Hugo quite fast because a lot is familiar, particularly the 2nd. I loved somebody like that although she was too much younger than me to think of taking much further. But whether she was ‘faithful’ or not, I couldn’t give a flying fart. There are far more important things to a relationship than not getting inconsequential thrills with anybody else! The man has already said as good as that his feelings about her depend on keeping her legs shut, not about how she is as a person, and if she can’t behave herself, then he can’t feel anything for her. So bugger him! That’s less love or friendship than it is wanting devotion or even gratitude in a one-way deal.

    Another thing Hugo says (or rather implies) is how dreadful it is to suggest that love with a man might fulfill her as a person. He then describes this ‘love’ in almost childish terms. Most women expect men to feel just that kind of attention that ‘your pleasure is my pleasure’ about them – so why should it be shocking for men to expect the same from them? If there is still a male contingent that prides itself on not giving a damn about its lovers, then shouldn’t women be more concerned with telling them that is wrong than with saying they must be the same because, as too often with feminists, the assumption is that anything traditionally associated with women is inferior, with men so superior that women must do it too without question – even when men are learning better and liberating themselves from the over-macho love-’em-leave-’em uncaring stereotype. There’s a lot that men could learn from women, that feminists have for a long time been trying to make women feel as inferior for them as for the ‘male chauvinists’ they seem to see as an ideal to emulate instead of a mistake to kick out and choose a man who’s not afraid to cook a meal or change a baby or do the washing.

    That said, he (and maybe you) take some types but not all. The Bad Boy might be less a ‘project’ than a relief for a girl under too much pressure to be ‘Good’. She’ll probably expect to be always more ‘feminine’ than the man. If she has been used to very uptight men, they may make her feel the need to be even more uptight. Take a silly extreme, she has been used to Mormons, she doesn’t want to be a drunken raver but she would like somebody she doesn’t feel might be disappointed (even if he doesn’t say so) because she likes a drink and doesn’t mince words. So Bad Boy might be a bit of a relief that however Bad she [thinks she] is, she’s not as much as him and it won’t bother him. Then again, maybe she really is a Bad Girl (or would like to be) and wants a man who feels more ‘masculine’ than she is, not an inverted role where she’s the cursing fighting drunk and he’s the one trying to restrain her (or disowning her!). (I know somebody who can be a social embarrassment, but it’s a mixture of old punk, brain damage and maddening tinnitus) Then again, men trying to control women gone fighting ape-shit doesn’t seem so unusual in these grubbier parts of Spike City.

    Then again, there are the people who, if you treat them right are ‘people’ and often very nice but frightened people inside the slut everybody warned you about – especially when you don’t think much of the people doing the warning. They won’t change their ways to be what you want out of Disney conversion, but they can show the hermit-crab inside the shell if they know they are respected as they are, like my former teenage friend. Was she likely to stop screwing around? Why the F should she? Was she likely to be more discerning and screw around with men out for a bit of mutual casual instead of the whorers no other woman will touch, because she reckons she has some say and deserves some respect in the process? Different story. Will she ‘belong’ to a man because he buys her expensive fancy leathers but isn’t interested in what she has to say or paint (I reckon she could have designed album sleeves, no problem)? She may be a slut but she’s no whore and if it looked taking him for a ride to keep those worked jackets, he’d made it clear enough that he was trying to buy himself a wife with a passing resemblance to Kylie Minogue at the time, and she’d be A Senhora waiting around while he was down the Portuguese Club.

    I think her reputation as a slut, in the end did her some good. It meant that the man she chose to marry cared about what else she was, not about all that crap.

    And in some places where casual sex is still not as acceptable, or on an equal basis for women, the Bad Boy offers a good excuse for avoiding commitment without being the one to bear responsibility for it. I saw this a lot 25 years ago: they would all whinge how terrible the boyfriend was and they would all swap them around. Of course they knew he was a scumbag, but equally there was always always the remote possibility of being The One and the more realistic proposition of him dumping them or them having perfectly valid reasons to dump him without looking bad.

  7. xena says:

    I don’t get it either, Ren. I was living on the street when this post went up, around actual people who were like your character. Bad Bad Bad. They were the same as Vlad’s acquaintance(?) Mike R. I stayed far away from those heatbags. I got enough victimblaming bullshit and stereotypes tossed at me without actually associating with people who were likely to plant dope on me to save their own asses, thank you.

    The worst case I ever heard of was a cute, tiny young thing, in her late teens, dating this big moose of an older crack dealer. He was 2 of her!! And yet he thought it was ok to smack her around and send her out to give $20 condomless blowjobs to dirty tricks to pay for their crack. Disgusting!!

    In her case, I can see the logic. (I said logic, not sense.) She’s tiny and addicted, and would get eaten alive if she tried to support her habit without her ‘rescuer’. I’ve run into quite a few girls like her. They usually disappear before too long. He’s also the perfect excuse to stay high. She can get high to dull the pain from the last beating, she can stay high to avoid the next beating, she can get him high to prevent the next beating, and get high herself in the process… It’s a nasty way to live, but the behaviour is at least internally coherent in a vile kind of way.

    Beyond Catlover’s Bad Boy/BadGirl circle (which makes a good deal of sense in a puritannical culture that decries one-night sex) I don’t understand non-addicted, otherwise functioning people who engage in this badboy-saving crap. Maybe I’m just excessively touchy about the constant parade of losers who picked me up hitchhiking, or saw me coming out of soup kitchens and mistook me for some stupid fuckbag. Their ‘rescuer’ script was SO predictable! “What are you doing out here? Is somebody hitting you? You’re so pretty…how could you be homeless? What you need is a nice guy to take care of you…I don’t have much money, but I could give you $20 and we could have a few drinks…” ICK!!!

    I have a severely disabled son who actually and sincerely needs to be rescued a couple of times /week. If these guys are so ‘bad’, they can durn well fend for themselves. I’m busy caring for people and pets who appreciate me as much as I appreciate them. (Yeah, I have a soft spot for kitties too.) I don’t have time to go around humping people I don’t like or trust for a promise and a song.

    Real love grows over a period of months and years, with somebody who can be trusted with your car keys, at the very least. I think Hugo’s girlies who believe they’re bursting with all that good stuff they want to give away just need to lie down with a nice vibrator for a few hours. Funny how exhausting ourselves with a good vibrator can help us see so much more clearly where those boundaries between love and sexual infatuation are 😉

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