Posts Tagged ‘men’

Although other holidays may seem to be specifically targeted (Mothers’ Day, Chinese New Year, Kwanza), Valentine’s Day comes across as the most exclusive. The day really is all about romance, which is why a V- Day shutout carries with it a particular sting,  especially if you’re a single female (or Charlie Brown). No cards, no flowers, no candy or jewelry? Oh, the pain, the embarrassment, the loneliness!

That a holiday named for a martyred 5th century saint managed to couple  with an ancient Roman practice of allowing young men to choose young women by lottery as sexual partners is more than a touch ironic. That it has become a means by which those who are neither wooer or woo-y might feel slighted is nothing short of cruel.

There are ways of dealing with V-Day. You could ignore it, of course, but where’s the fun in that? No, you have to get it to pay attention to you, accept you. Imagine how empowering that might feel, sort of like the Salahis felt after last November’s State dinner.

Herewith, a few simple dos and don’ts:

DO buy a card. Or make one, if you don’t wish to contribute to the relentless marketing machine. Put it on your mantle. Believe me, you are someone’s valentine, even if said individual (or pet) is too inattentive or lazy to remember you (or lacks opposable thumbs).

DO treat yourself to something: haircut, flowers, night out. Skip the chocolate; you’ll only hate yourself in the morning.

DON’T  go through old pictures, especially if they are of your old boyfriend or ex-husband. What are you, a masochist?

DON’T hang out with anyone who freights V-Day with too much importance. It’s just a marketing holiday.

DO something for your heart. Take an aerobics class, eat an egg-white omelette, walk the dog.

DO celebrate the idea of romantic love. Maybe it’s impossible, maybe we’re all delusional, but doesn’t that cute couple over there make you smile? Okay, not them; they’re too young and good-looking and overly demonstrative in public; but what about those two old people over there walking slowly hand in hand? Aww…

And go ahead and have a piece or two of candy. They say chocolate is good for the heart, eh?

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On the airplane home from a college reunion, I watched “He’s Just Not That Into You” while reading about Elizabeth Edward’s forthcoming book, “Resilience” and her appearance on Oprah with her philandering husband. I don’t know which one made me more squeamish.

The movie is based on the best-selling book, which served as an upside-the-head smack for obsessed women everywhere. If he doesn’t call, if he always has excuses, if you suspect he’s not being straight with you then – hello? – he’s trying to tell you something without coming out and saying it: basically, he’s not all that interested although the sex might be fun. It’s taken years of bad date and mate experiences, plus one wonderful abeit criminally short marriage to understand that pursuing someone who isn’t that into you will invariably result in humiliation. By the way, guys, we know that and our best friends know that and hundreds of advice columns tell us that and don’t ask me why we continue to try and make you change anyway. Maybe if you came right out and told us directly we might accept your lack of interest – but I can’t be sure

Since we tend to assume marriage is the ultimate commitment, betrayal becomes more difficult. There’s history, there’s attachment, there may be children and there may even be love.  There’s also disbelief at the highest levels: how could he? Acceptance is long in coming. Women whose husbands deceive and leave aren’t left with much choice except to hold their heads high and get a good divorce attorney. Women whose husbands stray and stay seem to be from another planet, qualifying, we might suppose, for sainthood or at least martyrdom. 

The ultimate stakes seem to involve public figures, men whose egos and appetites blind them to the possibilities they will be outed. What do their women do? In olden days, they might suffer in silence, perhaps. No more.

HilBilI can understand that the humiliation of standing or sitting by your man  as he admits to his transgression at a press conference or on some TV talk show would be  enough to compel you to inflict maximum discomfort. Watching your husband take up with a woman young enough to be his daughter (or a man, for that matter) just because he can is hard enough. Having to suffer silently while it becomes tabloid and talk-show fodder has to be excruciating.Spitzer

So while good works and public service might do for some, a number of public figure spouses have responded with tell-all (or tell-some) books or articles these days, not to mention visits to Oprah, Ellen, “The Today Show,” and even perhaps a well-placed YouTube video. That makes it hard to think about  Elizabeth Edwards, her forthcoming book and appearance on Oprah.

Edwards follows in the footsteps of an infuriated Dina McGreevey, whose book about her husband Jim’s gay infidelity, about which she hadn’t, according to her book, a clue. mcGreevyThe ex-governor responded with his own tell-all book, the two books competing as the divorcing couple engaged in a fierce custody battle. Dina was obviously embarrassed and it’s entirely possible she needed the money; New Jersey governors don’t make all that much.

But Elizabeth Edwards is a lawyer and public health advocate, a mother of three who survived the loss of her first-born and is battling hard to survive a diagnosis of terminal cancer. She’s so  so respected she’s almost been canonized. She sits on several important boards and committees and is a leading advocate for healthcare reform. Why the tell-all book, which, by all accounts, lays far more of the blame on the other woman than on her husband?

The advanced buzz is that Edwards wanted to help other women by telling her story but there are ways to provide counseling, outreach and support without headlines. Money might explain part of it but I don’t think that’s it.  Of course, as we writers know, once we’ve gone through the painful yet cathartic process of writing it all down, we are understandably anxious to   get it our there. More than a few wronged women might be into perpetrating the drama, which also extends the attention.You could argue that Edwards has exacted the ultimate revenge: her husband is to appear with her on “Oprah.”

Mostly, though, I think I suspect Edwards is afflicted with our distinctly female need to explain – explain in print, explain again to Oprah or Ellen or Meredith or whichever sympathetic yeah-I’ve-been-there woman is gently interviewing you or to your best friend or the woman who does your nails or someone you’re sitting next to on the subway, explain yet again on the book tour or on YouTube or at your book club or your Pilates class, explain over and over and over again as many times as you need to – in the preposterous hope that explaining it will help make sense of it and may, in some distant time and place or possibly a parallel universe – allow you to get through to the cheating other who may – if the stars align and the earth moves under our feet  –  come up with an acceptable explanation and maybe even come home to stay.

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This is not, nor was it every supposed to be, a women’s blog. Yes, it’s called 1 Woman’s Vu because I’m a woman and I’m sharing my viewpoint and I suppose my gender, as much as any other of my attributes, does affect the way I see things. But I don’t tend to write about women’s issues per se although in real life I am very much interested in them.

But two guys hit the news today and the news about each of them has screwed with my head. Maybe it’s a female thing but I’m trying so hard to understand the rationale behind the behavior of these less rational males.

Brett Favre: I wasn’t watching much TV and I missed the sports section until this morning which is when I found out the Favre, apparently very emotionally although not physically injured during his time with the Green Bay Packers has signed with the New York Jets.  As an original “cheesehead” with a permanent jones for the Packers I’m disappointed and also concerned for the Jets what with Favre’s wondering aloud how he can help the team in a short amount of time. How short an amount of time is he thinking? A few seasons? One season?  The Jets are trying to show him how beyond grateful they are that he might be able to put some rear ends into the seats of the multi-millions dollar arena where they’ll soon be playing. Hope he appreciates it enough to take his foot out of the door.

 John Edwards: Oh for Cripe’s sake, John. Yes, you’re attractive and yes it’s stressful to run for office, stand for great issues, have a wife who is critically and irreversibly ill and still keep your hair looking so good but an affair?  That you lied about? And then excused by stating that you didn’t love the woman? And that comment to the press that they can’t beat you up any more than you’ve already beat yourself up? Totally lame. My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

Look, we know that relationships, whether with one’s spouse or one’s boss, can hit rough patches here and there. But these weren’t handled well. Yeah, these are just humans, male version, but they’re also icons. We expect our icons to take responsibility, stick with their committments and man up.

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I had to turn off the TV yesterday morning after being confronted with the left-side, right-side mindset following the revelation that Elliott Spitzer used a prostitution ring. The male talking heads were all about explaining how the strains of public life and the seduction of power might cause someone to use such a service without thinking (poor Elliott) the women were all about how and why men cheat (naughty Elliott) and there was the noxious presence of “expert” Laura Schlessinger (“Dr. Laura”) on the Today Show suggesting that women are to blame when their men stray (oh those inattentive spouses). All I wanted to do was sink my fist into the flat screen TV, which is probably some weird combination of left and right brain activity. No wonder I often feel as if I’m from some other planet altogether.

Anyway, I turned to other news, wherein I contemplated some recent statistics: One out of every one hundred Americans is in jail and one out of four US teenage girls has at least one sexually transmitted disease. Oh, and before I turn the TV back on and hear various pundits rant about the decline in morals in our increasingly secular society, how about this one: America is still one of the most religious countries in the world. according to the Institute for Social Research. So I wouldn’t rush to blame this craziness on a vacationing Supreme Being.

Someone looking in from, say, Venus or Mars (or even Europe) might think that Americans  are prurient, judgmental, voyeuristic, moralistic, undisciplined, self-centered, overly analytical, unreasoning, intellectually lazy and thoroughly confused about priorities. God, we’re one mixed-up bunch of people. Beam me up, Scotty.

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