Why Straight Men Are So Weird About Women

My Cat and i

Girls are simply the prettiest things
My cat and i believe
And we’re always saddened
When it’s time for them to leave

We watch them titivating
(that often takes a while)
And though they keep us waiting
My cat & i just smile

We like to see them to the door
Say how sad it couldn’t last
Then my cat and i go back inside
And talk about the past

Roger McGough

 Heterosexual men are drawn to women like steel to magnets. The attraction is so strong and unremitting that they are often powerless to put it out of their minds. Many conclude from this that women are knowing and powerful beings who have the ability to purposefully control the strength and direction of a man’s feelings. Although naive women sometimes find this view flattering, its overall outcome is unhappiness for men and misery for women. For example:

(1) Some men elevate women to the status of demigoddesses. Because knowledge destroys delusion, a man who builds a relationship with a woman eventually comes to recognize his mistake. Although he might love her by then, his realization that she is human forces him to find someone else upon whom to project his delusion, whether within or without of his current relationship.

(2) Other men’s lust for women leaves them feeling vulnerable, so they attempt to turn the tide by making women vulnerable. Some resort to rape, physical abuse, or browbeating. Others claim that Satan uses women to drive a wedge between men and God, and so it is God’s will that women be rendered powerless and invisible. It was for this reason that the church of my childhood denied women the right to preach, teach Sunday school, ask questions, and make announcements, along with discouraging them from attending college or working outside the home.

As a small child, I was so captivated by the wife of a visiting cousin that I spent the evening in her lap. I would have done anything to please her, and I believed that everyone in the room recognized the necessity of me sleeping with her. When my mother forced me from the woman’s lap, I cried while the adults laughed. 

In an adolescent fantasy, I envisioned a woman walking through Arlington National Cemetery on a lovely spring day. The woman’s beauty gave her such power that entire regiments of dead soldiers followed after her. Such fantasies are not unusual…

Plots of the hit TV show Rawhide! sometimes revolved around the irresistible influence that beautiful but unscrupulous women had over a young and naive drover named Rowdy Yates (played by a boyish Clint Eastwood). Rowdy continued to be entrapped by such women despite his trail boss’s repeated admonition: “Rowdy, just because a woman looks like an angel, it don’t mean she is one.” 

In Jimmy Dean’s song, The Cajun Queen, a New Orleans’ woman resurrects a man who had been dead for days by placing “a red-hot kiss on his cold blue lips.” Then there were the pop-music goddesses from my adolescence: Venus, Earth Angel, Teen Angel, Venus in Blue Jeans, and My Special Angel, songs that flattered women and spoke truth to the fantasies of men. But what does any of this have to do with a poem about a talking cat? 

Although they try to hide it, men often react to a beautiful woman like a dog reacts to a female in heat. This is why some women regard men as slobbering buffoons whose stupidity runs neck-and-neck with their wickedness. The truth is that both genders conform to the roles that nature assigned them. During his lifetime, a man produces 525-billion sperm. During her lifetime, a woman produces 400-500 eggs, only a few of which can become people. This is why nature programmed men to insure the survival of their DNA by impregnating as many women as possible, while it programmed women to seek protection for themselves and their few offspring. 

The man in the poem is tempted by two or more flirtatious women, but instead of hurrying them into bed, he smilingly awaits their departure so he can be alone with his cat. Most men would have as soon thrown the cat—or the piano, for that matter—out the window if doing so would get the women into bed quicker.

Even if a man manages to think about something other than sex in one moment, he is at risk of being overwhelmed by sexual desire in the next, even if he is alone. The man in the poem is not alone. He has leisure, privacy, and two or more willing women. Fortunately, he also has the ability to say no. After age reduced my hormone levels, I too was able to say no. I also stopped mythologizing women. 

“I’m so sorry for that ghost I made you be. Only one of us was real and that was me.” —Leonard Cohen

Despite what women often believe, a man’s struggle isn’t between virtue and intelligence versus depravity and stupidity. It is more akin to the Homerian story in which the irresistible song of temptresses would have lured the hero Odysseus to his death had his crew not protected him. Real men are without protection. Real men struggle alone until they die or old age renders the problem moot.

I dont need a lover, no, no, no. The wretched beast is tame.

—Leonard Cohen