I’m pulling this piece of Jonathank’s response in the Familyman comments out of context because it provides a good jumping off point for something I’ve wanted to discuss for a while.
Thus, the eternal question: why do women go for jerks? Or another phrasing: why do women go for men who treat them like shit? For every woman who wants to be on a pedestal – note the intentional use of cliche – another wants to be under the heel. Good looking, bad looking, fat or thin, rich or poor – doesn’t matter, you can find a million women who want a man to tell them what to do.
The phenomenon of “women going for jerks” is a real one, but there is a very, very important thing missing from the usual understanding of it. It is, I believe, a product of women’s enculturated fantasies that jerks really AREN’T jerks down deep in their most hidden souls. The usual La-La Land construct is that jerks are really powerful, confident, and misunderstood men that the Very Special Women Who Truly Love Them can bring into the Light, so that someday the erstwhile jerk will finally appreciate the Unconditional Love that has been lavished upon him so unstintingly. At which point, of course, he will fall into stunned, eternal adoration of the Very Special Woman who Stood By Him while he was going around being a powerful, confident, misunderstood jerk, world without end, Amen.
Yeah, it’s nuts. But you do have to understand some of the vital elements of this scene to understand female sexuality. What turns women on? Novelty and beauty, of course: the new and different, the gorgeous hunk, the intelligent or humorous personality, an air of mystery. Touch, warmth, attention, sensual surroundings, laughter. But above all, most women will say that a man’s inherent personal confidence, in and of itself, is a big turn on.
The sexual appeal of masculine confidence is why a bald assertion of power, pure ashcan walkover stuff, can work, especially in the beginning of a relationship (it’s the secret to how a lot of men get a lot of one night stands). And it is also a fact that many women can’t tell the difference between put-on machismo (that violent, belligerent swagger that is often a mask for a LACK of confidence) and real manhood.
Many women believe the classic romantic construct too faithfully, and it is such an insidious mythology that it can incorporate any manner of disgusting behavior depending on a woman’s need to believe it. A woman will go for years believing that her lover’s Redemption is just around the corner, letting him wipe his boots on her. She feels alternately thrilled by his Power and tortured by the length of time it’s taking for him to start giving her the Love she’s “owed” for all the dirt on her back. If she leaves him now, she’s admitting he wasn’t worth it. She can’t do that, can she? Surely he’s going to come around any day now.
So…do some women “want” to be degraded? Yes. Do some women “want” to be ordered around? Yes. Do some women “want” to be Daddied like infants? Yes.
Does that mean that any mature, centered, MANLY man should indulge these women’s fantasies and encourage these neuroses?
I leave the answer as an exercise for the reader.
|COMMENTS ON THIS POST:|
|interesting theories here, but i think you’re way off. *some* women–ie, the very glam, the very self centered, the very sex-in-the-city type of gals–want to be “daddied like infants.” they like jerks, yadda yadda. but i find this whole theory about women dating jerks (yours, and the rest of the world’s) to be completely false. i think a lot of nice men have made this up to make themselves feel better about the fact that they don’t have dates, that the women they know are in relationships with shitty men, and not with them.let me tell you something: as a woman, i’d go for the nice guy any day of the week. i always think i’m going for the nice guy, and then he ends up being an asshole. i don’t think that there are more male assholes than female ones, just that there are a lot of people who are assholes.
and if you know any nice guys who aren’t freaks, well, please, bring them on.
alyssa ettinger [apple] 11/5/03; 7:09:34 AM
|Oh I think MANY MANY women like nice men. Me for instance. I’m married to one. Most of the women I know are married to nice men, too. Thank heavens.But the phenomenon of SOME women going for “bad boys” is also real. That’s what I was addressing, because Jonathan brought it up, and because it is a subject that is on a lot of men’s minds when they think about “what works with women.”
There’s a LOT of misunderstanding out there on the subject.
Julia Grey [apple] 11/5/03; 7:26:00 AM
|I’m one of those nice guys, and the earlier comments below about traditional gender role reversal ring true to me. My wife is a feminist, and I think this is part of the reason why we have a sexless (twice in 2003) marriage. She seems to equate sex with violation of her body, so, if she is going to have sex, it must always be on her terms, at her speed, in her preferred position, etc. As a “nice guy” I sometimes think (in my darkest hours) that, perhaps, she wants this “violation belief” to be borne out, and that she wants me to “take her” so that I can prove that men are scum, rapists, etc.
When I have these thoughts about “taking her” (okay, fantasies), they are not particularly violent, just very forceful, and I imagine her succumbing to the passion and us having the best sex we ever had. Then reality hits, and I realize that a) she’d probably just kick my ass; b) maybe divorce me; and c) I am a NICE GUY and would never do this and would probably not be able to perform under such pressure.
I wonder how much of this is related to that scene we’ve all seen in countless movies where the jerk-man kisses the woman, who resists at first, then melts into him because of the passion that overtakes her. Thanks a hell of a lot, Hollywood. I’m a nice guy, and will probably die a nice guy, who lived in a sexless marriage.
How many of the rest of you guys out there are the nice ones? I’m guessing the majority of the male readers of your blog, Julia.
Harry [apple] 11/5/03; 7:41:21 AM
|(warning; shameless plug coming up)
I wonder how this [BLOGGERS’ NOTE: BROKEN LINK] fits in to this discussion.
Harald [apple] 11/5/03; 7:51:20 AM
|Harry; how does the “it must always be on her terms” equate with the sexlessness?
Does she enjoy it then?
Then why not more often?
Harald [apple] 11/5/03; 7:53:33 AM
|From what I’ve seen, the single biggest predictor for picking jerks is growing up with jerks for role models. In later life, this helps them confuse confident, desirable alpha traits with meanness.There’s also a whole contingent of guys who describe themselves as ‘nice’, yet stomp through life with a big ol’ unappealing chip on their shoulder, spitting poison about how all those horrible women have the gall to deny them the love they’re owed by virtue of their anger-besotted ‘niceness’, dammit.
Of course, some guys are just purely decent, with confidence rather than bitterness under the veneer. I’m pleased to say that after the excruciating unlearning of some bad patterns, I’m happily married to one.
On a related topic, why is it that when a woman is with a jerky guy, it’s the woman’s fault for picking him, and when a guy is with a jerky woman, it’s the woman’s fault for being jerky? I never could figure that one out.
bun [apple] 11/5/03; 9:44:56 AM
|Harald: The “it must always be on her terms” aspect is that she must be the initiator, she determines which of the two positions she accepts as normal we will use (missionary or her on top), how long it lasts (usually about 3 minutes or less), speed and rhythm, and no touching or cuddling afterward. And no talking about it afterward, either. I can’t say whether she enjoys it or not, as I am not permitted to ask. I know I don’t particularly enjoy it.
Harry [apple] 11/5/03; 9:46:55 AM
|I answered your rather amusing sidebar on your site, Harald. Thanks!
Julia Grey [apple] 11/5/03; 10:05:37 AM
|Like I said, you choose to stay in a sexless marriage. You allow her the chooses while refusing to do anything to change the situation.Call it what you want, people, but to me, it is still all about “power”. This has nothing whatsoever to do with sex.
Lynn [apple] 11/5/03; 12:59:21 PM
|Or, for that matter, feminism.
munkymu [apple] 11/5/03; 1:53:20 PM
|I agree that people seek Power when they feel they cannot get Love, and that sex often becomes a Power battlefield when anxiety and insecurity and misunderstanding make real love, partnership and genuine emotional intimacy seem like an impossible dream. That’s been the basic point I’ve tried to make over and over in this blog.I also agree that people who stay in a crazy situation without making ANY effort to change it are probably neurotic in the M. Scott Peck sense (suffering a continual just-bearable pain in order to avoid facing a larger, scarier, possibly unbearable one).
However, I don’t agree that meeting Power with Power is the ideal way to break a power imbalance, since that usually only results in ugly, perhaps irretrievable escalation. Look in the Love direction instead.
Or, if there is no genuine love left at all, and no possibility of reviving it, get out.
Julia Grey [apple] 11/5/03; 2:22:45 PM
|People in general, not just women, not just men, look for indicators of love in familiar ways, the ways they were taught as children, IMHO. You have to work to break those connections if it turns out that your family’s relationships were hurtful (and recognizing this can be its own trick). But it can be done. I did it, after a failed first marriage (where my husband treated me in the familiar way my mother and father had–which was ultimately hurtful and not loving)
.Kris Hasson-Jones [apple] 11/5/03; 3:51:45 PM
|I would say that a strong PRESENCE is what’s attractive. I suspect a mix of generally nice – nice in the sense of “kind” – behavior is appreciated; when leavened by a bit of bad boy mischeivousness. But neither works if it’s just wimpy niceness, or mean cowardice.
Roy Kay [apple] 11/5/03; 5:17:58 PM
|With the caveat that this does not represent my beliefs on the subject, http://www.greeblie.com/theyeti/arch/012894.html [BLOGGER’S NOTE: BROKEN LINK] has an interesting foray on the subject.
Courtney [apple] 11/6/03; 5:58:14 AM
|Hey, that link was hella fun.
Julia Grey [apple] 11/6/03; 9:30:22 AM
|Julia, for some men, the fantasy is Pretty Woman, the whore who really isn’t a whore. (And it’s twin, the nice women who is a “whore” in the bedroom.)I’ve known some shall we say “oversexed” men and women – not swingers, who fit into their own category. Maybe and I mean maybe there’s that heart of gold in the attraction, but there are at least two other factors at work. First, a lot of people are psychological basket cases and they seek out and find people who let them down, who cheat on them, who hurt them. The heart of gold theory implies a romance novel, but reality is more sordid, cheap and nasty.
Second, a lot of people see the jerk/whore/stud/slut as the preening peacock/hot piece. In other words, like the study says, women generally don’t want to be in a relationship with a jerk, but they are more likely to bed one. Thus, the endless letters to every advice columnists – I’m with a really great guy but I ended up in bed with his friend/his brother/my boss/the mailman, etc. and can’t stop – and the advice – you’re risking something meaningful for something immediate but with no lasting value.
And here we get into pet theory time, I think some women are attracted to a rampant male because he’s successful at that and there’s a general human tendency to attribute success in one area to success in others. If he’s good at getting women, he’ll be good at getting raises.
To take this one step further, how many discussions about forgiveness deal with this exact form of cheating? The woman “falls” into an affair with some guy she really doesn’t have much in common with but the sex is great and now she’s torn. The guy “ends up” in bed with the hot new girl in the office and can’t stop banging her because she’s so much sexier than the wife.
So the discussions so often go: it was “meaningless” and I really care about you, I didn’t think, it just happened, I didn’t want to hurt you, etc. and the aftermath that trust has been broken, how do you re-establish trust, is forgiveness a requirement or an option, etc. I’m particularly intrigued by the way this kind of cheating leads to placing of blame – it is at least implied and often said that the cheating happened because the real partner was boring. I love the way people dodge truth.
I have NOT had these conversations with my wife. Just want to go on record with that.
jonathank [apple] 11/6/03; 2:11:24 PM
|Simply out of curiosity, what is the definition of ‘jerk’ being used here?The wife-beater wearing, chain-smoking, greasy-haired tempermental and insanely jealous guy with the beer permanently affixed to the hand that’s not currently delivering the smack to the head?
Or the guy that’s intelligent, confident, out-spoken to the point of being painfully blunt, who tends to come off as a complete ass to just about anyone he meets due to his complete lack of tact (ie…verbal sugar-coating)?
Just my take, since that’s mine in a nutshell (help help I’m in a nutshell!). Though it’s certainly not the rule, sometimes confidence is mistaken for arrogance and honesty can be brutal. There’s jerks and there there are jerks. I’d hate to have my particular jerk any other way.
Btw, I find this site absolutely wonderful.
shiv [apple] 11/7/03; 11:33:33 PM
|I just posted what i have to say on http://www.greeblie.com/theyeti/arch/012894.html [BLOGGER’S NOTE: BROKEN LINK] so rather than say it again you can get my rant there. In my mind i think im totally correct, but if i didnt then why would i say it? lol. Anyway, please read, at least its a new opinion. D Johnstone [apple] 11/11/03; 12:15:04 PM|
|From my experience women fantasize about the tough gut/bad boy…but they know esp after 3- it’s much better with the man you can trust…with all things
grerard [apple] 11/11/03; 9:11:20 PM
|I just happened upon your blog and this link in the sidebar caught my eye, as I’ve recently pondered on this topic myself. I think you’ve misdefined the term bad boys. I consider a bad boy to be a misunderstood man with his own set of morals and a heart he keeps hidden out of self-protection. You’re simply talking about an ass with no deeper sensitivities than his own power trips.
Kayten • 12/23/04; 4:14:37 AM
|It is, I believe, a product of men’s enculturated fantasies that user women really AREN’T users down deep in their most hidden souls. The usual La-La Land construct is that user women are really giving, caring, and misunderstood women that the very Special Man Who Truly Love Them and is “just a friend” hoping for more, can bring into the Light, so that someday the erstwhile user woman will finally appreciate the Unconditional Love that has been lavished upon her so stupidly unstintingly. At which point, of course, she will fall into stunned, eternal adoration of the Very Special Man “friend” who Stood By Her while she was going around being a giving, caring, misunderstood user woman, world without end, Amen.
bored • 12/21/05; 12:01:52 AM
|Oh this is DEFINATELY a truth!!! I am not bad looking, though I’m no model, and I do get offers from time to time. Women like to be chased but at the same time want a challenge. Now this challenge will vary from woman to woman and yes some women like an “asshole” because it is a very big challenge! But if you behave nice, sweet, and always there and dependable for a woman, you will win her… as a “friend” but not as anything more. Why bother, she has you in her pocket, so why bother addressing you.
For those men ( women will completely deny this) that don’t believe, try it. Don’t be an asshole but try ignoring someone your interested in your circle. If she calls, don’t reply, and write an email later saying that you must have missed it or were busy. Flake on a few occasions and say that you were held up with some other “friends”… if she asks who, make up some women’s names ( if you use real one’s you’ll get caught in this lie – us men have horrible memories). If she is at all interested, she will try to gain your attention and try to get you not to flake and ignore her all the time. If she wasn’t interested before, she will at least be curious about you, and that’s always a good start.
Even if you’re IN a relationship that’s kinda stale because you are always there for her, try this, and the jealous beast in a woman will come out to claim you as hers. Women are very competitive and none like to lose to another, even if your an asshole, your HER asshole!
jabber_wolf • 4/11/07; 3:00:22 PM
|You absulatly right i think it is the most important for a man having a confiddance some man have that confidance by their body or they are good looking or some man think when they have the money and nice expensive carsthey will have that confidance and they will get the nice and beautifull girls..But at the end what in you will come out..Thats why some man always shop for the bigger diomand.(he he)I have a few friends like that..Personaly i think women has to like who you are not how much money you have ..P.S.Might be wrong thinking still looking for right women..One day will come along..
Kirk Cagan • 7/30/07; 9:06:50 PM
|how this situation works is females want long term relationships and are so tied up in their emotions they really dont know what the fuck they want so they get caught in flattery. All your average guy is looking for when he meets a woman is sex and he is going to appear how it is nessecary to get it. Now, when a girl knows what she wants, and doesnt need someone to look after her, THAT IS HOT! And i personally find it quite annoying if a girl cant take care of her own and i wont look twice at any sort of long term relationship if i look at all.
And as far as guys and long term relationships go, you have to offer something more than sex. some sort of deep connection which a woman cant put on as a show. So, i think women and men could get along much better if we had a well rooted cultural understanding that sex is sex and relationships are relationships. sex doesnt mean anything other than sex. take it for what it is instead of attaching ideas to the concept. in our culture, sex seems to be some sort of mysterious, sacred act. its not, when was the last time you had a dog trying to fuck your leg like tommorow wouldnt come. thats what it is, instincnt.
jesus of nazerath • 2/15/08; 2:55:03 AM
|in my opinion what you are saying is completely true. as a man who has dated around i find that i meet way more and better looking women when inm the asshole. 99% of woman i meet dont like a nice guy. i have no problem meeting women but as soon as they find out im really a sweet sensitive man they want nothing to do with me.
i think all you bitches are stupid. when im an asshole i can pic from any girl i want. but as soon i i show my true feelings women treat me like im some kinda uncurable disease. whats going on with your whole gender!!! all my friends are assholes and they get so much poon i cant keep count. you women dont want a nice guy you want an asshole who treats you terribly. if im liyin then in dyen. its the truth
macho • 2/22/08; 6:29:45 PM