Oren Regardie will be the first to admit that he’s lucky. And, at least by many people’s standards, he is pretty damn lucky. Let’s look at this: he is married to Poppy, who’s one of those women men just spontaneously collapse over because of her sheer multi-disciplinary awesomeness. He also has me, and I’m not so terrible either. And together, Poppy and I make a pretty adorable, crayola-headed pair; actually, we look like the Manic Pixie Dream Team. In addition, because he’s charming and attractive and because we move in social circles that are very snuggly indeed, Oren never has a shortage of lovely ladies to make out with and cuddle and whatnot. So his life doesn’t suck. It really doesn’t.
Last Saturday night the three of us (a couple of our friends have taken to calling us The Trident) were hanging out in a bar with several friends, many of whom are fetching ladies. The bar is equipped with booths and bar stools and even a dance floor, but only two comfy chairs. One of my friends and I (both of us with chronic pain issues) agreed that the moment those chairs were open they were ours. And, because the Universe loves us deeply, that didn’t take long.
Oren came over to occupy the space between us, and some communal cuddling happened. Then some other ladies joined us. Because of the magnetic nature of cuddling in public, we soon had a joyous heap of people (mostly women) cuddling, with Oren roughly in the middle but not singled out in any way. But something interesting happened, though it’s only interesting when you actually think about it: the bar, which was mostly populated by males, started to kind of sort of wish he were dead. Men–total strangers– kept coming up to him, some congratulating on his pimposity, most commenting enviously on his position and acting vaguely hurt that they were being left out. When he got up to go to the bathroom a few guys hovered around, hoping to take his place. Glares followed him as he returned.
This dimly recalls the little economist who met the three of us on New Year’s Eve and had his mind blown as soon as he figured out our dynamic. “It was nice meeting you. Touché on the harem,” was his parting shot to Oren. But really this is not rare.
The really weird thing is that no one ever thinks to high five (or scowl at) me. I mean, there I was nestled between my incredible boyfriend and my gorgeous fuck-buddy-for-life Viola– kissing each at various points, and holding hands with another pretty chick. I’m going to go ahead and call that motherfucking lucky, but to average bar guy to process that I’d have to be a subject rather than an object, I guess.
Because when you break things down, it’s weird. Oren is lucky, sure. He is. Having two people you love loving you back is goddamn remarkable. But Poppy has relationships with several totally amazing guys, and no one ever seems to harp on that in quite the same way. It holds hands with that weird insidious old-timey sexism that warns never to congratulate a bride because that would be indelicate. You wish her joy. Because it would be rude to imply that her groom is the prize rather then her, and that she accomplished something by finding someone she wants to spend her life with. How vulgar to imbue a woman with agency, or attribute desire to her.
This cuts in every direction. When women are reduced to objects with no desires, men are reduced to insatiable desire.
I started reading Y: The Last Man. I’d been meaning to for a while, and it’s very good. But it’s hard to get around the fact that being the last surviving man on Earth seems to be a fantasy for a lot of guys (though admittedly not the main character of the comic, and I’m sort of expecting the series to deconstruct that), while I physically cringe when I think of any moderately realistic narrative of a last woman because in my mind it would automatically invoke absolute metric tons of rape. It’s such a bleak way of looking at gender dynamics, but is it inaccurate?
I hope so. I don’t know. I sure as hell know I wouldn’t want to be that woman.