A book on radical feminism that did not deal with love would be a political failure. For love, perhaps even more than childbearing, is the pivot of women’s oppression to­day. I realize this has frightening implications: Do we want to get rid of love?

The panic felt at any threat to love is a good clue to its political significance. Another sign that love is central to any analysis of women or sex psychology is its omis­sion from culture itself, its relegation to “personal life.” (And whoever heard of logic in the bedroom?) Yes, it is portrayed in novels, even metaphysics, but "in them it is described, or better, recreated, not analyzed. Love has never been understood, though it may have been fully experienced, and that experience communicated.

There is reason for this absence of analysis: Women and Love are underpinnings. Examine them and you threaten the very structure of culture.

The tired question "What were women doing while men created masterpieces?” deserves more than the obvious reply: Women were barred from culture, exploited, in their role of mother. Or its reverse: Women had no need for paintings since they created children. Love is tied to culture in much deeper ways than that. Men were think­ing, writing, and creating, because women Were pouring their energy into those men; women are not creating cul­ture because they are preoccupied with love.

That women live for love and men for work is a truism. Freud was the first to attempt to ground this dichotomy in the individual psyche: the male child, sex­ually rejected by the first person in his attention, his mother, “sublimates” his “libido”—his reservoir of sexual (life) energies—into long term projects, in the hope of gaining love in a more generalized form; thus he displaces his need for love into a need for recognition. This process does not occur as much in the female: most women never stop seeking direct warmth and approval.

There is also much truth in the cliches that “behind every man there is a woman,” and that “women are the power behind [read: voltage in] the throne.” (Male) cul­ture was built on the love of women, and at their expense. Women provided the substance of those male master­pieces; and for millennia they have done the work, and suffered the costs, of one-way emotional relationships the benefits of which went to men and to the work of men. So if women are a parasitical class living off, and at the margins of, the male economy, the reverse too is true: (Male) culture was (and is) parasitical, feeding on the emotional strength of women without reciprocity.

Moreover, we tend to forget that this culture is not universal, but rather sectarian, presenting only half the spectrum. The very structure of culture itself, as we shall see, is saturated with the sexual polarity, as well as being in every degree run by, for, and in the interests of male society. But while the male half is termed all of culture, men have not forgotten there is a female “emotional” half: They live it on the sly. As the result of their battle to reject the female in themselves (the Oedipus Complex as we have explained it) they are unable to take love seri­ously as a cultural matter; but they can’t do without it altogether. Love is the underbelly of (male) culture just as love is the weak spot of every man, bent on proving his virility in that large male world of “travel and ad­venture.” Women have always known how men need love, and how they deny this need. Perhaps this explains the peculiar contempt women so universally feel for men

(“men are so dumb”), for they can see their men are posturing in the outside world.


How does this phenomenon “love” operate? Contrary to popular opinion, love is not altruistic. The initial at­traction is based on curious admiration (more often today, envy and resentment) for the self-possession, the integrated unity, of the other and a wish to become part of this Self in some way (today, read: intrude or take over), to become important to that psychic balance. The self-containment of the other creates desire (read: a chal­lenge); admiration (envy) of the other becomes a wish to incorporate (possess) its qualities. A clash of selves follows in which the individual attempts to fight off the growing hold over him of the other. Love is the final opening up to (or, surrender to the dominion of) the other. The lover demonstrates to the beloved how he himself would like to be treated. (“I tried so hard to make him fall in love with me that I fell in love with him myself.”) Thus love is the height of selfishness: the self attempts to enrich itself through the absorption of another being. Love is being psychically wide-open to another. It is a situation of total emotional vulnerability. Therefore it must be not only the incorporation of the other, but an exchange of selves. Anything short of a mutual exchange will hurt one or the other party.

There is nothing inherently destructive about this proc­ess. A little healthy selfishness would be a refreshing change. Love between two equals would be an enrichment, each enlarging himself through the other: instead of being one, locked in the cell of himself with only his own ex­perience and view, he could participate in the existence of another—an extra window on the world. This accounts for the bliss that successful lovers experience: Lovers are temporarily freed from the burden of isolation that every individual bears.

But bliss in love is seldom the case: For every success­ful contemporary love experience, for every short period of enrichment, there are ten destructive love experiences, post-love “downs” of much longer duration—often result­ing in the destruction of the individual, or at least an emotional cynicism that makes it difficult or impossible ever to love again. Why should this be so, if it is not actually inherent in the love process itself?

Let’s talk about love in its destructive guise—and why it gets that way, referring once more to the work of Theodor Reik. Reik’s concrete observation brings him closer than many better minds to understanding the process of “falling in love,” but he is off insofar as he confuses love as it exists in our present society with love itself. He notes that love is a-reaction formation, a cycle of envy, hostility, and possessiveness: He sees that it is preceded by dissatisfaction with oneself, a yearning for something better, created by a discrepancy between the ego and the ego-ideal; That the bliss love produces is due to the resolution of this tension by the substitution, in place of one’s own ego-ideal, of the other; And finally that love fades “because the other can’t live up to your high ego-ideal any more than you could, and the judg­ment will be the harsher the higher are the claims on one­self.” Thus in Reik’s view love wears down just as it wound up: Dissatisfaction with oneself (whoever heard of faffing in love the week one is leaving for Europe?) leads to astonishment at the other person’s self-contain­ment; to envy; to hostility; to possessive love; and back again through exactly the same process. This is the love process today. But why must it be this way?

Many, for example Denis de Rougemont in Love in the Western World, have tried to draw a distinction be­tween romantic “faffing in love” with its “false reciproc­ity which disguises a twin narcissism” (the Pagan Eros) and an unselfish love for the other person as that person’ really is (the Christian Agape). De Rougemont attrib­utes the morbid passion of Tristan and Iseult (romantic

love) to a vulgarization of specific mystical and religious currents in Western civilization.

I submit that love is essentially a much simpler phe­nomenon—it becomes complicated, corrupted, or ob­structed by an unequal balance of power. We have seen that love demands a mutual – vulnerability or it turns de­structive: the destructive effects of love occur only in a context of inequality. But because sexual inequality has remained a constant—however its degree may have varied —the corruption “romantic” love became characteristic of love between the sexes. (It remains for us only to explain why it has steadily increased in Western countries since the medieval period, which we shall attempt to do in the following chapter.)

How does the sex class system based on the unequal power distribution of the biological family affect love be­tween the sexes? In discussing Freudianism, we have gone into the psychic structuring of the individual within the family and how this organization of personality must be different for the male and the female because of their very different relationships to the mother. At present the insular interdependency of the mother/child relationship forces both male and female children into anxiety about losing the mother’s love, on which they depend for physi­cal survival. When later (Erich Fromm notwithstand­ing) the child learns that the mother’s love is conditional, to be rewarded the child in return for approved behavior (that is, behavior in line with the mother’s own values and personal ego gratification—for she is free to mold the child “creatively,” however she happens to define that), the child’s anxiety turns into desperation. This, coinciding with the sexual rejection of the male child by the moth­er, causes, as we have seen, a schizophrenia in the boy between the emotional and the physical, and in the girl, the mother’s rejection, occurring for different reasons, produces an insecurity about her identity in general, creat­ing a lifelong need for approval. (Later her lover re­places her father as a grantor of the necessary surrogate identity—she sees everything through his eyes.) Here orig­inates the hunger for love that later sends both sexes searching in one person after the other for a state of ego security. But because of the early rejection, to the degree – that it occurred, the male will be terrified of committing himself, of “opening up” and then being smashed. How this affects his sexuality we have seen: To the degree that a woman is like his mother, the incest taboo operates to restrain his total sexual/emotional com­mitment; for him to feel safely the kind of total response he first felt for his mother, which was rejected, he must degrade this woman so as to distinguish her from the mother. This behavior reproduced on a larger scale ex­plains many cultural phenomena, including perhaps the ideal love-worship of chivalric times, the forerunner of modern romanticism.

Romantic idealization is partially responsible, at least on the part of men, for a peculiar characteristic of “fall­ing” in love: the-change takes place in the lover almost independently of the character of the love object. Occa­sionally the lover, though beside himself,, sees with another rational part of his faculties that, objectively speaking, the one he loves isn’t worth all this blind devotion; but he is helpless to act on this, “a slave to love.” More, often he fools himself entirely. But others can see what is happen­ing (“How on earth he could love her is beyond me!”). This idealization occurs much less frequently on the part of women, as is borne out by Reik’s clinical studies. A man must idealize one woman over the rest in order to justify his descent to a lower caste. Women have no such reason to idealize men—in fact, when one’s life depends on one’s ability to “psych” men out, such idealization may actually be dangerous—though a fear of male* power in general may carry over into relationships with individual men, appearing to be the same phenomenon. But though women know to be inauthentic this male “falling in love,” all women, in one way or another, require proof of it from men before they can allow themselves to love (genuinely, in their case) in return. .For this idealization process acts to artificially equalize the two parties, a minimum precon­dition for the development of an uncorrupted love—we have seen that love requires a mutual vulnerability that is impossible to achieve in an unequal power situation. Thus "falling in love” is no more than the process of al­teration of male vision—through idealization, mystifica­tion, glorification—that renders void the woman’s class inferiority.

However, the woman knows that this idealization, which she works so hard to produce, is a lie, and that it is only a matter of time before he “sees through her.” Her life is a hell, vacillating between an all-consuming need for male love and approval to raise her from her class subjection, to persistent feelings of inauthenticity when she does achieve his love. Thus her whole identity hangs in the balance of her love life. She is allowed to love herself only if a man finds her worthy of love.

But if we could eliminate the political context of love between the sexes, would we not have some degree of idealization remaining in the love process itself? I think so. For the process occurs in the same manner whoever the love choice: the lover “opens up” to the other. Be­cause of this fusion of egos, in which each sees and cares about the other as a new self, the beauty/character of the beloved, perhaps hidden to outsiders under layers of defenses, is revealed. “I wonder what she sees in him,” then, means not only, “She is a fool, blinded with roman­ticism,” but, “Her love has lent her x-ray vision. Perhaps we are missing something,” (Note that this phrase is most commonly used about women. The equivalent phrase about men’s slavery to love is more often some­thing like, “She has him wrapped around her finger,” she has him so “snowed” that he is the last one to see through her.) Increased sensitivity to the real, if hidden, values in the other, however, is not “blindness” or "ideal­ization” but is, in fact, deeper vision. It is only the false idealization we have described above that is responsible for the destruction. Thus it is not the process of love itself that is at fault, but its political, i. e., unequal power context: the who, why, when and where of it is what makes it now such a holocaust.


But abstractions about love are only one more symp­tom of its diseased state. (As one female patient of Reik so astutely put it, “Men take love either too seri­ously or not seriously enough.”) Let’s look at it more con­cretely, as we now experience it in its corrupted form. Once again we shall quote from the Reikian Confessional. For if Reik’s work has any value it is where he might least suspect, i. e., in his trivial feminine urge to “gossip.” Here he is, justifying himself (one supposes his Super­ego is troubling him):

A has-been like myself must always be somewhere and work­ing on something. Why should I not occupy myself with those small questions that are not often posed and yet perhaps can be answered? The “petites questions” have a legitimate place beside the great and fundamental problems of psychoanalysis.

It takes moral courage to write about certain things, as for example about a game that little girls play in the intervals between classes. Is such a theme really worthy of a serious psychoanalyst who has passed his 77th year? (Italics mine)

And he reminds himself:

But in psychoanalysis there are no unimportant thoughts; there are only thoughts that pretend to be unimportant in order not to be told.

Thus he rationalizes what in fact may be the only valu­able contribution of his work. Here are his patients of both sexes speaking for themselves about their love lives:


Later on he called me a sweet girl. … I didn’t answer. . .


what could I say? . . . but I knew Ї was not a sweet girl at all and that he sees me as someone Гт not.

No man can love a girl the way a girl loves a man.

I can go a long time without sex, but not without love.

It’s like H20 instead of water.

I sometimes think that all men are sex-crazy and sex-starved. All they can think about when they are with a girl is going to bed with her.

Have I nothing to offer this man but this body?

I took off my dress and my bra and stretched myself out on his bed and waited. For an instant I thought of myself as an animal of sacrifice on the altar.

I don’t understand the feelings of men. My husband has me. Why does he need other women? What have they got that I haven’t got?

Believe me, if all wives whose husbands had affairs left them, we would only have divorced women in this country.

After my husband had quite a few affairs, I flirted with the fantasy of taking a lover. Why not? What’s sauce for the gan­der is sauce for the goose. . . . But Ї was stupid as a goose: I didn’t have it in me to have an extramarital affair.

I asked several people whether men also sometimes cry them­selves to sleep. X don’t believe it

men (for further illustration, see Screw):

It’s not true that only the external appearance of a woman matters. The underwear is also important

It’s not difficult to make it with a girl. What’s difficult is to make an end of it

The girl asked me whether I cared for her mind. I was tempted* to answer I cared more for her behind.

“Are you going already?” she said when she opened her eyes, j It was a bedroom cliche whether I left after an hour or after i’ two days.

Perhaps it’s necessary to fool the woman and to pretend you love her. But why should I fool myself? x

When she is sick, she turns me off. But when Гт sick she feels sorry for me and is more affectionate than usual.

It is not enough for my wife that I have to hear her talking all the time—blah, blah, blah. She also expects me to hear what she is saying.

Simone de Beauvoir said it: “The word love has by no means the same sense for both sexes, and this is one cause of the serious misunderstandings which divide them.” Above I have illustrated some of the traditional differences between men and women in love that come up so frequently in parlor discussions of the “double ■ standard,” where it is generally agreed: That women are I monogamous, better at loving, possessive, “clinging,” more І interested in (highly involved) “relationships” than in { sex per se, and they confuse affection with sexual desire. That men are interested in nothing but a screw (Wham, bam, thank you M’aml), or else romanticize the woman ridiculously; that once sure of her, they become notorious philanderers, never satisfied; that they mistake sex for emotion. All this bears out what we have discussed—the і difference in the psychosexual organizations of the two і sexes, determined by the first relationship to the mother, і I draw three conclusions based on these differences:

; 1) That men can’t love. (Male hormones?? Women tra-

1 ditionally expect and accept an emotional invalidism in } men that they would find intolerable in a woman.)

j 2) That women’s “clinging” behavior is necessitated by I their objective social situation.

‘ 3 ) That this situation has not changed significantly from

j what it ever was.

I Men can’t love. We have seen why it is that men have difficulty loving and that while men may love, they usual­ly

ly “fall in love”—with their own projected image. Most often they are pounding down a woman’s door one day, and thoroughly disillusioned with her the next; but it is rare for women to leave men, and then it is usually for more than ample reason.

It is dangerous to feel sorry for one’s oppressor—wom­en are especially prone» to this failing—but I am tempted to do it in this case. Being unable to love is hell. This is the way it proceeds: as soon as the man feels any pressure from the other partner to commit himself, he panics and may react in one of several ways:

1) He may rush out and screw ten other women to prove that the first woman has no hold over him. If she accepts this, he may continue to see her on this basis. The other women verify his (false) freedom; periodic arguments about them keep his panic at bay. But the women are a paper tiger, for nothing very deep could be happening with them anyway: he is balancing them against each other so that none of them can get much of him. Many smart women, recognizing this to be only a safety valve on their man’s anxiety, give him “a long leash.” For the real issue under all the fights about other women is that the man is unable to commit himself.

2) He may consistently exhibit unpredictable behavior, standing her up frequently, being indefinite about the next date, telling her that “my work comes first,” or offer­ing a variety of other excuses. That is, though he senses her anxiety, he refuses to reassure her in any way, or even to recognize her anxiety as legitimate. For he needs her anxiety as a steady reminder that he is stiff free, that the door is not entirely closed.

3) When he is forced into (an uneasy) commitment, he makes her pay for it: by ogling other women in her presence, by comparing her unfavorably to past girlfriends or movie stars, by snide reminders in front of friends that she is his “ball and chain,” by calling her a “nag,” a “bitch,” “a shrew,” or by suggesting that if he were only a bachelor he would be a lot better off. His ambivalence about women’s “inferiority” comes out: by being com-

mitted to one, he has somehow made the hated female identification, which he now must repeatedly deny if he is to maintain his self-respect in the (male) community. This steady derogation is not entirely put on: for in fact every other girl suddenly does look a lot better, he can’t help feeling he has missed something—and, naturally, his woman is to blame. For he has never given up the search for, the ideal; she has forced him to resign from it. Probably he will go to his grave feeling cheated, never realizing that there isn’t much difference between one woman and the other, that it is the loving that creates the difference.

There are many variations of straining at the bit. Many men go from one casual thing to another, getting out every time it begins to get hot. And yet to live without love in the end proves intolerable to men just as it does to women. The question that remains for every normal male is, then, how do Ї get someone to love me without her demanding an equal commitment in return?


Women’s “clinging” behavior is required by the objec­tive social situation. The female response to such a situation of male hysteria at any prospect of mutual com­mitment was the development of subtle methods of manipu­lation, to force as much commitment as could be forced from men. Over the centuries strategies have been de­vised, tested, and passed on from mother to daughter in secret tete-h-tetes, passed around at “kaffee-klatsches” (“I never understand what it is women spend so much time talking about!”), or, in recent times, via the tele­phone. These are not trivial gossip sessions at all (as women prefer men to believe), but desperate strategies for survival. More real brilliance goes into one one-hour coed telephone dialogue about men than into that same coed’s four years of college study, or for that matter, than into most male political maneuvers It is no wonder, then, that even the few women without "family obliga­tions” always arrive exhausted at the starting line of any serious endeavor. It takes one’s major energy for the best portion of one’s creative years to “make a good catch,”

and a good part of the rest of one’s. life to “hold” that catch. (“To be in love can be a full-time job for a wom­an, like that of a profession for a man.”) Women who choose to drop out of this race are choosing a life without love, something that, as we have seen, most men don’t have the courage to do. –

But unfortunately The Manhunt is characterized by an emotional urgency beyond this simple desire for return commitment. It is compounded by the very class reality that produced the male inability to love in the first place. In a male-run society that defines women as an inferior and parasitical class, a woman who does not achieve male approval in some form is doomed. To legitimate her exis­tence, a woman must be more than woman, she must con­tinually search for an out from her inferior definition;[13] and men are the only ones in a position to bestow on her this state of grace. But because the woman is rarely allowed to realize herself through activity in the larger (male) society—and when she is, she is seldom granted the recognition she deserves—it becomes easier to try for the recognition of one man than of many; and in fact this is exactly the choice most women make. Thus once more the phenomenon of love, good in itself, is corrupted by its class context: women must have love not only for healthy reasons but actually to validate their existence.

In addition, the continued economic dependence of women makes a situation of healthy love between equals

impossible. Women today still live under a system of pa­tronage: With few exceptions, they have the choice, not between either freedom or marriage, but between being either public or private property. Women who merge with a member of the ruling class can at least hope that some of his privilege will, so to speak, rub off. But women without men are in the same situation as orphans: they are a helpless sub-class lacking the protection of the pow­erful. This is the antithesis of freedom when they are still (negatively) defined by a class situation: for now they are in a situation of magnified vulnerability. To participate in one’s subjection by choosing one’s master often gives the illusion – of free choice; but in reality a woman is never free to choose love without external motivations. For her at the present time, the two things, love and status, must remain inextricably intertwined.

I Now assuming that a woman does not lose sight of these fundamental factors of her condition when she loves, she will never be able to love gratuitously, but only I in exchange for security:

1) the emotional security which, we have seen, she is justified in demanding.

2) the emotional identity which she should be able to find through work and recognition, but which she is de­nied—thus forcing her to seek her definition through a man.

3) the economic class security that, in this society, is attached to her ability to “hook” a man.

Two of these three demands are invalid conditions for love, but are imposed on it, weighing it down.

Thus, in their precarious political situation, women can’t afford the luxury of spontaneous love. It is much too dangerous. The love and approval of men is all-important. To love thoughtlessly, before one has ensured return com­mitment, would endanger that approval. Here is Reik:

It finally became clear during psychoanalysis that the patient was afraid that if she should show a man she loved him, he would consider her inferior and leave her.

For once a woman plunges in emotionally, she will be helpless to play the necessary games: her love would come first, demanding expression. To pretend a coolness she does not feel, then, would be too painful, and further, it would be pointless: she would be cutting off her nose to spite her face, for freedom to love is what she was aiming for. But in order to guarantee such a commitment, she must restrain her emotions, she must play games. For, as we have seen, men do not commit themselves to mutual openness and vulnerability until they are forced to.

How does she then go about forcing this commitment from the male? One of her most potent weapons is sex— she can work him up to a state of physical torment with a variety of games: by denying his need, by teasing it, by giving and taking back, by jealousy, and so forth. A wom­an under analysis wonders why:

There are. few women who never ask themselves on certain occasions “How hard should I make it for a man?” I think no man is troubled with questions of this kind. He perhaps asks himself only, “When will she give in?”

Men are right when they complain that women lack dis­crimination, that they seldom love a man for his individ­ual traits but rather for what he has to offer (his class), that they are calculating, that they use sex to gain other ends, etc. For in fact women are in no position to love freely. If a woman is lucky enough to find “a decent guy” to love her and support her, she is doing well—and usually will be grateful enough to return his love. About the only discrimination women are able to exercise is the choice between the men who have chosen them, or a playing off of one male, one power, against the other. But provoking a man’s interest, and snaring his commit­ment once he has expressed that interest, is not exactly self-determination.

Now what happens after she has finally hooked her man, after he has fallen in love with her and will do anything? She has a new set of problems. Now she can

release the vise, open her net, and examine what she has caught. Usually she is disappointed. It is nothing she would have bothered with were she a man. It is usually way below her level. (Check this out sometime: Talk to a few of those mousy wives.) “He may be a poor thing, but at least I’ve got a man of my own” is usually more the way she feels. But at least now she can drop her act. For the first time it is safe to love—now she must try like hell to catch up to him emotionally, to really mean what she has pretended all along. Often she is troubled by worries that he will find her out. She feels like an impostor. She is haunted by fears that he doesn’t love the “real” her— and usually she is right. (“She wanted to marry a man I with whom she could be as bitchy as she really is.”)

This is just about when she discovers that love and mar­riage mean a different thing for a male than they do for her: Though men in general believe women in general to be inferior, every man has reserved a special place in his f mind for the one woman he will elevate above the rest

I by virtue of association with himself. Until now the wom­

an, out in the cold, begged for his approval, dying to clamber onto this clean well-lighted place. But once there, she realizes that she was elevated above other women not in recognition of her real value, but only because she matched nicely his store-bought pedestal. Probably he doesn’t even know who she is (if indeed by this time she herself knows). He has let her in not because he genuinely loved her, but only because she played so well into his preconceived fantasies. Though she knew his love to be false, since she herself engineered it, she can’t help feeling contempt for him. But she is afraid, at first, to reveal her true self, for then perhaps even that false love would go. And finally she understands that for him, too, marriage had all kinds of motivations that had nothing to do with love. She was merely the one closest to his fan­tasy image: she has been named Most Versatile Actress for the multi-role of Alter Ego, Mother of My Children, Housekeeper, Cook, Companion, in his play. She has

been bought to fill an empty space in his life; but her life is nothing.

So she has not saved herself from being like other women. She is lifted out of that class only because she now is an appendage of a member of the master class; and he cannot associate with her unless he raises her status. But she has not been freed, she has been promoted to “housenigger,” she has been elevated only to be used in a different way. She feels cheated. She has gotten not love and recognition, but possessorship and control. This is when she is transformed from Blushing Bride to Bitch, a change that, no matter how universal and predictable, still leaves the individual husband perplexed. (“You’re not the girl I married.”)


The situation of women has not changed significantly from what it ever was. For the past fifty years women have been in a double bind about love: under the guise of a “sexual revolution,” presumed to have occurred (“Oh, c’mon Baby, where have you been? Haven’t you heard of the sexual revolution?”), women have been persuaded to shed their armor. The modern woman is in horror of being thought a bitch, where her grandmother expected that to happen as the natural course of things. Men, too, in her grandmother’s time, expected that any self-respect­ing woman would keep them waiting, would play all the right games without shame: a woman who did not guard her own interests in this way was not respected. It was out in the open.

But the rhetoric of the sexual revolution, if it brought no improvements for women, proved to have great value for men. By convincing women that the usual female games and demands were despicable, unfair, prudish, old-fashioned, puritanical, and self-destructive, a new reservoir of available females was created to expand the tight supply of goods available for traditional sexual ex­ploitation, disarming women of even the little protection they had so painfully acquired. Women today dare not make the old demands for fear of having a whole new vocabulary, designed just for this purpose, hurled at them:

“fucked up,” “ballbreaker,” “cockteaser,” “a real drag,” “a bad trip”—to be a “groovy chick” is the ideal.

Even now many women know what’s up and avoid the trap, preferring to be called names rather than be cheated out of the little they can hope for from men (for it is still true that even the hippest want an “old lady” who is relatively unused). But more and more women are sucked into the trap, only to find out too late, and bitterly, that the traditional female games had a point; they are shocked to catch themselves at thirty complaining in a vocabulary dangerously close to the old Tve-been-used-men-are – wolves-they’re-all-bastards variety. Eventually they are forced to acknowledge the old-wives* truth: a fair and generous woman is (at best) respected, but seldom loved. Here is a description, still valid today, of the “emanci­pated” woman—in this case a Greenwich Village artist of the thirties—from Mosquitoes, an early Faulkner novel:

She had always had trouble with her men. . . . Sooner or later they always ran out on her. . . . Men she recognized as having potentialities all passed through a violent but tempo­rary period of interest which ceased as abruptly as it began, without leaving even the lingering threads of mutually re­membered incidence, like those brief thunderstorms of August that threaten and dissolve for no apparent reason without producing any rain.

At times she speculated with almost masculine detachment on the reason for this. She always tried to keep their relation­ships on the plane which the men themselves seemed to prefer —certainly no woman would, and few women could, demand less of their men than she did. She never made arbitrary de­mands on their time, never caused them to wait for her nor to see her home at inconvenient hours, never made them fetch and carry for her; she fed them and flattered herself that she was a good listener. And yet—She thought of the women she knew; how all of them had at least one obviously entranced male; she thought of the women she had observed; how they seemed to acquire a man at will, and if he failed to stay ac­quired, how readily they replaced him.

Women of high ideals who believed emancipation possi­ble, women who tried desperately to rid themselves of

feminine “hangups,” to cultivate what they believed to be the greater directness, honesty, and generosity of men, were badly fooled. They found that no one appreciated their intelligent conversation, their high aspirations, their great sacrifices to avoid developing the personalities of their mothers. For much as men were glad to enjoy their wit, their style, their sex, and their candlelight suppers, they always ended up marrying The Bitch, and then, to top it all off, came back to complain of what a horror she was. “Emancipated” women found out that the honesty, generosity, and camaraderie of men was a lie: men were all too glad to use them and then sell them out, in the name of true friendship. (“I respect and like you a great deal, but let’s be reasonable. . . And then there are the men who take her out to discuss Simone de Beauvoir, leaving their wives at home with the diapers.) “Emancipated” women found out that men were far from “good guys” to be emulated; they found out that by im­itating male sexual patterns (the roving eye, the search for the ideal, the emphasis on physical attraction, etc.), they were not only not achieving liberation, they were falling into something much worse than what they had given up. They were imitating. And they had inoculated themselves with a sickness that had not even sprung from their own psyches. They found that their new “cool” was shallow and meaningless, that their emotions were drying up behind it, that they were aging and becoming deca­dent: they feared they were losing their ability to love. They had gained nothing by imitating men: shallowness and callowness, and they were not so, good at it either, because somewhere inside it still went against the grain.

Thus women who had decided not to marry because they were wise enough to look around and see where it led found that it was marry or nothing. Men gave their commitment only for a price: share (shoulder) his life, stand on his pedestal, become his appendage, or else. Or else—be consigned forever to that limbo of “chicks” who mean nothing or at least not what mother meant. Be the “other woman” for the rest of one’s life, used to pro-

voke his wife, prove his virility and/or his independence, discussed by his friends as his latest “interesting” conquest. (For even if she had given up those terms and what they stood for, no male had.) Yes, love means an entirely different thing to men than to women: it means ownership and control; it means jealousy, where he never exhibited it before—when she might have wanted him to (who cares if she is broke or raped until she officially belongs to him: then he is a raging dynamo, a veritable cyclone, be­cause his property, his ego extension have been threat­ened) ; it means a growing lack of interest, coupled with a roving eye. Who needs it?

Sadly, women do. Here are Reik’s patients once more:

She sometimes has delusions of not being persecuted by men anymore. At those times of her nonpersecution mania she is very depressed.


All men are selfish, brutal and inconsiderate—and I wish I could find one.

We have seen that a woman needs love, first, for its natural enriching function, and second, for social and economic reasons which have nothing to do with love. To deny her need is to put herself in an extra-vulnerable spot socially and economically, as well as to destroy her emotional equilibrium, which, unlike most men’s, is basi­cally healthy. Are men worth that? Decidedly no. Most women feel that to do such tailspans for a man would be to add insult to injury. They go on as before, making the best of a bad situation. If it gets too bad, they head for a (male) shrink:

A young woman patient was once asked during a psycho­analytic consultation whether she preferred to see a man or woman psychoanalyst. Without the slightest hesitation she said, “A woman psychoanalyst because I am too eager for the ap­proval of a man."