David French of National Review recently wrote an article asking, “Can we be honest about men?” In it, he laments the avalanche of sexual harassment cases in the media, politics, and entertainment, asking, “When will it end?”
“The obvious answer is never,” he says. “At least not until we stare human nature in the face, confront it squarely, and call men to live according to a higher and better purpose. We could endure the zombie apocalypse, and the world would be full of local warlords using their power and status to exploit women.” He continues:
Here’s a simple reality — large numbers of men enter high-status professions (such as entertainment and politics) in part or even primarily to gain access to beautiful women. Large numbers of men achieve wealth in part or even primarily to gain access to beautiful women. Large numbers of men who enter high-status professions or gain wealth for good and virtuous reasons soon become corrupted by access to beautiful women. As we’ve learned, some men even become so-called ‘male feminists’ primarily to gain the trust of beautiful women.
Object all you want, but it’s true. Indeed, for men, having a beautiful woman on your arm is often seen as the ultimate marker of status. Become successful enough — no matter your looks or social awkwardness or painful dating history — and a beautiful woman is your reward.
I’m certainly not going to object, though I do think many men enter high-status professions to best other men in their field of expertise, not just to get beautiful women. Competition can fuel them even more than sex does.
Regardless, we can’t deny that arm candy is part of it. I don’t know many people who would disagree, which explains the popularity of the Hot-Crazy Matrix. Basically it says men will put up with a lot of crazy for a hot woman, and women will put up with a lot of ugly for a wealthy man.
Women Aren’t Hapless Victims
French laments this basic fact of life, saying men don’t need to give over to their natural impulses this way. Instead, they need to overcome them. “Sexual temptation is so powerful and omnipresent that no human society will ever be free of sexual scandal, but there are moral systems that — if applied — can mitigate original sin.”
Good advice, of course, and I have no problem with the basic points of French’s article, but I do take issue with the assumption that women are passive and innocent in this sexual interplay between the sexes. This might not have been his intention, since he was focusing on men, but we can’t let these conversations remain fixed only on men, as if they alone exploit. We can’t always assume women are hapless damsels in distress horrified by how they’re objectified.
Here’s a little secret we have to say out loud: Women love the sexual interplay they experience with men, and they relish men desiring their beauty. Why? Because it is part of their nature.
Women want to be desired by men, to attract them, to be the only woman in the world for that man. Their beauty is an essential part of their allure, especially when men and women first meet. They have little else to go on because they don’t know each other, and beauty serves as a guidepost to greater interest.
Outside of a woman looking for a mate, her beauty is a source of power because men and other women value it. This is why married women still want to be beautiful. It’s an expression of their femininity, which doesn’t disappear at the altar.
We don’t need studies to bear this out, though we do have them. A recent Pew Research study says society values physical attractiveness in women the most. Nurturing and empathy are second. The top traits most valued in men are morality and professional success. In other words, men want women who are attractive and emotionally connective, and women want good men who are financially successful.
This Is a Timeless Truth about Human Nature
Feminists will say this is a social construct from the Victorian era that has yet to be cleansed from our society. I say this is human nature. So do history, religion, and millennia of myths, legends, and literature. Humanity’s stories are filled with the most competent man winning the most beautiful woman. Men are drawn to beauty like moths to a flame, and women want to be the flame.
In the words of Lord Byron: “She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellowed to that tender light / Which heaven to gaudy day denies.”
James Joyce in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” captures the beauty of a woman in sensuous detail:
A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird. Her long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane’s and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh. Her thighs, fuller and soft-hued as ivory, were bared almost to the hips, where the white fringes of her drawers were like feathering of soft white down. Her slate-blue skirts were kilted boldly about her waist and dovetailed behind her. Her bosom was as a bird’s, soft and slight, slight and soft as the breast of some dark-plumaged dove. But her long fair hair was girlish: and girlish, and touched with the wonder of mortal beauty, her face.
Joyce’s words are reminiscent of the “Song of Solomon,” a book in the Bible filled with imagery of a woman’s body, her beauty and her sexuality. “Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. . . . Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.”
Attraction Doesn’t Necessarily Exploit a Woman
Speaking of breasts, you can’t pick up a magazine, turn on a website, or watch television without seeing boobs. They’re everywhere. From selfies to profile pics to advertisements—they’re on full display. Why do you think that is? It’s because a man is drawn to a woman’s feminine beauty, and a woman wants to lure him in with her most sexual traits.
Do you think the women taking these photos were chained up and forced to have their boobs plastered all over the Internet or television? Do you think the women you see on the news with their legs glossed and their dresses tight are being coerced into dressing seductively?
Do you think the women in Hollywood who show up on the red carpet with plunging necklines, revealing side-boobs, and sheer gowns had a gun pointed at their heads while they dressed? No. They want to do it. They want to dress up in revealing clothes and spend billions of dollars a year on make-up, cosmetic surgery, clothes, and shoes, not because society expects this from them, but because they want to be beautiful.
Women, of course, aren’t always doing this consciously, and not all women focus on their beauty in the same way. Some don’t even think about it and are probably appalled by what I’m writing, but most do. For them, it’s as natural as breathing. Just as it’s as natural as breathing for a man’s eyes to be drawn to a woman’s breasts or long legs.
When men are being their sexual selves, drawn to a woman’s beauty, they’re not exploiting women. They’re responding to them. The women are the fire, drawing a man toward their feminine heat.
This is true even for all those beautiful women who hook up with rich, powerful men—the “arm candy.” I was watching a Premier League soccer match the other day, and the camera focused on one of the rich owners and his wife. He was short, old, and terribly unattractive. She was a foot taller than him, with long blond hair and legs for miles. She was dressed in a fur, and diamonds graced her fingers. She didn’t look miserable at all. In fact, she looked like the cat who ate the canary. One has to ask, who here is actually exploiting whom?
Both Men and Women Can Be Evil
Please, gentlemen, when you are writing diatribes on the depravities of your own sex, don’t paint women as pure and innocent. They’re not. They can twist and distort their natural impulses and desires just as a man can—and they do.
How many women try to attract men in the office, media, entertainment industry, and politics to taste the power, to reap the rewards, whatever those might be? Are they really in a position to complain when a man responds? I don’t think so. The honest ones know exactly what they’re doing and accept the bumps that come from riding down that particular road.
This does not mean I am condoning violence toward women, criminal behavior, actual exploitation, sexual abuse, or workplace harassment. I wouldn’t approve of such actions from men any more than I would condone a woman stealing from a man, using him to take his money, marrying him for her own selfish reasons only to emotionally abuse him, or exploiting his success for her own gain.
All of these acts are immoral and cruel. The damage men can inflict because of their physical strength is, of course, more significant. But don’t let this fact lessen the devastation a woman can unleash when she turns evil. Just ask the men fighting for their property in divorce courts after that beautiful unicorn he thought he captured turned into a wicked harpy.
Women have their natures and their sin. Part of their sexuality, their feminine nature is beauty and the allure of sex. Their sin is exploiting it to abuse and take advantage of men, to reduce themselves to objects instead of cultivating their minds and souls, and to focus so much on the outward parts that they forget the value of inner virtues.
Let’s Accept Our Power and Use It Responsibly
As a society, we need to encourage both sexes to become comfortable with who they are naturally and all the messy, uncomfortable, stumbling, tantalizing, and glorious twists and turns that come with it. Men and women need to show each other grace and respect as they engage as sexual beings in whatever sphere they interact.
It would help if we assumed the best of each other instead of the worst. Let men love a woman’s beauty, and let a woman delight in a man’s competence and success. This is part of the dance between the masculine and the feminine, and we’d be miserable if we stopped it.
We cannot become practicing dualists, shutting off the physical aspect of ourselves because we might twist it to abuse. We can’t expect people to act like machines with one another, disconnected from their own desires. Our bodies, our sexuality, and our physical longing for one another—all of these essential parts of ourselves—are beautiful. We should cultivate those aspects.
But they are not the most important, and they can’t be acted on unchecked. We are not animals, ruled by appetites. We have deeper aspects of ourselves that need to be nurtured. We have a rational mind and moral conscience to inform us of what is right and what is wrong. We have a spirit that has a beauty all its own, and it’s a beauty that never diminishes, unlike the physical, which passes away too quickly.