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Monday, 20 May 2013

Naivety?

I am reading Entanglement, a Polish crime novel by Zygmunt Miloszewski, that has a whole lot of crazy psychotherapy theories by Bert Hellinger (which I could talk about endlessly because there's so much muck to wade through, but I won't). It has raised a query in my head however.

In it, the main male character constantly assesses every woman he meets on her looks - she's ugly, she's neither ugly nor pretty, when someone says 'say hello to your sexy wife' he wonders if they could possibly mean the woman walking around the house complaining of her latest illness and so on. Not necessarily in a lusty way, occasionally so, but more just as a general assessment. He even notices the appearance of women he sees regularly at work, each time he sees them.

At first, I thought it was just a quirk of this character. I then wondered if it was a weird characteristic of the author. Then I got to wondering, do all men think like this? Do they think it and then know not to say anything, to avoid grief from the women in their lives?

I have a mean jealous streak, so my partner knows not to say anything - and I wouldn't put him in the situation of having to answer that question (because we both know he can't win that one, no matter what he answers!).

If there are any men who stumble across this post (I am assuming my readership is female, as google analytics doesn't refine on gender), I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you assess every female you stumble across daily on their looks? (Speak freely as I'll defend you - I'm very Voltaire* in that fashion).

Not that you want to act on it, but is it just as part of the process. I read a blog (and I'm sorry I've forgotten where) a week or so ago where someone had been blindsided by a friend who made a move...and it was questioned if men and women could be friends? This is possibly part of the same issue.

I acknowledge I might be naïve, or am I just reading too much into this book? By the way, if it is just part of the plot that will be revealed later, don't tell me as I'm only 100 pages in...No spoilers please!!!

*Voltaire didn't actually say the much attributed quote, his biographer wrote it to summarize his philosophy "I may not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it"

**I, in no way, endorse Hellinger's theories, especially the controversial ones on incest and rape - what the what???!!!

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

19 comments:

  1. While I can't put my hand on my heart and say that this is 100% true, I'm going to reply what I think A would say given I have known him for nearly 30 years and, while you can never know someone completely, I reckon I would have a good idea of his thoughts.
    I don't think A sees most women around - not because he is blind but because he has no interest in them. Generally it is me that will say "Oh she's really pretty / besautiful / got a set on her" and he says "Where where - what are you talking about" - I don't believe he is saying that to make me feel better, I think he genuinely doesn't see them. He does not like to go to strip shows because he feels it is demeaning to woman - he went to a bulls party at a strip club and spent the night watching footy on the TV.
    Having said the above, I know that he is so not like other guys, it may just be him who doesn't see women as 'things' to be assessed.
    So - at the end of all of this - not sure that I have been any help to you or just put out to the universe that A is very different to other men !!!!
    Have the best day !
    Me

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  2. Do you think it's just men that do it? I think women do it too. I'm guilty of doing it myself - judging people on their looks when I first meet them. If my husband notices other women, he doesn't make it obvious and he doesn't comment about it. I certainly notice other men! As for the book, I'd love to get inside the author's head! Maybe he DOES do it and that's why he thought to make the character do it? -Aroha (#teamIBOT)

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  3. I'm with Aroha! I think I do it much more than my partner does - and like the character in your book it is merely a fleeting assesment and almost never to do with being attracted to them. I think it's curiosty that's the key. As well as individuals I also do it with couples - I try to work out from both sides what is it about the other partner that made them choose THEM over anyone else to be with. Trying to see it through their eyes so to speak.

    So I think if your curious by nature, as well as a people person, then you might do this type of thing regardless of whether you're a man or a woman!

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  4. Funny you both said that - I did have a bit I took out about how I was being sexist and assuming women didn't do it -I don't notice anything about anything (like 3 years later I'll notice you've had your braces removed and make a big deal like it's just happened). So I get that it could be a case of me being unobservant and this being normal for everyone else...I did also try to buy a coke from a cop dusting for fingerprints at a servo and only realised after he asked me what the hell did I think I was doing? ( Buying a drink? Was my reply) "look closely" then I realised I'd walked under crime scene tape...so I am totally ok that I might be the odd man out on this...

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  5. I htink we all judge books by their covers (pardon the pun). I dont have the stats on me but isn't it something like a few seconds for people to judge on first impressions, which take a lot longer to shift?

    I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so although i judge on appearances like every other human being i'd like to think i stroke a pretty broad brush when it comes to the definition of beauty - a smile, an open warm gesture, a perfectly shaped eye, lush lips, an endearing word ...

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  6. Hmmm. This is far to heavy for me today. LOL. But yes, it's definitely something we humans tend to do.
    I wonder if dogs do it?
    Do they summarise or compartmentalise or assess another dog by the smell of its butt?
    Sorry ... diversion there.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

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  7. My husband and I talk about all sorts such as the appearance of others (both female and male). It is part of the stories we make up when we are people watching, how we describe someone to explain a situation etc. I am not jealous (in that respect) I just see the description of the person as part of the story, even if they are absolutely stunning and soooo hot!
    I am pretty sure I do it too and don't think it is a male thing per se.
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

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  8. I know you were making a joke about the dogs, Leanne, but I always wonder if all this neurotic behaviour is limited to humans. :)

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  9. I'm going to suggest that it's both men and women, but that maybe it's more an 'aesthetic' assessment with women but a more sexual assessment by men - I know- I'm being probably sexist here. But I know I tend to look at both women and men and notice their attractive traits, while I know men who notice women only for their 'potential'. I'd love to hear a male perspective.

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  10. Love the comments generated here. Now that I think about it I probably do assess guys - definitely on their eyes - striking eyes will get me every time - male or female.
    Have fantastic evening.

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  11. I am going to pay more attention to if more than I think I do (in the book, he's about to embark on an affair, so I think it was a commentary on the character - and it opens with Hellinger's quote '"No one is evil, just entangled".

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  12. And Kim, it would be great to get some male input, but somehow I doubt it will happen :)

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  13. I think everyone does it - one way or another, depending on their perspective at the time. I would check out mummies, what they were wearing and their prams - while I was pregnant. Now I look at mummies and wonder how is she that thin - why am I not? It is not a bad thing and in no way reflects on that person - just on me.
    I don't really look at men, but if Ricky Martin walked past, I just may buckle at the knees ;)

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  14. I gotta say if my husband speaks to anyone for more than 1 minute, and he has to make eye contact, he is SOOO critiquing their looks, and I only know this after the event because I say, wow she was hot, and he would say 'nah her eyes were weird or something' - I can't believe that is what they see - but it's true! GREAT POST! Em x

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  15. i should have read this earlier today as 930pm is too late for my brain on this - loving the comments too!

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  16. Interesting...I don't think it's necessarily gender specific, this idea of assessing the opposite gender on appearances.
    I know I do it. But at this stage in my life, it's very objective. Long gone are the days when I would swoon over a hot guy. (Oh dear, there goes my dignity!)

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  17. I don't think so - I don't think it's a male/female issue, some people do, some don't. I never do really, but then I have really bad eyesight, so maybe that explains it. However, I have known a lot of blokes that will quite openly stare, assess and judge. At risk of sounding smarmy, I do notice it is a very common occurrence for a woman to blatantly and unashamedly look me up and down - which always makes me uncomfortable.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it seems i was sexist. Appreciate the male input...:)

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  18. It's not something I do, not often anyway. I probably notice if someone is strikingly beautiful, but really most of us are just normal average people.

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