Figuring out today’s super-bitch.
By Theresa Marshall
For years men have been scrutinized. They have been placed under the microscope of the feminine eye and then dissected in order to determine their mysterious ways — to crack the emotional and psychological cipher that is their gender. They have oft been portrayed as oafish, sexed-up brutes that are self-involved, afraid of commitment, and just “not that into you.”
Numerous self-help books have been written on understanding the male psyche and why it so often leads men to complicate, mystify, jeopardize, or destroy their relationships with women. For a long time, men have been stigmatized this way and have been scapegoated as the complicating factor in contemporary relationships.
The female mantra “Boys are Stupid” comes from somewhere, after all.
Frankly, I’m sick of it, if for no other reason than that it suggests that somehow men still hold all the power in the world of relationships. Most men (and women) know that it’s no longer a man’s world (sorry, James Brown). Women these days give the above male archetype more than a run for its money. And so, I aim through this series to expose a particular type of woman whose behaviour is even worse. That type will henceforth be referred to as the Femme Fatale (more on my choice of that term in the future). She has become a mainstay of our society — a bane to sensitive male hearts everywhere and a blight on the image of womankind (us nice girls).
No one is really talking about the Femme Fatale, which is why you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. So, who is the Femme Fatale? How does one define her? What are the symptoms of what I like to call femme-fatale-syndrome (FFS)?
Essentially, these women have adopted the male archetype mentioned in the first paragraph, admittedly with some unique flourishes. FFS features an extreme wariness of commitment, frequently associated with a phobia of losing their misconstrued perception of independence. There is an excessive focus (perhaps in over-compensation against years of patriarchal subordination) on a professional career, frequently at the expense of personal fulfillment — essentially an inability to separate work from fun. There is a hyper-focus on the self at every level, as if this rebel faction of the female gender never left behind the “me” decade that was the 80s.
There is an over-awareness of one’s own thoughts and emotions (to the point where new ones are created, like a twisted internal take on the observer effect). Their thought process and logical functions are so unintelligible, so impenetrable, so virtually inaccessible (to men anyway), that it makes them capable of giving men emotional knockouts that land them on their ass before they’ve blinked. FFs are often chameleons, they can lurk anywhere, and emerge anytime mid-relationship, leaving men confused and lost. To these women, men are existential steps on a staircase that goes nowhere.
That is why I think they deserve some answers.
This may be a mere sampling of some of the symptoms of FFS, but it should already sound familiar to both men (you’ve dated this woman) and women (you’re her friend — or you are her). Admittedly, the above is all very generalized and unqualified. I am well aware that a more in-depth consideration is required to not only help you understand the Femme Fatale, but to provide more insight into my critique of her — especially for those who will inevitably disagree with me. However, have no fear, for in subsequent installments, these individual elements/symptoms will be considered in greater depth. Theories will be postulated, arguments will be supported, and from there your own opinions may become informed.
At this point, though, you may be wondering, “Ms. Marshall, what is the point of all of this?”
I consider this series to be an intervention, an effort to raise awareness. It will be a form of social anthropology in which I will navigate the complex workings of modern women. I will expose their ways, at great risk to my own self-preservation (I am turning against a segment of my own gender after all), so men will have a better idea of what they are dealing with. This column is ultimately a relationship column aimed at men. I hope to provide some comfort for men — so they may learn they are not alone and that help is on the way.
Another thing I wish to make clear is that I am a feminist. I believe that men and women are indeed equal. More importantly, I believe that men and women deserve to be treated equally by each other in every aspect of life (career, emotionally, sexually). Of course, all relationships have their varying power relations, but just as the original feminists contested the larger cultural trends of patriarchal subordination, I too now call foul play and wish to expose how men are suffering at the hands of a particular type of woman.
Most importantly, I am fully aware of two things. One, I am not so ignorant or so biased to believe that the Femme Fatale is representative of all women. After all, I am a woman, and I am nothing like them. That is what, in part, motivates me to write this. Me and the other women like me are tired of these predators tainting the dating pool, emotionally burning men to the degree that they become hesitant, uninvolved, and insecure when they date the next person (i.e. me).
Second, I am also fully aware that men are not perfect either. Don’t misunderstand my aims here. This series is not about cannibalizing my gender or shifting responsibility away from men. Men who are like FFs are equally deserving of the same attention and scorn, but there’s quite a few books on them already. What this series is about is exposing a particular type of woman that seems to be relatively prevalent in our society, and is going largely unacknowledged by other relationship-type columns.
As for the FFs who might be reading this, well, you’ve had this eye-opener coming for a long time. It’s nothing personal really, I just hope that in reading this you may become aware of the effects your behavior has on both the men you so casually discard like old toys you’ve out-grown, as well as the good, less complicated women like me who have to clean up the messes you leave behind.
You, quite frankly, give love a bad name.
I dream that maybe this series will spark an ounce of self-awareness or recognition that can somehow lead to a turning of the tide. That said, I won’t hold my breath.
Finally, throughout this series I heartily welcome any and all comments, responses, anecdotes, confessions, rebuttals, death threats and love letters. So feel free to email me at theresa.marshall200(at)gmail.com.