My echo chamber has been getting noisy with cries of disparagement for Glamour’s ‘13 Little Things That Can Make a Man Fall Hard for You’ article over the last couple of days, and it’s not hard to see why. It reeks of a weird, tortuous misogyny, and the underlying themes – that men are impressionable, gullible, infantilised meatsticks, and that a woman can trap a man using a series of bulletpointed hacks, to name but two – are at best disquieting.
I do some of the things in that list – or variants thereof – for my wife, not because I need to “lock her down”, but because “stocking the fridge with her favourite drinks” or “giving her a massage” are just nice things to do for someone you love. I don’t have an ulterior motive – beyond the ‘selfish gene’ argument about altruism, which I accept – but I just want to do nice things for someone I think is awesome, as she does for me.
Another of the examples is to “show an interest in his favourite players” and “earn points on and off the field”. Clearly: blargh. But again: of course you should at least give ‘being interested in your partner’s interests’ a shot. Don’t fake it to get something you want, but working a little hard to overcome your dismissal of or antipathy towards something that’s important to someone you like seems to me to be, if nothing else, basic courtesy.
The tone and fundamental premise of that list – the idea that you should subjugate your own desires and transform yourself only and specifically to “make a guy swoon” – is reprehensible. But the idea that you’d try to empathise with your partner, potential or current, and do nice things for them with no expectation of reciprocity? That’s Human 101.