At various times over the years, I’ve been described as ‘dangerous’ and ‘irresistible’ (yeah, I know, hear me out). Mostly, I think nothing of it, it’s just the sort of thing men say during the flirtation game and doesn’t require a full-on semantic investigation. Most recently, however, I did think about it and then I got annoyed.
They are words I’ve generally construed as being complimentary, from the context, and I suppose they could also be considered empowering. In the battle of the sexes, to be dangerous must be to hold power, after all. And who doesn’t want to be irresistible, although there’s probably a cautionary tale to be written there, if you pursue the idea to a reductio ad absurdam. Still, if both sides playing the game are free to do so, then fine. My sister and my friends and I have talked about this, though, and our conclusion is that a lot of men are chancers whose current domestic situation, about which they may well stay strangely quiet, doesn’t get in the way of them flirting with anyone else. At this point in life, we don’t find this flattering; we find it a deeply tedious pattern.
Basically, I get up, drink tea, read, play with the kittens, sometimes bake, go to work, come home, light a fire, pour a glass of red wine and crack on with that reading thing again. Sometimes I go to the theatre, or the cinema, or on stupidly long walks. I do laundry and grocery shopping and clean out litter trays. I do not spend my evenings stripping and re-building weapons while wearing a blindfold, I don’t have a hidden armoury in the wood shed and I’m not combat trained. I’m not even particularly clumsy.
When I look in the mirror I see a 40-year-old woman, with bags under her eyes, the odd zit and blemish, a few grey hairs. I see cellulite, and the need to do arm weights, and I give thanks for under-wiring. I almost live in jeans or leggings, I can’t be bothered with make-up at weekends and I have a baseball cap for those days when it’s less effort just to scrape my hair away under it.
No, those words aren’t about me. They’re about an individual’s reaction to me, over which I hold very little control, even while I’m being figured as a threat. They are also an abdication of responsibility. If I am irresistible, then whatever follows, is my fault. Of course. So then the onus is on me to stop breathing, walking, smiling, having hair and four limbs or whatever else it is I’m doing by being alive that is so tough to withstand, because heaven forfend a bloke should actually have the tenacity not to send a text message.
Woman is temptation, man gives right in. After all, it’s just about the first recorded excuse, isn’t it? The only surprise in the Bible is that God doesn’t just kick that scheming bitch, Eve, out of Paradise then immediately invent football, telly, beer and La-Z-Boys so that he and Adam can have a boy’s night in.
Yeah. Still annoyed.