Hmmm.

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Have you read any “romance” novels recently? One of the amusing things, I would almost say a perk, of volunteering in a charity shop is that there’s time to sit back and peruse the vast number of romance novels that we have. They come in two kinds: Rich man forces himself on secretly willing woman and rich man decides to support single pregnant woman when he is not the father.

One of the latter type I was flicking through last week and the plot was that this millionaire stock trader had decided to give up his soulless existence and move to a small town. Here the protagonist was a couple of months pregnant and the father had run out. Of course Mr Millionaire Stock trader steps in and pays all her bills and she rewards him with sex. Another thing you notice about romance novels is the sheer number of them. They outnumber any other kind of book by multiples and on top of those there are romcoms with the same kind of messages as Disney and the romance books.

Now, I’m not a social constructionist, I don’t believe that people’s behavior is caused by messages in the media. I don’t believe that if government took over and made all the books and films about women falling in love with poor men that women would suddenly start falling in love with poor men. I think this kind of thing is rooted in biology. Media expresses biology.

I’m not going to deny that there’s a deep cynicism in me about women and money I’ve just had too many experiences where women have flat out told me that they like me as a person but they won’t start a relationship with me because I don’t earn enough. Don’t feel sorry for me though because I’d probably be dead if they hadn’t told me: my early twenties were a time when I constantly beat myself up for being unattractive and unlovable so when women told me, “Look, it’s not that you’re a terrible person, it’s that I expect to be paid” actually it was reassuring.

I remember M saying to me, just after we’d fucked actually, that when I started a proper career I’d have women all over me and in a couple of years when I get to where I’m going I expect this to be true. “What do you do?” is a make or break question with women; the number of times I’ve watched as women go from being interested, engaged, laughing at everything I say to bored, disinterested, playing on their phone after I’ve told them what I do, it’s routine. These days if a woman asks I respond with, “Oh god, here come the boring chit chat questions. I hate people who define themselves by their job. Better question: what do you read?” which normally fucks them up.

 

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