I’ve written a little before about what a strong woman should look like. I want to flesh that out a bit and apply it to both of the sexes. My argument is that a strong person is not someone who is independent (which few people are anyway) but someone who acts like a functional adult.
As I’ve written before, the difference between a child and an adult is that a child focuses on his wants and an adult focuses on his shoulds. Which of the two you focus on determines that which you consider to be your needs.
A Peter Pan Woman
When I was in law school, I had a friend there who was a 30-year-old unwed mother with an eight-year-old son. We’ll call her Gertrude. Gertrude told me, “I’ve worked for several years as a paralegal, and I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer. So now that my son is a little older, I’ve finally decided to go to law school.” Her ex-boyfriend/ex-husband lived in the next state over where she had previously lived, and she was not working during her time in school.
Do you see a problem with that? Like most (but not all) of the law students I met, Gertrude is focusing on what she wants. Even if that want were to incidentally be a wise decision (and it probably wasn’t), it is still based on her desires and dreams. And to quote Bob Dylan, “You’ve got some big dreams, baby. But in order to dream, you’ve got to still be asleep.”
I don’t know the story of the break-up, so maybe the father was a terrible person, although Gertrude never gave any indication of that like most women would. She mentioned he was military, so I don’t imagine he was a drug addict wife-beater. And either way, why did she have to move so far away that the child would not easily be around his father? So that she could pursue her desires. She is more concerned about having her dream job than she is about the best interests of her son.
Gertrude is still a child. Even though she’s pursuing a big boy career, even though she may pay all her bills and turn in all the right paperwork, even though she may make many sacrifices for her son, Gertrude has the maturity of a child. Her primary concern is her wants. She is motivated by the same thing as the 28-year-old male living in his mother’s basement, working at Best Buy and spending his paycheck on the latest video game upgrade.
I’ve started reading the autobiography of Keith Richards. One thing I’ve realized is that many of these 60s/70s British rock gods grew up in the post-war years under difficult conditions. Often in post-war England, both parents worked, and the kids found ways to entertain themselves. Well into the 1950s, the United Kingdom still used ration cards for food. The British rock stars often came from poor working class families, which really adds a new perspective to the song “Salt of the Earth,” a Rolling Stones anthem to the working class which offers respect but declines solutions.
Perhaps the song is a commentary on the inevitability of a difficult life. In general, the Rolling Stones seemed to have a realistic social commentary (most notable 1969’s Let It Bleed) in contrast to the Beatles’s idealistic social commentary. At any rate, it is usually through childhood struggle that great art or philosophy is born, which explains in part why today music and such is so terrible.
Women in these kinds of societies—whether they stay at home or work a shift—often have a pluggin’ along mentality. Sun up to sun down, they stoically push through to keep the gears running. Maybe they don’t like their husbands, but they put up with them because they know it is in the best interest of everyone involved—their kids, their men, and themselves. Some spend all day cooking meals and doing laundry, a tiring profession. Others works a job, although it is not out of empowerment but out of need to keep food on the table. Keith Richards’s mother drove a truck for a bakery prior to his birth, and later she worked as a demonstrator for hand-filled laundry machines while he spent his childhood playing in the marshes.
These kinds of men and women have a true strength. To be strong in any sense of the word is to do that which is difficult. A PhD in French Literature may be difficult in a way, but if it’s a tool to delay adulthood, then you are using it as a crutch. On the other hand, the man or woman is certainly strong who spends years pushing through a job—whether at home or at the construction site—that they absolutely hate because it is their best option. And even if they enjoy the blue collar profession well enough, or even if the PhD candidate grows to hate his field as many do, ultimately what matters is the motivation. Is it a matter of want or need? After all, it is our motivations that determine all our actions. To some degree, the action is the motivation.
Until recently, this was the norm in Western society. Today we think we have opportunities to avoid real work, and in fairness we did for a brief period. But this is 2015, not 1970. We want to have a fun career, so we think we need and should go to college. Then we get on the other side of graduation and realize that we are making as much money as we did in high school. “Maybe when the economy turns around,” we tell ourselves.
High school boys ought to say, “I should provide a single-income family so that my future wife can take care of our children when they are young. The only real market for that now is the blue collar fields. Even though these jobs are embarrassing to my parents, I should pursue them, because I want to be able to provide for my future family. They will also cost much less time and money to learn. Beyond that, I could also save a lot of money on repairs if I were to learn home and car maintenance in my spare time.”
Do you see the difference between the two? The first says “want” and bases the should off of that, and the second says “should” and bases the want off of that. The first wants to enjoy life, and the second wants to be a functional adult.
Likewise, high school girls ought to say, “I know that my beauty and fertility is very valuable to men, but it is also fleeting. So while I am still young, I should use that beauty to attract a top-notch man to marry. It will be in the best interest of my future children to be a stay-at-home mother, so I should learn as much about home economics as possible. As for college, a $60k bachelor’s degree in English will not do much for my future, and I can learn all of that at the library anyway. Instead, I should spend these pre-marital years as an investment in my future. Since I will likely be having children and quitting work, I should study a career I can pick up or drop as needed, like nursing, cosmetology or teaching. This will also be useful should my future husband unexpectedly die or become disabled.”
Most people in society are children. Men generally don’t describe themselves as strong, because it sounds like bragging. So it is mostly women who go on at length about how strong, confident and independent they are. The reason this bothers so many men is that the women are usually lying. Women make these claims out of vainglory. They have this misconception that just because they say something about themselves, it must be true. Furthermore, women do not say they are strong as a passing observation but as a “fuck you” to the men around them.
To be strong is to act like an adult. It is to do what you should do despite what you want to do. Sometimes this may involve putting others before you, and sometimes it may involve putting yourself first. Sometimes even it may involve you doing things you later regret (such as how I went to law school). Nevertheless, being an adult is all about motivation and drive. Kids spend 18 years being told they can be children forever. It is no wonder my generation is so worthless.
Read More: Mr. Right