There was an interesting Dear Wendy advice column on TheFrisky a few days ago. A young woman wrote in saying thatshe was pretty, and she was depressed that she still couldn’t get a boyfriend – so depressed that she’d started drinking and making what she considered bad life choices (Roger Sterling would consider them double-plus-good life choices, but that’s beside the point). Wendy responded that she wasn’t doing anything to show that she was deserving of love. Today Wendy followed up, remarking:
The other day, I posted a letter in my “Dear Wendy” column from a young woman who said she couldn’t understand why she didn’t have a boyfriend despite being very pretty. She went on to admit that she has very little to say in social settings, has begun resenting her friends in relationships because of her “seething jealousy,” regularly self-medicates by over-drinking and sleeping with random hook-ups, and even believes guys who might be interested in her for more than sex are nothing but scum deep down. “I hate this person I’ve become but know I deserve someone great,” she wrote. Well, I’ve been getting a lot of flack for my response to her, but I stand by it. Why does she deserve someone great? Does everyone deserve love and happiness simply for breathing? Personally, I don’t buy that for one second.
Now, look, I really don’t want to perpetuate a hearts-and-flowers vision of the universe. I won’t say that everyone is in a place where they’re ready to engage in a relationship and all the sacrifices a relationship can entail. BUT I will say that I think that Wendy’s response illustrates what always strikes me as one of the main differences between sites targeted at men and those targeted at women. Namely, sites targeted at men assume their readers are awesome.
Think about it. Every time I go to a men’s site – or men’s magazine – I find advice on topics like “10 Signs She’s Not Good Enough For You.” As a woman, I hate articles like that, but I think I’d probably enjoy them if I were male. I remember very distinctly a time when I looked at the cover of a men’s magazine and then the cover of Cosmopolitan. The cover of Cosmo contained an article on “30 Ways to Make Him Stay.” The men’s magazine boasted an article on “10 Ways To Dump Your Girlfriend.” Women’s sites always seem to be about ways you can be worthy of love, whereas men’s sites just say you’re absolutely worthy of love, the only question is whether someone else is good enough for you. They don’t care whether or not you drink a lot and hook up with people. It doesn’t matter, because their reader, like Mel Gibson, fucking deserves it.
Maybe that’s why, whenever I talk to female friends going through a break-up, a frequent refrain seems to be “I don’t know what I did wrong.” When I talk to male friends, a more common response seems to be “I cannot believe she did that to me.”
I genuinely don’t know which perspective is better – one could turn you into a raging, entitled asshole, the other into a pathetic doormat. Or maybe I’m just being too hard on Wendy for doling out some tough-love. Do you think everyone is deserving of love? Or do we have to earn it?