January 11th, 2004


"Will you walk into my parlour", said the spider to the fly...

I've just finished re-reading Bernard Shaw's play 'Man and Superman', and while I thoroughly enjoyed it for the intellectual stimulation it provided throughout the night, and for the thinking points it has given me to ponder for a while, it has left me somewhat disgruntled at one particular thing: The 'revolutionist' John Tanner's view of women.

I do understand that Tanner is intended to be representative of Don Juan, and that the play was written by Shaw in response to a friends request for such a piece...something which he took great pains to explain in the 'Epistle Dedicatory' to said friend...but it still pissed me off on a fundamental level.

Mostly I took it as an affront to my own beliefs, and objected to, as a female, being tarred by the same brush as 'Ann' in the play; whom Bernard Shaw described in his dedicatory as his representative of 'everywoman'.

Tanner describes her, and every woman as being wily as a cat, or like a spider calculating their prey before they wrap the web around them, a boa constrictor draping itself around the neck in order to gain dominance and suffocate the prey...scheming, coquettish only to ensure that the victim that they pick will finally give in and marry them. Once in such a web, they would be unable to break free, and not be able to do anything without permission of the woman...and that every woman's intention in life is to do just this, to ensure marriage and trap the man. It is nature and is the purpose of the female. (Bah!!)

This was echoed by various other males throughout the play...apart, obviously, from the tragic poetic one who at the end had his heart broken as she refused to marry him...she'd been 'getting her claws' into Tanner all along and just playing with his emotions in the meantime...

I do not see why that view should be held of all women...it frightens me that this might actually be representative of what the majority of men think, and the reason that they run away when things become 'serious'...the fear of marriage and the manipulation by womankind into them never having free will again.

It frightens me because I am also afraid that this IS what a lot of women think, and, my not holding such views or behavioural traits, am therefore punished in some way by this.

I am NOT every-woman. I am not an 'Ann'(even if it is my middle name). And I have no wish to be associated with the depiction of such a species having such basic motives...even if it is revered as 'Life Force' as Shaw/Tanner so charmingly puts it.

Simple as that.

For the most part, I have always regarded legal marriage as unnecessary...no more than a piece of paper and piece of jewelry claiming ownership, which would inevitably be a point of misery if it came to break up, complicating matters with a legal hold over possessions and the like, rather than civility and being able to deal with separation with no financial ties (if children are not involved)...

Of course, in my intense moments I have been FOR marriage rather than in the AGAINST camp, believing I had found my soulmate, full of romantic notions and no practicality...but these times have merely proved my own theory as the best one...

Simply that, in my opinion, if you love someone and want to be with them long term, you will do so and remain faithful without the need for a piece of legal paper and a gold slave ring to prove it to everybody else.

I still believe this fundamentally...although now approaching 30 I do sometimes find myself wavering in my resolve...where once I gloated that most of my contemporaries were hitched long before myself with screaming children and mortgages in middle class mundanity whilst I was happy and free and doing my own thing with theatre and art etc etc etc...I sometimes now wonder if I should be finding a marriage partner in order to fulfill my sense of emotional security and ultimate happiness...and would it be too late by 34/35??

And then I find myself wondering whether or not it is the pressures of society dictating to me thus, and were it not for those nagging 'norms to which we are supposed to conform', I would be obliviously happy and gloating 100 percent of the time, instead of 98 percent as I have been of late.

Then I remind myself that it has only been moments of loneliness, insecurity or abject misery that I've had these 'I want/ed the emotional security of marriage' thoughts...and the rest of the time I AM happy...and that my opinion of marriage as a legally binding and unnecessary 'thing to be feared' is correct for me at this particular moment in time. As ever.

I conclude that we all change as we grow older in age...through experience my views on love and relationships differ vastly from 18 to 25 as they do from 25 to nearly 30. I expect come 34/35 I shall be just as different in my philosophies...but so long as I don't hear 'Ooga chacka' and see dancing babies I really don't care!!

After all that...I do strongly advise each and everyone of you to read 'Man and Superman' and the accompanying 'Revolutionist's Handbook' and 'Maxims for Revolutionists'...just disregard the views and notions of 'everywoman'...unless they speak for your own, don't in the least allow yourself to be influenced in any way by them.

Fear this:

" A moderately honest man with a moderately faithful wife, moderate drinkers both, in a moderately healthy house: that is the true middle class unit." - Maxims for Revolutionists.

Lesson over.


Oddly enough, in Mary Howitt's original 'The Spider and the Fly' (1799-1888), the spider is male!! Just how misappropriated are those first two lines!!:
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