Sunday night I was listening to music as I prepared dinner, and one of the songs that came on was a love song that a friend of mine had teased me about liking. It’s a chick song, sappy and romantic.
It was my friend’s contention that songs like that are silly and unrealistic, much like chick flicks. (You’ve figured out this friend is male, right?) You know, I didn’t argue with him because I don’t really disagree with him, not completely anyway.
There have been times that I have tried to fight what I now call “my chickly nature” but I’ve largely given up that fight. Hugh Grant’s got a new movie in which he plays the same character he always plays? I’ll watch it. They’ve turned another Nicholas Sparks novel into a movie starring impossibly fit and good-looking actors? Let me just grab some kleenex. Some pop band has a new hit describing undying love to a catchy beat? Here’s my 99 cents.
I think men are opposed to these kinds of sappy romantic songs/movies/books because they feel it sets a pretty high standard to live up to. I’m just projecting here, but I’ve heard how some women talk, what their expectations are, and that’s a lot of pressure for men to perform. And even a more mature, level-headed, and experienced woman who may not “expect” her man to wax poetic about how her body is a wonderland, is probably still hoping he feels that way. And wouldn’t it be great if he let her know? Yeah, it would be so much easier for men if other men didn’t put these things out there in the universe for them to be compared to.
What occurred to me as I sipped a glass of wine and made chicken cacciatore was that these songs and movies make it hard for women too. No, I’m not talking about the unrealistic expectations they place on their men, setting themselves up for disappointment, but the unrealistic expectations they put on themselves.
Because I think the truth is, women aspire to be the kind of women that inspire the devotion and adoration expressed in sappy love songs—-and that’s a pretty high standard too. It’s amazing the lengths some women will go to to be loved. The Little Mermaid, afterall, was willing to give up her family and the life she knew, even changing the very essence of her being for the man she loved. Even women who don’t go to those lengths may still do and sacrifice a lot for the love of their husbands and family.
So should we abandon the romantic ideal since very few seem to be able to live up to it? I don’t think so. If men and women are striving to be more loving and lovable is that such a bad thing?