Oh, poor Tim the ostler! The humble stable buck hopelessly in love with his boss’s gorgeous, red lipped daughter. Like that was ever gonna happen, and she’s in love with the bad boy Highwayman anyway, a dapper thief with a taste for the high-life; the ostler never had a chance. So, what does our scorned, low-born, beta-male do? The only thing he can- Tim calls the police, another group of men more masculine than he, to properly dispose of the Highwayman.
Thus is the premise of Alfred Noyes’s narrative poem “The Highwayman” (1906). You may have guessed that our poor, law-abiding ostler isn’t quite the hero of the story- that role is more closely filled by the titular scoundrel, with the lesson being that we don’t judge the morality of actions as much as we judge the value of those committing them.
And Tim, as a poor stable-hand, doesn’t have much in the way of value- he’s disposable and invisible. In modern terminology, which is ironically also Old English terminology, Tim is a cuck– and if you want any chance at sexual success, you can’t be a cuck.
Imagine yourself having passionate sex before you were acutely aware how inter-gender relations really worked; before you understood that there were laws of nature governing why an interaction with a woman, who was formerly a stranger, ended sexually.
When there was an intoxicating magic to getting laid.
And while the wet-hole is still the same, while her attraction still makes you feel like a Greek god, and while an orgasm is an orgasm… there is something to be said for becoming aware of the smoke and mirrors; it makes the whole interaction a little less exciting.
In my last postI examined eighteenth century pedestal smashing in the form of Jonathan Swift’s poem “The Ladies Dressing Room” where a naive young gent discovers that his cherished girlfriend is an illusion made up of glue, clay, and colored wax. His inexperience with women was evident in his clumsy discovery that women also take nasty, steamy dumps just as men do.
In his writing “The Ladies Dressing Room,” Swift probably felt the same feelings a lot of modern men have with women- that their willingness to so readily deceive through both aesthetics and behavior is not only immoral, dishonorable, and crude but also greatly skews the sexual marketplace in their favor where the majority of men already have women on a pedestal; to a greater or lesser extent depending on the depth of their own experience with women.
I had first encountered Swift’s cutting poem “The Lady’s Dressing Room“ as an undergraduate English major in a class being taught by an adjunct who wasn’t much older than me at the time. There is no way to know why he included this piece as part of his curriculum for the class, but after reading it aloud he ranted about its “vile misogynistic nature.”
Truth be told, I scratched my head, raising my hand in earnest to ask, “maybe this is more about showing that women are just as human as men, and maybe it was written for men who put women on a pedestal?”
The geek professor balked at my dissent and quickly moved on.
If you were faced with two doors to a shopping center, one labeled “Beautiful” and the other “Average,” which would you walk through?
In its latest inspiration-via-advertising campaign, Dove set up labeled entrances in Shanghai, San Francisco, London, Sao Paulo and Delhi, and filmed the results. Unfortunately, and maybe unsurprisingly, many women chose to slink by unnoticed under the “Average” sign rather than display to the world that they acknowledged their beauty. It’s all part of the company’s new #ChooseBeautiful advertising campaign, which aims to change the instinct to settle for average.
A recent survey by Dove found that 96% of women do not choose the word “beautiful” to describe how they look…
– Here’s What Happens When Women Decide to Call Themselves Beautiful, Time Magazine
So the vast majority of women see themselves as average. The vast majority see themselves as average when their choices are limited to “beautiful” or “average.”