What Women Want

Angelina Jolie @ 2011 Golden Globes
Angelina Jolie @ 2011 Golden Globes

Mr. Clint Eastwood allegedly said about Angelina Jolie that her career has been hampered because she is too beautiful. This might or might not be necessarily true, per se. However, I take the risk of supposing that there is no single man or woman on the face of the earth who’s able to watch a motion picture featuring Ms. Jolie paying more attention rather to the interpretation and less to her appearance. In accordance, it is far easier to throw the stone at her being a not-so-talented actress than admitting her goddamn beauty.

It is also the case of her breaking-up from Brad Pitt. In the midst of the frenzy created by their divorce, I did not hear any single voice pledging for in-betweens or “life happens” alternatives. It was, genuinely, her fault. She is too crazy, too ill-tempered, too beautiful. Meanwhile, Brad was the innocent victim or her craziness, moods or charms. At the end of the day, the truth is particularly irrelevant. As it is not us to judge the private matters of a man and a woman.

Yet, what draws to my attention is something that goes beyond the case of Ms. Jolie. What intrigues me is that in the year 2016, at the peak of democratic freedom and individual emancipation, we are still educated to blame. And to blame the woman is, particularly, a habit we take full joy in. I state this with no sexist nuance at all. Because, curiously enough, being harsh on women describes both men and women. But, most of all, women!

Gender is a critical matter. No Feminist shade attached and taking into account all important improvements made across the oceans time. And my thesis is that it all comes from us losing pace with our original nature. Blinded by the commercial twist and by the insane competitive nature of our society we, both men and women, completely lost touch with our psyche. With what defines us as men and women. We lost everything that makes us become. We are thus living in full inertia. We make chaotic choices. We are completely disconnected from what we essentially desire and need. And what’s tragic is that we are too vain to admit it.

The Greek myth of Psyche and Eros is one of the most instructive narratives to shed consistent light on the feminine nature.

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Once there was a kingdom, ruled by a king and a queen who had three daughters, one of whom of absolute beauty. Her name was Psyche. In spite of her magnificence, while her sisters both got married, Psyche receives only infinite praise and adoration of men. No one dares to commit and ask for her hand. Desperate, her father takes her to the oracle of Apollo, dominated by the goddess of beauty, love and all femininity, Aphrodite.

Mad on Psyche’s beauty and jealous of her irresistible nature, Aphrodite prophesied that she is to fall in love and marry a serpent-like creature, feared by Zeus himself. For this to happen, Aphrodite commissions her son, Eros. The touch of his magic arrow would make Psyche fall in love with this awful creature. Ironically, when Eros meets Psyche he accidentally pricks his finger in his very own weapon. Consequently, he falls for the girl.

The two arrange for marriage, in a beautiful lost Paradise, with the only condition for Psyche never ever to see the face of her husband. And so they live in peace and tranquillity. Until one day when Eros grants Zephyr permission to carry Psyche’s sisters up for a visit. Seeing the splendor of her Paradise the girls become envious of their younger sister. Therefore, they plot to undermine Psyche’s joy, by pushing her to uncover Eros’s identity. They even lie to her that he is the most disgusting monster on the face of the Earth. So, one night, after her husband falls asleep, Psyche brings out a dagger and a lamp, in order to see and kill the monster. But the light instead reveals the most beautiful face she has ever seen! In the middle of the haste, Psyche wounds herself in one of Eros’s arrows, spills hot oil from the lamp and wakes him up. He flees and, in spite of her cries, he’s gone for good.

Willing to kill herself by drowning in a river, Psyche is discovered by the god of wilderness, Pan. He dissuades her, by telling the girl she can be saved only by finding the god of love himself and asking for relief.

To reach him, Psyche has to confront Aphrodite. Which she does. After a vitriolic tirade she receives, whatsoever, a series of precise, yet seemingly impossible, tasks. Fulfilling these would eventually bring Psyche to Eros.

Cutting short on the first challenges, we get to the last one: a quest to the underworld. Psyche is to get to Persephone, queen of the underworld, and ask her for the mystical secret of youth and beauty.

Aphrodite advises Psyche: under any circumstance is she to open the box that Persephone will give her. Passing through hardship and pain, Psyche does the job. The queen of underworld grants Psyche the mysterious box. But as soon as she reenters the light of day, unable to overcome her curiosity, Psyche opens the box. She finds nothing inside but an “Stygian sleep” that sends her into a deep neverending dormancy.

In the meantime, with the wound now healed, Eros escapes his mother’s house. Finds Psyche, draws the sleep from her face, replaces it in the box, and takes her to present the box to Aphrodite. The following is implicit.

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The myth of Psyche and Eros is considered, by both psychologists and investigators on human nature of any kind, to be the most accurate narrative describing the feminine nature. Including all its drives, passions and demons. But most of all, what it best describes is the relentless dynamics between the masculine and the feminine.

It teaches us a lot about the universal difficulty of accepting and living with extreme beauty. Aphrodite and Psyche’s sisters stand for the regressive part of the feminine nature. While Psyche’s curiosities and mistakes tell us a lot about the permanent questioning nature of women. We also learn that the wild side of the feminine (here represented by Pan) is what pushes women to the next level of power.

Even completely immature, we learn that Eros is a paradise maker. And that he wants this paradise, but without assuming any responsibility. And last but not least we learn that even if perceived different, for women and men alike, marriage is both death and resurrection.

While writing this article, I’ve asked seven of my closest girlfriends what do women want, after all. Here’s what they answered: freedom, attention, happiness. I was whatsoever cautioned that happiness has a very precise, Maslowian interpretation. Happiness once again, with a solid footnote: love and dreams coming true. Then we have protection/belonging/assurance - the most realistic approach. Love came in twice.

Having these said, the next matter-of-course question would be: what do men want? And how are we to understand the dynamics in a world that keeps on forgetting its mere origins?

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