Thursday, October 9, 2008

Crusie & Mayer 'Don't Look Down'

Clearly taking sociology is bad for my brain. (I feel compelled, as a brain surgery survivor, to point out that the last statement is a joke.) I was so intrigued by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer's website that I had to get their first collaboration, Don't Look Down. Let me start by saying, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

But what struck me was how I was not judging it by my typical romance novel standards. I think I was very entertained by the whole male vs female perspective/writing style thing. For example, I'm coming to realize that a successful romance novel for me generally involves a less than emotionally realistic male character. He needs to be smart and witty, sure, but he also needs to be (eventually) completely devoted to the heroine, whether he understands why he clearly needs her or not.

In this book, the hero is more emotionally realistically male, which fascinated me, but it didn't help me understand why he wants to be with Lucy (aside from physical attraction of course.) He's interested in Lucy, but why exactly? And truthfully if his attraction to Lucy is under question, why does she want him, other than the hero stuff. On the other hand, it's well written, decent plot, I liked the combat/survival stuff.

The sociology angle comes in that while I was reading this book, we were talking about classifications of people; why do we use the categories we do when describing someone? Gender, age, race, sexual orientation; and not, say, handedness or "ass man or breast man" for instance. That got a lot of chuckles from the men in the class. And I was reading an article about the 'hook up' scene on college campus's at the same time. This pattern of sexual contact first, relationship later, acknowledges human sexual needs but seems to be viewed differently by the two genders. Men appear to use it to satisfy sexual needs first, while allowing for the possibility that a relationship might develop, whereas women seem to use the pattern primarily to open the pathway for a relationship and secondarily to satisfy purely sexual needs.

So, why do young men engage in relationships? (And yes, I'm addressing the generic male, the group not the individual.) If being a husband and possibly a father is so dauntingly tied to being a good provider and heavy responsibility, and if young men are genuinely stymied when asked to look at their own emotional needs or to understand interpersonal relationships, why do they get involved with girls? Especially if they are in a social setting where sex is available without an emotional commitment. Really, this is a serious question.....

Oh, and back to the book, really liked it. Didn't love it. Contemporary Romance 2006: 4 of 5 Moot points.


Anonymous said...

All I know is that a good portion of Vegas' tourist economy relies on appealing to the fantasy of male sexual gratification without commitment. And so, on behalf of my adopted state and its beleaguered economy, I say "Go, meaningless casual sex, go!"

Kate said...

Wow, what a review! I'm giggling in a grateful way and trying to think of how best to respond...I'm trying to remember college (seriously, not that long ago), and I was in a pretty serious relationship for threeish out of four years, and my three closest girlfriends were all in serious relationships too - two of the three married the guys, in fact. (I did not.) So I was never really a part of the hooking up scene, nor was anyone I was really close to. But the best I can guess is that it's somewhat like you surmise: the boys (I'm sorry, I really can't think of college guys as men) satisfy their sexual needs and may not necessarily be bad people, so when the girl keeps on calling or going out with him - or hooking up, whatever - they don't say no and that gives them a chance to get to know the person and then their feelings engage: step one, step two. Hm. Interesting. And I do think that maybe that pattern keeps going after college, except that as men grow into adulthood they may be more in tune with what they want, and hence it's easier for them to turn down women after a one night stand. Hm. (Actually I know a couple who met because they had a one night stand, then started dating later. They've been together five years. Both are in their early thirties.)

Hm. All above is nonjudgemental, of course. And now I'm going to go ask my boyfriend (whom I didn't know in college) what he thinks. Thanks for making me think of sex first thing on a Sunday morning! I was just trying to find out who the Colts were playing today.

Heloise said...

I have to report (because my husband refuses to comment on any blog, not just mine, he insists) that my husband's guess as to why a guy would enter a relationship when sex was available is that repeat sex was easier to get with a girlfriend.

I do not think the hook up scene was particularly hoppin' at his alma mater (male to female ratio was 7 to 1 I believe) so I'm going to take his comment as pretty jaded and slightly envious. :)