When Marilyn Monroe starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, you can be sure it wasn’t JFK she was using for inspiration. For while he may have been a bastion of the 60s free world, and an icon of Long Island preppy dress, and even though Delores Cranberry sang: “remember JFK, ever saintly in a way,” few would define John F. Kennedy as a gentleman. He wasn’t exactly the leather-clad bad boy of Washington politics, but the history of womanising tarnishes his mythical status a little, and shows him to be human.
I always liked the color black. My first crush was on a boy named P. with whom I shared a deep connection, and love of black clothing and other things emo. We drifted apart a little and I saw him kissing a girl in the hallway some months later. I thought he was a cad. It made him instantly repellant and unobtainable and somehow more desirable at the same time. I was 14.
How much of our attraction to others comes from “us” and how much from the world around, the media, social, and other expectations? Do blondes really prefer gentlemen or bad boys? As a (semi) blonde I have some thoughts to share.
Most women (and men) have some experience of wanting the person whom we can’t have and not wanting anyone we can have. There’s a mini-sado-masochist within all of us who desires the person we deep down realize isn’t good for us. The man your mother doesn’t want you to bring home. That one.
Maybe I could just blame Darwin. Darwin’s idea is that females select males for show, because this showiness can reflect good genes. Eggs are time consuming, and therefore costly to produce, while sperm cheap, so we have to be discerning. Does bad equal strength, and nice weakness? Also trekking along the Darwin path, women are genetically inclined to nurture. So shouldn’t they pick reliable and stable partners? Well, perhaps. In the long term that is what most of us do, however, nurture doesn’t just have to be practiced with children. That same nurturing instinct can kick in when we find a bad boy, and think (inevitably erroneously) that our love will save them. Remember also that most of us lead boring and predictable lives, so if someone unpredictable comes along, that can be terribly exciting. For a while. A gentleman rarely requires saving. A gentleman generally has it together.
When people—men or women, spend too much time being nice, they can spend less time on being their real self. Or knowing themselves and what they really want. And there is something instinctively untrustworthy in that. Bad boys on the other hand do keep it real. What you see is what you get. There’s a sense that: “if you can’t accept all, and handle the darkness in me, then you don’t deserve the best in me either.”
The great Marcel Proust wrote that “love is reciprocal torture.” We don’t start a love affair to avoid suffering; a state of privileged suffering is what we seek. This can indeed occur when a good girl meets a bad boy (or flip those gender stereotypes—good or bad is not gender specific) and remembers her past; of being hurt by another loved one, perhaps a past boyfriend/girlfriend (or more often) a parent, and begins to feel the same pain and anguish. She begins to associate this new pain with real love. Therefore, those who hurt us the most, must be a true love? Right?
I don’t think this has to be so. In my opinion, the ideal man is neither, all good, or all bad, but like Johnny Cash, walks the line. Marilyn Monroe was likely drawn to the bad boy in JFK, because she had a little of the bad girl in her. Sometimes a lady wants to be bad too. We all want excitement and randomness from life; note: this doesn’t equate to being treated badly or hurt. We want… unpredictability… and ideally, to be unpredictable. A lady prefers an impulsive, exciting, real, and often perilously flawed gentleman, especially for those times when she doesn’t want to be a lady. In those moments she needs simply a man she can love and trust, who will treat her like the bad girl she desires, in that moment, to be.