Why The “Beast” Will Never Be Tamed
The idea of something powerful at your command is an attractive concept, as can be observed in children playing with Pokémon or in adults playing with firearms. More specifically, the idea of a person by your side who has potential to defend you (or at least carries some air of authority or strength) is a sexy concept for a lot of women. There’s something primal about the urge to feel safe and protected by a significant other. Hence the “Taming of the Beast” phenomenon that is so prevalent in pop culture and is a core aspect of any romance plot nowadays.
There are many facets of the Twilight novels that seem to be carefully psychologically constructed to appeal to girls. Obviously, the ladies will swoon for an attractive man who is devoted and swears literally undying love. But much more importantly, Edward was a vampire, a deadly weapon that was only loyal to the main character Bella, even if he had the capacity to kill anything that moved. Jacob was a werewolf completely devoted to her as well, although he could take down an adult stag for a snack. The appeal to this core desire is something I can trace back to watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; the beast was a thug, a big hairy brute, who could exude testosterone even while saying something as innocuous as “Will you join me for dinner?” What led Belle on in her attempts to humanize him was that within that hulking exterior there was a shred of empathy and kindness. Oh, but the kindness was reserved for her, of course. None was wasted on his dining staff, or Belle’s dad for that matter. Yes, he did change towards the end into her Prince Charming, but is that supposed to make Belle feel vindicated for all the times he was an ass to her?
We all know girls who have dated certain gents because they were attracted to his “bad boy” attributes. Some will even admit to it, and whenever I talk to one of them the first thing they say is, “Well yes, he is a bit of a dick. But he’s really nice to me!” Maybe this is a very primal part of women’s psyches evolutionarily speaking, a part of our “reptile brain” as a species. I also think that it’s time for all of us to move on now that we are aware of this phenomenon; many guys aren’t getting the full picture when they see a desirable woman walking hand in hand with the kind of guy whom you might expect to shoulder you off the sidewalk and grunt, “ ‘Scuse me, bro.” When a male like the aforementioned specimen is a dick to those around him, other guys don’t make the distinction of “Oh I get it, he’s only nice to her, that’s how the sexy mojo works!” Guys assume that not only is it okay to be rude and macho all the time, but ladies like it when you’re a little sharp with them. The problem is that taming a man’s inner beast for oneself (also known as being “pussy whipped”) is very desirable from a woman’s perspective but is seen as the most emasculating thing in the world from the male cultural perspective. As long as we don’t see eye-to-eye on that crucial fact, we’ll have a world full of women who wonder why their “bad boy” isn’t being their own personal Prince Charming, and a world full of men who think that being a bit of an ass is a desirable quality.
The image of an “ideal” man or woman is never simply a construct of the opposite sex, to be used as a tool to control that other gender to its own ends. There’s no mass collusion going on here, neither gender is to blame for this; but now that it is acknowledged as a problem, we’re responsible for creating a culture that better reflects us as thoughtful individuals. As a male, I can be the change I want to see by refusing to submit to the idiocy of the whole “Taming of the Beast” phenomenon, since I’ve observed the vast disconnect between what men and women want from it. As a woman, you can also be the change by dating guys who are nice to people in general, not just those whom you expect to make an exception for you.