Monday 21 October 2019

Tanya Sweeney: 'Beware the man who tells you he likes brains over beauty'

English musician and producer Mark Ronson arrives for the 14th Annual Tribeca Film Festival
English musician and producer Mark Ronson arrives for the 14th Annual Tribeca Film Festival
A brain man: Mark Ronson has identified as sapiosexual. Photo: Getty Images for YSL Beauty

Tanya Sweeney

I have two Master's degrees and have read Ulysses (well, I say 'read' - I mean 'let my eyes skim the words as the madness washed over me').

In other words, I'd better be careful around Mark Ronson, who is likely to find me a bit irresistible, in spite of my dinner lady arms, cellulite, open pores and flattened bum. Earlier this week, Ronson identified as a 'sapiosexual', a term that describes people who date across the gender spectrum and find brains and intellect the most attractive trait in a potential partner.

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And really, how lucky was Ronson in that every frightfully brainy person he's been linked with has also been young, slim and conventionally stunning? His last wife was the young actress/model Josephine de la Baume; before that, his former fiancée was the very beautiful actress Rashida Jones. I'm not doubting their burning intellects for a second - although to their credit, they are quite modest about it - but until Ronson is linked with Mary Beard, or Germaine Greer, or Mark Zuckerberg, or Marilyn von Savant (a 73-year-old recorded as having the highest IQ ever), I'm not buying it. Because all I'm hearing is 'I love hot women who tell me they have read a book or two'.

In some ways, it's great to hear that someone famous and talented, who can ostensibly have his pick of man or woman, fancies clever people. It gives me something to idly daydream about: me wanging on about the Booker shortlist or (what little I know of) neuroscience or semiotics while Mark Ronson goes completely sweaty and gooey-eyed in my presence. Meanwhile, his pal Miley Cyrus looks on despondently, wishing she'd listened more in school because this Booker Prize chat is clearly hot.

But the thing is, I'm trying to figure out exactly why Ronson's revelation has irked me so much. Perhaps it's because when some men are moved to state, 'I love a certain type of women', they usually mean something else entirely. Usually, 'hark me, daring to be attracted to a woman outside of the extremely narrow confines of the Western ideal!'

Any time a man says openly, 'I love curvy women', he often means he likes curvy women, albeit only up to a point, and usually within the parameters of 'socially accepted' curves. As in, Christina Hendricks, hourglass, huge-boobs-and-tiny-waist curves. Similarly, I've heard many men say time and time again that they love, like are really turned on by, funny women. This too, is absolute bunkum. They don't like women to be too funny, or (heaven forfend) funnier than they are. What they usually mean is, 'I like a woman to laugh at my jokes and will be sound and not uptight enough that they will put up with my sh**'.

Likewise, 'I'm attracted to nerdy women' can be loosely translated into 'I want a hot girl who also knows about Doctor Who, so I won't bore them half to death when I go on about it'.

'I like brains' has a weird subtext, mind. I mean, everyone likes brains. You're not that special if you like someone you date to be a bit clever. But feeling the need to say it, out loud and proud, is a strange and icky type of virtue signalling. In using a label for it, you're either trying to telegraph your own intelligence, or intimate that you can keep up with the most fiercely smart of them all.

If you've spent more than five minutes on Tinder, you'll hear a lot of men profess a love for smart and intelligent women, mainly because they figured out that this is exactly what we women wanted to hear. The sensitive, nice guy shtick didn't work out - hello, the friendzone - so they changed tack. We women are sick of being judged mainly on our ornamental value, and it certainly made a nice change from hearing 'great arse, sweetheart'. It didn't take us too long to figure out that the We Love Brains brigade were trying to sell us a pup.

The one way you can tell if a guy means it when he says he likes funny, brainy, curvy or nerdy women? He's not telling all and sundry about it as though it's some outlandish peccadillo, and certainly doesn't expect some kind of trophy for it.

Incidentally, I feel the need to add a massive #NOT ALL MEN addendum here, as there are several guys who take serious umbrage at being tarred with a great big misandrist brush when I describe some of the men I've encountered. These guys are especially annoyed given that they are perfectly woke, feminist citizens who've never done wrong by a single woman at all, ever. In my experience though, the men who shout #NotAllMen the loudest can often be misogyny's worst offenders. A real male feminist knows full well what women have had to put up with from some men, and wouldn't dream of getting in our way if we call out such bad behaviour. Trust me when I say, we hear your #NotAllMen bleating. Don't think we don't see you.

Irish Independent

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