On his Oz Conservative blogspot, Melbourne-based traditionalist educator Mark Richardson has conceptualized that the “culture of relationships is formed from three inputs: marriage, romantic love [romance] and sex” (1) – inputs that have traded authority over the past two centuries. The influence of marriage, with its emphasis on etiquette and courtship, predominated until the late-Victorian era, at which point society yielded to the emotional impulses of romantic love, marked by chivalry and the pedestalization of womankind. Pedestalization stemmed from the 20th century gentleman’s romantic idealization of femininity, which in turn handed the moral guardianship of society over to women, who were thus deemed the ‘fairer sex’. Alas, romantic love succumbed to the torrents of third wave feminism in the 1990s, whereupon a cruder generation of women spurned pedestalization as the construct of an oppressive patriarchy; thus plummeting society into a culture dominated by sex, which has ‘liberated’ women to pursue their baser, hypergamous instincts. Within this new intersexual paradigm, gallant and cultured men have typically been rejected in favor of those who exhibit rawer features of testosterone, such as muscles, thuggish looks and recklessness (1).
Retrospectively, the inversion of women’s standards over the past century can be foretold in one classic tale of dichotomy, written at the dawn of the age of romance: Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In Paramount’s definitive 1931 adaptation, Fredric March enacts the title-sake dual role, in which Dr. Henry Jekyll embodies the cultured, romantic gentleman, and Mr. Hyde caricaturizes the vile, lecherous lowlife. In the body of March, Dr. Jekyll cuts a tall and slim figure of androgynous comeliness; the type of man who would have been much desired by women in the age of romance. Contrastingly, figments of Hyde have surfaced in some modern day celebrities (2), yet this film of old vulgarized his rakishness with such condemnation; it stands as a testament to the moral standards which upheld our culture during the age of romance.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde illustrates the protective nature of society towards women in the pre-hypergamous world. Interventions into female distress scenarios are a common occurrence in this film, most notably when Dr. Jekyll comes to the aid of a young woman named Ivy; lifting her from a sidewalk scurry and up to the safety of her room. Exhibiting loose ends, the inebriated Ivy tries to tempt Dr. Jekyll into staying, but true to his gentlemanly virtues, he declines. Sparing women of their own lesser tendencies is but one measure of chivalry from the doctor; saving women from the claws of his own fate is another. As his transformations spin out of control, Dr. Jekyll swallows the inevitable and breaks his engagement to Muriel, a woman of upstanding pedigree. Dr. Jekyll holds a romanticized view of womankind, and thus strives to protect the women in his life from the forces of evil, including that which overtakes him in the end.
Protective instincts could never be attributed to the product of Dr. Jekyll’s mischievous chemical experiments, the ghoulish Mr. Hyde. Belligerent, criminal and perverse, Mr. Hyde careens on impulses utterly foreign to the doctor; from his knee-jerk barroom taunts, to his beastly sexual aggression towards a repulsed yet pliable Ivy. In a sense, the makeup which renders the handsome face of March so hideous during the Hyde scenes could be viewed as a tasteful act of filmmaking, for a creature as loathsome as Hyde would only deserve such ugliness.
But as time shifts ideals in the culture of relationships, so changes the popular concept of comeliness. Whereas Fredric March would be considered too effete by today’s standards, the likeness of Hyde has reemerged in some of Hollywood’s recent leading men (3). Hyde’s loutishness predicted such modern day rituals as moshing and AMOGing – gamer speak for pulling rank on an Alpha Male Other Guy during a competitive pickup scenario – while his swollen, savage features have become an omen for the sexual preferences of the hypergamous woman. Mark Richardson summarized these fallen standards whilst commenting on the ill-begotten fling between the now-disfigured Katie Piper (an ex-model and TV host) and Daniel Lynch (her ogre-faced repeat assailant):
If a woman like Katie Piper had been influenced instead by a culture of romantic love, she… would probably not have chosen a man like Daniel Lynch. She might have preferred to look for a man who cut a dashing figure, who had wit and intelligence, who had achieved some prominent position in society, who was confident and popular with women and so on… But what if a woman like Katie Piper is “sexually liberated” in the feminist sense? Then none of the above matters as much. It no longer matters if a man like Daniel Lynch is low IQ, emotionally unstable and unconfident in his dealings with women. What he does have is a raw display of high testosterone in his thuggish features and his propensity toward violence. This is what makes him sexually appealing and even “handsome” to a well-bred Englishwoman (4).
Daniel Lynch, a real life Hyde, turned out to be just as monstrous as he looked, and yet Katie Piper found his swollen, bushy features “handsome”(4).
As outlined above, a culture based entirely on romance might be imbalanced, but a culture based explicitly on sex could very well careen to the same fate as Jekyll and Hyde. Ideally, a cultural balance between marriage and romantic love – in which people aspire to the highest notions of comeliness and manner in order to mutually attract and bond with the opposite sex – would be most sensible for a culture wishing to thrive and reproduce itself.
1. Oz Conservative (November 18, 2009).
2. Charlie Sheen is merely the latest Hydian public personae
3. Benicio Del Toro comes to mind as a Hydian countenance
4. Oz Conservative (October 20, 2009).
”She found him handsome?”