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...superior strength and capacity. He likes to be leaned upon, appealed to, followed docilely. And this tribute to his might caresses him on the psychic plane as well as on the plane of the obviously physical. He not only enjoys helping a woman over a gutter; he also enjoys helping her dry her tears. The result is the vast pretence that characterizes the relations of the sexes under civilization--the double pretence of man's cunning and autonomy and of woman's dependence and deference.Man is always looking for someone to boast to; woman is always looking for a shoulder to put her head on.
This feminine affectation, of course, has gradually taken on the force of a fixed habit, and so it has got a certain support, by a familiar process of self-delusion, in reality. The civilized woman inherits that habit as she inherits her cunning. She is born half convinced that she is really as weak and helpless as she later pretends to be, and the prevailing folklore offers her endless corroboration. One of the resultant phenomena is the delight in martyrdom that one so often... Mencken, H. L.
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