Secret Women, Part III



'You ask a woman: 'Do you love him, then?' and she opens her eyes wide, or even bats them, and replies, 'He loves me so much.' And now try to imagine that sort of answer from a man -- forgive me for correlating the two. Perhaps there are men who would have to answer that way, but they are simply and utterly ridiculous, tied to love's apron strings, to put it epigrammatically. I would like to know what sense of self-worth such a female answer represents. Does a woman feel she owes a boundless subservience to a man who would confer the favor of his love on such a lowly creature, or does she see in the man's love for her an unerring token of his superiority? I've asked myself that question in passing, now and again, in life's quiet moments.'

'Primal, classic questions you've touched on there, young man, with your apt little discourse on holy matters,' Peeperkorn responded. 'Desire intoxicates the male, the female demands and expects to be intoxicated by his desire. Which is the source of our duty to feel. And the source of this terrible disgrace when the feeling is lacking, when there is an inability to awaken the female to desire.'


--Mann, Magic Mountain [Hans to Peeperkorn]