The Persistent Man

A mighty, mighty migraine hit Thursday morning with zero warning. I am finally eating and not barfing again, but my brain likes to go on little adventures when I’m not quite using it.

This morning, as I was laying in bed, trying to let my brain calm down and trying to recover from an arduous nail appointment (usually one of my most favorite me time adventures in the world), I started thinking about Persistent Men.

Jerry Mulligan creepering Lise into going on a date with him. From the LA Times

He follows her to work. He badgers her into spending time with him and in the end, she goes with him. Although, the other guy, Henri, had a weird power imbalance with her too. Taking her in during the war when she was still “a child” then falling in love with her? Hrm.

Anyway. This idea that if a man is persistent enough, he will wear her down just creeps me out so much. In An American in Paris, he wins her over through his persistence. Offhand, I can’t think of more (migraine brain, did I mention?) but I know I’ve seen it.

And regardless of what the woman says. Regardless how she initially feels, if she just gives him a fair shake, she’ll discover that he’s actually a nice guy. The man of her dreams in fact!

Where is her agency? She tries to maintain her boundaries, she tries to do what she can to keep herself safe, but instead, it’s all, “Oh, well, she never really knew her mind to begin with, so once he was able to talk some sense into her, she went with him.”

Yuck. Just yuck.

I mean, sure, romance, ripped bodices, whatever. I can understand the appeal, I suppose, of being wanted so much. To be washed away on the tides of pleasure and have it not be ~your fault~. To be able to maintain  virginal purity while still being able to explore passion. But this goes right back into the discussion about consent. And it also assumes that rape isn’t about maintaining power structures.

But, back to the Persistent Man. Suppose she does finally go out with him. How many times does she have to go out with him before she can say, “Ok, that’s enough?” Now does she “owe him” for him magnanimity of taking her out to dinner? Does she owe him kisses? Sex? Blow jobs? What? And if she says no, then she becomes a cocktease and led him on. And then the cry, “Well, if she didn’t want to go out with him, she should have just said so!”

In any case, this idea of the Persistent Man started playing around in my head and I wanted to explore it a little. I’m sure I’ll expand on it at a later time. My poor brain is so tired from just starting to plot this all out. And I’ll start keeping track of the Persistent Man now as I find them in media.

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