Under The Skin — Why The Human Female Will Always Hold the Superior Position

Sometimes it takes something as simple as a movie to crystallize a position you have always thought about but never really understood. I just watched the Scarlet Johanssen starring movie Under the Skin for the second time. In the picture the alien being portrayed by ScarJo uses her inherent sex appeal and feigned kindness and caring to lure men to their untimely deaths. Not only does she kill clearly mysogenistic men but even seemingly “good” men are lead to their ultimate demise.

Famously the men shown as being ensnared by the alien were real people. The one exception being the grossly disfigured character we are meant to most sympathize with. The movie even suggests we might feel some happiness for him. After all he clearly had never been shown any affection at all from a human female or male for that matter. He even shops at night to avoid the taunts and disgust he is exposed to if he shows himself in daylight. He is killed by the alien like all the others. However the fact that this one gorgeous woman shows him some kindness and is willing to actually have sex with him is enough to generate some sympathy for the seemingly amoral alien. I must admit I felt that way as I watched the movie.

Leaving aside the gross emotional string pulling of the scenes with the disfigured man the ultimate philosophical point of the movie is clear. Men can always be manipulated by a beautiful woman. Bad men, neutral men, good men, happy men, unhappy men, it does not matter. All will be unable to resist the allure of the sex goddess when push comes to shove, even if that attraction leads to their death. For a long time I have thought this position was basically untenable. No matter how beautiful the woman how alluring sexually or otherwise, some men would be able to resist.

In many ways the movie reminded me of the under appreciated twilight zone episode “queen of the Nile.” In that story a femme fatale movie star who is seemingly eternally young is revealed to be the actual incarnation of Cleopatra herself. She maintains her youth with an enchanted Scarab beetle that she uses to “suck the life” from the unfortunate men she lures to their deaths by using her sex appeal to fool them into falling for her. Both the movie and the episode are less then subtle in their ultimate message. Women, especially of the conventionally attractive type, will always in the end have the upper hand on men. The allure of the possibility of sex is simply too much for any (hetero-normative) man to withstand.

Obviously this is not a novel proposition nor a modern one, yet it endures. Why is this the case? What is it about this tired trope that it has so thoroughly and completely become accepted dogma? Simply put, because it is (mostly) true. There are of course massive caveats and any number of exceptions to this general rule thus the insertion of the term mostly in the sentence above. It is not my intention to detail and dissect every possible counter factual in this piece. For my main argument to succeed it is only necessary that a majority of persons would agree with the proposition. I would suggest that a plurality of persons both male and female would agree that the majority of heterosexual men, regardless of their relationship status, would have sexual relations with a conventionally attractive female who was actively seducing him in the vast majority of situations.

On its face such a thing should put the human female at a major advantage over the male of the species. I think many would agree it does, but contrary to what might be expected in such a situation, in this case the advantage ultimately works to her disadvantage. In fact it could be argued that is has resulted in no end of misery for them. Again I make no claim that this is in any way a novel or new idea but the ability to grant or withhold sex from males is a source of one of the few considerable advantages of power the human female is suggested to have over the male of the species.

Obviously throughout history this power dynamic has been subverted through a wide variety of ghastly means by men. Rape and all manner of physical and mental abuse have been used by males to maintain their supposed superior position over the human female. However, for purposes of this discussion I want to leave those atrocities to the side and consider the question from a position of neutrality with respect to all other relationship variables.

If one is able to look at the situation in this manner I think it is obvious that the movie is essentially correct. The human female will always hold the superior position. If I were a more popular or widely read writer this would be one of those pieces that would virtually guarantee I take a massive beating. Luckily I am not so I say bring it on. Prove me wrong.

Written by

Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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