“I know girl. I love masculine men too. But that always comes with a price.”
One of my good friends and I were lamenting our attraction to and love of masculine men. We all know it when we see it: men who are not cowed by the circumstances of life; who do not complain; who are not confused; who find a million different ways to make a dollar; who stay silent and make their moves. All of that has its own sex appeal, but the problem is that these men refuse to be controlled, and always offer a challenge. They insist on living life on their own terms. And, as it happens, so do I.
As I slowly work my way through the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films, I have noticed that the first four–Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Casablanca, and Raging Bull–are about men who are, in a sense, awful. But awful and sexy at the same time. They do what they wish, with little regard to the women around them. (Casablanca is the only film that looks at women somewhat romantically.)
In The Godfather, Michael Corleone negotiates a marriage to a pretty woman in Italy, although his girlfriend, Kay is back in the United States. Even as he calmly introduces himself to the father of his soon to be wife, the audience knows that Kay, his girlfriend, is frantically contacting his family’s compound.
Yet, his ability to do what he wishes is thrilling. I felt bad for Kay, annoyed with Michael, and frustrated with the fact that I loved how grown mannish he was about the whole deal.
The problem with The Godfather is that women are inconsequential and easily replaceable. After his Sicilian wife dies, victim of a car bomb, Michael returns to America, pursues and then marries Kay. There is never a mention of his first marriage. Michael’s sister is abused by her husband. Domestic violence is natural, albeit punished. This is part and parcel the danger and privilege of marrying a powerful man within this film: you always have money, but must be prepared for infidelity, verbal and physical harm. In this film, there is no suggestion that marriage can be an equal partnership between men and women; as Don Corleone tells Michael, “women and children can be careless. But not men.” By the end of the film, when Michael is the Godfather, he calmly lies to Kay about killing his brother in law. And then, the men retreat to their own world, while the women cook, clean, and take care of children–all unimportant things in the world which the movie depicts.
Whenever I view The Godfather, or a film like it, I immediately imagine myself in the subject position. Rather than seeing myself as Kay, I, in watching the film, become Michael, the hero. I am not only attracted to him, but imagine that I, too, would kill two mobsters in a restaurant, marry someone with whom I fall in love at first sight, and get annoyed with Kay for asking too much about my business. In fact, when watching the film, I yelled at Kay. “Don’t you know you never ask a man about his business?!” and “Girl, no, you can’t go to the hospital.”
I don’t only desire Michael, who is such a G, but I also desire his masculine privilege. I want to be with Michael, and I also want to be him at the same time. Of course, this is in part because the film is so very good. The acting is brilliant. The story is expansive; I am always automatically drawn into the narrative.
I am attracted to men like Michael because they understand the fine balance between silence and yelling; between violent acts, and peaceful ones. They understand the usefulness of patience. I feel protected by those men. When in their presence, they train all of their attention onto me. Business will come later, and will theoretically provide all the money I could ever need.
In 2014, however, I don’t really trust men to provide for me (other than my beloved father). So, like men, I also am forced to prioritize business over pleasure; to compartmentalize my romantic relationships, rather than allowing them to bleed over into everything else. I am “the godfather” of my own affairs; but I’m also, like Kay, waiting on men like the ever silent, emotionally distant Michael to make a commitment.
Loving men who are traditionally masculine is a joy, but it always comes with a price. But then again, I never did well with men I could control. I recently asked my Dad which qualities I needed in a husband. “Aside from the obvious” I yelled, after he told me someone who loved the Lord, me, and was a good provider.
“You need someone with a strong personality,” he said, laughing.
And while I’m sure my father doesn’t want me to marry a mobster, he just might want me to marry a man who would know how to operate in a room full of them. Yeah. I think I like the sound of that.
Can somebody figure out how to clone him?!?!