|English poet, novelist, and essayist D.H. Lawrence wrote frequently--and controversially--about marital and sexual relations. (In 1915, he was prosecuted for obscenity after the publication of his novel The Rainbow.) In "Give Her a Pattern," first published in 1929, he argues that modern man is "a fool" because of his failure to accept a woman as "a real human being."
Give Her a Pattern
by D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
The real trouble about women is that they must always go on to adapt themselves to men’s theories of women, as they always have done. When a woman is thoroughly herself, she is being what her type of man wants her to be. When a woman is hysterical it’s because she doesn’t quite know what to be, which pattern to follow, which man’s picture of woman to live up to.
For, of course, just as there are many men in the world, there are many masculine theories of what women should be. But men run to type, and it is the type, not the individual, that produces the theory, or “ideal” of woman. Those very grasping gentry, the Romans, produced a theory or ideal of the matron, which fitted in very nicely with the Roman property lust. “Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion.”--So Caesar’s wife kindly proceeded to be above it, no matter how far below it the Caesar fell. Later gentlemen like Nero produced the “fast” theory of woman, and later ladies were fast enough for everybody. Dante arrived with a chaste and untouched Beatrice, and chaste and untouched Beatrices began to march self-importantly through the centuries. The Renaissance discovered the learned woman, and learned women buzzed mildly into verse and prose. Dickens invented the child-wife, so child-wives have swarmed ever since. He also fished out his version of the chaste Beatrice, a chaste but marriageable Agnes. George Eliot imitated this pattern, and it became confirmed. The noble woman, the pure spouse, the devoted mother took the field, and was simply worked to death. Our own poor mothers were this sort. So we younger men, having been a bit frightened of our noble mothers, tended to revert to the child-wife. We weren’t very inventive. Only the child-wife must be a boyish little thing--that was the new touch we added. Because young men are definitely frightened of the real female. She’s too risky a quantity. She is too untidy, like David’s Dora. No, let her be a boyish little thing, it’s safer. So a boyish little thing she is.
There are, of course, other types. Capable men produce the capable woman ideal. Doctors produce the capable nurse. Business men produce the capable secretary. And so you get all sorts. You can produce the masculine sense of honour (whatever that highly mysterious quantity may be) in women, if you want to.
There is, also, the eternal secret ideal of men--the prostitute. Lots of women live up to this idea: just because men want them to.
And so, poor woman, destiny makes away with her. It isn’t that she hasn’t got a