Last week HBR Talk began going over a listicle of talking points from the gold digger forum femaledatingstrategy.com. We saw how the writer externalized her own foibles by inventing bad advice by which to rationalize her wrong assumptions about men and dating. This week, we will continue to trudge through some more of that post, and unpack the baggage she loaded into each item… as many as we can squeeze into one episode. How far do you think we can get? To find out, you can tune in to the youtube livestream on Thursday at 7:30PM EST, or find other listening options on honeybadgerbrigade.com.
Opening Monologue transcript
Most of our listeners have heard at least some version of the story of “The Midas Touch” at least once in their lives. King Midas is such a familiar character that he’s parodied in advertising, with the expectation that everyone watching will understand the reference. According to legend, as a reward for his kindness to Silenus, the satyr, a companion of Bacchus, Midas was given a single wish, and asked that everything he touched be turned to gold. At first he was thrilled with the result, and marveled over the transformation he could cause, but when food he wanted to eat also turned to gold, he realized his choice had been poorly thought out. He cried out to Bacchus to restore him to normal, was given a method of purification to follow, and cleansed himself of what he’d come to recognize as a curse. Lesson learned, gold obsession cured.
When this myth is taught to students, it’s generally offered as a cautionary tale to communicate the shortsightedness of developing a narrow fixation on wealth, but that is in and of itself a bit of a shortsighted lesson plan. The story is not just condemnation of greed, but an illustration of why and how it is harmful it is to the greedy individual. King Midas did not simply learn that his fixation was superficial. He learned that gold was, by far, not the only thing in his life that he valued. Pursuing it to the exclusion of all other things or conditions would prevent him from being able to engage with anything at all, much less enjoy it, no matter how wanted or cherished it might be. In this way, his obsessive desire became the ultimate form of self-deprivation.
What if Midas’s condition had been psychological, rather than metaphysical? He’d awakened one day to find not that everything he touched turned to gold, but that unless it was gold, nothing in the world could possibly engage his interest. Would the outcome be any different?
No, and yes. He would still starve if the condition wasn’t reversed, but not because an involuntary metamorphosis would deprive him of access to real food. His appetite being one-dimensional, his starvation would be caused by a lack of interest in any food.
He might even fail to recognize his situation, excusing his anhedonia by projecting poor quality or poisonous nature onto the food without ever having tasted it. After all, if it’s not gold, how good could it be?
How would a person with such a psychological condition be able to relate to other people? Might that same lack of interest apply?
Might elements of good character become invisible to the individual? Would they even be important if they were not related to the individual’s wealth?
Might finding camaraderie and companionship become impossible?
Would the condition even allow for the individual to care?
What if we were talking about a woman trying to reconcile this condition with the expectations involved with dating?
How would she even approach the idea?
Might severely limiting the scope of characteristics she may value in a male partner lead to an inability to value men at all, much less love any man?
If expected to date while unable to value or love her partner, what kind of attitude might one develop to fill that void?
What excuses might one come up with for one’s resulting misanthropic nature? “I’m not shallow. They’re just worthless.”
Would she even know that she’s alone?
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