The scene: green tea this morning with my hung-over friend Sally
The topic: a quote from a review of Antonia Fraser’s biography in which she outlines her life as the wife of writer Harold Pinter. It neatly sums up what Women of Strong Character know to be true:
The Special Problem
Early on, just after their affair had got under way in 1975, Antonia was warned by her brother, Thomas: “You have a special problem. You are a woman and a strong character yet you want your husband to be stronger. Women with strong characters who want to dominate are always fine because there are plenty of weak men around. Also plenty of strong men for weak women. But yours is a special problem.” Actually, Antonia concludes, “He’s quite right in a maddening way.”
Strong women wanting stronger men? How do strong women feel about this? In many case, fine, I reckon.
Most women, IMO, want a man who’s comfortable in his masculinity, who can own – and be stronger – in that domain. That’s how I interpret this idea of wanting a stronger husband or partner.
When a man doesn’t step into his strength, he becomes emasculated…which causes all kinds of problems for everyone involved. It’s harder for men to step into their masculinity today. It used to be easy. You fought a war. You earned the money. You opened the doors and fixed the taps. You asked women out on dates. You paid.
Now, there’s not the same imperative and impetus. Men have to do it in different ways. This requires true strength.
I won’t essentialise further. Although I did this morning. The green tea high and tropical rain fired me up.
The upshot, as the reviewer writes, is that Antonia and Harold were a perfect match, strong-willed and impassioned romantics.