I generally don’t write about popular culture because what’s now popular in culture doesn’t resonate with my sensibilities. I’m more interested in the Kingdom of Heaven than which celebrity is getting run over the coals in the tabloids, or who divorced who, or who said what, or who got into what scandal or even in what’s playing at the movies. But I’m here on earth now. And I have three children who are beginning to use social media. My daughter often comes to me with questions about what she reads. So perhaps that’s why I’m delving into something as apparently picayune as the so-called “Hot/Crazy Matrix.”
For those of you who like me had never heard of this, the Hot Crazy Matrix is the standard men should use to decide whether their girlfriend is too crazy to handle. If she is “hot” or very pretty, she can have a high quotient of crazy. But if she’s not pretty, she must have a very low corresponding crazy quotient.
The other day, I was talking about this with a good friend of mine. We were asking one another if we were suitably hot to justify our craziness. We chuckled at first, then we both groaned. Neither one of us is particularly crazy. But as my friend said, “We’re both women. We cry. We cry when we’re angry. We cry when we yell, we cry when we get yelled at . . .” and I interrupted and said, “Yep, and when we’re happy, and when we’re tired . . .” and we both chuckled.
She added, “And these emotions can be confusing for our men.”
I laughed and then looked out the window and watched the rainwater run down the glass pane. “I wish I was younger sometimes, just so I could be hot again, but I was also hurt so much more easily.”
She agreed, and we kept talking, and later, I asked my daughter if she had heard of the Hot/Crazy Matrix.
“Isn’t that what Facebook started out as?” My daughter glanced at the book she was reading and made a face. “Didn’t some guys make a book of faces and didn’t they go and rank women based on how hot they are? Mom, did you know that one of the popular girls told Alice she was ugly today and would never have a boyfriend? I told her off, it’s the same thing, it’s all about how a woman looks isn’t it?”
“Ugh,” I said. “What girl said that?”
“A popular girl, of course.” My daughter raised an eyebrow and then we both sighed. “She’s really hot. And she has a boyfriend.”
“And you told her off?”
“Mom, isn’t there another website now, called Hot or Not?” My daughter grabbed my cell phone and clicked on the web browser.
“Ugh, I don’t think I want to see it,” I said.
My youngest son swept in behind my daughter. “You’re looking at hot girls? I wanna see.”
“No,” we both said.
“What?” Ben tried to look over Maddie’s shoulder. “I like sexy ladies.”
I grabbed the phone from Maddie and put it in my pocket. Then I thought about how to talk to them both about it. My other son had also wandered into the kitchen (which is in fact the site for most of our conversations). I wanted to explain what love means, and what endures, as opposed to what doesn’t endure. I thought about a lot of things. I thought about another one of my friends, the writer Natalie Owens, said to me over private message in regards to this issue: “Popular culture is a way to control people and create desensitized citizens lacking respect and compassion.”
I agree with that characterization, but I needed to keep it simple. Easier for a boy to digest. And for a girl too. So I said, “You know how important it is to have love right?” I checked on my kids and they all nodded.
So I continued, “It’s hard to find it. It’s such a simple thing, love is, but to find someone you can share your life with, you need to look for what’s not gonna change in them. Looks change. Views change. Interests change. But there is something that is never gonna change in a person you’re with.”
“Their souls?” Maddie gave me one of her surprised smiles, the ones she gives when she understands something complex or sounds smart.
I smiled back. “Yep. That’s what we need to focus on. When the man we’re with is unkind or cold or distant or harsh or busy, we gotta feel for what really matters. Quite simply, is their soul one that brings us to life? Does our heart leap a little when they enter the room? Do we feel a deep attraction to the piece of them that doesn’t change over time or years or depending upon what shell they’re in? Does it feel like we can talk to them until forever and a day passes? Do they feel comfortable and exciting—or as another friend put it, do they feel like a spiritual being in a physical body that reminds us of Home? Does their being jive with us? Do they resonate or vibrate or feel right?”
“But Mom, what does this have to do with the Hot/Crazy Matrix?” Maddie sent a pointed look to my pocket, where my cell phone was lodged.
I shook my head. “Well, just as I need to think about the soul of the man I’m dating, he needs to think of my soul too. So no matter how emotional I get, how, I dunno, men wanna call it being crazy whenever a woman is vulnerable or expresses a need or—”
“—But Mom,” Maddie said, “That woman in Gone Girl was definitely crazy. She was hot too, and she seemed to get away with being crazy because she was so hot. That’s how she was able to kill the one guy and scare her husband into doing what she wanted him to do.”
“True! But not many women are truly psychopaths like she was, are they?”
Maddie shook her head.
“Just because a woman is needy sometimes, or emotional, or vulnerable, or has expectations, or carps, or criticizes, or wants too much from the man she’s with doesn’t make her crazy or bad. And when we put tags or definitions or stereotypes on everyone it keeps us from focusing on the bigger picture.”
“In other words, it dehumanizes women?”
“Yeah,” I said. “And it dehumanizes men too.” I paused and patted down a stray strand on Ben’s head. “It keeps them from focusing on more than how sexy a woman is, and it keeps him from really trying to understand her behavior.”
Ben grinned and said, “I still think Adele is beautiful.”
“So do I!” I chuckled and listened with one ear as Ben talked about how Adele was the most beautiful mom ever . . . and continued to cogitate on the deeper meaning or importance of the phenomenon known as the Hot/Crazy Matrix. Sure, I can be quick to speak out against anything that dehumanizes women, but to my way of thinking, the Matrix dehumanizes men too. It encourages them to look on the surface for what really lies within. It gives them yet one more method for categorizing, defining, representing . . . that which is really beyond easy comprehension.
Are some women crazy? If you want to apply a scientific test to it, you’ll see that a certain percentage of women suffer from mental illness. You’ll find the same percentage applies to men, though, so if you’re looking to understand a woman’s behavior by assigning all their behavior to whether it’s sexy or crazy, you’re drawing both too wide and too narrow a band of understanding around these behaviors. In other words, you’re not seeing the penumbras of color that fan out when you get to know another human being.
Understanding others is important. And categories can help . . . except when they cause you to ignore deeper truths. If you’re in a relationship, look for the essence of the soul you’re attached to, and that essence lies in how their soul connects to your soul. Do they feel comfortable? Do they feel familiar? Do they love you? Do you love them? Are you better with them or without them in your life? Do you feel more complete because of them—or less? Do you both love and respect them? And yes, can you look past their surface flaws?
These are hard questions to answer sometimes, and if you’re having trouble answering the question, that’s a sign that you might be with the wrong man or woman. But it’s a question worth answering—because we all deserve to experience deep and lasting love.
As far as the Hot/Crazy Matrix . . . I would subject this relic of modern popular culture to the same analysis. Is such a Matrix good for us? Does applying it to the people in our lives make us happier or less happy? Does it make us wiser, better souls to think in terms of whether the woman we love is hot or crazy? Is it fair to call all women some degree of crazy? Does it help us find happiness to subject others to easy tags and categories? Do we want others to subject us to the same type of thought—in other words, does the Hot/Crazy Matrix follow the Golden Rule? Or is applying this Matrix not the way we would want someone to view or treat us? In other words, if you’re a man now and you were to reincarnate as a woman in the next life, how would you feel about the Matrix? Would you like it? Or would it hurt you?