Posted by: deerharas | October 25, 2006


A few weeks ago I crossed another movie off my Best Picture to watch list.  While I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped, I did feel that Out of Africa had some significant things to say about relationships between men and women.  And while I tend to put a lot out there regarding my life, I have been particularly guarded concerning my own relationship issues or lack thereof … the internet is not the appropriate forum.  However, something Meryl Streep’s character said in the movie has remained with me, and I feel it deserves to be expanded upon.


Karen Blixen moves to Kenya after marrying the brother of her lover out of sheer convenience.  Her marriage inevitably falls apart as her new husband cheats on her repeatedly, even infecting her with syphilis.  In the midst of all this she falls in love with Denys, a rugged, free spirited hunter who provides all the adventure and affection Karen could hope for.  As their relationship deepens, Karen begins to battle her own expectations and desires for the relationship knowing they do not mirror her new lover’s.  As progressive as she is, at her core she still desires the one thing Denys will not give: commitment.


Karen’s love for Denys compels her to live life on his terms.  He moves in with her, coming and going as he pleases, always leaving her wanting more.  I don’t doubt that he loves her; he just loves himself more.  In one heated discussion Karen says, “I used to think that there was nothing that you really wanted, but that’s not it, is it?  You want to have it all!”  Perhaps the older I get, the more jaded I become in regard to guys, but I can’t help affirming that statement with a hearty amen. 


I recently read an article entitled “Not Your Buddy” that seeks to address some problems with close male/female “friendships.”  First I would like to say that I am in no way against friendships between men and women.  I believe they are healthy and beneficial.  However, I do have a problem with “friendships” that from the outside could be mistaken as dating, although no such discussion has been had on the inside.  There’s this new phenomenon called “hanging out” in which a guy can initiate all sorts of contact without running the risk of rejection or having to offer any sort of commitment … it’s that whole “having it all” thing.  In her article Suzanne Hadley writes, “Single men and women are failing each other. Uncommitted intimate friendships may satiate immediate needs, but they lead to frustration and heartache. Not to mention, for singles ready for marriage, these ‘friendships’ waste time and energy.”


My favorite line from Out of Africa comes near the end of that heated conversation.  Karen tells Denys, “I have learned a thing that you haven’t.  There are some things worth having, but they come at a price.  And I want to be one of them.”  Amen, sister friend.  I’m not saying that women should be considered as pretty pretty princesses sitting on pedestals having their every wish and whim catered to.  I’m saying that women do themselves a great disservice by persisting in relationships in which men do not honor them.   Women are worth the pursuit, but it seems as though neither sex believes it.


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