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that one is reading a religious treatise, with love as “salvation” and a fire and brimstone sermon against “modern man’s tragic inability to love.” It is this divinization of love by male theoreticians against which the simplicity of the feminist argument \(if I may call ton of fluff. Men praise love to the heavens, and declare that “love is everything”; women try to live love as “everything” and find that it is full of empty promises but extensive commitments on their part. The conclusion easily follows, that love is essentially an illusion, invented and encouraged by men, whose primary if not sole purpose is to “keep women in their place” by offering them a powerful rationalization for their sacrifices and subservience. Whether or not love was “erected” by men, it has certainly been men who have pontificated most effusively about it. But though Plato and St. Paul can rightly be accused of being extremely disdainful of women, it is not their divinization of love that is in itself responsible for the notoriously unequal expectations and roles in which romantic love typically \(but not fact, the grotesque contribution of most male theoreticians has been to sever the most obvious connections between love and sex, talking so often as if the ideal love would be love between souls alone, unencumbered and unsoiled by the inclusion of bodies, not to say housework and cooking as well. To understand the origins and expectations of romantic love, the place to twelfth century. It has been argued by historians, most of them oblivious to feminism, that romantic love began not with the oppression of women \(which from fixed roles as daughters, wives and mothers. The liberation was the mass exodus of their brothers, husbands, sons and lords to the Crusades, but this sudden solitude was more fraught with danger than blessed by freedom. Kidnaping, rape and murder were not unfamiliar to the women of feudal Europe in the best of times, and now they found themselves and their property without protection. Indeed, it is only at this time that they themselves could be counted as something more than property. The solution was the arrival of a new breed of warrior-protector, the “knight errant,” and an entirely new form of emotional attachment devotion. Formerly, knights were bound by blood and life-long oaths of service; now, as feudal society disintegrated, they were free agents, and they could bind themselves, devote themselves, as they chose. An emotion formerly reserved for God and the lords of the great estates could now be transferred to women, not mothers, daughters or wives \(at least, not their basis of mere whim or physical attraction. Accompanying the knights \(often minstrels called troubadors, who sang the praises of the newly protected “maidens” \(as often as not married and temporarily abandoned by their husmore importantly, for the women themselves, devotion now became a matter of choice, even whim, and romantic love, according to the scholars, was born. What happened to the status of women, in this proto-romantic scenario .? Women were now praised, not on the basis of their status or social roles, nor on their economic worth, their household abilities or their potential for bearing children. For the first time, they were celebrated as individuals, apart from the context of the men who surrounded them. On what basis? It is with some hesitation that we say, on the basis of their looks and grooming, on the basis of simple sex appeal and attractiveness all of those attributes which today we summarize in the terms of “being treated as a sex object.” But in this historical context, being chosen for attractiveness was an undeniable step away from being a mere “ob ject,” defined entirely by utility and social rules and arrangements. To be a “fair maiden” meant a new kind of worth, a new kind of freedom. The women too, in this world of collapsing structures and authorities, had her choice of champions. She too could act on whim, surround herself with competing lovers, form liaisons of choice instead of following the arrangements of a social structure in which she had virtually no choices at all. Romantic love is the invention of women as well as men, and even more to their historical advantage. This new arrangement had its oddities, some of which are still confused with the essence of romantic love. For example, the married status or requisite virginity of many “fair maidens” made consummation of love inadvisable if not impossible, and thus the passion which today might consume itself on the night of the first date had to be poured out in obscene poetry and indefinitely protracted sexual frustration. Thus it is still suggested, by Freudians for example, that romantic love is nothing but sublimated lust \(“plus sary distance resulted in the stereotypical picture of the troubador serenading the lady in her tower, the “putting her on a pedestal” imagery which is still a major source of complaint \(though it is not always clear whether it is the praise or the size of the pedestal that is being objected to. “A pedestal,” writes Gloria Steinem, “like any small place, is a 6 FEBRUARY 13, 1981