Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Potemkin Women

When I first moved to my current home and started establishing a rapport with the bartenders at the local pub that would become "my bar," I remember meeting two uppity 30 something women.  They were sharply dressed, boisterous, laughing and certainly the center of attention.  One was very attractive while the other was average.  Because they frequented "my bar" it was inevitable I would establish a relationship with them also.  This relationship was business in nature, but also short lived.

They were in the "house staging/fashion" business and wanted me to help them with their finances.  I agreed, but found it difficult to consult them for they would constantly bail at the last minute, change meeting times, just plain forget or just plain not take my advice.  They were too busy and having too much "fun" with their business and details like "accounting" were deemed non-critical.

Admittedly I was 1/4th attempting to get some kind of angle on the hot one, but after being stood up for yet another meeting I decided to end the business relationship and replace it with a "Minnesota Nice" relationship (one where you hate the other person, but fake being friendly so as not to disrupt the over all social environment).  It wouldn't have mattered anyway, because the hotter of the two made it very clear she was looking for a sugar daddy to take care of her.

For the next couple of months they would come into my bar and some of the other local ones, always talking about their business loud enough for people to hear, and always ordering the priciest of drinks to further prove they were successful.  It was almost as if they were 20 year olds trapped in 37 year old bodies, who somehow made it seem "house staging and fashion design" was all about drinking, partying, networking and wearing fancy clothes.

Then nothing.

They disappeared.  They were gone.  And nobody took note, for it was the absence of annoyance that made things "normal" again, meaning you don't remember the moment you recover from a sickness, because that's the way you're supposed to feel normally.

It wasn't until 6 months later that for whatever reason or another a neuron fired in my skull reminding me about the loud duo and so I asked the bartender,

"Hey, whatever happened to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb?"

The bartender laughed as he was cleaning out a wine glass.

"I don't know what happened to Tweedle Dee, but Tweedle Dumb (the hotter one).  That's a funny story.  She would come in at another bar I work at across White Bear Lake and just get hammered.  She'd then start crying about how miserable she was, how should couldn't find a guy to marry her, and how her business was losing money.  I think they went out of business, but I haven't seen them in months."

And thus was my first conscious observation of a Potemkin Woman.

If you don't know what "Potemkin" is, it is a reference to a "Potemkin Village," a trick the Soviets used to make things look better than they actually were in Soviet Russia.  With poverty, lack of production, no bread, lines, and all the other wonderful benefits socialism brought them, the Soviet leadership hid this fact by making fake "villages" to make it look like everything was just hunky dory in the USSR.  So when journalists and tourists visited, they were shown the Potemkin villages, not the gulags or everyday Soviet misery.  It was nothing more than a ruse to make things look better than they actually were, and is the precisely same tactic many American and western women use today.

You might ask why somebody would engage in such trickery, acting more important than they actually are.  But there are good reasons women use such a tactic, specifically it allows them to attain something that they personally cannot achieve or are too lazy to achieve.  Usually it is a higher status/richer man, but it could also be undue and undeserved business, undue and undeserved reputation, undue and undeserved attention, and undue and undeserved status.  And thus, very much like their midlife-crisis banker male counterparts, they put on the flashy clothes, talk a big game, act all independent, and scoff at people who are actually better than them.  Unfortunately, it is just a bluff.  A bluff that time and real life inevitable calls.  But unless you are aware of it, you can very likely fall for it and (like I did) waste precious time and resources dealing with such women.

First, understand that Potemkin Women have been with us since they were little girls.  Middle school girls actually.  If there is an example of a Potemkin Village in America, it is middle school.  Nothing is real, it is all fake, and the most popular girls rule the roost by essentially faking it into college.  They have the fanciest clothes, they have a clique no one else can join, they have the latest gadgets.  However, if you've ever had the misfortune of dating one of these girls, you'd know they are typically psychological messes underneath.  Of course, this is rarely known or figured out because their ruse is so effective it intimidates boys (and girls) from ever approaching them, let alone dare questioning their legitimacy.

Second, understand Potemkin Girls never mature into women who shed the fakeness and the ruse.  They merely become "Potemkin Women."  It worked so well as a child, why not continue the strategy?  They go to college, earn some worthless degree, go out and "partay," they dress sexy at night clubs and do the faux lesbian thing, only to reject the naive boys and men who dare to advance.  The ruse is so effective and society is only more than accommodating,  a lot of  young women actually start to believe their "Potemkin Life" is a real one.  They actually think they're that smart (when a 3.8 GPA as a Communications Major is laughable), they actually think they're in demand (while most 20 something men just want to have sex, not marry them), and they actually think they're going to succeed in life (as media, parents, colleges, government and every other facet of society lies to their face).  When in reality, they are merely setting themselves up for a spectacular failure and accruing debt at a pace of 4 $10 Cosmo Martini's a night on a 23% APR credit card.

Finally, after getting married, divorced, and having no real skills to fall back on, not to mention, they're getting older, the 30 something Potemkin Woman puts on her best act.  She wears the clothes she can't afford, starts the business that has no hope, parades a reputation that has no truth, all in the hopes of being given one more chance at attention, money, love, and/or status.  However, here reality has reintroduced itself to the Potemkin Woman and I have seen it up front, close and personal.  And the difference between the show the Potemkin Woman puts on and her insecure self is stark.

There was the salsa dancing 42 year old who WAS hot for her age and wore the most provocative outfits.  Of course she would only dance with the most accomplished salsa dancers.  But she broke down, crying one night at her house because her children hated her.

There was 29 year old lawyer who made junior partner in record time and wouldn't even consider dating men who made less than her (including yours truly), only to end up alone at a bar a decade later with a mean scowl on her face that would scare away any man. 

There was the former model who at 48 still wanted to go to "night clubs."  She broke down crying as it looked increasingly likely her house would go into foreclosure. 

And of course there's Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb. 

Now I could go on retrospectively identifying all the Potemkin Women I've ran into, but the point is, especially for men (though women will also have to interact on a non-romatic or business level with Potemkin Women) is to realize just how hallow and miserable their lives really are.  The more posturing, parading and bragging you see, the more likely it is they go home and their lives are miserable.  That the woman who laughed at you in front of her friends when you offered to buy her a drink, goes home that very same night in a drunk stupor and cries herself to sleep because "she can't find a man."  I don't say this because I "want" it to be true or that I'm looking for some kind of "revenge" for women that spurned my advances.  I'm telling you because it IS true.  I've seen it.  I've seen the Potemkin Woman at home all by herself at 3AM, out of the public view...

and she ain't pretty.


daniel_ream said...

"and she ain't pretty."

She just looks that way.


Redneck Joe said...

I recently met one of these women. One Saturday last month I walked into the leasing office at an above average apartment complex in a Denver suburb to rent a one bedroom for a few months while on a consulting gig (RF engineer, early 40s). I was wearing old Wranglers, a Carhartt work jacket, Ariat Ropers, and a John Deere cap.
The manager was an above-average-looking-for-her-age overdressed mid-40s woman. After I inquired about rent, etc., she looked down her nose at me and derisively sneered, "You are aware that each person on the lease has to show an income history with a monthly income 3 times the rent, right?"
I paused with feigned anguish, then handed her my 1099 from 2012 and my current contract (monthly base income 15.5 times the rent).
So dealing with them can be fun.
Hitting on her 20-something protege was the icing.

Unknown said...

I am reminded of a woman I met for one day about a year ago. About 58, I guess, spent her secretary's salary on clothes and make-up to unsuccessfully to disguise her age. Divorced, hostile, alone. Her own mother told me she was "high maintenance and that she cried in her sleep. I assume she had no idea how she came across to men.

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece. The topic is a good one but you've also wrote it effectively. And "Potemkin Women," Lord, why didn't I think of that!? I was going with "douchey broads" to describe the same phenomenon.

We've all met these women. On the one hand this post made me quasi-depressed (even as a dude) and on the other I feel the urge to mock them. Torn I tell ya.

As far as "act as if" goes, it is actually encouraged in our anti-culture. I won't fault too many for that due to it's getting pounded into everyone's head from day one.

Reluctant Paladin said...

Its terribly sad. I pity these women that never matured. As a society it behooves us to help men and women mature and grow together.

This is what happens when we fail.

Anthony said...

Potemkin villages, like Potemkin women, have been around far longer than Communism. They're named after Grigory Potemkin, who was one of Catherine the Great's lovers, and the concept dates back to the 1780s. Russians have been lying to their leaders a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

And the God's of sweet eternal justice sing in unison..."Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha....Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha"!!!

Adam Lawson said...

Unfortunately, it is just a bluff.

Given how rude they are, I wouldn't say their status being a bluff is unfortunate... except for them. And fuck 'em -- I hate this sort of person.

I know a few men this way, too, and they are incredibly obnoxious to be around. But not as annoying, for example, as a white knighting mangina.

Anonymous said...

And the God's of sweet eternal justice sing in unison..."Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha....Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha"!!!

taterearl said...

These women live in a bubble. Like the housing bubble, the college bubble, or any other economic bubble. Only their crash is their life.

Patrick said...

It doesn't refer to the Soviets, but one of Catherine the Great's ministers, back in old 1787.
But I give you a pass, since the Soviets and communists in general use this as their standard operation procedure.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting the schaden fuzzies all over from this captain.

As a younger guy in his 20s, I have to deal with these twits before they hit the wall. Trying to find one who is nice, date-able and actually useful as a human is depressingly difficult.

But it's nice to know that karma gets you in the end!

Keep up the reporting cappy.

Dance...dance to the radio said...

daniel_ream beat me to it.

Anonymous said...

I was actually quite surprised at the number of women 25-35 that I know who have mental illness. They are all single and, oddly enough, they're all single. Not sure which is the cause and which is the symptom.
These are women from unbroken homes, good supportive parents whose daughters are still living at home.
The parents have even given up trying to hide it too.
The single men in the same age backer with the same background I know are all single, happy and mental illness free.
An interesting time to be alive indeed...

Anonymous said...

"Potemkin Women" is one of your best ever, and that marvellously accurate phrase shall outlive all of us ... very well done, sir.

Craig R. Meyer said...

Potempkin vllages were for Emperess Caherine the Second.

Hubbard said...

Solid post, and you're right that the world is full of Potemkin women. One error, though, is that the concept of Potemkin villages long predates the Soviets. It started with the fake villages the Grigory Potemkin created for his patron, Catherine the Great. Historians debate how serious the fakery was, since many of the contemporaneous accounts of the shenanigans in Catherine's court were hugely exaggerated.

HR Lincoln said...

I have some friends and acquaintances that could well be described as Potemkin Women. They're really not bad people, and it's sad. In a sense, they have been "victimized"(hate to use that term) by the era in which they grew up, and the lies that they swallowed. In my dad's day(he was born in '29), there was practically no such thing as an attractive, unmarried woman over the age of 25.

Dance...dance to the radio said...

The fact remains that the Soviets used Potemkin villages as a propaganda tool to dupe the western idiots who were enamoured of communism.

Anonymous said...

I like the term, and I've seen these broads up close, but Potemkin village predates the Soviet. I believe they were used to fool Catherine the Great, originally.

Rex Little said...

There was 29 year old lawyer who made junior partner in record time

Isn't that a real accomplishment? Or are law firms doing affirmative action promotions these days?

Anonymous said...

Hardly. It's the socialist and feminist bubbles, which are due to burst any time now. The collapse of communism resulted in an exodus of useless, batshit, only-hot-by-American-standards women from Eastern Europe that continues to this day. Communism taught them they could have it all, like Elena Ceausescu, Romania's first mother AND greatest scientist. (In reality Elena was an 8th grade dropout whose only skill was blowing Nicolae's mind in bed.) They did not handle the restoration of cold hard reality well.

Fortunately (for Eastern Europe's surplus women anyway) many could, and did, talk gullible American men into marrying them so they could get the frick out of Eastern Europe and drain their American husbands' bank accounts the moment the green card came through. Put plainly, America is the feminist promised land.

I wonder where all our stupid, crazy, ugly, entitled women will go when the welfare state goes belly up and American men decide in earnest that they no longer have the money or patience to give stupid, crazy, ugly women the make-work jobs or welfare benefits the women think they're entitled to "for the children." I suspect one could do well selling women vodka, Valium and razor blades.

Anonymous said...

We live in a Potemikn world.

I run into these people, men and women all the time. I dress like Redneck Joe. Add tattoos and a beard and have similar experiences. I rarely throw my money around but often get the same kind of treatment Joe did.

I live in a rural county full of old Southron money families, and rarely see these kinds of things. I experience it/ notice it all the time in Raleigh. Charlotte...is built on the illusion of wealth


Anonymous said...

Nice little note.

As other have mentioned Potemkin villages goes back before communisism was even a evil glint in Marx's eye.

And to add, it generally considered that it wasn't to deceive Catherine II that G. Potemkin "decorated" villages, it was to deceive the people with her (foreign ambassadors and other gullible types).

Catherine and Grigory had a close relationship. That sort of thing without her agreement would have disrupted that.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post/observation Captain. Admittedly mixing metaphors (but at least remaining Russian in nature), but this is really a matryoshka doll of Potemikn women. Their business is after all about creating an image to sell a home. They go to bars to create an image that they are wildly successful in creating images to sell homes. And they do all of this to create the image that they are successful women, not washed up gold diggers. It is facade nested in facade nested in facade.

Mark said...

I've known someone like this for years. She wouldn't date me when we were young. None of the other guys she dated ever married her, including one she had a kid with. She got a worthless degree, doesn't make much money, runs up lots of debt and does things like change her phone number so the creditors can't call her and ask for their money. She turned into a pro-big government Obama worshipper. Her son, having grown up in the typical single poor mom household, got arrested recently and she came to me and asked for my help and I gave her some money. I suppose I should feel some schadenfreude and I do but I also just feel kind of sad for her.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Kinda related...I have known a few of these gals in my 52 years, and I cannot remember one that played team sports while growing up.

boxingalcibiades said...

I belong to the Nerd Tribe, and though we've got our own issues, it's a saving grace that we've *always* seen right through these Cosmo style-over-substance people. The Captain's dead on the money, though; from fake teen, to "club chick," to "lifestyles of the burning-up-that-plastic-fast-aren't-we?"

They're (often) hot, but they've got absolutely nothing interesting to say.

You can't catch a falling knife - all it'll do is cut you as it passes.

Anonymous said...

TO: All
RE: Heh

Why am I suddenly reminded of that feminist comment about....

....women, fish and bicycles?


[The Truth will out....feminists are fools....]

toadold said...

I'm having trouble remembering but I think I've ran into a couple of instances where Potemkin woman coupled with Potemkin man. I didn't run in their "circles" long enough to find out how that worked out.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that a real accomplishment? Or are law firms doing affirmative action promotions these days?

In some sense, it's an accomplishment, sure. I'm going to assume for the sake of argument that the woman in question really did manage to achieve her success and wasn't aided by affirmative action or anything along those lines.

But you have to think about how a person defines success. To borrow a phrase, if you gain the whole world, but lose your soul, what have you really achieved? If the consequences of your professional success are personal misery, loneliness, hostility, desperation, and ultimately a collapsed life full of the ruins of your might-have-beens, were you really "successful"?

The issue is that these Potemkin Women tend to think they can achieve everything equally, and indeed that they deserve to and are entitled to. Therefore, when their stunning professional successes are not matched by equal successes in their personal lives, they grow embittered. They never imagine, in their 20s and 30s, that they might have to make trade-offs or sacrifices, nor that they might need to carefully consider what truly counts as "success" in their eyes, and express legitimate surprise and grief when they realize, too late, that society has been lying to them since they were born.

Hucbald said...

Brilliant term, "Potemkin Women." I'm predicting it will catch on. Potemkin Men too.

Glad to be in a field where it's impossible to, "fake it till you make it." Well, outside the bubble of academia, that is (Lots of Potemkin People in academia!).

Denton said...

Very nice piece. I've met these before and never had a term for them, well that I'll type here. My latest one was at a local cafe in stained jeans and a raggity hoodie, where I tried to chat her up in line. I got the sniff, then my coffee with "Hi Dr.... I thought you were in Shanghai this week" from my regular coffee slinger. She visibly froze.

Denton said...

Nice to have a term for them that doesn't ryhme with witch - even if that term is unfair to dogs.

I've had run in with them when dressed down. One recently sniffed at me when I was dressed down: the coffee slinger calling me Dr. and asking how was Shanghai made her turn funny colors.

Captain Capitalism said...

For those asking, yes, the Lawyer Woman most certainly did earn her junior partnership. She was dedicated to her career and there was NO affirmative action. I've rarely seen somebody work that much and be that professional.

However, that is ALL she dedicated herself to and would accept no less in her social aspects of life as well as her friends.

It could as well have just been a guy, the results would have been the same - loneliness.

Anonymous said...

Potemkin woman describes my mother to a T.

She was a great mother, who couldn't stand her kids, but insisted to teach us to act like everything was perfect.

She was a great homemaker, who couldn't make a home, but sure made a nice facsimile of one for guests.

She was a great worker, who couldn't arrive on time, and kept her job god alone knows how.

She was a great dresser. Well, gotta give them that, they tend to be great dressers.

It's a sad thing for the kids. I've had to rebuild my mental makeup from practically ground up because I was left in the care of someone who would have broken most people, because he neither cared nor asked for the responsibility.

I guess one good thing to come of it is that I'm pretty much immune to torture.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth is society values looks in a woman and earnings in a man. A woman's value thus shrinks as she ages and a man's generally grows.

Your potemkin women just overrated their own value until it was too late and had nothing to fall back on.

Sad really, and if they weren't so snotty before their value ran out we might have some sympathy. Then again if they werent so snotty they probably would be happy.

IllTemperedCur said...

Great turn of a phrase.

This old article treads the same ground, with a delightfully snarky title.


Naut Right said...

One can break these women. Don't be mean about it. Do it to save them. Yes, I did say that.
Many are worth saving. Besides, it is what their Potemkin game is all about, down deep.

Dystopia Max said...

Cappy, you old dog! By the sound of it, you've been drinking some well-aged Moldbug! Careful, that stuff can get addictive. One minute you're noting the Potemkin woman phenomenon and the next minute you're realizing WHY they're made that way!

(Spoiler: So that members of the Kosmosmol can use them as "disinterested parties" to enforce the state's will through the Inner and Outer parties.)

Anonymous said...

I am wholly sympathetic to the tenor of this piece, and agree that this demographic of women certainly exists. And, yeah, they're sad and pathetic and it's kinda fun to watch them crash and burn. But I also thought while reading it that we're just making fun of them for acting in a way that certain men always have, since the beginning of time. Buying things they can't afford, talking loud, acting successful, while in reality they're empty and sad and scared. Guys like this are so common that we don't even think to mention it. They've always been around. They were around in middle school. They fake their way through life. And often at some point all their bullshit catches up with them. So what? I think the only reason we notice is because women have only recently started acting the same way. And by the same way, I mean faking it like men traditionally have, rather than more traditional female options (marrying some dude you don't like just to get by). Yeah, they're misguided and entitled and annoying, but so are the dudes who are just like them. Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I was married to one of these and financed it for several years (the guy in between the marriage and divorce comment of the Captain's)She was always starting new "businesses" that involved a lot of socializing and fancy clothes but didn't make any money. She was always complaining loudly to her friends about how hard it was to be a mother, run the house, and run her "sucessful" business. Our house looked like hell, the kids were sick of her unreliability, and I was financing her businesses, but other people wouldn't have been able to see those things.

After our inevitable divorce, I had much happier kids that I was raising, the house looked great, and suddenly I had money to spend on fun things.

She drove her next husband into bankruptcy while buying a fancy sports car and commenting on facebook about how much she loved being a mother (the kids never visited her).

Then he divorced her and now she's in her 40s and her looks have faded. She's having trouble finding husband #3 and she actually has to support herself, but has no real skills.

So she became a big Obama supporter and works for Americorps, land of the useless women.

Anonymous said...

The 'Game' equivalent term is "Fake it until you make it".

Far easier or less expensive to do internally than externally.

Mister Ed said...

"Historians debate how serious the fakery was, since many of the contemporaneous accounts of the shenanigans in Catherine's court were hugely exaggerated."

Not all of them.

Anonymous said...

This is only somewhat related, but am I the only one who has noticed the change in tone on the right in the last five or ten years? It seems like a ton of the guys who once would have advocated making your job your life because the market demands it are increasingly throwing their hands up and saying "Whatever, find a job that requires little work and pays well and use the proceeds to bang Czech girls / enjoy time with the wife and kids / climb mountains / play video games, etc."

The consumerist culture, the terrible economy, the games and politics involved in having a good career all produced men who don't even care to play along and keep our Potemkin society running. It's a good thing.

P.S. Club girls, especially of the credit card variety, are the worst women on the planet. Hang out with them for a bit and you'll want to date librarians for the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

Redneck Joe's story made me laugh. Good for him! A few years ago I had a sort of scruffy man come in to my workplace. He didn't say much but had a few questions,so I took it from there trying to help/put him at ease. As he was about to leave I said "I should have introduced myself,I am so sorry..I am Sally Smalltown." He said "You are a very kind woman,thank you for your help. I'm Alex AutoEmpire." He was moving to the area and wanted to see how he would be treated. We all passed with flying colors apparently. We like him for himself, but I won't lie, the town sure has benefited from his generosity. You just never know.

DUDEMAN said...

To put a social scientist twist on this: after all the "achievements" of feminists during the last 30 years in the workplace, they've never been unhappier.

Guess you really CAN'T have it all...