Sweep Her Off Her Feet

I received the following intriguing email a few weeks ago:

A friend, getting desperate at ever finding a good girl (yes, that happens to guys too), hatched a plan to kidnap a nice BY girl. He would use a friendly shadchan’s services to preselect the very best girl. Whisk her off to a carefully prepared New Mexico cabin. Adobe stucco, very picturesque. Treat her in a most kosher and cavalier way. And allow the Stockholm Syndrome to do the rest. Within 6 weeks he would deliver her back to the parents: safe, secure, and happily married.

There would be a few complications regarding lo signov, but we could rely on the few poskim who say shidduchim trumps  mitzvos lo sa’asei (everybody agrees that it trumps mitzvos asei). That’s it. Desperate times require desperate hishtadlus.
…Are you calling the police?

In the words of the king from Cinderella, “Love, ha! Just a boy and a girl meeting under the right conditions. So, we’re arranging the right conditions.” (Thanks, O.) But are these really the right conditions?

Bride kidnapping is not a new idea. Fiction is rife with such tales, most of them perpetrated by creeps, and generally unsuccessful—think The Phantom of the Opera, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Among the attempts at kidnapping that are successful is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but that’s a post-WWII musical, which have a reputation for presenting women as far more tractable than they are in real life. (One egregious example of this rewriting of reality is Annie Get Your Gun—in real life, Frank Butler was not a self-absorbed jerk [he stepped down to become Annie’s manager], and Annie had enough backbone not to be his simpering puppy. One wonders why they use the word “tribute” in their descriptions of the film/show. Tribute to who, exactly?

There’s a simple measure of how closely a movie/musical mirrors reality—it’s called the Bechdel test. There are three criteria the production must meet to pass the test:

  1. There must be two significant female characters (with names),
  2. They must speak to each other,
  3. About something besides a man.

Good luck finding a handful that fit. And yet, I know that many women speak to other women about things besides men. Are we still in parentheses?)

But this wasn’t an entry about film criticism. It’s about kidnapping women and hoping for Stockholm Syndrome to kick in. Truth is, even with Stockhold Syndrome, kidnapped women still try to escape. They just find excuses for their captor. Every few years such a case hits the news.

The best course may be the one outlined in the Restoration drama ‘The Conscious Lovers,’ by Richard Steele. There, the main character, a Mr. Bevel, takes under his wing a young lady shipwrecked and all alone in the world. He provides for her all the comforts a young lady needs: an apartment, a maid, and a piano. And he visits frequently to ensure that she’s comfortable. They both become secretly besotted with each other, but neither dares mention it for fear of offending the other with their presumption. But of course, in the end, with typical Restoration drama chaos, everything comes all right and they marry.

Kidnapping a woman immediately gives her reason to resent you. Rescuing her immediately gives her reason to like you. And as Maureen Dowd snidely states, “Women like firefighters because deep down, they all want to be rescued.” Sadly, shining armor is out of fashion these days. Think of the wide appeal of The Princess Bride; it almost certainly stems from its adherence to the knight-in-shining-armor-rescuing-damsel-in-distress model.

So for all desperate gentlemen considering this course of action: It would be far better to arrange for someone else to kidnap the woman, so you can go in and perform a daring rescue worthy of a Jewish thriller novel. On the long trek back to civilization (a kidnapping to the Congo or Amazon would be ideal), the two of you will doubtless bond. By the time you ring her doorbell, the only thing left to discuss will be “Should we send Bad4 a response card?”

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