Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Speculation on (another) possible root cause of misogyny:

Besides institutionalized hegemonic male-over-female sexism that is. Which is real, yes. Still, yes. (Film at eleven).

But here's a thing i keep noticing on an individual level. Lots and lots and lots of anger. Supposedly at "gold-diggers" and vengeful, withholding, cold women who won't give no love or affection. Which complaints are generally not taken terribly sympathetically by most women and non-misogynists, surprise.

But what's the real complaint? Is it really primarily about sex? Money? The fear of losing power, even? (that is there, yes; but we'll get to that). Well, none of us are owed any of these things, particularly, as we know.

But, or, is it, at root, really about: I can't get unconditional love.

Because, yeah, that's a problem.

Of course fuck knows that plenty of women have that issue too; and if you have on top of it such things as a history of sexual abuse (at the hands of men)...yah, not gonna be terribly sympathetic to the boyz. This post is not by way of an excuse. For anything, really.

Here's the deal, though. One of the legacies of patriarchal culture (current "mainstream" U.S. version, at least, as handed down from Biblical morality via Calvinism and Victorianism) is the expectation that Twoo Luv conquers all. A good woman can save a man from his beastly impulses, in a romantic, monogamous, dyadic relationship. Traditionally, marriage; lately, that particular expectation, maybe not so much (depending on where you are and what your background is). Otherwise, though, it's all still very much there. We could talk about the heternormativity of that dictate all day, and probably have done, and will do, especially wrt how it affects women, not to mention queer folk and other sexually "alternative" people. Don't bet on the Prince. An orgasm is a gift you give yourself. Free yer ass and the rest will follow. Love/sex is not a scarce commodity. And so on.

But there's a particular twist to the man's expectation in this patriarchally normative set-up, in that the *other* dictates he's received are: You don't have emotional needs. You don't turn to other men for tenderness, and women (except, *maybe*, for That Special Someone, assuming you ever find her), are there primarily for service/combat. So essentially, you're putting an awful lot of expectations on one woman; and very likely you don't even know that you *have* those expectations. They get reified into concrete "shoulds" like "laugh at my jokes" and "have sex __ number of times per __" and so forth. (And of course it could also be that woman in this equation is going off her own reified expectations of what "caring" looks like from a "traditional," sexist perspective...which may include such things as buying presents and spending money, yes. Bottom line: no one's able to ask for what they actually need. cue bitterness all around).

Sometimes this kind of relationship works out in spite of it all, more or less, I expect; after all, norms wouldn't hold up if they didn't work for *anybody.*

But so now assume that instead of having a "good-enough" parent, even within a "traditional," patriarchal set-up and all the sexist assumptions and so on that that implies (it is possible)...the man in question has grown up in a miserable, dysfunctional family. Maybe Dad abused Mom (the classic predictive set-up for a boy who will grow up to be a batterer in his own right, watching Dad abuse Mom). Maybe Mom (or big sister, or Grandma) was in fact actually abusive herself..verbally, emotionally, physically, even (it happens) sexually. Maybe it's simply neglect. (don't underestimate it). Maybe this is in conjunction with an abusive father or male figure; maybe it isn't. But the bottom line is: you weren't seen, you weren't heard, you didn't get unconditional love and acceptance. Which is not owed to anyone by any other adult; it *was* something that was owed to you by your parents. If you didn't get it then, you're never gonna (not in that same way, at least); and, well, that sucks. One of life's hard truths.

Now: couple this with traditional, male-dominator assumptions of what "being a man" entails. Don't ask for help; be tough; you don't have emotional needs. Male buddies might be your support; but there are Rules, rather stringent ones, for that male bonding thing, in a heteronormative culture. That may or may not work out for you. If that doesn't work out...

"A good woman will save you.* A good woman is what you need. Only...oops, never did learn those social skills or relationship skills that you would need to attract a *good* woman (where would you have learned this?); and, in the classic tradition of the abused, you may well find yourself ending up with women that do an astonishing impression of Mom (or grandma, or big sis, or even Dad as far as that goes), again and again. Introspection...not really done. Therapy is expensive, and they all just bleed you dry of money anyway (money is power, after all; and you have little enough to spare of either). Talk radio helps. Vent sessions with buds, maybe. You might call what they're giving you "validation of your feelings," if you held any truck with that sort of woo-woo girlie psychobabble New Agey shit. But they don't really give you everything you need, either. And the last time you brought up any of this in mixed company, *the women (and their pussified male friends) made fun of you.* Those bitches! Everyone feels sorry for THEM. Everyone listens to THEIR problems. Who's listening to you, huh? HUH??

So. Your conclusion is:

...yeah. I Blame The Matriarchy. (Feminists, "castrating bitches," vagina dentata, Hillary, u-name it). Lucky you: you've still got a few um tools at your disposal to wield, handed down from centuries' worth of legal and other forms of consolidation of institutional male power. Unlucky you: you're so full of self-pity you're not even gonna recognize what you *do* have. You are a Loser; but, this has nothing to do with any sort of *male* sexism and its related Systems (The Winner Takes It All; Men Must Be Tough and On Top, Always). Or family abuse. Or pretty much anything except the Truth:

There are Alpha Males and then there is everyone else; and clearly, all your problems would be solved if you were just recognized as the Alpha Male you were meant to be, dammit. And feminism...uhhhhhh...is a cheat, because you're still not an Alpha Male, and now *all* the women hate you, and that's all there is in this world. Alpha Males, and (somehow) even more powerful, laughing bitches... and poor, hapless schlubs like you. And so it will be, always, world without end, Amen. Right?...Hello?...Anybody out there?....


antiprincess said...

File this all under "things I wish I'd said."

Wronged said...

Amen and hallelujah.

This love me unconditionally thing extends to "even when I'm a gross fuckup you're still supposed to adore me."

I do have one more area i think this could be expanded to: the Mama's Boy. I'm talking the over indulged prize of the family boy who feels utterly entitled because mama told (or keeps telling) him so.

This group of man grew up knowing he could do no wrong and DAMN the woman to hell who faults his behavior (even if it's deserved) because he is PERFECT and should be loved accordingly.

After all, his mama thinks so....

come on women, you gotta help us out here. Stop making these men!

belledame222 said...

o yes.

"My son is the star of the team, team TEAM! That handsome face, all the girls!! Lookit him!! He's so tall, why he's perfect! How could you not love him?? I get a "A" in womanhood because of this SON! Lookit me world, I'm out with my SON! I am so proud I could pee my panties!! Son son sonny son son Him Boy"

"I'm her daughter, but we don't remember my name!"

--Hothead Paisan

Dan L-K said...

Damn, but I see a lot of this - not necessarily every aspect you cover here, but a lot of men I care about having problems because their One True Love turned out to not be the answer to all their problems (and, not infrequently, a sociopath, because that's often what you get when you look for someone to Make It All Right for you). And tying themselves into hopeless knots because the thing they had so much invested in went so horribly wahoonie-shaped, and them without the slightest clue of how to cope with all this stuff because Stalwart Manliness prepares you for it not at all.

Is it any wonder that their frustration manifests as free-floating misogyny? It's not like they're even remotely equipped to understand, or cope with, the ways in which they might share the responsibility for being where they are.

dwayne m. said...

I've just returned from the lab - deep in the Cheyenne mountains (where else would a super secret lab be?) - and have a finding that may be some interest.

Have you ever found yourself listening to the radio - perhaps you're driving down a lonesome road, imagine the shimmering moon high above - and one of those songs is played?

One of those songs in which young men scream about how much they "hate" the woman who wrecked, ruined, destroyed, Curtis LeMay firebombed and otherwise leveled the city that was their shaggy dog

Misogyny at what, 20 decibels? Yes, at least.

Whenever I hear these tunes an imagined old man to young pup speech rolls through my mind.

"Listen lad", I say, "I understand, the lady left. Perhaps she was right perhaps she was wrong. She left. Time to deal with the loss and learn.

Go out, pick yourself up an Armani suit (okay, a knock off is fine) get a good haircut and have a bit of the old ultra fun."

Exhibit A:

The band Papa Roach expresses regret in the jagged edge tear jerker, "Scars" -

I tear my heart open, I sew myself shut My weakness is that I care too much And my scars remind me that the past is real I tear my heart open just to feel


The road to (a certain brand) of misogyny is paved with these apocalyptic visions of victim hood.

Aishwarya said...

Great post.:)

Sage said...

I once dated a mama's boy extraordinaire. One of three boys and a girl, in his parents' house, where he still lived at 32, there were 8x10 glossies of his face in almost every room. Regular pics of his sibs.

One day I took him to task for being a jerk, and he said in a haughty tone,

"You have to accept me as I am."

I responded, "I can accept this is how you are, but not like it and not have anything to do with you again."

He was absolutely dumbfounded. He had been given a very clear impression that he could act how he pleased and we,as good people, must all love him as is.

How, at 32, was this the first time he had ever heard this message??

And, of course, he retaliated with an "ice-queen" charge against me for not falling for his charms.

It is to laugh.

belledame222 said...

It's actually a form of abuse in its own right, that, you know: the price is utter enmeshment and stifling of growth. not to mention reactions like that if/when finally forced to encounter the real world.

not that that makes it any more pleasant for the real world when encountering that. particularly when it's backed up by money and influence.

Dan L-K said...

Romance in general just has a hell of a lot to answer for.

Anonymous said...

ok, re: the example of the guy with other male siblings and it was just that guy who turned out to be a diva-- what about the other male siblings who surely didn't get that message that they get to be loved unconditionally?

to follow from actual biblical perspectives, men are supposed to be encouraged by other MEN to be virtuous and good, not just women. the unconditional love thing isn't even really a straight line from classic and christian traditions, and it doesn't solely nor primarily place responsibility on the female half of the population.

if you're going to look for scapegoats in the misogyny sweepstakes, one might want to look at the cult of individualism and of primarily upperclass white people letting their children run roughshod over them without consequences for the kids' actions.

belledame222 said...

Well, sure, if you want to talk about "entitlement." It's not like any of this is an either/or.

And no, the Bible doesn't say anything about "unconditional love" (unless you count the message of Jesus himself, but that seems to get lost pretty quickly anyway, and even that's arguable); certainly not unconditional *parental love*; that wasn't exactly a popular concept back then. doesn't mean that isn't something people actually need, or at least miss when they don't get it.

belledame222 said...

...someone who knows better than I would have to trace the development of the "cult of romantic love" from roots to present-day. but iirc, it does have to do, loosely at least, with the by-then prevalant notion that one needs to be "saved," because one is inherently bad/sinful (not probably popular in quite those present-day terms, but the general idea was pretty clear istm); and of course with the notion that there are men and then there are...those others. romantic love was, like Marianism, (arguably, all of this) a way of giving women back a certain...place. but it's a precarious one.

or, here, "courtly love:"


The courtly love tradition was non-Christian, providing an alternative to the love of God and the Church, placing salvation in the love of your lady (or man). Marriage had only recently been made a sacrament of the Church, at the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215, and within Christian marriage, the only purpose was procreation with any sex beyond that purpose seen as non-pious. The ideal state of a Christian was celibacy, even in marriage. By the beginning of the 13th century the ideas of courtly tradition were condemned by the church as being heretical. The church channeled many of these energies into the cult of the virgin; it is not a coincidence that the cult of the Virgin Mary began in the 12th century as a counter to the secular, courtly and lustful views of women. Francis of Assisi called poverty "his Lady".

Such a courtly love had a civilizing effect on knightly behavior, beginning in the late 11th century; it has been suggested that the prevalence of arranged marriages required other outlets for the expression of more personal occurrences of romantic love. New expressions of highly personal private piety in the 11th century were at the origins of what a modern observer would recognize as a personality, and the vocabulary of piety was also transferred to the conventions of courtly love.

Thus feudalism, piety, and covert neopaganism fused into a new culture, without precedents in Europe, one that was isolated, however, within a few aristocratic courts. Such refined feelings, the readers of Guillaume de Lorris's Roman de la Rose assumed, were not a matter for the peasant or the townsman, whose natures were considered too coarse and who were too busy trying to survive to take part in elaborate courtship rituals. Later, a robust bourgeois "anti-courtly" literature in vernacular languages developed in the 14th century, when many of the new courtly elements, such as the yearnings of romantic love, had in fact permeated the urban middle class...


So, no, romantic love per se is not Biblical; however, there's no question imo that the domination of Christianity led directly (in part) to this as *response* (thesis and antithesis). The other factors, as you noted, have to do with class; here you see the very beginnings of the transition from feudalism to (the ancestor of, anyway) capitalism; the concept of the "individual;" and the rise (later) of the bourgeois class.

And of course, throughout all this, there's still a rather sharply unequal relationship between the status of men and that of women, which is very much Biblical, even if it didn't originate there. (One could argue, and some do, that the "covert neopaganism" was effectively trying to restore a place for women/the goddess that had existed under the European pre-Christian culture(s) and was displaced by the priesthood. less arguable is the fact that it didn't exactly solve the inequity, of itself).

The weird U.S. blend of homosocial (male) culture and homophobia is another subject, one whose exact origins I'm not quite as clear on. again, though, there's no doubt in my mind that the *roots* have to do with patriarchy, the most familiar form of which 'round these parts by far is that (those?) derived from the Bible. and if you forget that, someone will be along to whack you on the head with it shortly. text, you see.

along the way of course there's also plenty of other stuff; I mean, no one is arguing that the current predominant form of mainstream right-wing Christianity looks remotely like it would've back in the day. anyway I know I'm not.

belledame222 said...

>ok, re: the example of the guy with other male siblings and it was just that guy who turned out to be a diva-- what about the other male siblings who surely didn't get that message that they get to be loved unconditionally?

What about them? Parents frequently treat their children very differently from one another; it is entirely possible--hell, probable--that one sibling will have a completely different experience from another growing up with the same parents.

*Why* one kid gets to be Special Prince Boy could be for any number of reasons, most of which the parents probably won't say or even recognize. Family systems people talk a lot about birth order, which isn't something I know loads about (only child here). but I can speculate, without knowing: Prince Boy might be the eldest and hence in the traditional patriarchal "heir" spot, even if the family's not actually gonna be giving him all their lands. Or he could be the youngest, the baby. Possibly a "late in life" child, or sickly at one point. Or...he might physically remind one of the parents of some idolized someone in the past that the others don't; or he might have arrived at a time in their lives which made him represent (unconsciously) all their hopes and dreams, or...who knows. (sage, care to speculate wrt this guy?)

Btw, though: that kind of "you're soooo special, forever" business is *not*, in fact, unconditional love. The hidden condition is this: never grow up and never separate from us; and never let us down. *You're the reason for us to go on living*: stay the
way you are, or we'll probably die, and so will you.

(also see: Portnoy's Complaint)

belledame222 said...

And then, here, what I was looking for wrt Victorianism:


In the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries, Romanticism replaced courtly love. In Romanticism it is possible to recognize the origins of some of our modern ideas about love: concern with similarities between partners, equality in the relationship, and the experience of the emotional side of love. This form furthered the courtly love ideal of sexual expression between partners as a worthy goal, with the added recognition that this fusion of emotion and sexuality could (and ideally should) occur with one's spouse.

The Victorian era (approximately 1830–1900) brought great changes to the idea of romantic love. This is hardly surprising, as people of this time were also adjusting to the changes in work and community life brought about by the Industrial Revolution. In the shift from the home economy to paid labor, the status of women declined, and new myths and ideas about love and its expression emerged. The partnership-oriented focus of Romanticism all but disappeared. Women in the Victorian era were seen as weaker and less intelligent than men. Within marriage, this assumption defined women as mothers and helpers, not individuals who might have complementary interests and a rightful concern for equality within a relationship. Women were also seen as childlike and asexual during this time, and were thought to need their husband's protection. This is an abrupt departure from earlier modes of loving, which acknowledged sexuality as an important aspect of the experience of love. In the Victorian era, sexual matters were not discussed between spouses...


...to which legacy, of course, the "sexual revolution" is a direct response. (thesis and antithesis again).

That site has some interesting terms, on later pages, btw:

In American society a romantic love complex exists, and this complex posits love as a central prerequisite to marriage. The basic components of this complex are assimilated through the mass media—through romantic stories in novels, magazines, television, and movies. In this way we are psychologically prepared to fall in love. The major characteristics of romantic love include romantic democracy; that is, cultural differences between couples are minimized or ignored because "love and love alone" is sufficient. Indeed, it involves the notion that romantic love thrives on such differences. Romantic love also includes romantic intensity; that is, people are expected to fall in love instantly (to experience love at first sight) and deeply, with great emotional attachment. Finally, romantic love includes romantic monopoly in that once the "bolt from the blue" strikes, the couple presume exclusive emotional and social rights to each other, in perpetuity (Merrill 1959). A person experiencing the full thrust of this complex is, supposedly, consumed by constant thoughts about the beloved, a longing to spend all one's time with that person, a sad pining in the beloved's absence, and a feeling that life would not be worth living without him or her...

Dan L-K said...

The idea that courtly love is a mechanism by which (usually) men get "saved" has had enormous and shattering implications. How many women do you know who look on their boyfriends/fiances/husbands as "diamonds in the rough" who would be perfect with just a little work and cultivation? There's an expectation that it's a woman's job to save her mate from himself, to improve him and bring out his potential (whether he wants it or not). It's probably an old joke by now: Women marry men hoping they'll change, and men marry women hoping they never will.

This is, of course, in diametric opposition to the idea that "You need to love me just as I am!" But I think a lot of men actually wind up swallowing both myths - they want someone who will love them exactly as they are, warts and all, and they want a mate who will save them at the same time - make him want to settle down and live the All-American Dream. Of course, what usually winds up happening is that neither of these things comes to pass, and he ends up resenting her for both reasons. "Why do you need to change me?" and "Why aren't you more wonderful so I want to change?" are fighting it out somewhere in his head, and meanwhile she's internalized the same nonsense so she wonders herself what she did wrong to not be able to carve away all the parts of him that don't look like a prince.

Nobody feels good enough, nobody really changes, the rifts that were already there widen, and True Love Fails Again. Everyone loses.

(This is why I'm with Kurt Vonnegut, in a passage I had read at my own wedding: A marriage isn't over when you don't love each other any more. It's over when you don't respect each other. The kind of marriage presented here is one where respect was likely seriously lacking on all sides, all along.)

belledame222 said...

o yes, the "fixer-upper." and that goes in other directions as well, of course ("Pygmalion"). I do think the idea holds more seduction for women, though, because it's a covert form of power in a culture that doesn't (still, especially in the erotic/romantic realm) hold much truck with the idea that women should want or exercise power in a more straightforward way.

plus the "fixer-upper" is always such a great way of working through one's unresolved family stuff. "You'll see: THIS time it'll be different, and there'll be a happy ending!!" or, you know, not. but hope springeth eternal...all the more eternal when one gets what is referred to in the land o' psych as "intermittent reinforcement." In other words, if someone *consistently* doesn't respond to your efforts in the way you want, you'll likely give up, eventually. If they (very unlikely) consistently *do* respond the way you want, well, you've got a certain kind of relationship on your hands, and you;re a very...something...individual indeed.

However, if they seem to respond the way you want *once in a while,* erratically, ("You know what: you're right" "THUD"), you're gonna keep on trying to recreate that experience almost indefinitely, same as with the lottery or any other form of gambling.

Sage said...

On the single diva among several brother:
He was singled out as special from a young age. They had huge pics of his face all over the place. It was really kinda creepy. The photos of the other kids were just the regular type. He was the youngest boy, and very charming. I think his mom fell for his charms (which sometimes happens to moms and dads), and just couldn't say no to him. His dad wrote a mini-memoire and all the kid stories end with, "...and then there was Donald whose antics really took the cake when he blah blah blah." He's even the star of his dad's life.

Now I've seen this kind of favouritism elsewhere just get shrugged off by the kid. But Donald really bought into it. He's the golden boy.

He still lives in town, but all his siblings moves to the other end of the country before I came into the picture, apparently to get away from their mom. So, I can't tell you how they turned out.

On a side note - I believe parenting isn't a one-way street. Children affect their parents and, therefore, the type of parenting they get. I don't mean that it's a kid's fault if he's neglected, etc., but that the personality of a child can play a significant role in the attitude and behaviours of the parents. So, an entertaining kid might get more smiles and attention than the others, reinforcing his entertaining nature, and the cycle perpetuates, leaving the other kids in the tiny group photo on the piano.

Blackamazon said...

Hee I just posed on this and many of these ne w relationshi p books are balming feminism ( yet the unhappy people arent active feminists) . I think we have such a dearth of interhuman respect we're fumbling for a way t o deal.

On teh fixer upper. My house can be fixerupper my car can be a fixerupper ( mmmm A GTO or old school lincoln yeah) . A man is what he is. Is that why peopel think I'm too independent?

Mars Resident said...

I've been dwelling on these subjects for a while... Excellent posts and comments, by the way.
I haven't had a chance to read through your whole blog (and I'll be honest, a lot of the psycho-analysis is over my head) but I feel that basing any relationship on love and affection without expectations and preconceived notions is integral. Obviously that's nearly impossible, but it's something to strive for and bear in mind when the personality clashes do occur.
I'll let you get back to your topic now, sorry about the derailment.

Dan L-K said...

Mars Resident, you can't have a relationship where there are no expectations. Don't fall into the trap of believing that love is truly unconditional.

These expectations run from things like "I expect that you will not cause me pysical harm" through "I expect you not to dump me for smeone with a firmer ass" on down to "I expect you not to make fun of my hobbies in a way that really hurts my feelings." Hopefully most sane people will mutually assume the more extreme end of things; more problems occur at the other end, where that respect thing can break down without warning. But the point is that those expectations are there, and if you don't have them you're asking to be walked all over, which is neither good for you or your partner.

Problems in relationships aren't the result of people having expectations; they're the result of having expectations that don't align.

antiprincess said...

with my abusive ex, all I could expect was that he would do exactly as he pleased, with whomever he pleased, whenever he pleased. On that I could rely as surely as the sun rising in the east.

Husband 3.0 is remarkably predictable in temperament and behavior. you could set your watch by him. I find it really reassuring. I expect him to be home when I get home, I expect him to stay monogamous, I expect him to fling his dirty socks liberally about the house and not complain when they remain where he flung them. He expects me to come straight home from work, stay monogamous and ignore housework completely. :)

we've achieved a nice balance. absolutely no reason for either of us to pressure the other to "change".

Dan - Right On re: Kurt Vonnegut.

Bitch | Lab said...

ISTR, something about either Agape love or Gnosticism being tied up with courtly love -- though, man, been a long time since I thought about that.

read this last week, just neglected to say: thumbs up!

midwesterntransport said...

this is really interesting, belledame, and the passages re: courtly love and salvation really hit home.

expecting another person to save you in any respect just puts too much damn PRESSURE on that one relationship or one person to solve all worldly problems, and is pretty damn narcissistic. because all this focus on unconditional love means that the other person essentially can't have a personality - no interests or opinions of their own; so the personality conflicts that are bound to ensue mean that one person feels they aren't being taken care of. it's "pay attention to ME, attend to MY needs, listen to MY opinions, me me me me ME."

i was just thinking about this because i'm reading "the autobiography of malcolm x" for the first time and the way he talks about Betty X seems awfully self-absorbed. he just expects that she will go along with whatever he says, with whatever opinions he has - he has absolute confidence that she will follow his lead in every respect. me me me me ME.

the notion that one person should be a fix-it for one's whole life is a crock - and a very damaging one. cause folks get their feelings hurt and they don't know why.

Spc. Freeman said...

During college, I went through a phase like this. I got burned pretty badly by the woman I loved, and I became bitter. What saved me, however, was not THE REAL MS. RIGHT. I only started figuring out my problems after declaring a temporary vow of abstinence from the dating scene, in order to spend time focusing on myself. Once I did that, I started figuring out that what society told me I was supposed to want in a partner was not necessarily what I NEEDED from a partner. Aocordingly, I was able to learn more about myself and my past, and when I finally DID get back into a relationship, this time with the woman I now call my wife, it was in a bond where I didn't expect so much "salvation." Maria was supposed to "save" me. Anne just loves me, and that is sufficient.

I'm reminded of the final line from "Smoke Signals:" At what point do we forgive our fathers?

At what point do we forgive each other, for that matter?

Anonymous said...

That was pretty good, up to the part where you said:

So. Your conclusion is:

when suddenly it lurched over the curb and became super dumb.

I suppose some of us losers, when we give up, accuse the Matriarchy and take up the ideology of misogyny; fallible people under stress do all kind of absurd things. But not every one of us is all that God damn stupid, you know? Anyway, just curious, do you have any constructive suggestions on tap, or should we losers just fuck off and die? The fact remains, I'm still not an Alpha Male, and now *all* the women hate me, and that's all there is in this world; all there'll ever be.

belledame222 said...

Well, before offering any "constructive suggestions;" what is it that you want, really? Let's start with that.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I want to be an "alpha male," and in fact I'm enough of a realist not to require unconditional love, I'd just like to see anything else besides hostility or indifference out of everybody. I guess what I want is to have some friends & be happy, ordinary stuff like that. But I'm so fucked up I can hardly make myself leave the house except when I've absolutely got to; e.g., when I have to talk to anyone in person if I try to look them in the face (like you're supposed to) it makes me sweat and gasp so I have to look aside; I never learn the color of anybody's eyes. And so on, and so on. Imagine how lousy I've got along with women; I don't even have any male friends left these days.

I've been up in this mess for several decades now, so to tell you the truth, I don't think that goal is attainable at all. But as I recognized myself in that failure/misogynist you described, I was curious to see if maybe, seeing things from a different perspective, you might have had an angle I'd missed. Seriously now, what would you do if you woke up one morning with all that baggage?

belledame222 said...

Well, I can tell you what I *have* done, having been sort of in that position, albeit coming from a somewhat different angle (and with my own load of baggage, which as I'm sure you know, doesn't get there overnight, but is accumulated over a lifetime, possibly generations and handed down.): therapy. Quite a bit of it.

Not to be all Ann Landers, I know, but: the shit works. In my experience, at least. I mean talking, not (just, anyway) meds. (I have/had both, anti-deps and talk therapy, among other things).

Off the cuff, putting aside the gender stuff for the moment, what you're describing sounds like classic depression. It--well, I've been talking as though I'm assuming you haven't actually been to a therapist before; have you?

Also, if you haven't already, you might want to try looking here, among other places (google "social phobia" or "social anxiety").


I have more thoughts on this, but I'll wait till after your next response.

shannon said...

He could try some social skills training. I hear it works.

belledame222 said...

He could, as could many of us; but right now he would seem to be asking for help for a deeper problem more or less on the level, so I am responding in kind.

rabfish said...

damn, good post. applies even to some men who are in therapy and know all the 'feminist' language but haven't acknowledged what's underneath.

"service/combat"--yes. well done.

Greg said...

Dan quoted Kurt Vonnegut:
"A marriage isn't over when you don't love each other any more. It's over when you don't respect each other."

It seems to me that if people respected each other they would neither love nor marry in the first place.

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