Rape and Accountability

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Men are From Mars- Epic Fail

I just opened a box of old books and found “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”  I had heard so much positive press about this book that I decided to pick it up a few years ago, but obviously never got around to reading it.  So I dug into it a few nights ago.

Overall, the book was intriguing and informative.  I do agree that men and women have different communication styles; but that is about all the good I can say.  It is very clear to me that the author is a feminist and a misogynist without even checking his background.  A few quotes from the book will demonstrate why this is obvious on the face of it.

On page 49 he states “Although she has not received what she deserved…she needs to recognize how she contributed to the problem.” He continues, “When a woman gives too much she should not blame her partner. Similarly a man who gives less should not blame his partner for being negative or unreceptive to him.” This advice is in response to women who “give too much” to their partners – unsolicited time, attention, favors, gifts, affection, etc.  The quotes above make it very clear; women routinely give too much, and men routinely give less.  This is verbatim from the book and not my interpretation (lest I be accused of miscommunicating based on anything less than a ‘literal’ translation from another man).

The worst thing about this passage, and a handful of others in the book, is the presumption that women deserve more and that men give less as a default assumption.  This is patently wrong and extremely destructive to good relationships.  Young men or those who have not yet developed critical thinking will accept this very carefully worded bias, and act accordingly.  It is a safe assumption that some men who read this book are desperate for relationship guidance and may pick it up because it is written by a man.  This is a huge mistake.  The entire book is a house of cards that appears as good advice in sheep’s clothing.  The only way for men to be successful, according to the subtext of the book, is for the man to recognize and accept his inferior status in the relationship.  This thread runs throughout the entire book, and you can spot this if you know how to spot it. To wit:

The next quote really brought this home for me. On page 60, he states: “To fully express their feelings, women assume poetic license and use various superlatives, metaphors, and generalizations.  Men mistakenly take these expressions literally”  After giving some examples, he suggests, “You can see how ‘literal’ translation of a woman’s words could easily mislead a man who is used to using speech as a means of conveying only facts and information.  We can also see how a man’s response might lead to an argument.  Unclear and unloving communication is the biggest problem in relationships.  The number one complaint women have in relationships is ‘I don’t feel heard’.”

This one passage is so rife with bad assumptions and disgusting generalizations that it boggles the mind – and from a PhD with an actual practice!  Let’s start at the top with “Women assume poetic license…”  I wonder how this would work if men in positions of power and authority were to “Assume poetic license.” Perhaps you are accused of a crime and the judge “assumes poetic license.” I wonder how this would play out.  Aside from the horrendous misogynistic stereotype that all women are this way – I can say that this is not true by any stretch in my experience – it should be insulting to women to hear a many say that all women are essentially liars!

Wow, this is quite bad when one reflects on the subtext here:  Not only are women inherently dishonest and prone to poetic flourish and embellishment to such a degree that any reasonable interpretation of their words by men is likely to be incorrect.

Next, he says “You can see how ‘literal’ translation of a woman’s words could easily mislead a man…”  Note how the author does not say that the misleading language is to blame – it is the TRANSLATION that is misleading!  In other words, women are not wrong for using poetic license and misleading language, it is the man’s fault for misinterpreting their metaphors.  Wow!

The next of many insults in this passage is the assumption that men are “used to using speech as a means of conveying only facts and information.”  First of all, men use speech as a way of conveying all sorts of things; feelings, sentiments, love, beauty, sexual lust, appreciation, and yes, facts.  Look at the historical body of art created over the last millennium or so.  The vast majority of the songs, lyrics, poems, oil painting, sculptures, and other works of fine art were created by men – The OVERWHELMING majority. And if one counts up the works that have come from women, you are likely to find that little of it expresses the same love and admiration for the opposite sex than the work created by men.  Ok, so statues are not technically “speech” but I consider it a valid form of expression.  This one statement is such an epic fail and a slap in the face to the millions of men who have poured their hearts out in myriad ways.

This section ends in suggesting that “Unclear and unloving communication is the biggest problem in relationships.  The number one complaint women have in relationships is ‘I don’t feel heard’.”  So now this unclear and unloving communication that is perpetrated by women (by the author’s own admission) is the biggest problem, but it is the man’s fault. To make matters worse, women are saying that they don’t “feel heard.”  Let’s flip this around for a moment.  Bear with me.

Imagine a man who comes home to his wife and says “Hi honey, I’m home.” He sits down for dinner and says “Wow I had a great day at work today. I am in a great mood – let’s go out for a drink after dinner, call up the babysitter and I will take a shower and get ready”   Imagine the wife calls the sitter and goes up to the bedroom to find her man sitting on the bed visibly upset.  “What’s wrong sweetie” she asks.  “You are so clueless.  Did you REALLY call the babysitter?”  “Yes, that’s what you asked me to do!”  Imagine the husband goes on to launch into a tirade about how he doesn’t feel heard.  How could be possibly have had a good day at work.  How could she not see that he was tired? She should have known that when he mentioned the word “shower” that this really meant that he felt dirty and worn out.  What he really wants is a foot massage and a beer.  Geez, she is really an idiot for not “getting it.”  This sounds bizarre as I write it, yet this is exactly what the author posits as the acceptable communication mode of women and it is the sort of interaction that occurs between men and women every day.

The book has sold over 7 million copies (Wikipedia).  This means that at least 7 million people and their partners – 7 million more at least – have been affected by this drivel.  What is so harmful is that the author does not divulge his bias against men.  This has helped him sell a lot of books, but how many men’s lives have been ruined in the process.  I doubt that there is any way of holding this man accountable.  In fact, one would be more likely to be denigrated for pointing out the obvious and egregious dishonesty found throughout the book than he will be for writing it!

 

So, the question is – do you think that women should be given complete license to be deceptive in a relationship.

Posted in On Being a Man, On Women | Leave a comment

On Restroom Segregation

There was a time when one relieved oneself out of doors in nature. Then came the outhouse, followed by indoor plumbing. Years went by and we had men’s and women’s restrooms in public places. Later we added a third type for the physically handicapped and now we have a fourth for families. These are all good and appropriate developments in the annals of hygienic innovation.

But there is an inherent inconsistency here that begs the question: Why do we have separate restrooms for men and women?

Is it because we have different body parts? If that were true then we might have to consider different rooms for hermaphrodites.  One must also concede that there are women who have more masculine bodies and features than some men, so that logic does not completely hold.

Do men and women have significantly different needs for plumbing fixtures that warrants separate rooms? Aside from urinals, the answer is no. Besides, we could always just include urinals in a unisex bathroom, so that doesn’t hold either.

Is this somehow a matter of gender roles? It’s hard to say, but one could concede that this might be at least a small consideration. Perhaps it is about cleanliness? The mechanics involved would seem to indicate that men might – ahem – “miss the mark” more often than women. But I have heard women say that their restrooms are disgusting because women do not sit, and so things can get just as messy around female commodes (a recent revelation to me).

A reasonable person would agree that these things all play some role in the phenomenon of restroom segregation, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Restroom segregation is primarily a matter of sexuality;  women need a place where they can be away from the prying eyes of predatory men, to relieve and refresh themselves.

Some men are sexually aggressive and women need at least one place to retreat from this. This may be why some restrooms have ante-rooms, lounges, powder rooms, etc., so that women can sit, relax, talk, put on makeup, smoke a cigarette, or whatever else women do in there– but it is clear that this space is decidedly away from men. There is no other criterion for this separation in modern times (although race was another criterion for such segregation in some places in years past).

Now for the challenge: If one concedes that restrooms are segregated by gender for reasons that have everything to do with sexuality, then why do we not also have separate lesbian and gay restrooms?

Bear with me.

I was in a mall recently and as I was standing at the urinal with my “belongings” in my hand, when I sensed a presence to my right. Guy Code dictates that one face forward, ignoring any and all distractions to the left or right, while using a urinal.

“Excuse me sir” came a deep but wispy voice, wrapped in a thick non-descript foreign accent. I looked at the interloper in what should otherwise have been a private moment, breaking Guy Code. “Do you live in (city omitted)?” he asked. “No” I said, and got back to doing my business. “Where do you live?” he persisted. I looked at him again and noticed that he was quite blatantly checking me out up and down.  He did this with a fey roll of the eyes and flash of the brow that says “I can do things for you if you let me.” It became immediately clear at that point where this was going – and fast.

Ok, at this point as a modern American man, I was facing a dilemma. Several things were going through my mind. First of all I promised myself then and there that I would never let my youngest son go to the restroom alone ever again. The second thing I thought was how gutsy this guy was. I am fairly athletic looking and was not in a particularly welcoming mood that day. What made this guy think it was safe or ok to approach me in this way in this sort of space? I am not the type to haul off and punch someone for this, but it happens and gay men know that this is always a risk. He knew it and so did I.

Now I have had several gay friends in my life, and still do, so I am sympathetic to a certain degree. And yes this sort of thing has happened to me before. I am also a healthy heterosexual male so I can understand the compulsion to try to get laid whenever the mood overtakes me. But one thing that makes good men civilized is the ability restrain oneself until the proper time and place.

The restroom is not a pickup place – at least not for me. For some men, however, the men’s room is a place to take chances like this. Unlike ladies rooms, there is no equivalent of a lounge where men can disconnect and escape from the sexual predations of other men; but perhaps there should be.

So there I was, alone with this creepy guy alone in a pubic restroom.

“I live in (city omitted)” I offered with a confident and mildly friendly grin. I quickly zipped up and left. As I was leaving he muttered something else, but I didn’t hear as I was nearly out the door. This man was a very odd looking character. I am loathe to say this because a person’s looks should be irrelevant. Perhaps it was his behavior that gave me the feeling. But this was not the sort of man I would want as my Children’s kindergarten teacher. In all fairness to this guy, he wasn’t trying to pick up a little kid. But it bothered me. Not because a gay man tried to pick me up – and make no mistake about it, that is what was happening – but that he was doing this in the men’s room. It is a place where men feel vulnerable whether they want to admit this or not.

It got me to thinking about how this might play out if all restrooms were unisex. How many creepy heterosexual men would take advantage of the isolation of a restroom to prowl around asking unsuspecting women “Psst…Excuse me, where do you live?”

Can you imagine?

So, the question of the day is – Do you think that restrooms should also be separated by sexual orientation?

Posted in On Being a Man | Leave a comment

The New Minority

Not long ago I was searching online around to find other like-minded professionals with whom I hoped to commisserate and share perspectives on a number of topics.  I found sites dedicated to a myriad of groups representing interests that ranged from atheism to ziplining.

What I could not find, and still have not, is a goup that appeals to my basic sensibilities. The irony here is that I am considered a part of the majority in this country.  So, as I am often wont to do, I started looking at numbers.  The table below represents the results of this analysis. Since this is just a snapshot to make a point and not an hypothesis in search of a proof I will not do the hard work of citing sources, etc.  The data is easily found though.

So with this snapshot as a fairly good depiction of my status in America, I know now that in all of America, there are only 10,000 other men like me – barely 3 thousandths of one percent!  So why do people refer to “people like me” as the majority?  After all, if I can be considered a part of the majority, then aren’t all Gays part of the majority group “Americans”?  Aren’t all African American females part of the majority group of “women”?

As you can see in the chart below, I started with the total US population and kept whittling it down by each category.  I can post my approach separately if requested, but it is relatively eash to replicate once you catch the patter going down the list.

So why is my status as a straight white male always portrayed in the broadest possible terms, while protected classes and other minority groups represented in the most exclusive terms?  This is a rhetorical question – to wt:

Question of the day – How do you define “minority”?  Do you consider yourself a member of a minority group?

Disclaimer:  I did not take into account sampling errors, the overlap between categories, and how each category was comprised from the original source.  Do your own homework. The data came from good and easy sources with a quick search.

Posted in On Being a Man | Leave a comment

Love turns to hate

(Quote Alert – I am going to throw around quite a few in this post. Quotes are no substitute for good science or research, so I recommend that you do your own)

I have heard it said that “one cannot hate another person unless they have first loved them”, which at the time made sense to me. Along these lines, a very good friend recently said to me “love eventually turns to hate” in discussing my impending divorce and his own experience.  For some reason his comment threw me a bit.

I never understood how such a strong positive emotion could turn into such a strong opposite emotion.  That was until I learned that hate is NOT the opposite of love –the opposite of love is apathy.  This explains so much these days.

First of all, I have never encountered a definition of love that was sufficient.  Platitudes like: “love means never having to say you’re sorry,” “love is a many splendored thing,” “love hurts,” and “God is love” all fall short.  So I must concede that I do not have a definition.  It is like defining pornography – it is hard to define, but we all know it when we see it, and one man’s art (or National Geographic photo) is another man’s porn.

Why does love so often turn to hate?  I would argue that it is more biological than emotional.  When we fall in love, there is a measurable response in healthy adults.  A host of chemicals and hormones circulate inside is in preparation for the mating process. Some have argued that what we call love is, in fact, nearly 100% a physiological phenomenon.  I am a romantic at heart and believe that there is at least a little bit of what I will loosely call “magic” when it comes to love.  But there is no denying that initial attraction is often confused with love.  The hormone rush can be overwhelming in teenagers when they connect with their first love.  This has been well established, but what is less clear is the link between this feeling and the hate that seems to spring from it. 

Hate is essentially one potential outcome of the chemical withdrawal process that occurs when a relationship ends.  When we are emotionally connected to another human being in healthy ways (and obsessive and other non-health ways) we experience an array of physical and emotional changes.  A breakup is like kicking a drug habit and the physical discomfort is palpable and can be quite powerful.  I am not saying anything new here, but we still don’t seem to get the significance of this in modern society. A good enough explanation of the negative feelings that arise from such rejection can be seen here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j8ZMMuu7MU.

In terms of my own experience, I still struggle not to hate my ex.  The seeds of the undoing were planted  in the very beginning of the relationship, so I cannot blame her.  That being said, I have very concrete and specific reasons for asking for the divorce and two years down the road from our first discussion about this I am still angry.  As much as I try to tell myself that this will pass and that I will find love again, etc.  It does not take away the very present physical manifestations.  It is a nearly constant sense of loss and sadness.  I really loved this woman with everything inside me and it did not work after 20 years together.  The loss is significant for both of us.

What I notice is that she too seems to hate me.  I guess this should not surprise me given my own feelings, but it is still a bit jarring to be on the receiving end of such negativity from the love of my life and the mother of my children.

 

Ultimately these feelings have a way of subsiding for most people.  The Hollywood notion of that person who carries a torch for a long lost love is indeed romantic.  But these days, it seems creepy to me.  On one hand we have a pathological narcissist who believes that he or she can move on while secretly hoping that the former partner will writhe in the pain and agony of loneliness and the bitterness of regret.  On the other hand, we have the pathologically insecure emotional leech whose love borders on obsession.  She or he cannot move on because they have nowhere else to go and no one else with who to go there.

Question of the day – Do you believe that love can turn to hate?  Tell us your story.

Posted in On Women | Leave a comment