A Middle-Aged Princess Grows Up
On the cusp of my 45th birthday, I made the mistake of looking in the mirror. It wasn’t the bathroom mirror, it was a photo I had from graduate school. I looked at myself 20 years ago and had a startling and clear epiphany. It wasn’t a happy moment. It was a terribly sad moment. It was so sad that I involuntarily burst into tears, something I haven’t done since the dark days of my divorce.
I looked at the photo and came to the conclusion that I had made a real mess of my life. I felt the utter misery of my life come in waves of sadness, regret, anger, and loneliness. For almost an hour I cried as I looked at the photo of a younger me. I was 24 with a fresh MBA from an excellent school. I was eager to conquer the business world. I was eager to prove that women could do anything. I was so much thinner. My clothes looked stylish, almost sexy. Of course the hair style was awful but that was the 80s and such styles could be forgiven. I saw the brightness in my eyes, the sparkle of life, of the great opportunities that were open to me. The world was there for my taking and I was ready.
But somehow, some way, it never came to be. My life evolved into something painful and difficult. But until that moment when I looked at my photo from over two decades ago, I always blamed someone else. It was never my fault for the bad decisions I made. Typically, it was the fault of men - my father, my boyfriends, my husband, my boss, my sons. Never, ever was it something that I had done. When I commiserated with my women friends, they always supported me. They even supported me when I had my affair, telling me that my husband was not giving me the attention that I needed. I read the women’s magazines and every article was about how women were always strong, intelligent, morally righteous, unable to make bad decisions. Worse, I believed that any of my needs, no matter how frivolous, no matter how many times I changed my mind, no matter how miserable I made the men in my life feel, were more important than anything - motherhood, career advancement, a healthy marriage, whatever.
I hate the world for teaching me those lessons. I remember complaining about how my husband never grew up. But as the tears streamed down my face, I came to the conclusion that I had never grown up. I never learned about compromise, trust, tolerance, niceness. I was a bitch, pure and simple. I know now that being a bitch is not about strength or independence. Being a bitch is about being repellent, unpleasant, unhappy, and lonely. Being a bitch is nothing more than being a spoiled princess who is too selfish or stupid to accept the joy in life.
I had become a fat, unpleasant, middle-aged princess because I had refused to grow up. Sure, I had taken on grown-up responsibilities (marriage, career, house, motherhood) but at the core of my psyche was a 13-year-old girl who stamped her feet and whined when she didn’t get her way. Of course, I had stopped whining years ago but I simply replaced the whining with emotional manipulation and ornery bitchiness. No wonder I was still single and my two teenaged sons spent all their free time with their father.
When I was growing up, being a dilettante feminist, I swallowed the standard line that women can have it all. I wanted it all and I wanted to make no compromises, to assume no sacrifices, and to feel completely validated in all of my lifestyle choices. The biggest mistake in my late teens and early 20s was to let other women - women whom I thought to be strong, independent, and intelligent - determine which lifestyle I was to follow. I was simply too spoiled and lazy to look inward, to embrace the kind of introspection necessary to find one’s own path in life, the path that could lead to real fulfillment and happiness.
I remember college well. It was a fun time and I thought, at the time, an enlightening time. The parties were exciting, the political debates intense, the string of boyfriends and casual sexual encounters pleasant. I studied hard and I played hard. I attended the campus feminist meetings and listened to diatribes from sturdy and self-righteous peers about the evils of masculinity. I learned to scorn men when I didn’t need them for selfish reasons - study partners, shoulders to cry on, willing sexual partners. But I was never hesitant to bat my eyelashes or let my skirt ride up on my then-slender thighs if I needed something from a man. Men were handy to have around occasionally, but certainly not required, as my female peers kept insisting.
I learned that the only place for a woman was in the boardroom and that motherhood was beneath my intelligence. I “took back the night” at a few after-dark rallies with hundreds of young women eager to prove to the world that all men were rapists and potentially violent criminals.
When I got pregnant my sophomore year, it was easy to get an abortion. The campus health center was almost eager to make sure the procedure was done quickly and quietly. I never told my parents. I never told the fellow who made me pregnant. I don’t even remember his name, I only vaguely remember a wild night with the college hockey team at an off-campus party. Only now do I consider the irony of how I was attracted to college athletes in school - the type of men who liked being in control.
Pursuing my MBA once I completed my undergraduate studies was a foregone conclusion. I was destined for the board room, or so I had convinced myself. Graduate school was tough. I was competing with some very bright people, mostly men. Those men were destined for success and they knew it. But I had something that I exploited. I had my femininity and I used it ruthlessly when I had to. I tried to convince myself that the affair with my married finance professor had nothing to do with grades. Of course, finance was the most difficult course and when I managed surface at the end of the semester with a B it was hard to rationalize that the secret trysts with the professor had nothing to do with it. But the ends always justifies the means and there was no way I would not succeed. The other few women in my class were doing the same if they could get away with it. We never talked about it, but it was understood and we sometimes giggled about it and gloated that we had something the men would never have.
I met my husband that last year in graduate school. He was pursuing a degree in sociology. The chemistry with him was quite intense in the beginning. He had long hair and a motorcycle. He was the classic bohemian and I felt the need to rein him in, to make him a better man (or at least my definition of a better man). He was irresponsible and sometimes unruly but I loved him with all my heart and soul.
After graduating, I found work in a big corporation. Every day I went to work with my power suit and shoulder pads under my jacket. I walked in my sneakers and changed into work shoes when I got to the office at 7AM to put in another 12 hour day. I was married by then in a wedding straight from Modern Bride magazine. My husband had finally cut his hair after much insistence from me. He would later call it severe nagging but I got my wish so it didn’t matter.
He found work in a consumer research organization. He didn’t get paid as much as me but that didn’t matter. My income was big and growing bigger. We bought a house I found in the suburbs. He had recommended something more modest and closer to downtown where we both worked. I would have none of that. My success had to be readily visible with a big, traditional house and a big lawn. I made sure he took care of the lawn despite his resistance.
After five years, I felt the need to have babies. It wasn’t a mutual decision. I wanted babies. No, I desperately needed a baby. I felt empty inside without kids. It was a completely irrational feeling for a high-flying career woman hell-bent on being the next corporate CEO. My husband was cool towards the idea. He asked how we would balance the demands of being parents and supporting a rather expensive lifestyle. I didn’t care. My womb was empty. I had needs. Neither reason nor logic affected my needs or my feelings.
So, the first baby came. Instantly, life changed. I couldn’t put in the hours I needed to maintain my career trajectory. My husband changed as well. He quickly lost his bohemian attitudes. He sold his motorcycle and became a devoted father to our son. Of course, I had been pushing for this since we had gotten married. His words, as revealed during the divorce, were “shrill, nagging harpy who relentlessly pushed me into fatherhood”. But he loved our first son and even offered to work only part time to allow me to keep on with my career. That would not do. I was the mother, the queen, the all-knowing and wise creator of my son. My husband was clearly an incompetent boob who didn’t know a diaper from a car seat.
My boss saw that I was distracted with my new duties as super-mom. He looked at my productivity and knew I couldn’t perform like my single or childfree colleagues. So, I was “mommy-tracked”. They didn’t call it that then. But when a male colleague was promoted over me, I knew what was happening. I hated it. I was livid. How could I not have it all? So, I played the feminine card again, this time with a stick, not a carrot. I paid a visit to Human Resources with a veiled threat of a discrimination lawsuit. It didn’t work, of course, because it was very clear that I was putting in fewer hours with the resultant loss of productivity. It was all documented and defensible. I was furious. How dare they. I summoned up all the righteous wrath I could. I consulted an outside attorney, a ferocious female lawyer who was quite prepared to sue until she made a pass at me. Open-minded I was, but certainly not a lesbian. I let the legal issue drop and sullenly accepted my reduced role at work. After all, we had expenses to pay and my salary was certainly needed.
I watched my husband evolve from bohemian to responsible father. He was astoundingly good with our first son. Of course, at the time, I didn’t recognize that. I thought everything he did was wrong. Only I, the supreme mother, could raise our first boy. We struggled for a couple of years. It wasn’t easy. So, when I got pregnant again - unplanned by my husband, completely planned by me - the stress continued to grow. Money wasn’t tight but the pressure to maintain our lifestyle and that big house was mostly on my shoulders. I resented my husband for that. He had chosen a career he loved but the pay was not nearly as much as mine. I really had to work and with being on the mommy track, there was no way I could achieve what I had expected in my career.
We did use day-care and a part-time housekeeper. Actually, we went through eight housekeepers. They were never good enough for me. Nothing was good enough for me. My shoes didn’t fit, my clothes looked bad, the car wasn’t clean enough, my husband wasn’t up to my standards. Looking back in brutal honesty, I was a stark, raving bitch. I don’t think I said a nice word in years. I am amazed that my husband put up with me. I didn’t take him seriously, he was just a man, after all.
In my limited social life, I spent time with women like me. We were an unhappy group of 30-something moms with powerful careers. But we also smiled and pretended that life was perfect. We all had the right homes, the right cars, the right schools, the right careers. We convinced ourselves that we did have it all. Occasionally, one of us might vent some frustration at the situation. When that happened, we always had convenient scapegoats - our husbands, our bosses, our housekeepers, the schools, whatever. It was never, ever our fault because we were female.
With one son at five and the other at seven, it fell apart. Rather, it exploded. My husband just gave up. He had been supportive to me and good with the children. So, it caught me by surprise when he just gave up. I guess I should have seen it. I was always using sex as a weapon with him. If he didn’t do exactly what I said, if he didn’t bend over backwards to fulfill my every whim, he didn’t experience any kind of sexual pleasure. I remember I caught him playing with himself one night. I was furious. How could he experience sexual satisfaction without my control being somehow involved?
As a healthy woman, I did have my own sexual needs. So, rather than enjoy sex within the context of a marriage, I had an affair. It was easy. I was still somewhat attractive. There were men around. “Why not?” I easily rationalized to myself. My husband doesn’t give me enough attention, it’s all his fault. The affair was inconsequential, just some sex on weekends and on business trips. I needed it so therefore it was OK. While my husband was being a father, I was being an empowered, independent woman visiting cheap motels with a man who could give me orgasms.
The affair lasted three months. My husband never found out. He didn’t need to, he just gave up. Interestingly, he channeled his efforts into a side business as a marketing consultant. This proved to be quite lucrative for him. Within six months his income had exceeded mine. Our savings account grew substantially. “It’s for the boys’ college tuition” he told me over and over again.
I was unhappy. My career was stressful and unrewarding. My two sons were closer to my husband than to me because of all the hours I was working. He had quit his full-time job and was thriving as a marketing consultant, a job that he could do out of the house with just his computer and a phone. I felt frustrated and unfulfilled. My female friends recommended counseling. So, we gave that a try. I subtly picked a counselor whom I know would be sympathetic to me. The sessions were actually fun in a very unpleasant way. The counselor and I spent 50 minutes picking on my husband. He quietly sat there and took it, apologizing and promising to change. I didn’t have to promise to do anything. The counselor - a woman much like me - made it very clear that my needs were paramount and his needs were completely irrelevant.
Naturally, the counseling didn’t work for us. My husband retreated into fatherhood and his growing business. I contemplated another affair. Unfortunately, I was gaining a lot of weight. At a size 12, it was hard to get attractive men to look at me. My friends recommended that I consider divorce. I look back and think about my “friends” from that period in my life. They were a group of unhappy women trying so hard to validate their own, poor life decisions. I let them influence me when I should have been strong. That was an enormous mistake.
I didn’t hate my husband I just didn’t love him like I used to. I wanted a new and better life. I could raise my sons without him. I had been reading that kids really didn’t need fathers. I was feeling so unfulfilled. When I served my husband with divorce papers, he didn’t seem surprised. I had consulted with a good divorce attorney and she strongly recommended that I go for everything - house, cars, custody, alimony, child support, everything. “It’s a war and as a woman, you have to win” were her words.
The divorce was ugly and despite the fact that I did get the house, the car, the kids, child support, and the savings account that he had filled, I ultimately lost. My ex moved out, leaving me to take care of the house and kids. He moved into a very modest apartment and we agreed that he could see the boys on weekends. The court actually ordered that to happen. I was happy to force him out of their lives completely but he was rigidly insistent and that damned judge agreed.
I was single again. I was ready to date again. But at 38, dating was not like the wild times in college and graduate school when I was young, alluring, and desired by men. No, I was a single mom now. I had cut my hair short and my figure was almost past the point of no return. The kind of man I wanted to date had no interest in me. Those powerful and successful men had younger, prettier, nicer girlfriends.
The divorced men were the worst. They were either so disillusioned that they couldn’t handle a relationship or they were just hopping from bed to bed, not willing to be exclusive. I so much wanted to be swept off my feet into the arms of an attractive man to take care of me and make my troubles go away. I still thought of myself as a princess. I was still silly, stupid, and immature.
Yet the men I was attracted to wouldn’t give me a second thought. The men who did want me were totally unsuitable. It was astounding to me that I wasn’t attractive any more. So many men in college were after me. I remember mocking all the guys who approached me at parties. If they had the slightest flaw, I pushed them away, usually with a pointed insult or two. I never thought twice about the men I rejected, some of them decent and sweet when I look back on it. My girlfriends and I called them “mamma’s boys” while we let ourselves be taken by the cocky, arrogant pricks who always made us feel overpowering attraction and lust.
To make matters worse, I couldn’t fix anything in the house. My husband had tended to all those matters. My boys were pre-teens and very difficult for me to handle. They hated the fact that they could only see their father on weekends. Their grades dropped. They started having discipline problems in school. Naturally, I blamed their father. It was all his fault that we divorced and that he lived apart from them. I tried not to say bad things about him in front of my sons but the feelings were just so strong. I said terrible things about their father, especially when I was drinking, which I did a lot of back then.
If I was unhappy when I was married, I was now wretchedly miserable as a single mom looking for love again. I tried hard to convince myself that I was a strong, independent, and intelligent woman. Sometimes it worked, especially when I was browbeating subordinates at work. I actually hated my job. I made a good living, yes. Yet I had reached the zenith of my career and the board room was not one bit closer. I still felt terribly conflicted about being a good mom and being the corporate woman.
I had lots of blame to dole out. There was no way that the current state of my life was the result of my decisions. My single girlfriends all told me that, many, many times over copious cocktails in sundry singles bars. I read a lot of women’s magazines and the advice I got said pretty much the same thing - a woman is never to blame.
I tried to lose weight but it was so very difficult. When I was hungry, I simply had to eat, usually ice cream or something with chocolate. I had to buy new clothes, again, because the weight kept piling on. I was set up on a blind date and the man had the sheer audacity to say “I’m sorry, I’m just not attracted to you because of your weight.” I never thought about my own hypocrisy about trying to find a man to whom I was attracted to physically. Men must be attracted to me, I am a woman, after all.
The past few years have been kind of a blur. My ex husband had found a new love of his life and I naturally hated him for that. I tried to increase the child support payments. When that didn’t work, I tried to prevent my sons from visiting him. They fought me on this. I took out my frustrations at work. My boss threatened to fire me. Only my girlfriends gave me any support. We had boozy nights where we ate and drank too much. Frankly, we were a bunch of fat, unhappy, single women who heaped blame upon the world for the state of our lives.
So when I saw the photograph from college, the epiphany hit hard. Through the tears of anguish, rage, bitterness, and denial came the incredibly painful realization that I was responsible for my own unhappiness. I finally figured out that I had not grown up and had not truly embraced adulthood. This was six months ago.
I’ve made some profound changes in my life since then. First and foremost, I stopped blaming everyone else for my own problems. This was the hardest. For my entire life I was told - and I believed - that as a woman, I could do no wrong, that I was not responsible, that I was always the victim in some way. Over and over I had to tell myself that only I am responsible for my happiness.
Once I learned to stop blaming the world, I taught myself to be pleasant and nice. This was hard as well. I had always mistaken pleasantness for weakness. This is not the case. A new colleague at work - a woman from the South - showed me very clearly it’s quite easy to be nice and be strong at the same time.
I also dumped my girlfriends. This was easy. This group of unhappy and negative women was actually encouraging me to do stupid things like divorce a perfectly good man because of my selfish and very arbitrary feelings of the moment. I finally learned that acting solely on feelings is the realm of children, not adults. Maybe those women will finally learn that. But I doubt it.
I’m at the gym every day. After being rebuffed by so many attractive and decent guys, I decided to apply standards of real equality to the whole dating thing. After all, if I believe in physical attraction, why should not I understand that men are the same way? Being fat means not being physically attractive to many, many men so it’s up to me to do something about, not be angry with men about the situation. The weight is coming off. It’s a battle, to be sure, but it’s coming off. I’m also letting my hair grow and getting rid of that awful “mom” hair style.
I no longer read those loathsome women’s magazines nor do I watch a lot of TV. When I freed my mind from so many complete misconceptions about men, I learned that men are actually wonderful people. My sons saw my transformation. As they grow older and become men in their own right, I have stopped nagging them about “feelings” and “sensitivity” and encourage them to be men. I doubt I’ll ever mend fences with my ex husband, all I can do is hope that he finds happiness and joy in his life. I have a new respect for him, a respect born from understanding that men are very different, not worse, just different. My ex is also an excellent father, I am blessed for that.
I’ve learned to accept that my needs aren’t the center of the universe. That was actually quite liberating. No longer am I a slave to the whimsy of my often shallow emotions that can’t be reasonably fulfilled. This means I complain less. If I can’t change the situation, why complain about it? Winter is cold, my complaints about the temperature will do nothing to warm the air.
The biggest regret I have in life is being so weak as to not to have made the serious introspection until this point in my life. If I were truly strong, truly intelligent, I would have really thought about what is important to me instead of following the herd. In retrospect, clawing my up the corporate ladder was a very bad decision. Exploiting my femininity to manipulate men was even worse. I love being a woman but using sex to get what I want is no better than a man using brute strength to get what he wants.
I’m still single and dating still eludes me. There is a glimmer of hope, however, a very nice man complimented me on my smile. At 45 years old, that was the first time anyone has noticed my smile. My eldest son noticed it too, “Mom, I’ve never seen you smile until now.” Life must get better for me. That’s my responsibility, no one else’s.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
I wanted to give my answer here, and not in the comments, because Ampersand made a very good point.
You know, you're right, Ampersand. I did go back and verify all of those quotes, including the one that was misquoted, and you know as well as I do that they're accurate. A couple of them were questionable, though, and I don't blame you for not crediting the others as being accurate, or crediting that today's Women's Studies are based on those ideas. You have no reason to do so, because of my sloppy research. I concede the point.
I learned from this experience, and have put in a lot more effort on my blogging homework. You are so right about out-of-context quoting. "If you're incapable of proving your point without out-of-context quoting, then your point is nonsense." I couldn't agree more.
Now that we've established that, though, I do have to wonder about some of the studies I've heard supporting feminism that have been proven to be inaccurate. These are serious propaganda that, if they were true, would certainly prove women to be victims and men to be brutes.
Take, for example Domestic Violence. Here's the quote I've heard any number of times: "According to the FBI, a woman is beaten every XXX seconds." But, according to Richard Gelles,
"First, the FBI does not calculate, tabulate, or track data on domestic violence. The FBI once did estimate that a women is beaten every 15 seconds, but they derived this estimate from Murray Straus, Richard J. Gelles, and Suzanne K. Steinmetz's book, Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family.
Various other fact sheets list various other number of seconds. The number of seconds depends on the study (if there actually was one) and how violence was defined. For example, some versions of this factoid state that a women is beaten every 9 seconds and cite a study done by the Commonwealth Fund in July, 1993. The Commonwealth Fund study used the same measure as was used by Straus and his colleagues. Unlike Straus and his colleagues who defined "abuse" as acts of violence that were likely to cause and injury, the Commonwealth Fund defined "abuse" as every thing from pushing, shoving, and slapping to using a gun or knife."
Keep in mind that the person who wrote that factoid page is one of the authors of the book they all used.
That brings to mind the whole "Increase in Domestic Violence on Superbowl Sunday" myth. This myth is well-known to be a myth, but if you haven't heard of it, here's the link. In fact, this very myth may have had a part to play in the passing of the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) legislation. Here's the first sentence from this article:
"What do you get when you mix equal parts of gender myth, a casual disregard of Constitutional protections, and old fashioned political pork? VAWA – the Violence Against Women Act -- that’s what."It's an interesting read.
Here are a few more mistaken statistics from the Richard Gelles page:
Sixty-three Percent of Young Men Between the Ages of 11 and 20 Who Are Serving Time for Homicide Have Killed Their Mother's Abuser
This factoid is often used by Sarah Buel in her speeches. It appears to be yet another fact from nowhere. The FBI has published no data that supports this claim. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports has no tables that report on prison populations, let alone a table or figure that breaks down prison populations by age of offender and relationship to victim. There are no Department of Justice reports that report on what number or percentage of young men kill their mother's batterer.
Women Who Leave Their Batterers Are at a 75% Greater Risk of Being Killed by the Batterer than Those Who Stay
Women are more likely to be victims of homicide when they are estranged from their husbands than when they live with their husbands--BUT NOT A 75 % GREATER RISK. The risk of homicide is higher in the first two months after separation.
SOURCE: Wilson, Margo and Martin Daly. (1993) "Spousal homicide risk and estrangement." Violence and Victims, 8, 3-16.
Women Who Kill Their Batterers Receive Longer Prison Sentences than Men Who Kill Their Partners
This factoid is often attributed to someone from Pace University. There is no actual published source for this. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence Between Intimates (November, 1994), the average prison sentence for men who killed their wives was 17.5 years; the average sentence for women convicted of killing their husbands was 6.2 years.
So hmm...it looks like there were some cherrypicked and downright misquoted research. According to your logic, maybe we shouldn't be taking domestic violence, or prison sentences for the same, seriously?
Here is some more interesting information I found:
Women Earn 77¢ For Every $1.00 A Man Earns : Not true. Take into account years of work experience, hours worked per year, full- or part-time schedule, leaves taken, danger of the work, etc, and it's virtually the same. If women worked for less, and men were getting the jobs, then businesses would go out of business, now wouldn't they?
150,000 Young Women Die From Anorexia Nervosa Each Year : Not true. "According to the Center for Disease Control there were 101 deaths from anorexia in 1983, 67 in 1988 and 54 in 1991."
Fathers Seeking Custody Win 70% of Cases: Not true. In 1999, 15% of fathers had custody.
Only 2% of Rape Charges Are False: Not true. 30 - 40% of rape charges are false.
So, Ampersand, which "facts" supporting the oppression of women in our society would you have us believe? I'm not really finding any that haven't been debunked, or aren't completely outdated.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
But it certainly could be true, and I don't doubt that this scenario happens, more often than we would like to think. Something very similar happened to the friend who sent it to me.
It's really kind of long, but really worth your time. Read it, and weep.
Feminism hurts us all.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The Catherine MacKinnon quotation ("In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent." -- Catherine MacKinnon) doesn't seem man-hating at all. She is saying that because women were second-class citizens, they were essentially coerced into sexual relationships. (If your whole cultural worth is based on marriage, and your job opportunities are limited by your sex, then you have little choice but to marry and therefore little choice but to have sex with your husbands. You may or may not be enthusiastic about it but you never had a meaningful choice.) It's not an argument that I buy at all, but it is not a man-hating argument. It is a critique of the system both men and women lived in. She is not saying that men wanted to be rapists, but rather that the system was such that meaningful consent was not possible even between the best-intentioned couple. Again, I think she overstates her case, but I don't see it as a man-hating argument.Your statement that women were second class citizens is something of a disconnect. Men and women were the same class. If it’s true that women had little choice but to marry and therefore little choice but to have sex with their husbands, it’s just as true that men had little choice but to marry and therefore little choice but to work at whatever employment they could find to support their wife and children. More often than not, this meant hard labor.
You can say that men could choose not to marry, and this is certainly true. But if a man didn’t want to die alone, and very few human beings do, there wasn’t a whole lot else. Likewise, a woman didn’t have to marry if she wanted to support herself, but how many made that choice? Not too damn many.
As for MacKinnon’s statement not being man-hating, that may be true if she had stated the whole case, but she didn’t. And in the half she chose to address, she portrayed the woman as a helpless victim, unable to give meaningful consent, whatever that is, and the man as a beast. Was her husband able to give meaningful consent about whether he wanted to work in a coal mine? If he had no education, and most people didn’t, then no, he didn’t. If he did have an education and was able to earn enough to be wealthy, was his wife not benefiting from that wealth? She made her choice when she agreed to marry him. If you follow MacKinnon’s logic, all marriage should be sexless, and therefore childless. So she’s either advocating the end of marriage, or the end of the human race, neither one of which is a viable option in my opinion.
Marriage was, and remains, a give and take. No one gets out of this life without making a few sacrifices. If that means having sex when you’re not enthusiastically in the mood, or going to work when you don’t feel well, or coloring your own hair instead of having it done because you have to pay for little Suzy’s braces, then that’s what you do. You don’t complain about it and think you’re somehow oppressed because life isn’t treating you like a princess. You do what you have to do, and you move on.
Same with the Susan Brownmiller one, which is a class critique not a critique of men as individuals. ("Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear" - Susan Brownmiller)Again, I have to disagree with you here. Give Brownmiller some credit for having command of the English language. When she says “conscious process”, “all men”, and “all women”, that’s precisely what she means. She’s saying very clearly that all men rape, or threaten to rape, all women in order to keep them afraid and in line. In other words, every human being with a penis is constantly fighting the urge to sexually assault any human being with a vagina. It doesn’t get much more hateful than that.
The Gloria Steinem quotation is not man-hating either, but rather is illustrating the absurdity of anti-woman stereotypes by turning them around. (“If women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long?” – Gloria Steinem)
Ok, I agree with you that this one is not man-hating. I can even go along that she is trying to illustrate the absurdity of a stereotype. But in doing so, she’s showing her complete disdain for half the human race.
You don’t make a point by taking a potshot at someone. In fact, I’d say that Ms. Steinem was letting her emotions affect her rationality by even making the statement. There are a great many women who do become less rational and more emotional at the beginning of their menstrual cycle. I’ve done it myself. If it doesn’t happen, then why do we have medically documented disorders like PMS and PMDD? It’s not a stereotype if it’s true.
The fish without a bicycle one always makes me laugh as an example. This was grafitti on a women's room wall that kind of took off and became popular as a bumper sticker or button about a million years ago -- early 70s I think. This was an era when women were still told they needed a man to have any kind of worth, or status, or happiness. But in many ways men and women are not well-matched, and relationships with men often cause women terrible problems. So there is an irony in the old idea of "needing" a man. It's kind of a rueful equivalent of a man saying -- "Women: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em." The fact is that most of us probably do need a man like a fish needs a bicycle, but we want and love and pursue men anyway! That's why it's a funny saying.
This is what you were told that women were told. I was a little girl then. I was told that I could be anything I set my mind to. Not because of some esoteric women’s movement that finally freed my sex from slavery, but because I was smart. And if I applied myself, and worked hard, I could do anything. I was told this by my parents, by my teachers, by society. No one said anything at all about being a girl. It simply didn’t figure into it. It was the same thing they told the boys. “You want to accomplish something? Get off your ass and get it done!” There was none of this entitlement mentality that is so prevalent today.
When Steinem made that quote famous, she may have been trying to make a point that women do not need a man to accomplish anything, but the message she wound up sending was that women don’t need men for anything at all. And that’s just not true. Humans need human companionship. And those of us who are heterosexual, which is most of us, are drawn to the opposite sex. It’s biology. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t make us weak. It makes us human.
I do get why you think it’s a funny saying, but you perceive it that way because you have some mistaken beliefs about things that happened – or didn’t happen – before you were born. Also, it’s because you perceive only half of what’s going on. You say that relationships with men often cause women terrible problems. I don’t know about often, but I freely acknowledge that it does happen. But by the same token, relationships with women have been known to cause men terrible problems – and it happens at least as often as the other way around.
I appreciate that you do acknowledge that some of those quotes no one could have an excuse for. There are extreme people on both sides of this thing. But the difference is this: when you see a man advocating violence and revenge, the main force of the movement speaks out against it and condemns those members. They are kicked off of sites, and we distance ourselves from them.
I haven’t seen the main force of feminism speaking out against Solanis or Greer or Comins or any of them. Perhaps a few members do, but the main force do not. In fact, people like Lorena Bobbitt or Mary Winkler are presented not only in a sympathetic light, but as examples of empowerment. That’s just sick.
There was a reason that I put so many different quotes by so many different prominent feminists. It was to make the point that these aren’t just a few fringe kooks, but are representative of at least a sizable number of feminists. If they weren’t, they would be shouted down, just as men are when they say something feminists don’t agree with.
I see more "man hating" among women of my mother's generation and traditional women than in Gen X and younger feminists. Older women had to put with a lot of men who took it for granted that they should be top-dog in the marriage or at work because that was the cultural expectation of the era. So a lot of older woman and traditionalist women have gotten frustrated with men in general in ways that we younger feminists never did. We younger feminists expect men to work with us on an equal basis as partners, and have faith that men are willing and able to do so.
Yes, but what does this mean, Margaret? Does it mean that they have to defer to you on everything? Does it mean that they have to change the exact same amount of diapers, and you have to change the exact same amount of oil? Feminism gets so caught up in making sure everything is “equal” that it winds up whining like a child.
Personally, if I accomplish something, I want to be on an equal playing field, not have a leg up because I’m physically weaker than a man. If I can’t out-lift a man, or carry a victim out of a burning building, or beat him in a race without a head start or assistance, that’s ok. I don’t have to. If I had to cheat to get there, it doesn’t mean anything except that they let me win. And to me, that’s nothing to brag about.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Marcella Chester wrote what I am sure she thought was a very clever article proving that anti-feminists condone and promote rape. It was based on an article written by John McAdams at Marquette Warrior about a panel discussion on “Men, Masculinity, and Sexual Violence”. He said that one of the speakers said, in her talk, that “the stereotype of feminists is that they hate men. She insisted that this isn’t so.”
He then went on to question this assertion based on the speakers’ presentations. Chester took a little bit of his conclusion and attempted to twist it into support for rape and rapists. The following has been lifted from her article, with my comments in blue:
McAdams: But would anybody be convinced that feminism doesn’t resolve, essentially, to man hating? The feminist who deny it aren’t lying. They don’t think they are man haters, they just think they are working for “gender equality.” But then, the average Klansman would probably insist he has “nothing against Negros.” In the world of the feminists, the villains are the white males.
Chester: Ah, yes. Feminism and the Klan are parallel movements in every way except their target. This parallel construct would imply that Klansmen think they are working for "racial equality."
1. He said Klan attitudes toward blacks are similar to feminist attitudes toward men. Hardly the same thing as the two being parallel movements. More like the level of willful ignorance in the two are the same.
2. Nice deflection of the actual argument. Considering the following statements made by famous feminists, how can you say that feminism is not “man-hating”?
· "I feel that 'man-hating' is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them." -- Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor
· "To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he's a machine, a walking dildo." – Valerie Solanas
· "I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig." - Andrea Dworkin
· "Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear" - Susan Brownmiller
· "The more famous and powerful I get the more power I have to hurt men." -- Sharon Stone
· "In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent." -- Catherine MacKinnon
· "The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race." -- Sally Miller Gearhart
· "Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience." - Catherine Comins
· "All men are rapists and that's all they are" -- Marilyn French
· "Probably the only place where a man can feel really secure is in a maximum security prison, except for the imminent threat of release." -- Germaine Greer.
· “If women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long?” – Gloria Steinem
There are so many more where those came from. I didn’t even mention the fish and bicycle one. It’s funny, though, that while I was googling for feminist quotes, I didn’t come across one that said, “I love men just the way they are”.
If you’re going to say feminism is not a man-hating movement, I’m going to have to insist that you provide links either to sites showing feminists condemning the statements listed above, or feminists telling women to respect men as men.
Chester: Remember all those poor white males who were treated by feminists in exactly the same way the Klan treated black men? How many thousands of white men have the feminists dragged into the street and butchered for public entertainment?
Ah, more deflection. Dragged in the street and butchered, no. Raped by the courts based on the no more than the words of a woman, thousands of times.
Chester: (…blah blah blah Klan and lynching blah blah more deflection...)
Refuse to do nothing as women and girls are raped? Man hater.
Don't believe in assumed consent to sex? Man hater.
Want laws that recognize all rapes as real crimes? Man hater.
Demand thorough and professional investigations of all rape reports? Man hater.
Oppose treating rape victims as if they are guilty until proven innocent? Man hater.
Don't want to look the other way as women and girls are physically abused by boys and men in their lives? Man hater.
You’re implying here that feminism = advocating for victims of rape. You’re also implying that feminists are the ONLY ones advocating for victims of rape. I’m afraid you’re sadly mistaken here, Marcella. Objecting to having a man convicted of rape based on no evidence at all except the accuser’s story, and advocating the right to rape with impunity are worlds apart. Unless, of course, you’re a man-hater. Which, by your implication, means feminist.
Chester: Still support women's right to vote? Man hater.
Oppose sexual harassment on the job or in the street? Man hater.
Support equal pay for equal work? Man hater.
View women as full human beings rather than as men's property? Man hater.
As for this whiny list of victim cards, show me links that prove men and men’s rights advocates support any of the “oppression” you list.
Chester: Funny but the picture this creates of men is a fearful and violent one.
That says it all. Feminism is a religion of victimhood, and you can’t be a victim unless you have a victimizer. Feminism works very hard to portray men as violent and to be feared. If that isn’t hate, I don’t know what is.
McAdams said elsewhere in his conclusion:
“One might ask what the point of an event like this is. There is plenty of room to argue pro and con on gun control or government health insurance, but who argues for rape?
The answer the feminists give is: you have to embrace our entire political agenda or you are a rapist -- or at least an accessory to rape. If you oppose Title 9, or women in combat roles in the military, or affirmative action to guarantee that women are half of all business managers, it’s your fault.”
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This man was thrown in prison and kept there for over six years of a ten-year sentence after being convicted of attacking two adolescent sisters. Ok, that sounds fair so far. Real rape is a horrible crime. But
“David Carrington-Jones was locked up for attacking a girl who went on to accuse her brother, step father, fiancee, a boyfriend and even a customer at work. None of these cases were prosecuted and the girl was eventually cautioned by officers for wasting police time.”
She established herself as a liar, he has always denied committing any offense against either her or her sister, and yet he was denied parole twice because he wouldn’t admit that he did it. What happened to the girl who went on to accuse “her brother, a customer at work, a boyfriend, her fiance and her step father” of rape? After she admitted she accused her stepfather because she didn’t like him, the police issued her a “caution for wasting police time”.
It’s lucky for Mr. Carrington-Jones that the police finally had enough of her false accusations. It led him to ask for his case to be reviewed, and he was finally released. The judges found the case “profoundly troubling”. I’m glad to hear that, I really am. The only problem I have with it, though, is that it appears that the judges were more concerned about the fact that her credibility has been damaged beyond repair than the fact that a man lost six years and eight months of his life.
I can’t imagine that prison was a pleasant experience for him. It’s never a fun place, but rapists are above only child-molesters in terms of prison hierarchy. From what I understand, they are generally kept in isolation for their own safety, or they are beaten and raped themselves by their fellow inmates. The article mentions none of this, and I really wish it had. It would show much more clearly the shocking disparity between how he was punished, and how his accuser was punished.
The other major problem I have with this whole situation is that even now, we are told the man’s name. It’s routine to issue the name and photo of accused criminals before there is even a trial. And now we are reminded again of his identity. Good luck getting a job, Mr. Carrington-Jones.
So, who is the woman who received a warning for wasting police time? Maybe it was even a severe warning. Poor thing.
“Sir Igor however stopped short of naming and shaming the girl, in order that the identity of her sister - against whom no evidence of falsehood was produced - should be protected.”
I’m too disgusted to go on. Read the article.