Whining about boys in bars: On feminism and loving men

if you need me i'll be crying at the bar

There’s something awkward about being a feminist and dealing with heartbreak. I know, of course, that we all do get our hearts broken from time to time; that our politics can hardly protect us from love or from pain… But to be feminist and to find ourselves whining to our friends in bars, à la “Why hasn’t he called? Am I unloveable? What the fuck is wrong with me/all men?” feels pathetic in a particular kind of way.

I’ve spent the last few months touring my local bars, making out and crying. Well, to be fair, the crying is a more recent phenomenon, concentrated over the past two weeks. It all feels a little male-centered, despite the fact that I bar-hop with some of the fiercest of feminist women. In fact, the company I choose to keep makes it all the more awkward. I worry I will be perceived as a bad feminist, or at least a weak one… Getting all caught up with men who very often and almost inevitably hurt me at one point or another.

But no matter how badly I am hurt or disappointed by men, I keep coming back for more. You could see it as a little sadistic. Will I ever learn my lesson?

Of course, some of us do. I know many women who have straight given up on men and I imagine they wonder when the rest of us will catch on. But from where I’m standing, I doubt I ever will. I, perhaps stupidly, perhaps ignorantly, trudge onwards, turning my emotions and vulnerability and trust and love and life over to men with the hope that they will handle them with care — that this time it will be different, though it rarely is.

This most-recent man in my life didn’t turn out to be a verbally abusive, insecure, angry, jealous little shit like certain Past Dudes I’ve Dumped (PDID)… Though maybe I didn’t give him the chance… But I allowed myself to fall — quickly and without hesitation — certain that I was safe and secure, like I have some form of cognitive dissonance that lets my heart stay 17 forever, right there on my sleeve, bleeding all over my fucking shirt: Take me. I trust you. I’m in.

I don’t believe anyone plans on hurting another in love. No one enters into a relationship thinking, “I’m gonna break this person’s heart. Yep. Big time. Can’t wait.”

Things got serious very quickly. We both went into it headfirst. And then, just like that, it was gone. He ghosted on me.

I felt lost and angry and confused. I cried a bunch. I cried in my apartment, curled up with my dog and a bottle of wine. I cried on the phone with my mom. I cried sitting at the bar, laughing at the fact that I was crying at the bar. “Maybe if I keep laughing, everyone will think I’m laughing so hard I cried,” I said to my friend, sitting next to me with her hand on my arm. I cried on the bus, tears welling up behind my sunglasses. I held back tears walking home from work, screwing up my face in a way that probably made me look ragey or gassey or both.

You get it. Basically I’ve been crying and drinking and writing for two weeks. (Conveniently I distract myself from unsavory feelings by writing. Heartbreak is great for writing. Love gives me writers block.)

I feel stupid and pathetic and weak and like a 34-year-old idiot teenager. All fucked up over some man. Just another thing to add to my “bad feminist” checklist:

1) Wore uncomfortable heels on Saturday

2) Also wore Spanx

3) Fell in love, stopped writing, stopped being around other people, stopped being at home ever, stopped thinking about things that weren’t love, gushed about him when I did see other people, freaked out and obsessed over his sudden silence, cried a bunch, threw my phone across the room a bunch, drank a bunch, cried again when he finally communicated to me what I already pretty much knew at that point: it was over, he was a mess, I was collateral damage in his messiness.

“I hate him,” my friend said.

I’d sent her screen-shots of his text/explanation (we all do it bros, deal with it) when he finally got in touch: “Hi Meghan, I feel like shit blah blah blah, I’m sorry blah, not over my ex blah blah, not fair to you or me to jump right into another relationship blah, will hurt more the further we go blah blah, I’m too emotionally fucked blah, thought I’d moved on blah, have to get out of town for awhile blah blah blah.”

“You’re going to hate my response,” I told her.

I knew I was going to look like a softie. I was supposed to be tough. But I’m trying this new thing out where I put my ego aside and react with compassion instead of anger. It only works every once in a while and I have no idea if it’s a good idea or not but I’ve sent a hell of a lot of angry texts to people over the years and shouted a hell of a lot of angry, mean, rash things at people over the years and I tend to regret those things more often than not. So. I’m trying this out.

I told him I was sorry for what he was going through. “This is hard stuff. Thank you for being honest.” I meant it. At the end of the day, people’s feelings are people’s feelings. This was someone I cared about and he told me the truth. The truth is often complicated and not what you want it to be. And this truth hurt like crazy. But there’s not much I can do about that except hurt.

“I hate you so much,” my friend said (disclaimer: she doesn’t really hate me, you guys).

“I don’t know. WTF am I supposed to say?”

“Never show your face around my neighbourhood again!!” she said. “Jerk. Like, own your shittiness without trying to garner sympathy from you?!! I hate manchildren for real. He should have apologized to you for being irresponsible with your heart. He was just busy explaining his life. He affected your life…Very diplomatic response though.

She wasn’t wrong.

“I have plenty of things to say to him, but at the end of the day, this is the situation,” I said.

“Let’s drink at the Alibi Room more,” she responded.

“Ya.”

I could be tougher, I guess. I don’t know. The actual truth, though, is that I’m not always great on the man-front. I fall in love too easily; often with men I should maybe not fall in love with… My heart is soft and mushy like an old piece of fruit. I like to fuck and sometimes I accidentally fall in love with the people I think I’m Just Fucking. I make out with dudes in bars. My friends have to watch. I fall off the face of the earth when I fall in love and forget to write and work and do my laundry and eat food and take my vitamins.

Sometimes I want to give up feminism just so that I can stop feeling guilty about being myself. But that feels pretty lazy and self-absorbed so no. Also, I actually kind of like myself. And I kind of feel like, if I can be myself and I can say it out loud, some other women out there will feel like they can be themselves too — and tell the truth about it — while continuing to fight back as best they can, in whatever ways they can.

We teach women not to trust themselves. When they do tell the truth about their pain or anger we call them crazy. When women react to having been discredited and silenced and abused and hurt, they are “hysterical” or “irrational.” We are emotional — society will admit to that — but it is cause for punishment. We can’t be trusted or taken seriously. The flip side of this is that men are taught to feel nothing, to express nothing, to be cold and stoic at all costs. And so when they do express emotions other than anger or callousness, when they feel and express pain or hurt or sadness or vulnerability, they are called “bitches” or “faggots” or “pussies.” The message is two-fold: 1) Whatever you do, don’t be “like a woman,” and 2) Whatever you do, don’t tell the truth. Because you will be punished for it.

Feminist and writer, Adrienne Rich wrote, in her poem, Sources:

“There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.”

This, of course, sends my heart into my throat and pushes those impatient tears back down my face.

We, as women, fight for our selves every day. We fight to be ourselves. Not to lose ourselves. We have to fight to tell the truth. Because what we aren’t supposed to do, as women, is tell the truth. We are supposed to be silent — to smile and look pretty. To feel fulfilled in unfulfilling lives. To be happy and cheery and perky at all times, emanating positivity like fucking TV moms and robot cheerleaders. We aren’t supposed to make anyone uncomfortable with things like feelings or reality. Our emotions and our vulnerability are used against us in the most hateful and violent ways.

So I don’t think our fight is to create some kind of protective shell or some kind of illusion. I don’t think my fight is to pretend to be tough and strong and cold and hard. I don’t think I am particularly tough or strong or cold or hard. I fall in love with men who hurt me, over and over again. I want to be loved like everyone else; but loved as myself. I feel like giving up because it’s just too fucking hard and it hurts too much, but I never really do. Loving men can be painful and embarrassing and irrational and traumatic. But it can also feel like magic. A particular kind of magic that feels a lot like nausea, sure, but magic nonetheless. And I can’t tell you how to cope with that reality or how to resolve it because clearly I haven’t a clue.

What can I tell you except the truth. Which is that mostly I’ve just been listening to The Doobie Brothers and crying in bars. You know, like a sentimental fucking fool.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • <3

    • Meghan Murphy

      <3

  • Nia

    Thank you, Meghan!

  • Dr. Faustus

    You’re describing a dichotomy many thinkers go through. It’s the point when our politics meets our philosophy – and both meet our humanity.

    I’ve been jealous, needy, and insecure. I go through those moments not because my gender has allowed me to do so, but because my humanity requires me to.

    It’s natural to desire self-consistency. Personally I think it’s a mistake to conform our behavior to our politics, that’s impossible. Politics is a tool to manifest goals in the greater world. It’s ambivalent to who wields it or how. What you’re describing – in my opinion – is a failure of philosophy.

    Our personal codes gives us boundaries by which we can experience true freedom. When our philosophy no longer achieves those objectives – no longer gives room to our humanness – we suffer a crises.

    Our codes exist to serve our humanity, not the other way around. I abandoned hedonism long ago. I couldn’t find a way to make it work without harming others in some fashion along the way.

    You’re not weak. You like to have sex, and make out, and seek partnership. That you want those things with a “man” is incidental.

    Feminism is a way to seek your humanity, not a way for you to martyr it.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Feminism is a way to seek your humanity, not a way for you to martyr it.”

      This is good, Dr. Faustus. Thank you.

    • Candy

      While I like the sentiment, I disagree with “it’s a mistake to conform our behavior to our politics, that’s impossible.” I do this all the time to avoid hypocrisy. More people should attempt it. I believe the world would be a better place if behavior did conform more easily with politics, given that their politics are progressive; in fact, that it doesn’t seems for me, to be the very reason for the politics.

  • Meh

    I so love this piece. So brave. Love the vulnerability – I can totally relate. To all of it. The uncomfortable shoes. The fucking Spanx. The crying like a lunatic. All of it.

    I think people react in shock when they see me heartbroken because they expect me to be a 24/7 smartass/hardass. Sometimes I even see it in their faces as I’m crying to them (thinking: “God, she’s so weak! I never expected her to be so weak!”). It’s almost like we seem more ‘weak’ because nobody expects any vulnerability/emotions from us.

    It’s hard for us to let our guard down around people. We end up being walking caricatures of feminism rather than people – emotional, complicated, vulnerable people (who care about women’s rights at the same time).

    Figuring out how to balance feminism with relationships is a bloody tough one. I’ve had moments too where I’m like, “Hmm, if only I was less of a feminist, my relationships would be easier” – but then when I snap back into reality (usually within the first 3 seconds of that thought), I think: “HOLY SHIT that would never work. I’d be all pretend happy and then snap like a fucking psycho”. I often wonder how women who are in relationships don’t snap? What the fuck? Can someone figure out that mystery for me?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh wow. I can TOTALLY relate to this — “if only I was less of a feminist, my relationships would be easier” — but yeah, I think I would go crazy… I’d have to stuff down so much and I’m not exactly good at stuffing things down… I’d snap like a fucking psycho too. Without a doubt. I don’t know how other women manage it.

      • Meh

        Yeah, I don’t know how women do it either.

        I’m a lot like you, meaning: I have a really strong desire to get close to men/have a companion, but it’s just really difficult (emotionally and ‘feminist-wise’) when things fuck up.

        I am having a hard time putting these two parts of my life together. For the most part I’m happy when I’m single. I’m at my strongest and, arguably, my most confident. But I miss the intimacy – physical and otherwise.

        It’s kinda hard to understand/hard to explain. Maybe I’m asking for too much in just one person? Ugh, I dunno lol.

        Hope you’re feeling a lot better soon! I’ve never met you but I know exactly how you feel and I know it’ll get better as time passes. Then we have to brace ourselves for the next round of torture lol xo

        • Chelsea

          I think how other women do it-at least how I do it-is by being with a man who is also a feminist. Years ago, as a wee, naive twenty six year old, I started dating a person who would flinch every time I used the word “bitch” (a word I can’t think now without feeling bad). He cooked every night, found the outfits of our Cactus Club servers unappealing, and had been raised by his stay-at-home artist father. He denounces casual sexism, calls out mansplainers, and struggles daily with his privilege as a white male, shrugging off his accomplishments as an accident of his position. In his quiet way, he enabled me to come to see my own internalized and externalized misogyny-as painful a process as *that* was/is-and consistently seeks out new feminist writers/thinkers/speakers to learn from. So, while no relationship is perfect or easy, one is possible with the right person. Blah blah blah. 😉

          • Meh

            It sounds like you have a really lovely boyfriend. It’s so nice when men acknowledge what we go through.

            Unfortunately my experiences with “feminist men” are… interesting (to say the least).

            They’re “feminist” until it comes to dealing with sexual equality. Then they’re pigs again.

            The men that I’ve had the best experiences with (surprisingly) has been men who have little to no understanding of feminism and learn about it along the way. Some guys aren’t defensive about it. They ask a lot of questions but ultimately aren’t defensive about it.

            Yes, I’m hoping there is someone nice out there for me, too! lol

          • Northern Free Thinker

            That’s an interesting topic. I have no clear mind of which men I’ve been with who were feminist allies or not. One thing I know for sure, I’ve never dated machos, or racists, or sexists… though I’ve on 2 occasions shortly dated misogynists. They were so intellectual and interesting… til I realised it was all about them.
            Maybe that would be a good opener… “how do you feel about feminism?” 🙂

          • Meh

            “Maybe that would be a good opener… “how do you feel about feminism?” :)”

            Yeah, I think so. Or “what do you know about feminism?”

            Or we can stay away from men altogether lol. I dunno, too much to think about…

          • I think it’s a great idea to find out up front. We found out many other things up front, right? Maybe this is a niche (or not so niche?) dating website waiting to happen. Singles conscious of feminism. SCOF. Or something. 🙂

          • anaeli

            Congrats to you, Chelsea!
            And I partly agree with you, Meh. When I met my SO, he was nice at first but then I found he was, umm, to put it lightly, a huge misogynistic dickbag. After a while of putting up with misogynistic shit, I ‘rose up’ (so to speak) and changed our relationship completely. I confronted him (a lot) and taught him basic feminism. Nowadays he actively looks up feminist articles and authors online, we share feminist resources, he calls out his male friends, we try to learn about feminism together, it’s good all around – so, a complete departure from his very sexist ways a couple of years ago. I feel ambivalent about saying this out loud, but I actually feel incredibly lucky to have found a man willing to take a step back and let a woman educate him about sexism. And this might sound really silly, but us learning about feminism together has improved our relationship a lot. It’s almost as if treating your SO with respect and as an equal partner with valid feelings and thoughts does wonders for everybody, crazy right?

          • Meh

            I’m getting such great relationship advice here – I’m loving it. Thank you!!

            Anaeli – Whenever I confront men they run away from me lol! I’ll stand up for myself after they’ve said something UNBELIEVABLY sexist and they’ll call me “angry” and then leave!

            I think I’m just a little too scary or something 😀

        • Meghan Murphy

          Yeah it’s so tough and it doesn’t make much sense… Why we put ourselves through all this… I guess I hope it will all be worth it some day? Of course now I feel like I’m talking romantic-comedy talk… Sorry about that. Ha.

          Indeed I am now just bracing myself “for the next round of torture”… Bleh.

          (Thanks x)

        • derrington

          I’ve been through this mill too. I think its about how much of yourself as a whole human being you can give up to keep up the pretense that most men (and a good few women) ask for that you act out a position of social inferiority. That requires never calling your man out for being wrong in public and often in private, being the butt of all his jokes, having your gender the butt of many of his friends jokes, making all emotional decisions whilst trying to make out he’s actually in charge etc etc etc. What you and the rest of us are trying to achieve is the equivalent oftimes of a person of colour trying to have an intimate relationship with a racist. Its the emotional equivalent of trying to surf a tsunami wave. Most guys, even the nice ones, use women as therapists without any thought as to whether they are really in a position to deliver what they offer in trying to get the other person interested in them. Its the equivalent of talking yourself up in a job interview and then hoping desperately that you dont get found out. Most men do not take ownership of their own emotional instability and deal with it through therapy rather than alcohol and countless sexual encounters that they are not really ready for or able to commit to. Give yourself a hug, turn the Doobie Brothers up full volume, watch Bridget Jones’s Diary, eat chocolate, talk on here and finally you will come through to realise I hope, that he wasn’t ready for any relationship and that his self deception, although painful for you, is his shit, not yours.

  • amongster

    thank you for writing this meghan. while i’m very sorry that you have to go through these emotions it helps me a lot to know i’m not alone feeling this way.

    whenever i feel like a bad feminist for really really wanting a caring partnership i reread passages of bell hooks’ book “all about love”:

    “Although we all want to know love, we talk about the search for true love as though it is always and only a solitary quest. I am disturbed by the weighty emphasis on self in so much New Age writing on the topic, and in our culture as a whole. When I would talk about my yearning for a loving partner, people told me over and over that I did not need anyone else. They would say I did not need a companion and/or a circle of loved ones to feel complete, that I should be complete inside myself. While it is definitely true that inner contentedness and a sense of fulfillment can be there whether or not we commune in love with others, it is equally meaningful to give voice to that longing for communion. Life without communion in love with others would be less fulfilling no matter the extent of one’s self-love.

    All over the world people live in intimate daily contact with one another. They wash together, eat and sleep together, face challenges together, share joy and sorrow. The rugged individual who relies on no one else is a figure who can only exist in a culture of domination where a privileged few us more of the world’s resources that the many who must daily do without. Worship of individualism has in part led use to the unhealthy culture of narcissism that is so all pervasive in our society.”

    it’s no medicine against heartbreak but it makes me feel less ashamed of it…

    be well!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Totally! We are social creatures… It makes so much sense that we would want to be with others and be loved by others… I like being alone and all but I also need intimacy and friendships and someone in my corner ya know?

      xx

      • Northern Free Thinker

        In that sense, exclusive romantic love is extremely selfish and causes many to feel excluded, whereas if we truly showered love more openly, the isolation would be much lessened.

        • corvid

          There are some who actively choose exclusive attachments NFT, and that’s no less legitimate or more “selfish” than anything you believe.

          • corvid

            That should have read “no less legitimate or more selfish thank anything you believe.”

          • Lizzie

            I don’t know if her point was just about monogamy versus polyamory – lots of people in love ignore everyone else in their lives. I would be happily single my whole life if friendships weren’t dropped as soon as somebody starts dating.

            The current model of romantic monogamous love isn’t friendly to any other love relationships except children.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’ll admit to disappearing during those early stages of falling in love where you kinda fall into a love/sex k-hole and only want to be around this other person… But I always come out of it and try to make a priority of maintaining my friendships… I feel pretty disappointed in my friends who’ve gotten married and whatnot and feel like they no longer need friends or a social life. Or, like, they only hang out with other marrieds… It makes it hard to stay single, like you say, if your friends aren’t around!

          • derrington

            I think alot of women have been conditioned to think that women are disposable objects which makes it impossible for them to really be proper friends. I have realised that many times in my life I have thought someone was a true friend only to realise later that I was actually just useful to them. Most people are actually psychopathic towards women.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Well, I think we’ve been taught that our husbands are supposed to be our everything. Like, you are supposed to be totally fulfilled in all ways via this one person. It’s ridiculous. Friends usually are around longer than boyfriends anyway… It’s not like I go around breaking up with my friends all the time….

            I think it’s totally wrongheaded to put your significant other ahead of your friends.

          • corvid

            That people are socially inept when in monogamous relationships isn’t the fault of romantic love. It’s the fault of patriarchy, which begets the ideal of the nuclear family and consumerism as we know it.
            Pair bonding is not synonymous with patriarchy.

          • Northern Free Thinker

            The history of hetero monogamy runs only as deep as patriarchal religions. Biologically speaking, we are not evolved for this sort of thing. It’s why in FREE societies, a vast majority of marriages fail, and it’s why we spend so much time being sad, because patriarchal society sets us up with untenable expectations. So no… I don’t think monogamy is a “choice” the same way I don’t think prostitution is a “choice”. It is simply something we perform in this patriarchal world.

          • corvid

            Yes, we’ve all heard a great deal from the evolutionary psychologists about how women “evolved” to get screwed by random men all the time. Prehistoric life must have been really fucking awesome, right? With all that constant pregnancy, disease, and early death. Because we’re just helpless vehicles for reproduction, right? Why fight it?

            Monogamy may play a function in patriarchal structures, but in itself it isn’t *strictly patriarchal* NFT. I choose it because it allows me to maintain my physical and emotional health as I deem it necessary. The end.

          • Northern Free Thinker

            OMG, you need to stick to fields of expertise you know. Evolutionary psychology is BS, and no women did not evolve to get screwed all the time. Truly, you need to study some science. The male penis size indicates that in our ape species females are the ones doing the choosing while the males do the parading… in fact, just like in most species. Except in our patriarchal civilisation, the parading has been switched over to the females. Having sex with more than one male or female is not “being screwed randomly”. And no, women were not constantly pregnant and sick, on are fully uninformed. Before patriarchy, seasonal amenorrhea and lactional amenorrhea were the norm and fertility was very low. It is patriarchy that has kept us barefood and pregnant for the past 5500 years. Never have females been more fertile than in this past century… it is a patriarchaly induced fertility, one that serves cheap labour endeavours of mass construction to serve the male elite egos.

          • corvid

            I’ve been told from an early age that my deeply-felt way of forming loving attachments is stupid, old-fashioned, prudish and foolish. Your words have added fuel to this particular fire. Quote all the science you like NFT, but you will not dissuade me from loving.

          • Meghan Murphy

            There is pair-bonding in nature, too… Eagles, penguins, wolves… Like why would we see it as unnatural for humans? I mean, the way we go about pair-bonding in a patriarchy is fucked, but monogamy in and of itself isn’t necessarily ‘unnatural’ or patriarchal, I don’t think…

          • Northern Free Thinker

            It’s a rarity, and extremly rare in nature, and even rarer in monkeys and apes. As I biologist, I hope to be allowed to speak from a scientific perspective. Even all those animals displaying apparent monogamy show through their offspring’s DNA that this is not so. In nature, those who pair bond are not usually being “faithful” There is parenting, there is fathering, but mating for the sheir sake of mating is practically unheard of outside humans.

          • corvid

            Come to think of it, the only other people who have tried to shut me up with science have all been men. And all with the same thesis: that monogamy is unnatural. That’s interesting to say the least!

          • Missfit

            What I have heard men say mostly is that men are not naturally monogamous but women are. As if we were two different species! They find this convenient for them.

          • Northern Free Thinker

            Indeed, patriarchy has always sought slavery for us females. When in fact, biology indicates that Homo sapiens females are the ones who are promiscuous and responding to the male’s showing of genitals. In a pre-puritaical world that is…

          • corvid

            This is in response to NFT’s comment regarding the rarity of pair-bonding: Pardon me if this seems naive, but why is it that people (primarily men) will look under every rock and in every crevice in order to avoid having to believe what women say? Why does a theory surrounding what people did 5500 years ago automatically negate my lived experience, today? Why must we always look for proof in the animal kingdom of every last thing before we believe women’s accounts? I’m all for scientific inquiry but should we really be applying this to the exclusion of women’s thoughts and feelings?

          • Northern Free Thinker

            Patriarchy is anti-nature, and I as a feminist female biologist will always fight anything to do with patriarchy, to the end.

          • corvid

            Scientists, like the rest of us, aren’t immune to internalized misogyny….

          • Candy

            As if polyamory can’t (or isn’t in practice) often problematic as hell under a patriarchy where many men see women as things to amass to court their masculinity.

          • Candy

            A good quote on this:

            “Polyamory is a way that heterosexual men can “hedge”, or invest, in various women, to the degree that they want to, and benefit from the returns until the investment is no longer worthwhile. There are many things that can make the investment become less worthwhile -when women start to ask for something in return, or demand more emotional, social, or sexual accountability, or transparency, or care activity. The polyamorous hedge then becomes a shield against accountability, and a guarantee that there is other attention to exploit without having to really offer anything back. Should the return gain fail on one relationship, or should you be asked to be accountable for your actions with that woman, or invest more by caring more, you have created other relationships to fall back on and reap gains from. Hedging is utterly objectifying, exploitative, and violent.”

            http://propagandalalaland.blogspot.de/2013/03/re-blogged-polyamory-as-reserve-army-of.html

            So perhaps that’s why a woman wouldn’t like to be anything other than monogamous in the current landscape. Or perhaps she simply doesn’t have the time to juggle men, or doesn’t want to.

          • corvid

            This is for Candy – exactly!! Thank you for that.

          • corvid

            Why do you believe that there exist “free” societies in which there also happens to be patriarchal marriage? Isn’t that somewhat contradictory?

            Yes, marriage is patriarchal. Yes, trauma bonding plays a part in heterosexual relationships and in this sense monogamy with men can be highly problematic.

            My point is that pair-bonding is a real phenomenon that I cannot simply think myself out of.

          • Candy

            She’s using the naturalistic fallacy in her argument big time.

          • Dana

            Polyamory is nothing but a tool to help guys get their d..ks sucked by as many different women as possible in any given 12-month period. They don’t even mean the bit about “multiple loves”. They’re still monogamous where it counts, but they’re allowed to have side thangs. Having actually participated in the poly community, I have seen this up close and personal. Over. And over. And over again.

            If you doubt me, and you’ve been in the poly community too, tell me how many of these relationships you’ve seen where one woman had multiple male partners AND where the males weren’t bisexual with one another. One? Two? Out of how many?

            Seriously. Give me a break.

            It doesn’t make any sense for people to just f..k willy-nilly anyway if what you’re after is maximum genetic diversity, which is the whole evolutionary point of sexual reproduction to start with, because not being choosy about partners means not checking for genetic relationships or keeping track of who fathered your children–kind of important if you don’t want *them* boinking *their* siblings one day.

            I do recognize that different cultures have different definitions of incest and place differing values on certain familial relationships… that perhaps one’s maternal uncle is more important of a “father figure” than one’s actual father is, and that it sometimes doesn’t count as incest culturally if one reproduces with a paternal half-brother, or whatever. But with what we now know about how genetic relationships work, a kind of knowledge that wasn’t available to our ancestors, we can and probably should have different values and make different choices.

            If any sort of relationship model or family structure is evolutionarily appropriate it’d be the matrilineal clan where marriage is not tied together with childbearing, where the woman stays with her mother-clan and where she can keep her husband as long as she likes and send him home to HIS mother when the relationship has run its course. A family based on genetic ties will always be there, barring someone losing their minds and disrupting the clan. If you’re married and you end the marriage, you still HAVE your clan. Centering a family on a married couple and forsaking your family of origin, on the other hand, is a great way to guarantee perpetual social instability due to breakups or divorce. Even a poly model of relationships would lead to this. Probably more so because a romantic relationship is different than any other sort of love relationship and takes a different focus and if you’re constantly going through relationship drama not from one direction but from three or four, forget having any sanity in your life at all.

            Again, I speak from experience.

          • bella_cose

            I have to agree on polyamory. From what I’ve seen of friends who are polyamorous, it’s usually a way to make someone who is incapable of having intimate relationships with commitment, feel better about it. Or, it’s people who just want to get laid a lot. Most of the people I know that are polyamorous, got into it after long-term relationships that ended badly. I don’t have a problem with people who want to have sex without commitment, but I don’t understand why they have give it a fancy name in order to feel ok about it.

            I do think humans are naturally promiscuous to an extent. I think monogamy is impossible for some, but maybe serial monogamy is preferable, and more realistic for others.

            This is a link to an interview with Dr. Kimberly Russell that’s interesting, and addresses female promiscuity and infidelity from an evolutionary biology perspective.

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/once-more-feeling/201306/female-sexual-desire-evolutionary-biology-perspective

          • marv

            ‘A family based on genetic ties will always be there, barring someone losing their minds and disrupting the clan. If you’re married and you end the marriage, you still HAVE your clan.’

            Generally clans are patriarchal conservatives. The sex segregation of labour and authority are slanted in favour of the male side. Matrilineal cultures are very gender based as well. It’s celebrated.

            There is a drastic need to redefine family, to invent models that are not only alternatives to tradition, modernity and post modernism but reflect radiant light – a beacon drawing those who dwell in darkness toward it. Liberty from captivity.

          • Derrington

            Matriarchal family lines dont work if the siblings have been brought up to despise their mother. I outed my fathers violence against my mother and all my brothers and sisters made up false rape allegations about me to discredit me. They even took the side of my ex who domestic abused me. Families in my experience are hugely sexist, often violently so if you think they are who are most likely to attack you as a female.

  • Kate

    I don’t know if it will make you feel better to know that I had a heartbroken barcrying summer too. Whenever I feel utterly overwhelmed I look back on the times that I’ve been in love and ask myself who I really like better – the me in a relationship or the single me. It’s always the single me, for better or worse (in sickness and in health too!). It doesn’t make it any easier, but I try to keep reminding myself that I am a cooler person and a better feminist when I’m not anyone’s girlfriend. Stay strong Meghan! And have a glass of water for every mixed drink!

    • Meghan Murphy

      I know exactly what you mean… I am WAY more fun and like myself way better when I’m single… I keep hoping I’ll be able to bring that into a relationship but have not managed as of yet… Thanks for the tips 🙂

  • Mary

    This is probably a cliché question, but do you think there might be some link between strongly felt feminist beliefs and bad relationships with fathers and/or absent fathers? I wonder if that might cause someone jump into a relationship quickly and have it all go awry… Thoughts anyone?

    • Meghan Murphy

      It’s hard to say but maybe/probably? I didn’t have an absent father, but I had an emotionally-deficient one… And we don’t have a good relationship.

      • Mary

        I wonder why men don’t get attached like most women do… it’s so puzzling. You would think that after spending all that time together in the beginning and getting that involved that it would lead to something, but somehow it takes longer for them to feel committed or to know what they feel. These differences between the sexes end up being very frustrating/hurtful to most women who have experienced it, if not traumatic! I’ve certainly had my fair share…

        • Meghan Murphy

          I assume it’s because men learn to be detached… They are made to practice, their whole lives, at shoving down their emotions and not feeling things…

          • Mary

            That is very sad. I wonder if there is a biological aspect to it (suppression of feelings) that may have helped our species survive thus far (wars and hunting come to mind, though i’m not an advocate of either). And I don’t usually buy the biological imperative stuff… I think it’s as you say mostly training/suppression from a young age, perhaps a combination of both and if you are into jungian psychology maybe a need to distance oneself from being engulfed by women/mother in order to feel like a man… and all the cultural factors of course that turns women into “objects”, hard to get attached to someone you see as an object… though I am not meaning to assume that is what went on in your particular situation. Hang in there, it will get better, by my calculations, you’ll probably feel much better within the next week or two 🙂

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thanks Mary! And yes, the good thing about being a little older and having gone through heartbreak a number of times is that you do learn that it will get better. Despite the fact that it hurts, it doesn’t feel like the world is going to end, as it did when I was 20 🙂

          • Northern Free Thinker

            They aren’t detached at all, when they lose something they thought they owned, they kill her to make sure she belongs to no one else.

        • derrington

          Forgive me butting in but we discussed this alot when I was training to do psychotherapy. I think men cannot love what they regard as inferior and what they refuse to acknowledge to be a living being with rights, feelings and wishes of her own that are equal to a male’s own. Women in general are taught that love is about helping another to flourish, men are taught that love is about ownership, nothing to do with the other flourishing. Or at least not in the last 30 years. That’s why porn is the way it is, its about ownership and contempt in equal measure. Its my experience that the genders (in very general terms here!) mean different things totally when they use the same word love in the way that I might have been brought up to call a colour teal whereas someone else may call it aquamarine. Same colour just different names for it. Same word, totally different attitude towards the object of desire. Sorry for that huge intrusion, just wondered if that might help at all?

          • Northern Free Thinker

            Totally agree. My brother is a real sweet nice guy… yet he still has those same behaviours when it comes to “relationships”.

          • derrington

            I witnessed it with the males in my family who always ganged up against the women or girls with lies or insults and demeaning comments dressed up as ‘jokes’, defending each other for lying, stealing or whatever other infringement of a female’s human rights. This even extended to my step father taking the side of my ex husband when he pushed me out of a first floor window when I called him out for lying to me re a financial transaction. Looking at this behaviour plus men’s defense of basic human rights abuses when they are gendered leads me to believe that male culture indoctrinates males with a psychopathic attitude towards females in that they don’t believe we are truly human in the way that they are. Their cultural messages through various media states that we enjoy and even encourage violence towards us (porn), that Eve introduced all evil into the world (bible), that we have biological mental deficiencies such as irrationality and extreme emotional mood swings plus being generally all round prone to craziness caused by surging hormonal differences. I noticed how every mistake I made was used to point out a failing with women en masse (that’s so typical of a woman) whereas any male failing was his alone, not used to castigate an entire gender. In the same way, I don’t think they have any understanding that testosterone is also a hormone and whilst we may get PMT once a month, they seem to have that simmering lack of patience all the time! 🙂 That kind of explains why we have to have armed police at any football match in the UK but not at knitting conferences! I firmly believe this is a socialised process as my brother didn’t start off being a gender psycho, but by the time he was passing on rumours that I’d made false abuse allegations about our father as ‘banter’ and that it was ok as it was just in fun, I kind of gave up on the whole rotten mess that is my family. Hatred and bullying, whether it be on the basis of gender, race, religion or whatever other shit, always ends in violence as in racial, DV (as men prefer to call it as if its a locational rather than attitudinal problem), homophobic, terrorism etc. Its the willingness to use force to impose your rules on another. Obviously this is my opinion which I came at through therapy but it then made a ghastly, logical sense of my world and allowed me to leave the travesty of a support network I was surrounded by. I don’t think every man is like this as social factors such as an exposure to feminism, socialism, great mum, great dad etc can migigate some all or none of this but I do largely believe as a therapist that sexism as with racism, homophobia, disablism, arrachnophobia and any other irrational hatred is learnt behaviour and what can be learnt can be unlearnt if the heart is willing. Giving up advantage for the good of others is not something most people do in spades though, so I try to treat them with compassion if they are not hostile to women. If they are, then yes, I see them as an enemy force and tread warily.

          • I think you are right Derrington, and what a misogynist man calls “love” is contingent on the woman he loves accepting her inferiority (again, thinking of Dworkin’s Right Wing Women).

            Like my friend who really really loves his dog but is also kind of revolted by many of the dog’s behaviours (butt sniffing, shitting on the sidewalk and so on).

        • Leo

          ‘You would think that after spending all that time together in the beginning and getting that involved that it would lead to something, but somehow it takes longer for them to feel committed or to know what they feel.’

          I guess I’ve always figured that in that situation, they’re actually not serious, and simply don’t care about messing women around. At least, when I’ve seen a dude who was serious, then he was obviously really into the woman right at the start. The detachment isn’t necessarily because they’re not sure and need more time, it’s because they’re, well, just not that into her. I think it’s a problem that people feel pressured to be in relationships, and so stay in them even when they’re just not that compatible as people (sexual attraction can imo really horribly cloud people’s judgement, too).

          Seeing people who really click, too, it’s a bit different. The ‘love is a drug’ model is kind of off, I think. Infatuation/limerence is like that, but when I’ve seen something I’d identify as ‘love’, it was a much calmer-seeming thing, without that particular quality of more, hmm, almost anxious(?), obsessiveness to it. I think it’s because if people truly connect, there’s not the insecurity there, they can be more confident in their connection. Well, not that I really know, heh, that’s just what I thought, from observation.

          Awwww, Meghan. Wish I could give you a hug, and buy you a drink. Thank your for your honesty, and willingness to share your vulnerability. It’s not your fault for being hurt, it doesn’t make you weak or a bad feminist, it’s those bastards’ fault for hurting you. I might have been forced to the conclusion that most men from my generation (a bit younger than yours, though, mine was raised with the internet, so…) are a waste of space, but that doesn’t mean I’d blame you for hoping for better from them.

          Understand what you mean about the clash of your politics, with your experiences, simply trying to get by in this world, really. I think it’s an inevitability for anyone with strong convictions. I’ve certainly gone back and forth on it all the time, and I can’t say I’ve found much of an answer. And in the end, that’s it, isn’t it? You get hurt easily, you answered his message compassionately, because you do care.

      • Lands

        I don’t believe it’s necessarily so, though I sympathize with anyone who stepped into those waters because of lack of support at home. I know plenty of feminists who have great relationships with their fathers, in large part because their fathers are open-hearted, feminist-leaning people (even if they don’t identify as such) who helped raise their kids in a nurturing environment. (I suppose that’s also somewhat of a liberal cliche, but it’s a slightly more hopeful one.)

        Many roads can lead to the same destination. I think that’s a very good thing.

  • Northern Free Thinker

    Meghan, I understand. I love the male body and the great sex that it often implies, as well as the titillation of a body stronger than mine (I’m a muscled woman), but I can not for the life of me find any male that I do not eventually hate. IMO, and I started to practice this about a decade ago… is the very idea of romantic love. It is a patriarchal idea designed to get women into monogamous relationships (marriage) in order to produce babies for the cheap labour requirements of our feudal system (I know, we call it democracy… but those people do nothing, it’s the money that controls, and the money is still feudal as ever).
    Anyway, romantic love is anti-feminist IMO. Lust will always exist, and we females can always find a way to satisfy that vaginal massage itch when we feel it coming on. But otherwise, I see no reason to fret over relationships with males. We should simply have sex whenever it is desired… and as for the rest, simply live our lives as our own, and go about the world and take it all in.
    Best wishes.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yeah I kind of feel the same way about romantic love… At the same time, I fall in love with men… So… How to reconcile?

      • Northern Free Thinker

        I don’t think we are feeling “love”, I think we are experiencing and “end of solitary confinement” because we live in a society where as Robin Williams put it, we are always alone, in this great huge technological civilisation, we are alone. Whereas in tribal times, the way humans evolved to be, we were always in ongoing intimate relationships with a small number of people whom we knew very well.
        But as Billy Joel said, “it doesn’t matter who you go to bed with, you always wake up with yourself” 🙂
        This is a civilisational issue, and in this sense, DGR’s work at deconstructing civilisation appears to me to be the most valuable.
        For the moment, do the skeptical rational thing. Draw a 2-column table… and list the pros and cons, weighted for misery… and the cons will surely win 🙂
        Take care <3
        and don't ever let PIV stop you from being a feminist ! 🙂

        • Meghan Murphy

          Well if I thought about love rationally I would never fall into it… It isn’t rational and it almost always hurts…

          (Thanks <3)

          • Meghan –
            for what it’s worth, I and I believe many others appreciate you, for what you publish here at least.

            FWIW, I think you’re right, “love” is not rational. Please don’t beat yourself up about your hurt feelings. Please do feel free to feel what you feel and to write about it. You will thereby help both men and women.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thanks Scott.

      • sporenda

        Meghan, this is very courageous to admit your vulnerabilities and the fact that your feminism doesn’t protect you from falling in love with jerks.
        One thing strikes me though: you have sharp analytical skills, you never take things at face value, yet you seem to take the notion of romantic love at face value.

        I have always been very leary of all the fuss society makes around romantic love, and of the high human cost it involves for women : based on my observation, love is essentially the illusion sold to women that allows men to extract free work and sexual/reproductive services from them.

        Also, what about “love” between people belonging to categories separated by a huge power differential? Isn’t that problematic per se? (and BDSM’s basic formula to boot)? What does “love” mean between a slave and his master? How can one believe in men’s love in a society structured by huge gender inequalities where misogyny is the defining character of manhood? Should women always be in love when they have sex with a man–just like society would like us to be?
        Sure it feels good, but so does pot, and the consequences are infinitely less damaging for women.

        • Northern Free Thinker

          Absolutely, that is the only reason marriage was invented. To ensure reproductive labour to excessive cheap labour to create great monuments to patriarchy.
          What freed me from the always hurtful relationships I used to have?… getting my tubes tied. Now that I have ensured that I will not reproduce, romantic love can be free instead of constantly on the search for “the right one”… and all the pain that involves.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I don’t think I necessarily take the notion of romantic love at face value… I think it is hugely problematic — especially the sexist way we see romance in Western/a patriarchal society… That said, I still want to be in love and fall in love and feel like I have no real control over whether or not I do fall in love… I can’t explain to you why that’s true — whether it’s social conditioning or what…

    • pbutterfly2000

      Try putting your words into the mouth of a man: “I love the female body and the great sex that it often implies, as well as the titillation of a body softer than mine, but I can not for the life of me find any female that I do not eventually hate.”

      People do need to be called out when they are being assholes, but women using men for their bodies and disregarding them as human beings is a form of backlash objectification that is not going to solve anything.

      • Northern Free Thinker

        The point is honesty. Males will often talk about love and sentiments when in fact all that is wanted is the sex. At least the females such as I are being transparent.

        Transparency is sorely lacking in hetero courting, and that could be a very large part of the problem. Said well on the Family Feud
        [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DQv2GxFHt4&w=420&h=315%5D

        • pbutterfly2000

          Oh I see. Yes, courting is not about transparency – it’s about creating a fantasy. I’m all for honesty, but in my experience when men are too transparent it’s much worse!

        • gxm17

          No. I think you’ve got it backwards. The reason that chattel/traditional/patriarchal marriage developed was because men desired it, not women. The men are lying when they say all they want is sex. They don’t just want sex because that, in and of itself, does not give them the greatest chance of reproductive success. Their best bet is to “own” a woman. Thus the introduction of chattel marriage and now, with the advancement of women’s rights and financial independence, the ruse relies on indoctrinating young girls with the patriarchal tenet that women are not complete until they meet and marry a prince charming “till death do us part,” i.e., emotional ownership.

    • pbutterfly2000

      I guess my point is, if all you want is a body to rub up against to satisfy a vaginal itch, then why are men jerks when that’s all they want too?

      • derrington

        Because they dont admit it and dont wear contraception to prevent the itch becoming a stitch and shower women with hatred and contempt as inferior humanity whilst simultaneously telling us we are lovely to get us to have sex with them. Its very hypocritical and seriously schizophrenic!

    • corvid

      “Anyway, romantic love is anti-feminist IMO. Lust will always exist, and we females can always find a way to satisfy that vaginal massage itch when we feel it coming on.”

      Sorry, no. Lust isn’t a “vaginal massage itch.” It’s a visceral physical and psychological response to another person to whom one feels an affinity for a number of reasons. Romantic love is legitimate, even for those unfortunate enough to feel it for men in patriarchy. It isn’t some defect we suffer from, love in various forms is the fabric of us. Shutting women down with mechanistic concepts of reality is par for the course in patriarchy. It galls me to see it happening here.

      • Northern Free Thinker

        Sorry but I’m giving up on this thing you and I are doing, it reminds me too much of the conversations with my Catholic priest when I was a young girl. I can’t stand essentialism or lovey-dovey sermons. ta ta

        • Meghan Murphy

          Can I request that we please try to be kind to one another in this particular forum/thread? Thanks.

          • Northern Free Thinker

            Sorry if you feel I was unkind… I was feeling mansplained, that is my response to that sentiment. I have withdrawn.

          • corvid

            Sorry Meghan. I have zero qualms about polyamory and polyamorists, but their arrogant sneering at women who practice monogamy for practical reasons is a bit much to handle and, like NFT’s “Catholic priest”, can do terrible harm to young girls who are trying to live with themselves. It gets my back up. Of course I accept a critique of monogamy in patriarchy and the damage it has done but as we’ve both said, I just don’t think wanting only one person to handle one’s genitalia for a given period of time, desiring to have some control over what we put into our bodies as we do in so many areas of life, is “selfish”. I’m not planning to have any babies and I care deeply about the environment.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sorry that was directed at NFT not you! Should have specified….

        • corvid

          Reeling out the old “feminists are just like conservative Christians” thing isn’t really going to help matters.

      • sporenda

        No love is not the essence of women, this is typical patriarchal essentialist BS.
        Romantic love is this delusion sold to women which makes them open to exploitation by men. I am getting to absolutely despise the notion of love, due to the huge amount of abuse, violence and exploitation it covers up. When a man is jealous, violent and controlling, if he kills his wife who wants to leave him, society says it’s because he loves her too much. There is very little so called love in this world that is indeed a sincere, non selfish caring feeling, most of it is just window dressing for ownership, control and abuse. The saddest thing is that lots of women swallow this disgusting patriarchal fallacy and convince themselves that they cannot live without male attention–and will accept being badly mistreated by jerks to get it. Men need women to cook, clean, iron, fuck, make kids and raise them, boost their ego and support them emotionnally, etc etc.
        Materially, women need men like a fish needs a bicycle–so since patriarchy wants women to keep providing free services to men, it tells them they need them for love. Sure, give me your watch and I will give you the time of the day. Why smart women who would not tolerate being ripped off so badly in their job accept such an unfair exchange in their private life, it’s beyond me.

        • corvid

          You are 100% right Sporenda. Women tend to believe that our love has transformative powers, that all of our efforts toward reining in male egos and pre-emptively throwing ourselves in front of them in desperate attempts to halt the terribly harmful things they do, will come to something. Most often it doesn’t. You and NFT are right to assume that I’m a foolish asshole for loving men as though that genuine, caring, unselfish kind of love would be the natural result, despite continued evidence to the contrary. It really can be a form of self-delusion.

        • corvid

          Something obvious occurred to me about the exchange between myself and NFT… clearly we stepped all over each other’s triggers, she by using the detached scientific language that I associate most with efforts to sideline women’s lived experience, and I by using the type of language she associates most with Catholic priests and other patriarchal moralists. Strange and interesting how we end up composites of patriarchal influence, education and our own thinking based on our lives and experiences, and in so many different ways! I’m learning a lot from these exchanges, thank you to all.

  • Northern Free Thinker

    OH, and the What a Fool Believes was playing on the store radio the other day, and I was singing along like a goofy fool… maybe at the same time as you 🙂

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ah such a good song 🙂

  • Dolkar

    Oh Meghan! This aspiration to put our egos aside and “react with compassion instead of anger” — this is not “being a softie”!!! This is brave and tough and kind and we are clearly trying to do our best to be really decent, wise and loving human beings. In a better world, where men weren’t socialized to be such jerks and there was real respect and equality between people, this is exactly the sort of character we would all aspire to. And there’s nothing stupid or meek or weak about repeatedly trying to be that kind of compassionate human being. In fact it’s especially brave in the face of the repeated experience that “loving men can be painful and embarrassing and irrational and traumatic.”

    Yup, it’s painful and embarrassing, but to me you’ve only proved you’re extremely courageous and strong. Combining this aspiration to be a good person with having an intelligent feminist understanding is… well, it’s darn near impossible I think. We just carry on and do our best.

    I think you’re awesome!

    • Meghan Murphy

      OH THAT MAKES ME CRYYYYY! Thank you, Dolkar <3

  • Nadine

    I found You are so courageous to be really naked by exposing your true self…..with all of what makes you, you…. all the paradox….and its ok! We are all this…..just be you and its beautiful….accept yourself as you are, you are perfect with all your beautiful imperfections… Take care of you. I know it can be very hard sometimes….we can fall…and we get up and continue…… And take the time to heal and medidate maybe…. Your profound inner balance is going to come back or you can practice on that if you want….it helps a lot to reach its in this crazy world…….. Love you soul Sister. Xox

    • Meghan Murphy

      xx

  • Li

    This was such a gift to read. Thank you! I struggle constantly with this shit. That desire for intimacy/companionship with a guy on the one hand, and also feeling like I should know better than to fool myself — orchids in the arctic and all. That sense that I ‘know too much’ about men, and that if I was stronger/smarter/more radical/more committed to women, I could override my attraction altogether. That weird tension of ‘wait WTF who am I and what am I even doing’ when I’m feeling happy with a dude. That crushing ‘well what did you expect’ that rings in my head when it falls apart, and my utter embarrassment to let my big dumb broken heart hang out around people who don’t quite get it afterward. The cognitive dissonance gets exhausting, paralyzing. We all need a dose of that cultivated compassion for ourselves sometimes, living in this inevitable middle ground…

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes to all of that. Yes exactly.

      • Northern Free Thinker

        Evolution has given males and females the desire for copulation, so it’s not generally possible to override nature. There are exceptions, women who don’t care for PIV sex, but generally, we are hard-wired for it.
        The real problem here is not our lust, it is what we choose for our day to day life. And for this, a good community of friends is better than a strict monogamy, which is isolating. As feminists, we will find it beneficial to challenge this patriarchal monogamy and return to a life where lust and companionship are more free ranging.

        • sporenda

          Women are NOT hardwired for PIV sex. Studies after studies demonstrate that most women don’t get orgasms from PIV (only about 25% do, and they might say they do because they are brainwashed into thinking they should). PIV being not enjoyable for most women,the reason they accept it it to please men and get stuff from them: love/committment or money. Which amounts more or less to the same: having a man on your side,because you believe you cannot be on your own and take care of yourself (which is true sometime as society does not grant the same financial opportunities to women).
          Women’s sexuality is not theirs for them to enjoy as they please,it’s a commodity they have to trade to survive, having PIV sex with men is not hardwired, it’s just a survival strategy.
          Compulsory heterosexuality is the name of the game and feminists should be aware that there is hardly anything “natural” between men and women.

          • bella_cose

            I disagree. Society hasn’t always been patriarchal. There was a time when relations between men and women were egalitarian. If what you’re saying is true, then women only got pregnant through rape, and I think if that were true, humans would not have been so successful at reproducing to the extent they have.

            Just because an act doesn’t result in orgasm, doesn’t mean it isn’t pleasurable, just as an orgasm doesn’t mean an act is pleasurable (i.e. women who orgasm during rape). Such a limited view of pleasure actually comes across as very male to me. Also, I suspect that for some women, not orgasming during PIV sex might be psychological. I almost always did, until I was raped. Since then I haven’t, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like PIV sex. Sometimes engaging in that first, can make it easier to orgasm other ways, or extend the feeling of orgasm afterwards.

            I do agree that women can’t own their sexuality in the current environment of sexism and misogyny, because it’s been commodified and made public to all men. Men have the resources, women need access to them, and that sets the stage for women striking all sorts of deals with men they wouldn’t otherwise. If women were going to lose their enjoyment of PIV sex, I think now would be the time.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Women are NOT hardwired for PIV sex. Studies after studies demonstrate that most women don’t get orgasms from PIV (only about 25% do, and they might say they do because they are brainwashed into thinking they should). PIV being not enjoyable for most women,the reason they accept it it to please men and get stuff from them: love/committment or money.”

            I am fully aware that the exception doesn’t make the rule, but I do orgasm from and only from PIV… I also agree with other commenters that just because you don’t orgasm doesn’t mean it can’t be/isn’t pleasurable… I worry that thinking about sex in this linear way — that the end result is/must be orgasm, otherwise it doesn’t count — is rather male-centric, as others have pointed out. I think for some women PIV is part of sex but not all of it — especially if they need other kinds of stimulation in order to orgasm. Some women don’t enjoy PIV at all, of course, but I’m not sure it’s fair to say that it isn’t enjoyable for most women… I would be interested in seeing more statistics on the matter though. I am totally all for refocusing conversations around sex to make them less dick-centric/heteronormative, without a doubt, but at the same time I feel like it’s worth acknowledging that there are, also, lots of women who do enjoy PIV…(Lots who don’t too, who are erased more often than the other way around, of course, because we like to pretend hetero/PIV sex is the only kind of sex that counts as sex.)

          • corvid

            Perhaps it would be useful to get away from thinking about PiV in terms of pleasure vs. not-pleasure, and think about it in terms of what is concretely good or concretely harmful to women? Because, as notable women like FCM have pointed out, PiV scores pretty badly if we think about it in practical terms, in the sense that it is always, always risky for women in a potentially life-threatening way. Doctors know this; you can see it in their eyes when they are trying to determine what to test you for.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Right, yes. That makes more sense… We are talking about the risk of pregnancy primarily, yes?

          • corvid

            Yes, definitely!

          • DefenderofThemyscira

            The view that women are ‘hardwired’ for PIV sex erases lesbian sexuality, and lesbians have forever been erased throughout history

          • Meghan Murphy

            Clearly all women are not ‘hardwired’ for PIV…

          • sporenda

            If you orgasm only from PIV, it’s sort of a problem, because it puts you in a position where you are torn between your feminist views and your attraction to men: they have a hold on you by the fact they have the “magic wand ” that makes you orgasm.

            But are you really sure that you can orgasm only with men? One of my feminist friends was convinced of that for quite a while, until she discovered (good quality) vibrators, realized that those devices were much better with a clitoris than a penis. It changed her life, men lost their sexual prestige in her eyes, and she stopped being impressed by jerks.

            Maybe it’s a good idea to keep trying different things sexually, you might discover that you might enjoy something different from the standard fare 🙂 Also, you don’t have to follow the patriarchal rule that says that women must be in love to have sex, or that committed relationships are what sex must lead to. Having sex without love might not be the best but it’s much less dangerous for women than falling in love with abusive jerks.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Well, first of all, it’s not like I’m going to shrivel up and die if I don’t have an orgasm… I don’t think my desire to have an intimate partnership with a man is driven by a desire for orgasms, either… Secondly, I enjoy having sex with men, PIV orgasms, and am heterosexual, so I don’t see it as a problem that I can achieve orgasm through PIV — I think it’s a good thing…

            I have and have had plenty of sex minus the love part and it’s all fine and good, but I want to be in a committed relationship… I’ve had “fuck buddy” situations and they mess with my head, in the end… My experience with casual sex and one night stands is that they aren’t nearly as satisfying as the sex I have in intimate partnerships. I don’t think either are “necessary,” per se — sex or intimate partnerships — but at this point in my life I think I do still want to be in a love-type/committed relationship at some point and I find that the sex tends to be notably better with someone you know very well/trust/love, etc. The idea of seeking out casual sex for the rest of my life sounds tiresome and unsatisfying…

          • You don’t have to answer this at all, but I just want to say that it’s a bit odd to claim you can “only” orgasm from PIV because that would imply you can’t have an orgasm while masturbating. I doubt that there’s anybody who can’t give themselves an orgasm. But anyway, do what you gotta do.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I don’t often experience arbitrary sexual arousal. It is almost 100% attached to an individual who is, like, in the same room as me. So my interest in masturbation is pretty meh.

          • sporenda

            Yes Meghan casual sex might be tiresome and unsatisfying–but if “committed relationships” sound better to most women, it is just due to a romantic illusion: in reality, these relationships are usually way more committed on the woman’s side.
            And anyway, most of them dont’ last, the security and stability they supposedly provide is a fallacy.
            That’s what makes them more dangerous for women than casual sex–because in casual sex, you know where you stand, it may be emotionnally unrewarding, but there is no BS and no expectations, therefore no disapointment.

            But a “committed relationships” implies that you trust a man, you count on him, which means that usually you will end up being let down.
            More than that, both your lives become so deeply entangled, materially and emotionnally, that when you break up, it’s awfully complicated and painful to disentangle yourself from those ties.
            Committed relationships in my experience = boredom,servitude, unwanted sex , ownership, and in the end estrangement, betrayal and heartbreak.

            The problem in committed relationships is that women expect from men behaviors and qualities that society trains them NOT to have –committment,care, respect for women, etc–as they are considered unmanly.

            Such a huge gap between what women expect from men and what men are prepared to give can only breed misunderstandings, resentment and disatisfaction on both sides

          • bella_cose

            I don’t understand this idea of women = good, and men = bad. There’s quite a bit of variation within men as a group, and within women as a group. Far more than between the groups, actually. I know some feminists expect women to reject men and force themselves to only be with women, romantically and sexually, if that isn’t what they like. If it were so easy, or attraction meant so little, then homosexuals could just choose to be with the opposite sex, and forgo all of the discrimination they face for being attracted to the same sex.

            I’ve tried dating women, and in my experience, lesbians can be just as sexually predatory towards women, as men can be. I’m also just as offended when a woman sexually objectifies me, as when a man does. I feel like shit either way.

            I don’t think masturbation or casual sex is the answer for women either, if they aren’t into it. I really think that recognizing the common traits that asshole people share, so you can recognize patterns of behavior, is one way to minimize the likelihood of getting hurt by them. Other than that, there aren’t any guarantees, and while I think most men are defensive and childish, not all of them are, so there is some hope.

          • corvid

            It’s not that women and men are good or bad, it’s patriarchy! As in, men invented it and are perpetuating it despite the fact that it has clearly been identified as oppressive to women. The reason some lesbians might be sexually predatory towards women is also patriarchy; lesbians have been taught, as we all have, that being attracted to women is about objectifying women. (Sadly I know this because someone very close to me is queer and really, really into objectification. :/)

          • Meghan Murphy

            But, like, is it necessarily “bad” to befriend, partner with, have sex with, love men? Like, having sex with men is a problem? Necessarily?

          • Donkey Skin

            ‘I’ve tried dating women, and in my experience, lesbians can be just as sexually predatory towards women, as men can be.’

            Sorry, but this is anti-lesbian bullshit.

            Lesbians are not pseudo-men just because they are attracted to women. Lesbians are women who suffer sexism and objectification just like other women; in fact, often worse than other women. They are not the reproducers of sexism: they are victims of it, sometimes in horrific, specifically anti-lesbian ways.

            http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/crisis-in-south-africa-the-shocking-practice-of-corrective-rape–aimed-at-curing-lesbians-9033224.html

            Do lesbians rape women at anything close to the rates that men do? Do they sexually abuse girl children in their millions? Do ‘sexually predatory’ lesbians fund the worldwide market for the sexual use and torture of impoverished women and girls? Do they routinely beat and kill women who reject them? Do they sexually torture and murder women for kicks?

            Lesbians are nothing like men, and claiming they are dangerous and predatory towards women simply because they are sexually attracted to them is both manifestly untrue and lesbophobic in the extreme.

          • bella_cose

            Actually, it’s not anti-lesbian to say that just because they are women means they are above been sexist and objectifying towards other women. I really don’t know what your problem is, unless you completely misread my comment. I’m pretty certain lesbians are not like men, because they’re women. I was responding to the belief that all sexual/romantic relations between women were somehow superior to and free from any dynamics that are associated with relationships between men and women.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I didn’t read that as anti-lesbian, either… Lesbians can be shitty too… Women can be shitty and abusive towards other women.. Plenty of women have been shitty to me. This isn’t the same as saying that women oppress women in the way that men do.

          • bella_cose

            Also, this

            “Lesbians are nothing like men, and claiming they are dangerous and predatory towards women simply because they are sexually attracted to them is both manifestly untrue and lesbophobic in the extreme.”

            is a blatant misrepresentation of what I said. I find it very offensive, and wonder if it’s a deliberate tactic to satisfy some need to vent your frustration, whether or not the target deserves it.

          • Donkey Skin

            bella_cose, you realise the actual words you wrote are still available to read on this thread?

            You did not say that lesbian relationships can have unhealthy dynamics, or that women can be shitty and sexist too. No one could reasonably disagree with those statements.

            You said:

            ‘lesbians can be just as sexually predatory towards women, as men can be’

            I responded to this statement, which is manifestly untrue, and outrageously anti-lesbian.

            Lesbians DO NOT prey on women and girls sexually like men do, and it is definitively anti-lesbian to suggest that they do. Come the fuck on.

            This kind of casual lesbophobia is rampant in libfem circles, as Victoria Brownworth pointed out:

            http://www.victoriabrownworth.com/2014/06/10/the-penis-monologues/

            It’s very disappointing to see it propagated here.

          • “can be” is a very different qualifier than “is” or “are”. bella_cose said “can be” and you seem to be responding as if she said that all lesbians are predatory.

            If your position is that no lesbians are ever sexually predatory, Donkey Skin, then your objection to bella_cose’s statement would make sense. But your response seems to me as if you read bella-coase as making a blanket statement. She wasn’t.

          • sporenda

            We have no historical proof whatsoever that there was at some time truly egalitarian societies . This pure speculation, bordering on fanTasy. There were/are a very small number of societies that are matrilinear and matrilocal, where women’s position is definitely much better than in our straight patriarchal societies but there is no way they can be considered perfectly egalitarian. The Iroquois cultures, which inspired the women of Seneca Falls (1st feminist Convention in the US) had an important and dignified position in the Iroquois tries but they were not equal to men: political power was still held by men only, women having however the power to nominate and dismiss them. Even in the Moso culture in China, women can’t be political leaders.

          • bella_cose

            I disagree. Many hunter-gatherer societies are considered to be highly egalitarian. Even though they may have a division of labor based on sex, there is no hierarchy of individuals in the group. And not all do have a sex based division of labor. There seems to be quite a bit of variation, except in that they are/were egalitarian.

  • Okay, if you’re way more fun and like yourself way better when you’re single, why do you WANT a relationship? (Not a flippant question; have you read about singlism?)

    • Meghan Murphy

      Because I want a companion… Like someone to be on my side and to be there for me, to talk to — a best friend who you kiss and have sex with? I don’t know. That is a fairly simplistic/teenagerish answer that maybe doesn’t explain much of anything.

      • Not teenagerish… I eventually realized I wasn’t going to get all that in one person and sought best friend in one person, fuckbuddy in another…but that didn’t work either. Eventually gave up. Took until 30. Never looked back. Men being men gets in the way; no way around it. My conclusion, at any rate.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Yeah well that’s the thing… I think we learn that we should get everything from one person, which is ridiculous… I don’t expect to get everything I need from one person — that’s why I have friends! BUT, I suppose your partner/significant other/what have you is a tighter bond and provides a particular kind of intimacy you may not get from other relationships? Or it’s just stupid. I don’t know. All I know is that I kind of can’t help falling in love when I do. It just happens. Boo.

          • Ahh, Meghan. not “boo”, I hope…
            Yes, it sucks when a relationship sours. but regarding:
            “it just happens”, maybe that’s kind of magical? that is, when “it just happens”, there’s much more going on than we are consciously aware of? Shall we disregard whatever that is, because we fear it might not work? I don’t think so.

      • derrington

        When you find one of those, can I have one too?!!

  • I’m reminded of Amy on BBTheory, her reaction to being a bridesmaid and wearing a tiara. MY GOD but it goes deep. That romance shit has been shoved down our throats since day one. No wonder we all still deep down believe it’s possible…desireable…

  • corvid

    Meghan, this is so touching. I hope and expect that you will rise from the ashes even stronger, wiser and livelier than before. Rest assured that there are things in the life of every feminist that are hopelessly contradictory; for me it’s my utterly organizationally-challenged boyfriend and my raging fun-fem of a sister whose feelings I handle with kid-gloves. What can you do? It’s because we are fundamentally kind, empathic human beings. Very best wishes!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you corvid. And yes, I agree with you about humans… Despite the fact that we hurt one another so frequently!

    • Northern Free Thinker

      Things in the life of feminists that are contradictory? Like in every area in life you mean? We are taught as youngsters to compartmentalise everything in order to partake of this crazy civilisation which makes no sense. Therefore it is normal to encounter challenges when we are attempting to disrupt the order of civilisation… we don’t let go of all things at the same speed. The societal ideal of love and monogamy is so strong and it ruins many a life.

      • corvid

        “The societal ideal of love and monogamy is so strong and it ruins many a life.”

        Perhaps. But in the liberal, postmodern circles I’ve always moved within, quite the opposite is the ideal. I grew up feeling intensely guilty for wanting to be monogamous. Try as I might, I find it impossible not to become attached in love to a specific other person. When I was younger, I tried to convince myself (as was/is the vogue) that I was being “selfish” for doing so. This led me to the worst experiences of my life.

        Non-monogamy is well and fine, but I don’t think anyone should be made to feel guilty for being a monogamist. More specifically, I don’t think any woman should have to feel guilty for wanting to protect herself from emotional hardship and potential STI infection. In fact, this accusation of “selfishness”, this guilt, is one of the core pieces of “sex”-industry philosophy that I’ve come across.

        • Northern Free Thinker

          LOL, you think loads of married women aren’t catching STIs from their husbands!?! And I who’ve been promiscuous had never had a single one… 80% of males and 85% of females end up reproducing, mostly within a frame of monogamy. Monogamy is the patriarchal norm… complaining about monogamy critique is akin to to Christians in N.America complaining that Christians have it so hard… boo hoo!

          • corvid

            “LOL, you think loads of married women aren’t catching STIs from their husbands!?!” Um, yeah obviously because I’m not a moron? Men cheating on their wives isn’t actual monogamy, and you’ve totally missed what I’ve said about marriage being patriarchal….

          • corvid

            And I’m not “complaining about monogamy critique” NFT, I’m pissed because, like numerous men I’ve spoken to, you’re shitting all over my rationally-chosen way of conducting sexual relationships.

          • corvid

            And: you haven’t had an STI? Good for you. I wasn’t so lucky. Thought I was having “safe sex.” When you end up in the emergency room subjected to humiliating treatment, it’s difficult to feel “liberated” or “free” or “positive” toward the thing that put you there.

  • wonderful transparency

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Paul.

  • “I worry I will be perceived as a bad feminist, or at least a weak one…”

    Are the women you go out with of the “sex-negative” (i.e. anti-pornography, anti-prostitution) variety or the superficially “fierce”, yet totally liberal variety? I think the “strong woman” ideal is more likely to be a liberal one than a radical one. First of, it is individualist. It promotes the view that the solution is for individual women to change their character and their behaviour without bringing about any changes in society. The latter would of course require women to band together to form a larger movement instead of each woman relying on her own individual “strength”.

    Secondly, we need to ask what it means to be “emotionally strong”. People who use this term seem to think that being strong means being able to “handle” or “cope with” mistreatment and that complaining makes you “weak”. I think this is a pretty stupid and anti-feminist definition of strength, because people who are “strong” by this definition do nothing to resist abuse. Crying may not be a terribly effective form of resistance, but it is far more likely to lead to genuine resistance than the “I let that man beat the hell out of me and it did not phase me one bit, I am so strong” nonsense that I keep hearing from liberals and anti-feminists. I know you (Meghan) may not have been physically abused in this case, but it is okay to get upset in response to mistreatmean. It means you have enough self-worth to know that you deserve better. Oh and thirdly, even if you were weak all that victim/weakness hating that liberals are into reeks of fascism. Some people really are weak in the sense that they lack power and this is not a good condition to be in, but it does not mean that these people are bad or inferior and deserve hate. Words like “weak” or “victim” should not be viewed as insults.

    As for the issue of romantic love, I think there needs to be more discuss about how love is portrayed in the mainstream culture and whether such portrayals are healthy. Meghan’s behaviour seems pretty consistant with the “obsessive love” ideal promoted by the media. I call it the “love is a drug” model, where love is seen as being this crazy, uncontrollable force that takes over your life and makes you do stupid things and seperates you from everyone who is not the person you love, but all that is fine because “love” is so special and important that it all winds up being worthwhile in the end. You can probably see why I chose the drug analogy. Cults are another good analogy. When people behave this way towards a cult leader we call them crazy, when women in the media behave this way towards men who give them orgasms, we call it “love”. Given what we tell women about how love should make them behave and how everything is worth it if you have “love” can we really be surprised when women stay with men who are abuse or otherwise “bad” for them or get into books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” which tell women that love equals letting a man hurt you? The message promoted by more mainstream narratives about romance are only one step removed from that.

    I think we need a new model, if you will, of love. I think we need more discussion in the general culture of what a healthy relationship looks like and what makes a person a good romantic partner. Hint, it is not six-packs, biceps, superficial charm, wealth or an ability to sweep you of your feet (I know not all women buy into this idea, but it is the dominant one within the mainstream culture.) A good partner is kind, gentle and respecful. A good partner does not try to dominate you (or those around you for that matter), lets you have life and never encourages you to do anything that will hurt you so that he can get something out of it.

    The “love is a drug” model is appealing because it promotes the view that anyone can magically fall in love and that you don’t need to be have good character to have loving relationships. In reality, you do, if you want your relationships to be healthy and stable, that is. Of course good character is not enough, you also need compatibility. You need to have shared interests and shared vision of what a good relationship should be like. They say don’t talk about politics and sex on the first date, because it will ruin the date and indeed it may, but I think those issues are likely to come up eventually (especially if one is politically active in some form or another) and it is better to tackle them right at the start.

    The best ways to start a relationship with someone in my view are to go out with people you already know well or to go out with people you met at a political event who are guaranteed to have certain things in common with you ideologically. People who are not politically active could try to meet romantic partners by interacting with others who share a particular hobby (e.g. a sport, an art form, etc.) Bars/pubs are the last place I would expect to meet anyone worth dating since those who you encounter in such places are not guaranteed to have anything in common with you (unless you go to a bar that is specifically aimed at particular types of people, e.g. gay bars.)

    In summary, there is a lot wrong with “romantic love” as it is currently understood and promoted. It does drag women into anti-egalitarian and even dangerous relationships, but in case it is not obvious, I do have a soft spot for monogomous, loving (though not necessarily heterosexual) relationships and so I think the notion of romantic love can be redeemed, but it will take a cultural transformation to accomplish this and that requires conscious, political struggle. This does not make me conservative, because I do not endorse marriage, the nueclear family or the notion that women should submit to men within romantic relationships. In fact I am more opposed to these things than the sex-crazed liberals who believe that these things are fine if you choose them. They can call me a dictatorial monster all they want, but I think my ideals are far more beautiful and worth fighting for than the hedonistic and often anti-egalitarian garbage that they promote.

    • jo

      It is my experience too that liberal feminists frequently promote the “strong woman who is never bothered by anything” ideal. It’s not realistic and not helpful to women. Real strenght is to truly open our eyes to what is going on and to accept our emotions, not deny them as a sign of “strenght”.

    • C.

      I think the “love is a drug” is actually a good analogy, and for this reason:
      Without going too much into my personal history (because this is the internet), I think that you can be strongly attracted to something–and it can genuinely make you feel very good when it does–while knowing that it is also very harmful to you. Hence, “love is a drug”–it works like an addiction, because the man makes you feel good, and you feel yourself “needing” it, but at the same time you have the awareness that it ultimately harms you.

      Detaching from someone is very difficult, for all sorts of reasons, but it’s even more difficult when that person genuinely can and does make you feel good and fulfills a genuine human need for companionship/feeling loved. This is especially the case given that men often manipulate you by being charming/loving. In some cases I think this is intentional manipulation; in other cases, I think this is a function of masculinity (inconsistencies and deliberate ignorance, failure to empathize, entitlement, not being in touch with one’s emotions, etc…).

      In either case, as Meghan says, “boo.”

      • Northern Free Thinker

        SO indeed 🙂
        Human perception is extremely faulty. And we very often perceive happiness even when it is not right or healthy for us.

      • Meghan Murphy

        “This is especially the case given that men often manipulate you by being charming/loving. In some cases I think this is intentional manipulation; in other cases, I think this is a function of masculinity (inconsistencies and deliberate ignorance, failure to empathize, entitlement, not being in touch with one’s emotions, etc…).”

        Yeah… While I tend to feel like people don’t set out to hurt others, if one person in the partnership isn’t “in touch with their feelings” or able to communicate honestly about their feelings, it tends to be the other person who IS in touch with their feelings and who knows themself, can communicate about their feelings etc., who gets hurt… In my experience anyway. And it happens also to be more common that it is women who understand and can communicate their feelings and men who can’t. So, boo, indeed…

        • pbutterfly2000

          I think part of the problem is that men and women tend to communicate differently. One person’s honesty can be another person’s nightmare. Specifically in my own life, it finally dawned on me that when I am being honest, men feel picked on, yelled at, misunderstood, bullied, and condescended to. You might think that they are so tough because they are men that he can take anything, but this is not the case. Too many bouts of “honesty” can kill love. You also might think that if his love can be killed by something as trivial as you expressing your feelings that it means he didn’t really love you in the first place, but that’s not strictly true either. Men as a rule don’t like to analyze how they feel, so they either feel good or they don’t. They feel good when you smile at them, and they don’t feel good when you yell at them. They don’t generally see love as a “project” where something can grow into something else, but they experience their feelings in the moment. Think of them like infants, who are happy when mommy is smiling and upset when mommy is frowning. So if you want to not be wallowing in heartbreak all the time, what I’ve learned is that you have to exercise some self-control. Yelling at men is fun and a difficult habit to kick (especially because we don’t perceive it as yelling, we perceive it as communicating and getting closer), but it isn’t until you stop it that he will open up. So you may feel that you’ve finally found a man you can communicate to, because he allows you to rage at him and doesn’t fight back, but all that means is that you’ve found a man who has inner resistance. This inner resistance often does not become clear until he tells you it’s over.

          If you want relationships to last, you have to figure out how to communicate without making men feel trampled on. I had the love of my life love me, then hate me, then love me again. It took years for him to trust me again once I had broken his heart by being too “honest.” But yes I do believe his heart was broken by my style of communication. When he finally left me, he let me know it was because I “complained too much.” I was aghast that this little trivial reason could be a reason for him to leave me, but it wasn’t trivial to him – it had been festering inside him for years. And I could berate him and say it was his fault for not communicating this to me, but when I looked back I saw that he had tried to but that I had trivialized his feelings, because I felt that it was another way he was blocking me out.

          As a feminist, I have ambivalence about getting too close to a man. But it’s like anything in l life; if you can’t commit to making something work, it’s not going to work. Ambivalence breeds failure. If you can’t love your man but instead use him as a sounding board for everything that’s wrong with him and with men in general, then of course men are not going to stick around. I think a lot of men want to love a strong, exciting woman but don’t want to be bitched at. Now when I need to bitch I try to find other outlets. It’s not weak to have some restraint with your feelings; it’s actually stronger than always having to say exactly what you feel. My mom is actually the one who gave me this advice, and I thought it was so horrible. She said, if you want him back, don’t argue with him, don’t complain, just be pleasant and sweet. If I hadn’t made such an investment in this man, I would not have taken her advice, but I thought I’d try it because I was desperate. The best part of it is that I was able to observe myself, and what a habit it had become to bitch and moan about everything. I was able to look at myself from the outside, and to see that maybe I was difficult and unpleasant and that not everything was his fault. Sometimes our ideology does permeate our lives in ways which make it difficult for us. We conflate individual men with the power structures of patriarchy, and it makes it hard for us to love them, all the while expecting them to love us unconditionally.

          • C.

            I have to say I feel the opposite.

            The advice sounds pretty much like the advice given to every abused or harassed woman and oppressed minority: don’t rock the boat, it’s “strong” to not express your pain and feelings while people trample on you, don’t make him angry, do whatever he wants to make him feel good. Shutting up requires self-restraint but I’d hardly call that “strength” (and I have a real problem with defining strength around enduring pain/abuse in silence).

            Certainly there are good and bad ways to be honest, but there’s a reason that a feminist slogan is “break the silence.”

            I’d say if the man wants a woman to express any good feelings about him, he needs to take the bad as well. I doubt men are so fragile they can’t take being yelled at; they have no problem being yelled at by other men (e.g., the military). It’s that women are supposed to be submissive and emotionally service them, and it’s an equal relationship they can’t stand.

          • pbutterfly2000

            Well yes, it’s all contextual. Keeping silent is not always the best way. I was not with an abusive man – I was with a withdrawn and distant man. He wasn’t always like that; he got like that over time. I think he became withdrawn because I said so many harsh things about him that he felt he would never be able to please me. The more withdrawn he got the more unhappy I became, and the more I complained. But since my complaining was the reason he had become withdrawn, when I stopped complaining he stopped being withdrawn. And then I had nothing to complain about! I know it all sounds so ridiculous. And if I had not invested ten years of life in this man I would not have put in the effort. It was infuriating to receive my mom’s advice. I felt as you did. But I see it all the time now – women really being hard on their men, much harder than they need to be to get their point across, and the men resenting it and pulling away. If they don’t punish you directly for hurting them they will punish you indirectly. And it’s not a gender thing either – women can give the silent treatment and be passive-aggressive too when they’re not getting what they want. It’s not that he couldn’t take being yelled at by me ( he took it for ten years after all) – it’s that listening to it so much eventually killed his feelings for me. Yes I do understand that he felt entitled and didn’t feel he had to work at the relationship blah blah. But now that I am expressing my feelings in a kinder way we have no problems. I was generating too much negative emotional energy, and once I stopped generating all that energy we started to get along.

          • Northern Free Thinker

            so glad you wrote that cuz I was feeling very irritated at such a traditionalist view. pfew 🙂

          • bella_cose

            Have you read “The Myth of Mars and Venus” by Deborah Cameron? It’s about how men and women really don’t have different communication styles. The reason men act like they don’t understand what women are saying, or misunderstand what women are saying, has to do with the difference in status and power between men and women. So a woman going out of her way to communicate with a man so as not to upset him, or hurt his ego, is really just cementing the power differential between them. It’s an interesting, well-researched book.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I think treating men like babies just exacerbates the problem… Men and women communicate differently because of socialization and I don’t think it helps to feed into that. Men should be accountable and society and parents need to have higher expectations of men and teach men that 1) it’s ok to communicate about your feelings, and 2) how to communicate those feelings — otherwise nothing will ever change. Women are better communicators because we learn those skills and work on ourselves. Men think and have learned they don’t need to work on themselves and that it’s “weak” to do things like seek counseling, for example. Almost all the women I know see or have seen a counselor/therapist whereas very few men I know have…

          • I agree. Men are VERY resistant to self-knowledge, notwithstanding Socrates’ “Know Thyself.” I think it’s related to the macho not-reading-the-owners’-manual thing.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Self-reflection, working on oneself, etc. are seen as things women do. Manly men aren’t supposed to think about their behaviour or reflect!

          • bella_cose

            I would agree. I refuse to modify myself or how I communicate in order to make some man feel more comfortable, i.e. in control. It’s one of the reasons I ended my last relationship. The man I was involved in would become defensive immediately in any confrontation, not matter how mild. When I finally called him out on it, he told me It was because I sounded to cold and clinical, and it really upset him. He wanted me to use a different tone. I wasn’t stupid. I knew any tone I used would have the same affect, and this was his way of trying to get me off balance so he could gain control of the relationship. We broke up, because there was no way I was going to put up with that shit.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Oh gaaaawd. In my previous relationship the guy kept trying to convince me to alter my behaviour/tone/body language in order to prevent him from losing his temper or becoming verbally abusive. You know, like how abusive people do… Like it’s our responsibility to control men’s behaviour, right? No accountability whatsoever.

          • pbutterfly2000

            It’s not treating them like babies. It’s listening to them, they way we expect them to listen to us. So even if we find it ridiculous that such a thing as a tone of voice is so important to them, we have to take that seriously if we want them to take our issues seriously which they find ridiculous (like showing more affection, etc.) It’s a 2-way street.

          • pbutterfly2000

            By the way, a harsh tone of voice can be considered to be a form of abuse. I think my boyfriend felt abused by me. I think it’s possible to be perceived as an abuser even if you cry too much for instance, because the other person is then always at the mercy of your feelings. I had to work so hard to see all of this. I had to think, what if HE was always crying and telling me what was wrong with me and yelling at me and looking at me with daggers in his eyes as if he hated me. How long would I continue to love him? Would there be a point in which I would just snap and say, I want this whiny ungrateful pain in the ass out of my life?

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’m all for listening. What I was responding to, in part, was this: “Think of them like infants, who are happy when mommy is smiling and upset when mommy is frowning.”

            More generally, I read your comment as kind of saying we, as women, need to cater to men’s emotional ineptitude rather than challenge them to do better…

          • pbutterfly2000

            Well I’m not saying we should TREAT them like infants, just that we should be aware that in their emotional life their needs tend to be very basic like infants. They are much more easily pleased than we are, which is why it’s sometimes hard for them to understand our complicated needs. And I’m not saying that we should CATER to their emotional ineptitude, just that we should understand that sometimes it really is ineptitude, and not meanness, and we shouldn’t expect them to be able to grasp our every nuance. Yes we should expect them to try, but if they feel yelled at and picked on they’re not going to want to make much effort.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I think what maybe we can agree on (tell me if I’m off, I just have a feeling…) is that (my counselor told me this, actually) people, in general, are doing the best they can with the tools they are equipped with. I found that pretty helpful… Like, it doesn’t mean we have to put up with or be around people who are not on the same level as we are, emotionally or communication-wise, but it also can help in terms of kind of accepting people as they are and not just being perpetually frustrated or angry that someone — our partner, whoever — is not communicating or understanding us or behaving in the way we want them to. Everyone has had different life experiences and may have learned different forms of communicating and can’t necessarily have the same skills we do. What seems obvious to me may not be obvious at all to someone else…

            Again, this is part of the reason I responded to this guy as I did — though many of my friends felt I was “too nice” and that I let him off the hook too easily/didn’t hold him accountable for his behaviour towards me — because I just thought, you know, he’s doing the best he can with what he’s got…

          • pbutterfly2000

            Hi Meghan, yes, that’s exactly what I mean. And partly why I wrote what I did is that you seemed to feel guilty about being nice. Being nice is strong and gracious, and is never anything to be ashamed of. If your instinct was to be nice, he probably deserved some compassion.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thank you. I appreciate that… It felt like the right thing to do at the time… He’s not a shitty person, he’s a great person. His behaviour was shitty in this case, yes, but what I know of him is that he is a good, sensitive person. Maybe I’m a fucking naive idiot, but I tend to like to think I’m not…

          • Leo

            Might be misunderstanding you here, but wouldn’t that drive you up the wall? I mean, if you think men really *are* simpler than women, essentially (…which is what my mum always tells me, heh. She says that because women have the babies, they need to be more alert and aware. Pretty sure she may be biased, there). Why would you want to be with someone you can’t communicate with on your level?

            I know I couldn’t stand it. I’d be bored to death. I think it’s just an excuse on their part, though. There isn’t an innate difference, they’ve just been allowed to get away with their emotional immaturity. My dad does the shutting down, tuning my mum’s (totally legitimate) criticisms out thing, not because he really finds it confusing, but because it’s convenient for him to do so. The whining that he doesn’t get it, that she always complains (she has very very good reason to), is an attempt at self-justification, and a way of pushing the responsibility for his behaviour onto her. My sister’s bf on the other hand is one of the more mature guys I’ve encountered, and he doesn’t seem to have any issues dealing with talking honestly about his feelings, and responding reasonably to any issues. I think they can if they actually want to, they shut down because they don’t want to, not because it’s just too difficult for their dude-brains. I mean, how would they even function normally in society if they really couldn’t cope with picking up on more nuanced communication? They can, they only pull the ‘men are just more straightforward, we need you to be nicer and clearer’ thing, when they want a woman to shut up, basically. They don’t go round expecting other men to be nicer before they can listen (including when their male friends criticise them), do they? Just women.

          • Leo

            ^ That was to pbutterfly2000, btw.

          • lizor

            @ Leo – September 6

            I agree with you wholeheartedly.

            “how would they even function normally in society if they really couldn’t cope with picking up on more nuanced communication? They can, they only pull the ‘men are just more straightforward, we need you to be nicer and clearer’ thing, when they want a woman to shut up, basically. They don’t go round expecting other men to be nicer before they can listen (including when their male friends criticise them), do they? Just women.”

            YES.

            A therapist I saw many years ago (a straight male, FTR) told me “Most men are woefully underdeveloped”. Not that they had not developed the capacity to communicate, but the maturity to communicate responsibly and respectfully.

          • bella_cose

            Personally, I don’t really think it’s fair to ask someone to change. If you don’t like the way a person behaves, move on. No one should ever pretend things are ok in order to make a partner happy. I think people have to accept how the other is. I’m not going to change for anybody, and I certainly wouldn’t ask someone to change for me. Women need to take responsibility for their own happiness. It shouldn’t hinge on the acceptance and approval of their romantic partner.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Totally/exactly. If you choose to be with someone — friend or intimate partner — you accept them as they are or you choose not to be around them. I want someone to be with me who likes who I am and isn’t going to try to change me. If you don’t like me then don’t be with me.

            The reality is that people change on their own accord — not because someone else bugs them to.

          • pbutterfly2000

            @Leo:

            When I call men infants, I do not mean that they are simple-minded. I just mean that most of them have not made it a priority to navigate the depths of their own and others’ feelings, and to go into the layers and layers of meanings in sentences, glances, and general social behavior like most women have, so it makes them seem primitive in emotional conversations. My boyfriend is an intellectual who writes books about social strategy. He reads a lot of psychology and philosophy too – lots of Jung, Adler, Ortega y Gassett, Baudrillard and Nietsche in their original languages, etc. – and uses these references in his books. So he definitely is not stupid. But he is unable to apply the principles he knows from books to his own emotional life.

            A lot of it is that his male ego makes him highly competitive; he is the kind of guy that has to win in any competition. He can get incredibly vicious at Scrabble or Backgammon for instance. HIs need to win includes winning against me, as long as I pose an an adversary. So my strategy is not to be adversarial, because if it turns into a fight I will lose. When I say he’s primitive, this is partly what I mean. It’s like my cat: if I pick my cat up from the wrong angle, I get claws and teeth. But if I pick him up from an angle that doesn’t threaten him, he relaxes and purrs. Not to be an essentialist, but I think men have certain reflexes that come from hunting, the way other predators do. They are constantly scanning the savannah for enemies and prey. But when they get back to the cave they like to feel safe and relax. They like to tune out and turn off their brains. Listening to a woman’s complaints in the cave is not part of their work. The cave is where the work stops, whereas for a woman, the cave is her arena of control. I know this sounds incredibly stupid. But I think it’s partly right, at least as far as men’s behavior goes.

            The other thing is, he is a deep thinker but he is slow. I am very quick minded, speak quickly, and rattle through many ideas in a short period of time. But he likes to take one idea at a time, slowly and methodically, and try to grasp that idea before moving on to the next one. When I present him with too many ideas at once without giving him time to understand each one, he gets frustrated. Men’s brains are actually different than women’s brains in this regard. They are more compartmentalized. This is why men are not as good at multi-taking as women.

            But in the end you are mostly right. He feels entitled to have a woman take care of him without questioning him about anything. He feels that anything less threatens his status as an alpha-male. This self-concept is of course largely cultural, but it is ingrained in him. He is very empathic though in his own way, so he can be led to being more equal in the relationship as long as I can get him there without it threatening his manhood. It reminds of of that story where a feminist questioned some men about why they are afraid of women. They answered that they were afraid a woman might laugh at them. Then she posed the same question to her female students, and they answered that they were afraid that a man might kill them. Ridicule and contempt from a woman really are anathema to men.

            Last, in response to another commenter, I don’t feel that I am submissive. I don’t think refraining from criticizing someone is the same as being submissive. There are other, more effective ways of communicating, as any therapist will tell you. I’m not like those women who lets the man take control of everything. I’ve toned myself down from how I used to be, but I’m still incredibly opinionated and feisty, and I do lecture him about feminism and about anything I’m reading or thinking about. If I’m kind to him, the relationship just seems to sort itself out.

          • derrington

            Why would youwork on yourself when you regard yourself as biologically superior?! Most men regard themselves as racially superior to women and children regardless of what they say to us. You can see it in their media.

          • pbutterfly2000

            This is a shocking concept. It’s clearly true for a certain demographic (men who consume porn and violent horror where women are slashed and dismembered, men who beat and abuse women). But do you think it’s true for ALL or MOST men? If so, it actually would explain a lot.

            The first thing that comes to mind is fetishistic masochism in men. Acting out masochism makes a mockery and a burlesque of the absurd notion that females could be equal to males. It also reminds me of male to female drag, which makes a mockery of female excess as if it’s the female’s fault that she performs a masquerade of femininity. And further, which was your point, it explains why men disappear emotionally when women show emotions. It really never dawned on me before that refusing to open up emotionally is a symptom of male superiority and privilege. But it sounds sickeningly accurate.

          • derrington

            Unfortunately yes I do to a greater or lesser extent. By the time you work out that 98% of men aged 16-44yrs old use porn, 1 in 3 girls are sexually assaulted by boys in school, 1 in 3 women are assaulted by men in the home, 1 in 5 women have been raped, either that’s a very busy small proportion as men would like us to believe … or the problem of male violence against people of a lower caste ie women and children , is spread much wider than most believe. Looking at how many violent male comments I see on the internet, and the absolute vacuum of male comment in defence of women or children’s human rights to be self determining even when dependent, I believe the latter. But I would happily be proved wrong if that’s where the evidence led. I also think because I have experienced male violence myself against my mother, myself and three female children, two of whom died in the womb as a result, I could be biased by my experience in the same way that any victim of severe violence would be as a self protection mechanism (avoiding/mistrustful of that which has proved fatal in the past).

          • Meghan Murphy

            We had a convo about the percentage of men who use porn elsewhere on this site… I think it’s closer to 60-70 per cent… (Here is the thread: https://feministcurrent.com/9373/violent-alpha-male-beats-ex-girlfriend-within-an-inch-of-her-life/#comment-177065 — apologies about the comments/threads getting so narrow, by the way, working on a fix..)

          • derrington

            We had a university research group looking at porn use in the UK amongst boys and men aged 16 – 44 which put it at 98%, they couldnt find enough males that didn’t use porn to provide a control group. That may be a freak one off but it was def 98% in this age group for this research as they gave a whole segment to their lecture on this issue. If you look at all males then the very old and pre teens can swing it back to 70% or maybe thats UK. Apparently we also make up 1 in 5 world wide online child abusers too which is disproportionate.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ah I see. I mean, I certainly don’t doubt that a majority of men do use porn, but I also know that men like to throw around this “all men use porn and if they say they don’t they are lying” thing in order to justify their own use and to prove that no man actually respects any woman enough to tell her the truth about his porn use. Like, that the only POSSIBLE reason a man might tell a woman he doesn’t use porn is to trick her into bed or something. If they acknowledge that not all men use porn then they also have to acknowledge that isn’t isn’t necessarily “normal” or necessary for them to use it and that not all men are misogynists.

          • Not just that it’s ok to communicate, but that communicating clearly and honestly is responsible social behaviour. It’s what grown-ups do.

            Also, that adulthood involves self-knowledge and this is very different from the self-centredness that many/most men indulge in.

          • This was in response to Megan’s comment “Men should be accountable and society and parents need to have higher expectations of men and teach men that 1) it’s ok to communicate about your feelings”

          • Meghan Murphy

            Yes so true. Women, of course, are taught to put others first, always — we are told we are ‘nurturers.’ It makes sense that women would be more thoughtful, considerate communicators.

          • pbutterfly2000

            Well that’s what I always thought, which is why I was so harsh with him. I thought that he was pretending not to understand me so that he wouldn’t’ have to think about my problems. And maybe that was partly true. But he did seem genuinely confused by what I was saying, and he would ask me to repeat it, and would keep asking me questions about why, and what did I mean, and what did I want, and he never did seem to get it. The comical thing is, the reason I went on and on is because he asked so many damned questions. And he had this look on his face like he really was in the dark. And I think he felt like a failure because he could never get it. But like I said, when I just relaxed around him and pretended like everything was okay, the sullen behavior flew out the window and we really started to enjoy one another’s company. This would not work with all men obviously. It would not work with a sociopath or even a run of the mill asshole. But my situation was that I was with a good guy and we terrorized each other because we had bad relationship skills. I think most people today have bad relationship skills. Now we are both better at understanding what the other needs. What I mainly needed to do was to stop being angry at him for being a man, and stop feeling like giving him a break once in awhile was being some sort of doormat.

          • So once you changed your communication style did he understand what you were initially telling him?

          • pbutterfly2000

            Well yes he did. The main thing I had been telling him was that I felt neglected and unloved. It seems that when he felt criticized, he then also felt unloved, so it was a vicious cycle where we both just felt more and more unloved. Once I stopped telling him I felt unloved, he started being less with drawn and distant and more demonstrative. His defenses came down and we started to have fun again. He is now very sweet and the rare times I complain he seems to listen. Rather than scowling and sulking, he will give me a hug and apologize for being too wrapped up in himself – then he will actually take the initiative to do something together. I think he really did feel that I hated him, and he just kept retreating more and more to a safe place. I had no idea of course, and when I asked him he would not give me a straight answer. It’s so hard to know how someone feels when they never will tell you.

          • pbutterfly2000

            Sometimes too you’re pushing someone’s buttons without realizing it. I had always been neglected and ignored by my mother. But he had always been criticized by his mother – he could never measure up or be good enough. So we were in reality raging at the bad parent every time we tried to talk, which obviously didn’t make it too easy to communicate.

          • Missfit

            ‘What I mainly needed to do was to stop being angry at him for being a man’

            I really don’t get what you mean. What do you mean by letting him be a man? Is watching porn simply being a man? Is not doing your part of childcare/domestic chores simply being a man? Is asking your man for the hundrenth time to clean after himself and please put out the garbage(because things need to be done and you just can’t do them all) is being bitchy? Should women never be angry, always remain sweet and pleasant? Because that is what I’m hearing from you and it feels like same old patriarchal guidelines of ‘how to please your man’. Maybe women have good reasons to be angry and bitchy/nagging (terms too often use to shame/silence women when they express legitimate grievances). Your advice sounds to me like ‘don’t change the source of the problem, just change your attitude to it’.

          • pbutterfly2000

            No I didn’t mean any of that. I meant that as a feminist sometimes just the abstract idea of men gets me upset, even when they haven’t done anything wrong. I see them sometimes as the enemy, as the patriarchy. I’m sure we all can relate to that. I know what I said potentially sounds gross – I felt that way when a man commented here and agreed with me – but it’s more complicated than “shut up and please your man.” It’s more a dynamic of human relationships that’s not necessarily gender-specific; if one person is always pushing then the other is going to pull away. If you give people space they will often become more assertive and demonstrative. In this particular case, the problem was that he was unable to express his feelings. So the problem was solved when I gave him space to do that. He doesn’t have the bad “man habits” you describe. He just has a tendency to withdraw.

          • pbutterfly2000

            Also: I don’t think anyone likes people nagging and bitching (or yelling and raging) at them. It’s possible to express one’s concerns without all that.

          • Missfit

            You are absolutely right.

            I’m wary of the terms ‘nagging’ and ‘bitching’ because they’re too often used in reference to women expressing themselves any other way than stoically, as a way to dimsiss them. And your comment did come off as too stereotypically gendered for me.
            And it’s true that yelling and raging constantly is not healthy for anybody involed in a relationship.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            Aside from calling all men infants, I found your input very well. I think I tend to analyze my emotions better than some, but a lot of complaining and arguing about little things that make her upset all the time would kill my interest really, really quick. I mean, I would perceive it (and do perceive it) as her constantly complaining to me about me and me hardly ever doing it to her.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I don’t think calling men infants is an insult. Infants are very in touch with their basic needs. They don’t intellectualize obviously about how they feel; they just feel the way they do. There is a refreshing simplicity in this. I rarely have met a man that didn’t have a very basic, primitive way of accessing his feelings, whereas all the women I know are so labyrinthine and complex emotionally. And the “mommy smiling” thing is a fact. I’ve even had men themselves explain their feelings to me in this way! They say they want mommy to smile to they can feel safe and loved, and they hate it when women frown. I’m not making this up. At least two, if not three, men have made this analogy to me!

          • pbutterfly2000

            The other thing that’s so bizarre about men is that when you are complaining, all they hear is white noise. They don’t realize that maybe they are doing something that is incredibly inconsiderate, and that’s why you’re complaining. They don’t realize that they could be more considerate and then you would stop complaining. They don’t see what it has to do with them. All they hear is negativity. All they see is the frown. All that happens is the ego is bruised. It doesn’t work. Whereas if a woman complains to a woman that she loves and is close to, that other woman wants to get into a long, soulful conversation about how to work things out, and it all ends up in hugs and greater closeness.

          • pbutterfly2000

            FireWalkWithMe: Women understand that when another person is in pain, they need to be nurtured. This is why women bond when they are working out their feelings together. Men somehow see it just as you do – as an attack and as a pain in the ass. It took me forever to figure this out. It was a hard lesson and I’m glad I learned to be nicer, but your comment makes me almost change my mind about defending men in this regard. So let me correct myself: I’m not saying it’s right for men to be this way; only that because it’s what we have to work with we should try to learn how to make it work for us.

          • Me

            I think men too understand that another person in pain needs to be nurtured, so that would be something we choose not to do and can choose otherwise. I find it amazing that men who refuse to nurture their spouse can become instantly nurturing to a dog or a cat for example. It probably has got a lot to do with maintaining the everyday hierarchy between men and women.

            One problem that at least I have when talking about feelings is that I tend to react to another person’s crying and emotionality by closing down emotionally myself. It would be great to talk in a way that builds closeness, but usually I shut myself mostly out of it and end up feeling having worked to help the other out without being seen myself. Not because the other refused, but because I couldn’t bring myself into it even though I tried. This can be difficult to communicate, that you want to and try to, but something in your mind just stops you, and that you’re actually not unfeeling. I see men do this and react like this quite a bit, and it’s probably something we just have to work out for ourselves. The “simplicity” is how we often resolve this, I think, but the bar needs to be set higher than that, because that shuts so much of the complexity of life out for the sake of shutting out our vulnerability. We need to do enough self-parenting to react less like infants. Also, this is quite separate from giving up our entitlements, which are about our beliefs, not feelings, and should be no problem at any time.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “I find it amazing that men who refuse to nurture their spouse can become instantly nurturing to a dog or a cat for example.”

            Ahhh! I was just talking to my mom about this this morning without even realizing it. My ex (like of a few years ago) is deeply attached to my dog (we got the dog when we lived together, though she was always “mine”). He takes her for walks and to the vet and she stays overnight with him sometimes. He’s always seemed to love her much more than me (I realize that sounds whiny and I don’t mean it to be, it’s just a fact). We are friendly but not close and he’s always made a huge effort to spend time with the dog. It’s odd. I had never even thought of it in terms of gender/power.

          • Maybe I could have gotten that kind of love from my conservative dude. I would have been faithfully walked and watered!

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ha

          • Northern Free Thinker

            It’s easy to “nurture” a being that never contradicts us. There is a certain degree of illusion in the relationships we have with our pets.

          • derrington

            My daughter’s father had his mother put down when she was dying of cancer, without her permission. The doctors offered to put her under with sedatives and then withdraw food and water while she was unconscious. It was when I found out that I realised this is not a man you want to be ill around.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I have to say, I’m pretty disgusted by the two comments that men have made on this post. One guy put in his two cents about “fucking,” counseling you not to do “sports fucking” (translation: being a whore is not ladylike and will not get men to fall in love with you). The other guy honed in on my comment, and gave his own advice: “ladies, she’s right – if you want a guy to stick around, then don’t complain.” Ugh.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            Please don’t lose faith on my behalf. I’ve read through most of your comments above and they are very sound, patient, and considerate. I know the internet is filled with cruel people but I’m sincere when I say don’t let input by me diminish your world view.

            I’m saying if it gets to the point of constantly critiquing everything I do and making it a discussion about my wrong behavior, or what she perceives as wrong, I find that abhorrent. Not if it sometimes happens, if it always happens and or goes on for days. I’ve been in a relationship that got like that toward the end. Constant passive aggressive or even aggressive, cynical appraisal of everything I do. Because I was blind to her feelings, apparently. That’s enough to drive anyone nuts. Feels like a massive attack on my person, from someone who is supposed to make me happy above most people.

          • pbutterfly2000

            Well yes, that will happen if you listen as if it’s about you being attacked, and not as if it’s about the content of what she’s actually saying. Basically, if you shut down when she is complaining that’s a failure in empathy. You’re making it all about yourself and your ego, and not letting it be about her and her feelings. If you have empathy, there are two potential responses to her complaining and criticizing: 1) you can see what she means and try to stop the behavior that’s upsetting her, tell her you’re going to make an effort, and then make that effort, or 2) tell her that what she is requesting is something you cannot do, or are unwilling to do, and say good-bye. If you take the third path, which is to let her scream at you, pretend you are listening, treat her like a royal pain in the ass, and totally ignore everything she says as if it has nothing to do with you, then it will drive her batshit crazy and she will escalate her attempts to communicate with the brick wall that you are until you’ve thoroughly had enough and end up saying good-bye anyway.

            It’s an unfortunate problem that men get so defensive when women are trying to communicate with them – that they mostly doggedly refuse to communicate at all. That’s an enormous rejection of her. I understand that sometimes men can’t do any better (and women to could do better as well, which is why I offered my advice to women to keep the tone civil so it’s easier for men not to feel attacked). But more and more, reading these comments I am starting to wonder if not being willing to communicate is part of an overarching sense of superiority and entitlement. Relationship issues are just not in a man’s list of things he feels like he should have to deal with, so he tunes out. It’s not a small thing, actually: it signals a systemic lack of respect for the woman when you cajole and ignore her.

          • derrington

            I think you maybe referencing men’s famous lack of empathy here, the ability to see someone else’s position/situation. I would say that we as people should do what we can to help them learn, but in the end also realise that you can take a horse to water but can’t make it drink. In the end, who needs a dead horse?!! If he don’t want to understand his partner, he’s not going to be much use to you as a support in times of trouble and should be dealt with like the emotional leech that he is and cut loose. This pattern of behaviour can be recognised very early once any of us learn to stop making excuses for selfishness because he’s a ‘man’ and doesn’t get it. Not sure how many that leaves in the gene pool once you discount the ones that dont strike a physical spark, but I do think looking at men through their behaviour first and their looks second gives you a much better chance of not ending up with a gender psycho.

          • pbutterfly2000

            Again, in my situation, he couldn’t empathize with me as long as he felt attacked. But once I stopped attacking, he became incredibly nurturing and was there for me in the best way when I became chronically ill. For a long time he did behave like a dead horse in my opinion, but then suddenly he didn’t. People can grow and change.

          • derrington

            That is true too. The trick is separating the wheat from the chaff, particularly when you have been indoctrinated from a young age to say any chaff is your fault. That is the worst part of sexism – the victim shaming of women and children to believe in their own inferiority as basic human beings worthy of love and fair treatment from men.

          • It’s just that men feeling attacked and their actually being attacked are frequently very different things. In my experience the most gentle and tentative approach to pointing out shitty behaviour is seen and treated as an attack.

            If you say you were attacking him then I believe you and it’s great that you were self-aware enough to stop and find a better way to communicate. My experience is quite different from that – repeatedly.

            It’s all in the same neighbourhood as being called “psycho”, etc, when you’ve been pushed so far, insulted, ignored, taken for granted and subtly threatened that you actually do get angry.

            The game is rigged.

          • pbutterfly2000

            Yes, the game is rigged. And yes, men will feel attacked by the most gentle of reprimands.

            I think what it really boils down to is whether or not a man really wants you and loves you. If so, they will bend themselves to listen and communicate. If they are not sure, they will avoid the question forever, playing all sorts of games to try to escape answering for themselves. I think when they do this they know exactly what they are doing.

            What happened in my situation is that after being together for ten years, he still hadn’t really made up his mind about whether he really loved me or not. I didn’t really know this (although I guess I knew it in my heart) until I tried to have “the talk” with him. That’s when things really broke down, and when he went to see that therapist. He had to leave and be alone and think about it. Somewhere along the line he decided that he did love me and did want to come back. It seemed unfathomable to me that someone would be with someone in a monogamous relationship for ten years, and treat it in their mind like we were only casually dating, but that’s what he did.

            Apparently this is not at all unusual. A man can remain in a relationship in an ambivalent state for years and decades without committing in his heart to the woman he’s with, and without feeling it’s necessary to face his feelings, until she forces him to.

            That’s what our fights were really about- the fact that he didn’t seem to love or care about me. And that’s why me complaining about his emotional absence was useless. We both knew he was emotionally absent, but all he would do is deny it and get defensive. And no, it didn’t matter how I said it because the problem wasn’t how I said it, it was that he hadn’t worked out his feelings. It wasn’t until I stopped questioning him about it that he was able to feel that committing to me was decision that he had made on his own, without pressure.

            What I had to do was muster up the maximum of empathy, and try to see it from his point of view: he had been scarred by being raised by a selfish, tyrannical, narcissistic mother. I tried to feel how it must feel for him to feel afraid of the needy, demanding woman she was, and saw how he was projecting that onto me. So I tried to be light and pleasurable, the opposite of her. This took us out of our rut. Now that he has decided that he loves me, I can express myself much more freely and it doesn’t intimidate him. (I actually had the same knee-jerk reaction him when he would yell, because my father was an alcoholic who would become terrifying and yell at us when drunk).

            I realized later that having positive behavior was so important because he would mirror me; when I was light and happy, he’d be light and happy too. When I’d behave as if there was a big problem, he’d be grumpy and moody. He was taking his emotional cues from me. I had been supplying most of the love all along, and when I stopped supplying it it was no longer there. He missed it, and started to feel like something was really wrong, but never considered that he might do his own part in the relationship. I really had no idea that men were like that before, but I think they do depend so much on a woman’s cheerfulness and wisdom and empathy, although they will not admit it.

            As for not resorting to emotionality…it’s a war zone out there. Being totally honest would of course be better, but being strategic is sometimes necessary, especially when you’re dealing with other people who are strategic. Men’s stoicism is a power trip; we can use it too if we need to.

    • derrington

      Meghan listen to this woman – this makes sense!!

      • Meghan Murphy

        “Meghan’s behaviour seems pretty consistant with the ‘obsessive love’ ideal promoted by the media. I call it the ‘love is a drug’ model, where love is seen as being this crazy, uncontrollable force that takes over your life and makes you do stupid things and seperates you from everyone who is not the person you love, but all that is fine because ‘love’ is so special and important that it all winds up being worthwhile in the end. You can probably see why I chose the drug analogy. Cults are another good analogy.”

        Yes, I agree with this and certainly think it’s worthy of critique. Do you think we behave in this way or buy into this purely because of socialization? There are certainly aspects of those “love” emotions that I feel I have no control over… As much as I am loathe to say that…

        “I think we need a new model, if you will, of love. I think we need more discussion in the general culture of what a healthy relationship looks like and what makes a person a good romantic partner. Hint, it is not six-packs, biceps, superficial charm, wealth or an ability to sweep you of your feet (I know not all women buy into this idea, but it is the dominant one within the mainstream culture.) A good partner is kind, gentle and respecful. A good partner does not try to dominate you (or those around you for that matter), lets you have life and never encourages you to do anything that will hurt you so that he can get something out of it.”

        Ideally, what I want in an intimate partnership, is a friend… It’s less about “romance” than it is about someone who you respect and respects you, who you can trust and depend on…

        “The “love is a drug” model is appealing because it promotes the view that anyone can magically fall in love and that you don’t need to be have good character to have loving relationships. In reality, you do, if you want your relationships to be healthy and stable, that is. Of course good character is not enough, you also need compatibility. You need to have shared interests and shared vision of what a good relationship should be like. They say don’t talk about politics and sex on the first date, because it will ruin the date and indeed it may, but I think those issues are likely to come up eventually (especially if one is politically active in some form or another) and it is better to tackle them right at the start.”

        I almost always talk politics on the first date… It’s so much a part of who I am that it’s pretty impossible to avoid… I also don’t see the point in avoiding those potentially unsexy or awkward conversations. I mean, if someone isn’t interested in or ok talking about that stuff I don’t think we’d really be compatible at all anyway…

        “The best ways to start a relationship with someone in my view are to go out with people you already know well or to go out with people you met at a political event who are guaranteed to have certain things in common with you ideologically. People who are not politically active could try to meet romantic partners by interacting with others who share a particular hobby (e.g. a sport, an art form, etc.) Bars/pubs are the last place I would expect to meet anyone worth dating since those who you encounter in such places are not guaranteed to have anything in common with you (unless you go to a bar that is specifically aimed at particular types of people, e.g. gay bars.)”

        I date people I meet through friends. I don’t think I’ve ever dated a total stranger before… Maybe once or twice? I mean, they are also, often/technically people I meet in bars sometimes, but I meet them in bars because they are friends of friends and we all hang out in the same bars… When we have common social circles we tend to have some things in common — values, interests, love of hanging out in bars, etc 🙂

        • C.K.Egbert

          Meghan, thanks for your honesty and openness. And I think that is the difference between radical feminists and some others: we are willing to open ourselves, and our deepest desires and feelings, to critique. It’s very brave of you, and helpful for other women to have a forum where they can hear other women’s stories and know they are not alone.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thanks C.K. I agree with you — radical feminists are willing to look critically at their own behaviour and question it, even if we don’t end up resolving it or coming to some kind of tidy conclusion. So many of the liberals/sex-positive feminists seem only want to blindly defend their behaviour and desires at all costs. Like, I appreciate people being critical of my behaviour or actions. It doesn’t necessarily mean I will change — I mean, maybe I will but maybe not — but I’m not afraid of thinking critically about my life and actions…

            I am very grateful to all the women who’ve commented here, as well as on social media etc, re: this post. Life is so hard… It is amazing to have this kind of feedback/conversation and to realize how many others share these same experiences. Thank god we don’t have to do go it alone…

        • Independent Radical

          “Do you think we behave in this way or buy into this purely because of socialization? There are certainly aspects of those “love” emotions that I feel I have no control over… As much as I am loathe to say that…”

          That’s a very good question. First of I would say that whether you feel you have control over something does not determine whether it is a product of socialisation. I think we can all agree that women hating their bodies is a result of social conditioning (I don’t think 80% of women have a body-hatred gene) but that does not mean women can just decide to stop hating their bodies whenever they want to. Emotions can be conditioned into us as well as behaviours (sorry liberals, “brainwashing”, as you call it, really does happen.

          That said I would not go so far as to say that the tendency of human beings to obsess over other human beings is a product of society. It could easily be a product of the same natural reward mechanisms that make people addicted to drugs. However, society labels feelings of obsession towards other people as “love” and thus glamorises those feelings, whereas drug addiction is generally seen as a bad thing. This then influences how people respond to those feelings.

          If the culture was different people would still probably become obsessively infatuated with other people, but they would be more likely to get counseling instead of bragging about how in love they are and people around them would become worried instead of thinking “they are in love of course they are going to act that way” or “the beginning of a relationship is always like that, they will calm down eventually”. And if people got therapy for their obsessive love feelings there would probably be less of it. Of course not everyone has to go to a clinician to get therapy (I lost much of my trust for clinical psychologists after they decided that pedophilia was not a mental disorder unless one felt ashamed of it, grrrr.) People could perform a sort of therapy on themselves by thinking through their obsessive feelings and choosing to spend time with people other than their boy/girlfriend, but either way I think a less positive attitude towards a particular emotion would eventually lead to less of it.

          “Ideally, what I want in an intimate partnership, is a friend… It’s less about “romance” than it is about someone who you respect and respects you, who you can trust and depend on…”

          I think this is pretty healthy notion of what love should be like, although I would call that “romance” (though it is different from the superficial romance you see promoted in the culture.)

          “I almost always talk politics on the first date… It’s so much a part of who I am that it’s pretty impossible to avoid… I also don’t see the point in avoiding those potentially unsexy or awkward conversations. I mean, if someone isn’t interested in or ok talking about that stuff I don’t think we’d really be compatible at all anyway…”

          I totally agree, although I am surprised you can still get dates.

          “I date people I meet through friends. I don’t think I’ve ever dated a total stranger before… Maybe once or twice? I mean, they are also, often/technically people I meet in bars sometimes, but I meet them in bars because they are friends of friends and we all hang out in the same bars… When we have common social circles we tend to have some things in common — values, interests, love of hanging out in bars, etc :)”

          Sorry I should have been more specific and made it clear that I was talking about meeting strangers in a bar. If you happen to interact with someone for the first time in a bar, but you met them via some other route then that’s obviously different.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “People could perform a sort of therapy on themselves by thinking through their obsessive feelings and choosing to spend time with people other than their boy/girlfriend, but either way I think a less positive attitude towards a particular emotion would eventually lead to less of it.”

            Yes I definitely think we could do better in terms of actively making an effort not to disappear into relationships or make it our everything. It would be great if we stopped acting like it was ok for our friends to disappear into relationships/marriages….

            “’I almost always talk politics on the first date… It’s so much a part of who I am that it’s pretty impossible to avoid… I also don’t see the point in avoiding those potentially unsexy or awkward conversations. I mean, if someone isn’t interested in or ok talking about that stuff I don’t think we’d really be compatible at all anyway…’

            ‘I totally agree, although I am surprised you can still get dates.'”

            Hmm yeah I don’t know… I tend to have pretty intense/personal/political/awkward conversations with people in general. There is a lot that I’m comfortable talking about and am pretty open… I’m also nosy and ask people personal questions which tends to lead to some fairly personal/weird conversations with people I’ve only just met for the first time.

            I feel like most guys I’ve dated (lately anyway — this wasn’t necessarily the case when I was younger and less confident/comfortable with myself) are interested in talking about my politics and having kind of awkward conversations about awkward things… Maybe it’s just that they are older and more comfortable talking about that stuff? Or maybe I am just attracted to people who are open and open to those conversations? I don’t know… Either way I don’t feel like it’s impacted my ability to get dates/meet men.

        • Missfit

          ‘There are certainly aspects of those “love” emotions that I feel I have no control over… As much as I am loathe to say that…’

          You said that ‘love’, the feeling, is not rational. I think it’s true. But I also think that our thoughts can affect/change the way we feel.

          After I’ve made all the realizations I did about heterosexuality under patriarchy, it lost its previous attraction. There has been a little struggle at first between my mind and my heart, but it was due to the process of mourning my illusions. I don’t long for a male intimate partner anymore. The magic you referred to previously doesn’t operate anymore. Recognizing how sex is associated with misogyny in our culture has also turned me off sex with a man. I don’t feel it like a loss. And as you said, we can’t always control our feelings.

          If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be happily chaste and sober, I wouldn’t have believe them. Someone talked about the ‘love as a drug’ model… I did use sex/love as a drug. For the highs, and like with drugs, it often came with downs. I remember saying I liked strong sensations, it was just me. Now I long for peace of heart and mind, serenity and I avoid emotional roller costers and hangovers. I feel like I’m a totally different person sometimes. Will I remain celibate all my life? I don’t know. Life changes. I change! We meet new people… We never know how things will turn out and we can be surprise!

          • Meghan Murphy

            Yeah the emotional roller coaster part is awful… I’d prefer a little more consistency/stability for sure. In which case I’d probably have to do as you have and give up on love/intimate relationships with men entirely… Pretty sure I’m not ready to do that, though, honestly…

        • stephen m

          @Meghan,

          “Ideally, what I want in an intimate partnership, is a friend… It’s less about “romance” than it is about someone who you respect and respects you, who you can trust and depend on…”

          Yes! From my personal experience in a mutually happy 40 year friendship/marriage: friendship, respect and trust are what gets you both through the ebb and flow of ups and downs of life. Mutual respect and trust are totally necessary for intimate and long term communications.

    • Mar Iguana

      Independent Radical, I remember someone here mentioning they were surprised at how young you are. You’re actually about 9,000 or 10,000 years old aren’t you? You can’t fool me. ‘Fess up.

      • I don’t think I’ve ever revealed my age on the internet. All I have said is that I am in university, but people can go to university at any age. I’ve met several women who played the housewife role under they reached middle age, then decided to start going to university (of course we don’t hear about them nearly as often as we hear about successful career women quitting their careers because sweeping floors is somehow the most fulfiling thing a woman can do with her life.) But I guess if you tell people you go to university they are likely to assume that you are young because most people at university are. All I am going to tell you about my age is that I was born in the 20th century, the rest you will have to work out for yourself.

        I will also point out that I read a lot of books by old people including older (radical) feminists and the occassional bit of philosophical mumble-jumble written by (who else) white males prior to late twentieth century when believing in things like truth and morality suddenly made you bad guy. I know a lot of the older philosophers were openly misogynistic and I would prefer it if women’s philosophical insights were included within the canon of western philosophy, but I still think that the philosophers of Ancient Greece and nineteenth century Europe had some insights into the human condition, which is why their works have lasted. The writings of Michael Foucault and other post-modernist philosophers who are basically worshiped by some university departments nowadays will hopefully fade into the dustpan of history (and be replaced by radical feminist writings metaphorically dug up decades after their original publication.)

        I am not sure if you were complimenting my wisdom or denouncing me for being outdated or old-fashioned (I will admit that some of my views are old-fashioned, but they are not conservative/reactionary, meaning that I do not advocate the domination of one group over another) but I do not think old poeple are inferior so I am going to take it as a compliment. Haha.

        • Mar Iguana

          I absolutely meant it as a compliment. Whatever chronological age you are, I’m glad you don’t think old people are inferior since I was born in the first half of the last century.

        • lizor

          I think that it was C.K. Egbert (?) commenting that she found your analysis to be quite advanced for an undergraduate student (?) and not in fact a comment on your age.

          or I might be remembering incorrectly.

          Either way, your comments are awesome and I’m pretty sure that Mar Iguana was complimenting you on your wisdom.

        • C.K.Egbert

          I think we both meant it as a genuine compliment (as in, “you are very wise”). Regardless of your age–and I’m going to say this about all of the commentators here–I find much more critical insight here than in academia where people are highly educated from top universities and may even hold positions at top universities. Also a lot more honesty and ability to look at themselves critically.

          For me, I find the clarity of your thought impressive because it took me 6+ years of philosophy/advanced education, several years studying feminism, and until I was nearly thirty. So kudos to you, and keep writing!

    • sporenda

      beautifully said. Love comes at a huge cost for women they are dragged into it because culture instills in them this illusion that you can/should find a man who will be there for you, who will support you and care for you (Prince charming, all women are raised to believe in this myth). Very nice. But the problem is that men are absolutely not taught by society that they they should be there for women, support them and care for them. . Women expect from men something they don’t have and can’t give, they are not trained for that. Supporting, giving, caring, it’s not a man’s job, it’s a woman’s job (in society’s view, and how male and female are socialized). Any woman that goes around expecting this behavior from men, it’s like trying to turn a tarentula into a house pet
      🙂

  • marv

    Meghan, your raw and tender passions reminded me of this touching tune which I dedicate to you and your unparalleled commentors.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZly12eGpNA

    • Me

      So sad, most of the comments to that song seem to be about self-harm, cutting and suicide, by far left by girls and women.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Marv

  • Meghan, I just want to say that it’s ok to cry + You have been VERY brave to share your dismay with us. Emotions are normal, necessary, and no one should be shamed for feelings!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks savyboxer! <3

  • Jess B

    <3 Lots of love Meghan! I truly appreciate your bravery and honesty in this article!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you Jess! <3

  • Me

    Something that stuck with me from your post Meghan is, what do we mean by trust? If sometimes what we mean by love isn’t better described as trust? Wanting to trust and trusting someone are very different things and genuine trust can take a long time to build. Wanting to trust someone combined with attraction can make it easy to not see whether trust is being built or not. I know that when I’m shaken, a certain openness doesn’t always build trust, because I may then feel there’s nobody trustworthy around to handle things as I feel terrified myself. On the other hand, when I’m more or less balanced, openness creates trust and moves things forward emotionally. I’ve started asking myself how much I trust another person, and the greatest moments I’ve found are those when I feel some part of genuine trust take hold. I find it very difficult to love inside and outside of a relationship when I don’t have that trust. It’s not just about trusting the other person either, but also about trusting myself to make good decisions, to keep the trust and the work that maintains it in my life at the center despite the relationship. Because most of us don’t get that trust communally, we get so desperate about finding it in a relationship, which may not be the way to build it in a relationship.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes, trust is huge. And so easily broken… The most amazing thing about an intimate relationship is open, honest communication… Yet that’s so hard to achieve… I felt like I had it for one of the first times in this recent situation, which was a big part of the reason I was so floored when it/he kinda disappeared on me.

      In past relationships, trust wasn’t there, but I kept desperately trying to trust, forcing it. It’s sad to let it go and it’s practically impossible to be in a relationship with someone you don’t trust… Certainly it doesn’t feel safe or supportive or healthy…

  • You’re alright kid & the head Doobie has pretty eyes 😉 Why don’t you dance it out? Anger and longing make for good moves…

    • Meghan Murphy

      Doobie Brothers apartment dance parties help a lot let me tell ya.

  • IR

    Oh – I’m sorry the tide flushed this lousy specimen by you and you got hurt, may none of his future “relationships” last longer than 15 seconds. Delegating him to whereever the current takes such creatures and speaking – which is much more important! – of you: What kind of feminist would you be, or would any of us be, if we didn’t fall in love unwisely and if we didn’t cry in bars, or rage through our homes or decide just not to throw a heavy vase around for a satisfying crash, or – whatever. Of course we are all smart and brave and wise and warrior women with full shining shield and armour, the tart and erudite and incredibly witty remark on our lips, full of knowledge and the ones with the multiple orgasms to boot… hm, um. Of course we are, but maybe not all the time. Gotta stay human, after all, what Corvid says – fundamentally kind, empathic human beings. And great friends know when to hand over the bottle and when to lend a shoulder and aren’t swept off by tides. You’re a Shero to us all and all the wise and smart etc. shines through. And the human. Vaya!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you for your beautiful, kind, and inspirational words, IR. To being human! x

  • jin

    I’m sorry you’re hurting. I can’t help but notice how you’re judging yourself for your response. It makes perfect sense to me that you’re hurting and doing what you need to to begin feeling better.

    I hope you can try being as gentle and fair with yourself as you were in your reply to him (imho you deserve both more than he does)!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh thanks… Yeah it’s hard to trust ourselves… I keep wondering if I was too nice, shoulda done something different, blah blah blah… At the end of the day, I don’t know, I think we’re probably all just doing our best.

      • jin

        that thinking is important! it suggests you’re looking for lessons, which is part of being a self-aware person. at the same time i think it’s important to trust your instincts and remind yourself of the facts. he ghosted. he broke up by text.

        i doubt myself, my reactions and feelings ALL the time. i’ve found that writing the facts down (when not overwhelmed by emotion) really helps. that way they can be referred back to when doubt sets in.

        i hope the support you’re getting here is helping you!

        • Meghan Murphy

          Yeah the way he dealt with the situation was shitty… But part of my reasoning behind my response (aside from trying to be compassionate and the fact that I know he is struggling with a number of issues/things beyond just the ‘not over his ex’ stuff) was that, like, I just didn’t see the point in lecturing someone over text. I am sure he knows full well that the way he dealt with the situation was shitty and cowardly… I don’t think he needs me to tell him that. There are a number of things I will say to him in person, whenever that conversation happens, but as far as my response over text I felt like, either I will say nothing or I will just keep it short, kind, and clean. I’m still not sure if I made the right choice but it did make me feel good at the time and I feel like trying to be compassionate in the face of pain and hurt is a worthy challenge… Who knows, though. I’m kinda just trying to figure things out just like everyone else, I suppose.

          I certainly feel grateful for all of the amazing commenters/conversations happening here and all the feedback xx

          • ” I will just keep it short, kind, and clean.”

            I agree. I have been trying to do that – to find a place between being an all-forgiving mommy and just dumping my pain back like a weapon/trying to hurt back.

            I think it’s marvellously elegant to say “I understand that you are confused and hurt yourself but that does not excuse treating me disrespectfully and hurting me.” or “I understand that you have your reasons for behaving badly, but that does not change the fact that you damaged someone who cared about you and that is neither kind nor ethical”

            or something like that….

            That said, I have written such letters (and vetted them with friends and with a therapist both of whom said the message could not be clearer, kinder or more respectful) and received no response. But at least my conscience is clear, for what its worth.

  • As Sanne Sondergaard puts it, “Man Hate: A Show About Loving Cock Too Much.” We love men, believe in them and don’t want to give up on them, that’s part of some of us do feminism. If we were willing to write men off, we wouldn’t care. As Gail Dines says, “Men feminists are your friends. We believe in your humanity.”

    • Meghan Murphy

      So true. I think that a big part of what drives my feminism is the belief that men can do better.

      • Northern Free Thinker

        hm, I don’t know that men can do better, given the present system… but maybe in a different educational/parental context, maybe?

      • Thomas Eisenecker

        @Meghan Murphy,

        I personally doubt that men will actually do better. Sadly, I don’t believe, like Andrea Dworkin, in men’s goodness against all evidence. There really is too much evidence. Men, as a class, have had thousands of years and even more than 150 years of organised feminism to change. The only thing we can wait for is some profound change in men’s consciousness. But, I’m not getting my hopes up.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Then what is the point of doing any kind of social justice work or activism if we think no one will ever change or that people are innately bad?

          • Well, that’s where, and why, the ‘radical’ in ‘radical feminism’ comes in. Scrap it all and start from scratch.

            Maybe this time without men.

            Or certainly changing in a HUGE way their upbringing. Which, of course, would happen in an ungendered society… But it’s gotta be system-wide. A few good parents here and there don’t stand a chance.

        • Thomas Eisenecker

          Well, it does seem a bit hopeless and futile when I put it like that. But, I was in part referring to my experiences with talking to other men. With very few exceptions, it all seemed so pointless (and even draining). I think, I understand why a lot of feminists want to have as little as possible to do with men.

          • Hopeless, futile, pointless, draining — you nailed it, Thomas.

            Now add aggressive hostility to the mix and you’ve captured the feminist experience of talking to men about these things.

          • Thomas Eisenecker

            Thank you for the insight @ptittle.

            I does certainly show that I have male privilege. I mean, those men didn’t really listen and they understood even less, but they were always respectful and never agressive nor hostile.

        • Donkey Skin

          Whether men are naturally sadistic, violent and misogynistic or whether they’d behave very differently under a transformed social paradigm, who fucking knows. What I do know is that the vast majority of them are very happy with the status quo and will fight like hell to preserve it. Regardless of whether men could be different, it’s clear that the vast majority of them don’t want to be – and they are therefore ineluctably opposed to any genuine liberation for women.

          My feminist practice will never concentrate on men or rely on ‘hoping they can do better’. Nothing is stopping them from doing better, except their own preference for a society based on domination, sociopathy and cruelty over one in which women are treated like human beings. Women’s liberation will come about through organizing women, not educating men.

      • Yes. It’s that desire for connection with men. Sexism is so frustrating because it makes connection and the equality that is necessary for great connection hard. This is not to mention looking at men and believing in them.

  • Orla Hegarty

    Two years ago, at the age of 45, I drove across Canada from Vancouver to St. John’s.

    About 1/2 way through that trip I realized that despite the fact that I had degrees in both mathematics and engineering and a pretty satisfactory career, I still felt like a failure. Why, you ask? Because I hadn’t managed to successfully find (and keep!) a life partner.

    It was a moment of feminist awakening for me, to say the least. I would never have discovered your writings without that moment, for example.

    I admire your honesty in this post and hope that other sisters, like myself, will find a piece of you lodged in our own hearts due to your writing so poignantly on a powerful topic (yet again!). Namaste.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you, sister.

    • It doesn’t help that society tells us, in a hundred explicit and implicit ways, that we’re failures because of that. Read Bella DePaulo’s work on singlism; it’s not as feminist as I’d like, but it’s a good start.

      (If we could take all the time and energy women throughout the ages around the globe have ‘wasted’ on trying to get and keep the attention of a man…)

      • Northern Free Thinker

        Indeed, society favours strict monogamy in all sectors, whether it be criminal law, health law, inheritance law, housing, poverty assistance, social events, etc, etc, etc. I recently took note of a group of women from Australia choosing to be single and childfree and the shaming and to comes this way is pretty crappy… yet, on a planet where Homo sapiens outnumbers every other species of mammal, it is high time that we stop financing reproduction, that we stop giving couples perks that singles can’t access, and start financing UNIVERSAL education and contraception. In this new context… intimacy takes on an entirely different meaning.

      • Orla Hegarty

        I felt like a failure because *I hadn’t* devoted the time and energy required to acquire the life partner. I focussed my energy on my (only) child and career instead.

        At 45, with a new ’empty nest’ I saw this very clearly. It was a devastating and liberating awakening.

  • Martin

    Hi,

    I’m a guy (someone forwarded this blog posting to me) sorry for the pain of the break up. The descriptions of yourself after the break up, actually sound just like me after mine 🙁 It sucks being the rebound guy/gal….

    This is the internet, you may ignore everything I say – but I suggest not sports fucking. I have no other advice.

    I guess relationships are just really difficult. It’s a shame, but we have to try again…

    Martin
    from London, England.

    • Meghan Murphy

      What is sports fucking? Like fucking for sport?

      • derrington

        Might be like doing something over and over again in the hope of getting better at it maybe?

      • Martin

        Hi, sry for the late reply, I was away this weekend.

        http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sport%20fuck

        • Meghan Murphy

          Right. Well, yeah. I mean it can be fun but I’m not sure I really see the point in it… I have certainly engaged from time to time and it hasn’t tended to have had a negative impact on my life, though it isn’t necessarily useful either. That said, a number of people who I had casual sex with turned into boyfriends, so…

    • FireWalkWithMe

      Hey Martin. Sup.

      Ya, what is sports fucking lol?

  • FireWalkWithMe

    I think heterosexual relationships are chaotic and annoying period. Given I’m pretty young compared to a lot of people here likely, but I am starting to seek more and more just good platonic friendships with people my age and just avoid and give blank reactions to any perceived romantic interest. Though it’s hard by default not to want to be friendly and flirty back. Still.

    Guys my age (early 20s) have a very idealized view of women and girls my age have a very idealized version of men and both reinforce each other. I think I’m a bit too idiosyncratic for this to ever play out favorably. I’m not too picky when it comes to appearance, I mean I have to think they are cute somewhat, but I find demeanor and elation is the cutest of all compared to something picky and tedious like body proportions. So it’s not like I’m passing up people for extremely selfish standards.

    I have a busy enough semester at school ahead. I think I’ll just read and skate instead of using the idiocy of dating sites, bar hopping, and god forbid Tinder.

    • Northern Free Thinker

      Your age group faces a whole new challenge, where a majority of the knowledge of males and females and sex either hetero or not is virtual instead of real life experience. Reality will obviously suck in comparison. I really can’t imagine how today’s youth are going to navigate quality friendships… let alone relationships.
      The age of artificial wombs is upon us… and I see youth forsaking relationships altogether… maybe that will be better… at least the lies are equal on both sides.

      • FireWalkWithMe

        It’s a Brave New World…I look forward to genetically engineering my child from an online cloud with my wife I only know through the radiowaves…

    • huha

      Men want porn stars and sex objects, women just want men to respect us and treat us like human beings. Big difference.

      • FireWalkWithMe

        Cause women as a gender are morally superior to men and are generally better people, I’m guessing? That comment gave me cancer.

        Women my age tend to latch extremely onto outgoing men, out spoken, socially apathetic men (don’t care what people think a majority of the time, low brain-mouth filter, uncaring if they offend people). Young women don’t see as much value in guys that might be quieter, reserved, introspective, careful, meticulous in same ways. Just like how less than attractive guys think only the best looking girls are worth their affections, quiet, more reserved women will find the same personality traits they have in men unattractive. It’s a hypocrisy both ways, for both genders.

        My brother told me about a study where they showed groups of men and women images of men and women that previously tested groups had all deemed physically attractive. The same men were shown at a social gathering; one scenario had a man in a group of women and everyone was laughing. The same man was shown to a different scenario at the gathering, but off to himself, just standing around. Women were much less likely to find him attractive just because he was alone. It was the opposite for men where men found the lone woman much more attractive and the talkative one as less attractive.

        Timidity is socialized in women and outspokenness is socialized in men. It’s not how it has to be, it’s how it is for now. Women think men who may have social slip ups and stumbles or be quiet at times as boring, weird, or at worst creepy, even if he has not done anything to infringe upon her safety or respect. Men think women who are less than they find attractive unfuckable, rated on their attractiveness scale. Both are hypocrites, but the thing is PEOPLE ARE INDIVIDUALS. I can be timid at times, reserved. I don’t date a lot because gender roles are socialized to where women aren’t really nearly as forward and socially active as men have to be in order to begin courtship. Men are very, very often the ones to ask for the first date, to meet outside normal circumstances.

        As I said I’m not even wanting to do this much anymore because it’s tiresome and these gender games annoy the living hell out of me. AND I’m very busy, well obviously not busy enough atm to type this, but too busy to try and garner someone’s attention that more than likely is going to be timid and ihavetogooutofmywaytohaveaconversationwiththemotherwisewewouldnevertalk.

        If women are humans (which they are) they are equally open to faults, shallowness, and mistreatment and judgement of others as men are.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I don’t think it’s a negative thing to be attracted to outgoing people… Certainly I don’t think it’s shallow. I am a pretty social person and fairly outgoing and am usually attracted to outgoing, social men… Does that make me shallow? I’m attracted to people I can talk to or who have a sense of humour — who I can socialize with and who can socialize with others… If men are attracted to women PURELY for their looks, that has zero to do with compatibility or personality. This qualifies as superficial/shallow, sure. But being attracted to outgoing men isn’t shallow, is it?

          I agree with you that men are socialized to be outspoken whereas women are socialized to be more polite/subdued/quiet/wait their turn to talk, etc. So it’s likely that more men like quieter, more passive women and that women would put up with boorish behaviour… But simply being outgoing or social doesn’t necessarily equate to being boorish or obnoxious. Doesn’t it kind of also make sense that women who are social and outgoing might also be attracted to social, outgoing men? I find men who are able to get along with and talk to a wide variety of people, easily, to be attractive… Is that gendered?

          Also, full disclosure… I can be kind of boorish… I have no idea how many men are turned off by that. I don’t think they tell me. Ha.

        • huha

          Socialization. Men are human beings, women are sex objects. This is how society is today, unfortunately. If men respected women, they wouldn’t watch porn nor rape women nor do all of the other shit that makes our lives miserable. Women are not the oppressors. Men are. You can’t blame women for patriarchy and gender.

        • corvid

          “Young women don’t see as much value in guys that might be quieter, reserved, introspective, careful, meticulous in same ways.”
          I’m going to throw in an exceptional special snowflake comment here and say I’ve always (even as a young’un) been attracted to weird dudes. Bald, awkward, shy and withdrawn, mentally ill, sociopathic…. I think perhaps it has something to do with my own experience of being berated for being “weird” as a kid? In any case, I don’t think it’s a good idea to base our perceptions of reality on isolated studies… who conducts these studies, and why, are always good questions to ask.

          “If women are humans (which they are) they are equally open to faults, shallowness, and mistreatment and judgement of others as men are.”
          I think the point is that women are relentlessly objectified and sexualized in the media in a way men really are not, and that determine’s men’s views of us and treatment of us. There is nothing “equal” about this. Women don’t have an advanced pornographic culture around men’s bodies. There really is no comparison!

        • pbutterfly2000

          The comment was not about people as individuals, but about what patriarchy creates in the world.

          I’ve had other men argue with me, when complaining about what is wrong with women, that women don’t make the right kinds of choices when picking a partner or a date – that they go for men with less inner value than they have. This is used as a way to berate the character of women. But don’t you see what the fixation here is? You want to win in a competition with other men for the “best” girls, and are resentful because the girls are so blind that they can’t see that you have superior value. Do you feel that girls owe you something? I have gone out of my way to pay attention to the shyest, most awkward, most introverted and bizarre and often unattractive men, because my type is a cerebral man, not a jock. But sometimes these men have treated me as less than a human being and only as a sex object, even as I was able to spar with them intellectually on an equal basis and to respect THEIR humanity to the fullest. I even had one of these intellectual men tell me, “I have absolutely no interest in what’s between your ears.”

          Has that ever happened to you – that you loved and respected someone who thought of you only as a body to use and not as a full human being? It’s hard to understand how that feels until it’s happened to you. But even if it did happen to you once, it would not mean the same thing because you wouldn’t have this message reinforced over and over again in every media message. You wouldn’t be hired only if the boss was attracted to you, and then fired when you didn’t respond to his advances. You wouldn’t have your grades docked and your career interfered with when you refused to sleep with your college teachers, and then have it rubbed in your face. You wouldn’t be told that you shouldn’t try for things because you are inadequate based only on your gender. Do you know, every job – and I mean EVERY job – I have ever gotten in my life has been based on the boss wanting some action, except for one college job in the cafeteria. It was a gross job and paid badly but I loved it because I was not singled out as a sex object.

          • pbutterfly2000

            “I think the point is that women are relentlessly objectified and sexualized in the media in a way men really are not, and that determine’s men’s views of us and treatment of us. There is nothing “equal” about this. Women don’t have an advanced pornographic culture around men’s bodies. There really is no comparison!”

            THIS, exactly!!!

          • FireWalkWithMe

            I am not competing, I already said that I am not picky when it comes to physical appearance, I have a pretty large range of who I find attractive.

            And I can’t really describe how or am comfortable doing so yet, but I have been seen as less than human by a great many people, regardless of gender.

          • pbutterfly2000

            You are competing with other men for girls. You said that girls are shallow because they don’t pick YOU. You are unhappy with the way that women choose which means that you feel entitled to a woman’s love in the abstract, which is self-entitled and clueless.

            This type of thinking is probably why people think of you as less than human. You may have a brain disorder such as Asperger’s which causes you to take things literally and not understand such things as how normal male-female attraction works, and how it must be INDIVIDUALIZED in order for females not to be creeped out by your attentions.

        • Me

          It’s really starting to sound to me that you have tremendous pent-up anger and grief and that you tend to blame women for it.

          As a friendly advice, if you create a script in your mind where women are to blame for your problems and societal problems, you’re going to turn awfully spiteful and bitter over time, as well as scary. There is nothing wrong with our human needs for caring and closeness, there is nothing wrong with feeling deep grief over the difficulty of finding caring and closeness and of probably not having had enough in your life to make you feel human and loved. Yet there is everything wrong with blaming women as a class for it and in hating their show of their own humanity for your lack of belief in yours. These are the two flip sides of masculinity: a simultaneous belief in one’s own superiority and inferiority, a simultaneous utter shamelessness and deep shamefulness, and it’s simply not women’s fault and responsibility. There’s everything wrong in having a script that seeks out in women some reason to blame them for whatever hurt you’ve suffered, or that expects women to have a fix for it for you.

          All of this is a hole *you* dig for yourself, a self-imposed exile into non-feeling (impossible), into a complete disconnection from your needs for human connection and caring (impossible), into a loveless life because you feared the feeling of abandonment too much. There are a lot of men living their lives in holes like that, and what they find there is nothing but more spite for women, nothing but more judgment of themselves as loveless, yet somehow superior, yet somehow inferior and shameful. From their holes they then fling all that shit at any women passing near by. That’s plain unfair to women and for us it only makes the hole deeper.

          The way out, imo, is an acknowledgment of the hurt and the grief, of deep feelings of lovelessness and shame that you didn’t deserve, of one’s need to feel loved and cared for, and an active seeking of that love and caring in everyday life. Not through a “relationship”, not by becoming “alpha”, nor by trying to accept yourself as “beta” which still clings to the same standard, but by becoming yourself open to hurt and grief, then closeness and to being loved and feeling cared for by big, warm-hearted people, by becoming a grieving, loving, caring person yourself. But your grief seems to be turning into anger, into rationalizations and misogyny. That happens when you don’t grieve properly and grow up while male. Have the courage to go the other way and keep going, even though it might be a few years before you realize your life’s changed. Eventually, you will like your changed outlook and yourself a lot more, maybe can even laugh at how bitter and silly you were before or were so intent on becoming, of how little love you thought and rationalized you could survive on.

          Women face the same hurts and griefs and longing and lovelessness as we do, as you do, as well as a lot more hate, in a much more difficult and oppressive social and political circumstance, and it’s not an attack on us when they are able to find some resolution and somehow keep their humanity and ability to love alive and intact, insofar as they do. Your hurt is not women’s fault.

          I’d like to believe something in you doesn’t believe the rationalizations you make for lovelessness and that’s why you’re here. As the core message of what you have posted so far, I read an attempt to rationalize lovelessness for yourself, which I hope you don’t really want to believe in. Realize that you have to be open to be convinced otherwise. As things go, you run a serious risk of starting to find so much fault in women for things they’re not responsible for that you may lose sight of that.

          • Meghan Murphy

            That was really beautiful, Me.

          • derrington

            Stunning … really on point re the male dilema and how a belief in alpha maledom hurts men almost as much as women if not more so if you look at how many men commit suicide. So wish more boys could read this …

          • FireWalkWithMe

            I’m not going to say much yet, but I will ask how you got all that from me saying one gender is not morally better than the other and that being socialized to ignore or see quiet men as invisible and unworthy is a female convention as being indicative of a duality if inferiority/superiority and how females are justified in seeing me as undesirable, which I’m also curious about how you meant that.

        • @pbutterfly2000 – September 1st, 2014 at 4:51 pm

          See – here’ an example. FWWM responds to a comment that is a mere statement of fact as if he is being personally attacked. Hearing about the reality of gender power relations gives the poor little orchid “cancer”. AND then a number of commenters very patiently explain to that the extreme bigotry to which they are subject every day is something he is not only free from but benefits from even though he’s pulling exactly the same crap that he, as a responsible commenter, would have just read about.

          It’s the same exhausting bullshit that comes into play in the vast majority of conversations with men about women’s oppression.

          But I know you know that already, pbutterfly. 🙂

          • corvid

            Isn’t it bizarre how calm and collected women can be when describing the absolute horror of our lot on this planet? It never ceases to amaze!

        • Mar Iguana

          “Cause women as a gender are morally superior to men and are generally better people, I’m guessing?”

          That’s right. Now you’re catching on. Tiny baby steps.

          “That comment gave me cancer.” I rest my case.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            Me typed a great comment and made me feel all fuzzy inside and then you had to go and say an entire gender is morally superior to another. I just don’t see how blind you can be to that sexist over simplification. It’s just wrong.

          • For heaven’s sake, can you not comprehend that women are not here on the earth to provide whatever stimulus you require to feel “all fuzzy”, or all important or whatever else you might demand at a given moment?

            It’s. not. about. you.

            We are talking about social structures and power relations here. Try considering some facts about what’s going on in the world.

            Which sex commits the vast majority of violent crimes? Which sex is the recipient of the vast majority of violent crimes, including murder, based on their sex alone – and which sex commits those crimes? You do know that the number of women killed by spouses (sometimes euphemistically called “lovers”) each year is comparable to the numbers of soldiers killed in overseas conflicts – and this is true in both Canada and the U.S., don’t you?) Which sex takes the extreme lion’s share of responsibility of caring for others? Which sex fetishizes the rape of children and turns it into a high profit industry?

            These just a few simple metrics for socially moral behaviour. Mar Iguana’s comment a was slightly snide – but only slightly. And it was an appropriate response to your ham-fisted but revealing rhetorical question.

            You are concerned about how comments make others feel? I find your comments upsetting – nauseating in their extraordinary self-absorption, entitlement, and willful ignorance as per the most insidious and garden variety misogyny.

            If you are in any way serious about being a citizen who contributes more than they take and who lives ethically with both sexes, not just the bros, you need to start practicing some self-awareness, some humility (humility, I predict will be a challenge, and I say that as neutral fact, but it will be the most rewarding, I promise) and some intellectual and emotional generosity. Now.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            I posted the ethos being put forward by most of these comments as a Facegook status and my outspoken, articulating feminist friend, three years older than me, said it was bullshit to treat women as the morally superior gender and that her soon to be husband is a far morally superior person than she is.

          • Me

            Wow, aren’t you the sexist jerk for doing that. I’m sure you’ll be too self-centered and sexist to understand why.

            I’m not going to respond to you anymore or read what you say.

          • What Me said.

          • Mar Iguana

            Awww, did mean ol’ Mar kill him’s fuzzy buzz? Tell me, where inside did you feel all fuzzy? In your head or lower down?

            I’m the blind sexist? Heh, that’s rich. A quick search on your computer machine will show you the stats on male v. female crime. Who conducts war in order to rape, plunder and pillage? Who sex-traffics in women and children? Etc, etc., etc. Then tell me who is just wrong and overly simple.

            Or, you can stumble along in your entitled willful ignorance, AKA male privilege, just because you can. I find your comments fledgling Elliot Roger-esque.

  • I often wonder why women think men are worth pining for. I mean, I look at myself and the men around me and there’s not much there to pine for, even the superficially attractive ones are very insecure, wonky, etc.

    My wife says I was pretty assholish when we first started living together. Since then I’ve gotten a lot better (esp. since I’ve discovered radfem and understood male privilege), but it makes me wonder why she’d stick it out in the first place. Why do women tolerate it? Is it just indoctrination?

    • My friend who has sex regularly with various men tells me sometimes that she had sex with a man and didn’t have an orgasm. I’m like why would you even bother with such men? What’s the point? Why would any woman not throw any such man in the rubbish bin? Do we all worship the penis that much? It’s pretty mind-boggling.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I don’t have an orgasm every time I have sex… Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I also have to be marginally familiar with a person in order to orgasm, so, like, I never do on one night stands or the first couple of times with someone I’m dating… It’s not really his fault in those circumstances, it’s just the way I work.

        • True, but then it’s an entirely different matter..,

          • But the interesting thing is a woman can have an orgasm during a one-night standing with another woman, because women actually notice whether their partner orgasms and don’t consider the sex finished until she does.

          • Meghan Murphy

            The reason I don’t orgasm during one night stands is more psychological than physical… Orgasms aren’t just a purely physical matter for me… Like I have to be comfortable with someone and trust them, etc. as well…. It wouldn’t matter if it were a woman or a man, I don’t think… And time isn’t the issue either…

          • huha

            I understand perfectly. This is true for maaaanyy (if not most)women.

            The best sex is emotionally safe sex. One-night stands are not emotionally safe (nor physically for that matter), especially for women.

          • bella_cose

            I think one night stands are actually more emotionally safe, because the participants aren’t emotionally invested. In a relationship, emotional safety is an illusion, because one is more emotionally invested, and therefore vulnerable to the other person.

            I’ve had great casual sex, and great relationship sex. I’ve also had relationships where the sexual connection just wasn’t there, and casual sex that was pretty awful. I think it’s about the individuals. Also, because of the physical danger to women in casual encounters, I do think it’s harder for women to relax, and more difficult to ask for what they want, seeing as they’re at a disadvantage. But I don’t think that necessarily has to do with emotional connection. I will say though, I do think and emotional connection can enhance sex, but there’s no guarantee that it will.

          • huha

            Women just can’t win, can we? It’s so sad. 🙁

            Now that young men get their sex ed from porn and think that it’s a portrayal of normal sex… well…it just makes any man who isn’t a radical feminist ally unattractive. Studies show that very few young women today experience pleasure from casual/hook up sex because it’s all about the penis and porn.

            I agree with what you said, I just wanted to add that porn is probably the main culprit for making young women’s sex lives terrible.

          • Northern Free Thinker

            Statistically speaking, bearing in mind that orgasms were not a common trait in my life until I met uncircumcised males, I can say that I’ve had more orgasms on one-night stands than within relationships. I’ve found that the excitement of the unknown is more exciting by the hard-working well-meaning boring partner. This has everything to do with our life experience, I’ve lived my life as a gypsy, constantly exploring new countries, volunteer work, new foods, new art and new males and females. Tastes and attraction are not innate but are the result of our formative years. That’s not saying we can change our tastes, but that our tastes are the result of our earliest social experience. All can be different, given different initial circumstance.

      • Northern Free Thinker

        Good lord! That is such a male centric view!!!!!!!!!!!!
        I like all parts of having sex… orgasm is simply not a big part of my sex life, and that is true of 70% of females. My clit is teensy… maybe I’m biologically underdeveloped, so I take all the pleasures… orgasm is just a part of that. I think that’s the reason post-ops are so obsessed with being functionally orgasmic… that male perspective that sex is only successful if there is orgasm. Yes, I like orgasm… but it’s just one of many components.

      • Tadgh

        I don’t think it’s very unusual for people not to have an orgasm, it’s certainly not a requirement for me anyway. Looking back, the best sex I’ve ever had didn’t involve climaxing, and more often than not I find it difficult . If it’s an integral part of sex then you can talk to your partner about it to remedy the situation. For me though the few seconds of intense pleasure derived from an orgasm are secondary to everything that comes beforehand.

  • I have not commented earlier because I was so incredibly moved and relate so strongly to what you wrote, Meghan,I thought I’d start writing and not be able to stop! Clearly your experience resonates with many others as well.

    I feel for you – intensely – and am so sorry you’ve had this happen. Again.

    The most intense love I ever felt was for a conservative guy. It made me crazy – and question my feminism – because he loved me – and he did love me deeply in his way – in the way that Andrea Dworkin talks about in Right Wing Women – I would have been a cherished and beloved pet, all I had to do was accept his ultimate authority. Loving someone with that world view is a mind and soul fuck and we are confronted with many different permutations of that shitty contract.

    I, too, want a partner and I believe it is possible. But it seems that there are very few emotionally mature men who are self-aware enough to recognize and name their advantages as a male under patriarchy.

    There’s a little book by a zen teacher (I can’t recall her name) called “Be the person you want to find”. It has not solved my longing for real partnership, but it has helped me to understand how to be more emotionally responsible to myself and others and that eases the pain and longing for deep body and soul connection somewhat.

    I wish you a speedy recovery. Eat well and take walks and drink wine and whine your sorrows all you want. You are amazing and you deserve to feel better.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh thank you so much for these words, lizor <3 <3

  • Meghan Murphy – August 30th, 2014 at 6:33 pm
    “I think what maybe we can agree on (tell me if I’m off, I just have a feeling…) is that (my counselor told me this, actually) people, in general, are doing the best they can with the tools they are equipped with.”

    And

    bella_cose – August 30th, 2014 at 6:31 pm
    “Personally, I don’t really think it’s fair to ask someone to change. If you don’t like the way a person behaves, move on.”

    There’s the rub, hey? We meet these infantile men who enjoy social advantage and unearned authority. We know that they are underdeveloped and we can see the benefits to all if they would grow up. Some people here have talked about relationships where the men changed and did grow up after being confronted by their female partner. So, in our search for a love/life partner, we know that a man can change and mature and we have to decide whether to take the risk of asking for greater self awareness and emotional responsibility (and the vulnerability and energy that entails) knowing they “might not hear us” – or we accept that they are “infants” as if it’s a material fact and move on.

    The operation of patriarchy at this level – the level of self – is maddening.

    • C.K. Egbert

      Very true. As I’ve told people, I don’t want to date because it is unjust for me to be responsible for a man’s moral education (respecting bodily integrity, treating me like an equal, having empathy…). If I’m going to be in charge of someone’s education I better be getting paid.

      • Ha! Yes!

        I recall a friend of mine telling me that a number of her ex-lovers had thanked her for all she had taught them. She said “I think it’s supposed to be a compliment, but I just feel like sending a bill.”

        • Meghan Murphy

          Ugh I hate that!! My ex boyfriend told me he’d learned so much from me and I just felt like saying “Fuck you! I’m not here to teach you how to be a better person/partner/lover, I learned fuck all from you!” Fucking leeches.

          • Yeah, exactly: “All I learned from you was that my cynicism could go even deeper.”

      • ” If I’m going to be in charge of someone’s education I better be getting paid.”

        Absolutely!

      • stephen m

        @C.K. Egbert, I think would be very difficult or impossible for a woman to teach a man their “moral education (respecting bodily integrity, treating me like an equal, having empathy…)” These characteristics of true friendship are something that if we are fortunate we seem to gain by life’s experience on the way through the developmental stages to maturity.

        On the other hand do not hesitate to discuss your feminist ideas if and when you meet and have male friends who have finally matured, respect you and may have “missed the feminist boat”. I am still grateful to my feminist women friends who have discussed feminist issues with me and shared articles to read over the many years. Our friendships grew stronger for it.

    • polarcontrol

      I’ve been with my partner for almost ten years. I was lucky to meet him when we were both very much ‘underdeveloped’ in our mid-twenties, and when I was just properly discovering feminism. We grew together and he learned feminism from seeing me explore. It has definitely made us both and our relationship better. I think any decent human being can change and I think love especially makes you want to change and become better for the other person you care so much about.

      Meghan, thank you for the beautiful post. And I’m loving the discussion here.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Thank you @polarcontrol. I’m glad to hear of your experience.

  • Tadgh

    I think your polite, sympathetic response was admirable and I disagree with the acerbic, confrontational approach which your friend criticised you for not taking. The guy in question’s conduct was inappropriate and insensitive, and I speak as someone who has regrettably engaged in similar behaviour ( though this was when I was 16; I’m not sure how much leniency a young inexperienced teenager should be given in these situations, but I hurt someone deeply, and will always remain sorry for it ). You certainly would be justified in criticising him when you two see each other again, but I think these things can be done with a mixture of sympathy and polite firmness. Human emotions and psychology can be very complicated, and although I don’t know anything about this guy beyond what you’ve written in your post, he may well have started dating you in the genuine belief that it would lead to a serious relationship. Perhaps there was some lingering doubt over feelings for his ex-girlfriend, but being uncertain is unfortunately a fairly standard state in many spheres of life, and in truth, at least in my view, it’s difficult to be 100% certain about anything; if you vigorously analyse a situation you’ll always be able to find some area of contention, some lingering unsureness. In addition, I don’t think it’s unusual for there to be some residual feelings for past partners; I still think fondly of some girls I’ve dated and there’ll always be some degree of feeling, however minor, for them. Navigating your emotions can be a confusing endeavour, and unfortunately we can misinterpret how we feel, make bad decisions, and end up hurting others.

    You mention that you fall in love easily and often; something I can relate to. Well, partially. For me, I’d imagine it’s more infatuation, or falling in love with some idealised version of a person. Whatever it is though, it’s intoxicating and tumultuous. One of my favourite quotes from Game of Thrones is when Oberyn and Varys are discussing sexual preferences, and the former questions the latter’s apparent lack of desire, to which Varys replies “When I see what desire does to people, what it’s done to this country, I’m very glad to have no part in it.” At times I want to fully subscribe to that notion, and act accordingly but, regrettably attraction, whether it be in a sexual or romantic context is, for most of us, genetically ingrained. I hate that I’m biologically primed to seek out a partner and that emotionally and psychology I’m ostensibly “incomplete” by myself. My own belief is that human nature is capricious, and to a large extent inherently selfish. With regard to relationships that’s not necessarily our fault; as I mentioned , the desire to seek out a partner is encoded in our DNA, so we’re induced into sexual/romantic attraction, and it’s hard to resist.

    Relationships to me are intrinsically selfish; we enter them to satisfy our own desires, whether that entails assuaging loneliness, feeling loved and protected or to amplify our happiness. No matter how altruistically and kindly we act in a relationship the original impulse is one of selfishness, and that bothers me. And set against a biological makeup which induces me to look for a partner, it’s maddening. I invoke reason to help me resist the natural impulse to ask someone out; it’s something I know I want, but I’m overly analytical, and have OCD which ranges from mild-severe; I enjoy thinking, analysing and reducing subjects to an irreducible truth ( where that’s possible ), and I often don’t like what I find in my psycho-emotional framework; I’m debating whether it’s possible to reconcile the ingrained desire for love with morality. Without being condescending and arrogant, I really believe that if people were more introspective, and looked honestly and thoroughly at what lurks behind their behaviour, desires and beliefs, they very well might not like what they find. At least that’s been my experience. I’d venture to presume this is a notion you might have sympathy for, given how much feminism deals with issues of privilege, sexism, gender roles and the need to challenge these issues which from a young age we’re to a considerable degree indoctrinated into accepting .

    I guess I used to think of love and romance as something ethereal, and perhaps to a certain degree I still do, but increasingly I view it through the more tangible lens of psychology, genetics, biology and particularly biochemistry. Love for me is largely a potent cocktail of dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline etc… Essentially it’s a high, a beautiful high ( my understanding is that opioid drugs like cocaine have similar affects to love on dopamine levels ) . Furthermore I have my doubts about just how much agency people truly have when it comes to dating; we can rationalise why we’re seeing someone, citing reasons A-Z about why they’re a perfect match, but how much does subconscious appraisal play in all this? I’ve fallen for people that clearly weren’t right for me, with whom there wouldn’t be the possibility of a lasting relationship, and yet the emotional attachment was there, and it blunted my reason and rendered all my objective analysis seemingly trivial.

    I don’t want to date to feel complete, out of fear or because I occasionally feel lonely; those are all selfish reasons, and run contrary to my desire to a live an altruistic, morally upright life based on reason, and not on some primal, animalistic impulse encoded in my DNA; but it’s hard to do that, to act in opposition to such natural emotions, to what is, from a genetic evolutionary perspective, the only purpose of life : reproducing and caring for offspring. One of the best things about being human is the ability to analyse natural instincts and when appropriate to transcend them; for me what’s natural doesn’t always equate to what’s best. I just wish it wasn’t so difficult to ignore the desire to have a loving relationship with another person : /

    Sorry to go off on that long tangent, I really hope you feel better; the aftermath of these things is always depressing, but thankfully the sadness dissipates and eventually things get back to normal. ^^

    • Meghan Murphy

      “… but being uncertain is unfortunately a fairly standard state in many spheres of life, and in truth, at least in my view, it’s difficult to be 100% certain about anything; if you vigorously analyse a situation you’ll always be able to find some area of contention, some lingering unsureness. In addition, I don’t think it’s unusual for there to be some residual feelings for past partners; I still think fondly of some girls I’ve dated and there’ll always be some degree of feeling, however minor, for them. Navigating your emotions can be a confusing endeavour, and unfortunately we can misinterpret how we feel, make bad decisions, and end up hurting others.”

      Yes totally. I don’t think I’ve ever entered into a relationship fully “over” a past partner. There are always complicated or, as you say, residual feelings in one way or another. It doesn’t bother me and I think it’s pretty normal… I have no idea why anyone would think human beings are so simple and tidy — none of us enter into relationships with a clean slate. I usually don’t even really get “over” my exes until I start a new relationship anyway. Like, that’s how you move on… By moving on…

      “You mention that you fall in love easily and often; something I can relate to. Well, partially. For me, I’d imagine it’s more infatuation, or falling in love with some idealised version of a person.”

      Yes that makes a lot of sense… Romantic love — the kind of love you experience early in a relationship where it feels like a drug — is pretty irrational and feels quite different than the kind of love you feel for your partner a few years down the road… I notice that the exes I’ve felt most heartbroken over are the ones that I idealize in my mind — like I turn them into these near-perfect people and then tell myself I’ll never find anyone like that again, I’ll never love again blah blah blah. Not very rational or helful, really…

      “Relationships to me are intrinsically selfish; we enter them to satisfy our own desires, whether that entails assuaging loneliness, feeling loved and protected or to amplify our happiness.”

      For sure. I mean, part of the I want to be in a relationship is simply because, like, it’s just easier… You have someone to support you emotionally, to help you out with stuff, to listen to you, be on your side, etc. It’s totally selfish. I mean, there is also I lot of compromise and giving, in the other direction, but it’s not like anyone gets into a relationship because they want to compromise and, like, pick someone up from the airport, etc.

      “Furthermore I have my doubts about just how much agency people truly have when it comes to dating; we can rationalise why we’re seeing someone, citing reasons A-Z about why they’re a perfect match, but how much does subconscious appraisal play in all this? I’ve fallen for people that clearly weren’t right for me, with whom there wouldn’t be the possibility of a lasting relationship, and yet the emotional attachment was there, and it blunted my reason and rendered all my objective analysis seemingly trivial.”

      This is how I feel as well and has been a pretty unpopular position to take among my friends and, I think, just more generally… I’ve said many times, like, “I hate to say this but I don’t feel I really have much choice or control over who I fall in love with.” I think we like to think we choose our partners but the people I’m attracted to are the people I’m attracted to. There have been plenty of people I’ve wanted to date because they seem “good on paper” and/or seem like a good match intellectually, politically, etc. but I just can’t do it because I’m not attracted to them. If the chemistry isn’t there it isn’t there… You can’t force that stuff.

      “One of the best things about being human is the ability to analyse natural instincts and when appropriate to transcend them; for me what’s natural doesn’t always equate to what’s best. I just wish it wasn’t so difficult to ignore the desire to have a loving relationship with another person”

      I wish that too…

      Thanks so much for your thoughts and kind words. Much appreciated. The way I chose to respond to him, via text, was hard for me… Like I think it would have been easier to just spew everything I was thinking and feeling about the situation. It was for more challenging to choose a simple, more compassionate response. I guess I feel like it’s good to challenge ourselves in this way like, that somehow the fact that it was a challenge for me to do that is a good thing in and of itself even. I’ve hurt people and behaved badly in relationships — not because I’m a bad person, but because I screwed up or made a bad choice or was angry or selfish or whatever… I mean, haven’t we all made mistakes and hurt people in relationships at one point or another?

  • Ok, I want to say how awesome this comment is – and it was hard to read because of the formatting (I know you are looking for a fix Meghan – it’s only because your blog is so smart and relevant that we want to discuss your posts to this extent!!)

    so I’m reposting down here. It just made me so damn happy to have this spelled out plainly:

    pbutterfly2000 – September 1st, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    “Well yes, that will happen if you listen as if it’s about you being attacked, and not as if it’s about the content of what she’s actually saying. Basically, if you shut down when she is complaining that’s a failure in empathy. You’re making it all about yourself and your ego, and not letting it be about her and her feelings. If you have empathy, there are two potential responses to her complaining and criticizing: 1) you can see what she means and try to stop the behavior that’s upsetting her, tell her you’re going to make an effort, and then make that effort, or 2) tell her that what she is requesting is something you cannot do, or are unwilling to do, and say good-bye. If you take the third path, which is to let her scream at you, pretend you are listening, treat her like a royal pain in the ass, and totally ignore everything she says as if it has nothing to do with you, then it will drive her batshit crazy and she will escalate her attempts to communicate with the brick wall that you are until you’ve thoroughly had enough and end up saying good-bye anyway.

    It’s an unfortunate problem that men get so defensive when women are trying to communicate with them – that they mostly doggedly refuse to communicate at all. That’s an enormous rejection of her. I understand that sometimes men can’t do any better (and women to could do better as well, which is why I offered my advice to women to keep the tone civil so it’s easier for men not to feel attacked). But more and more, reading these comments I am starting to wonder if not being willing to communicate is part of an overarching sense of superiority and entitlement. Relationship issues are just not in a man’s list of things he feels like he should have to deal with, so he tunes out. It’s not a small thing, actually: it signals a systemic lack of respect for the woman when you cajole and ignore her.”

    And it is in response to FWWM’s comment which ended with “Feels like a massive attack on my person, from someone who is supposed to make me happy above most people.”

    See, she is NOT supposed to make you happy above most people. That is not hers or anyone else’s job. If you really think she owes you whatever treatment it takes to fulfill your emotional needs, ego, whatever, then YOU are the problem. Study pbutterfly2000’s reply to you. Read it over and over. Print it out and tape it to your wall like an inspirational poster. You need to get your head around what she has so generously spelled out for you.

  • I’m moving this comment from Missfit down to a new thread b/c formatting. Hope this is OK.

    Missfit – September 1st, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    “You are absolutely right.

    I’m wary of the terms ‘nagging’ and ‘bitching’ because they’re too often used in reference to women expressing themselves any other way than stoically, as a way to dimsiss them. And your comment did come off as too stereotypically gendered for me.
    And it’s true that yelling and raging constantly is not healthy for anybody involed in a relationship.”

    I agree completely about “nagging’ , etc. But it’s your last sentence, Missfit, is the one that interests me most. I feel like this is were we run into a lose-lose and where the truth of communication get buried in favour of male power playing.

    I don’t know of anyone woman who engages in “yelling and raging constantly” but I do know that no matter how gently a woman couches her grievance, it will be characterized along the lines of “she started screaming at me”. Just like rape, in the absence of a witness, whose version of events is most often taken seriously?

    Then there is the question of “nagging”. What is “nagging”? In my experience it is the result of repeated disregard, disrespect and dismissal. It’s the accumulation of frustration at a partner who simply does not engage with his domestic responsibilities nor does he acknowledge that he repeatedly either ignores his obligations or makes a half-assed, [passive aggressive] gesture towards them that still leaves the women having to perform the work. For me, “nagging and bitching” is how my voice sounds when over time my statements and requests have fallen on deaf ears; the sound of the mind-fuck of having a person who loves me treat me like a serf. It’s the sound of someone who has eaten way too much shit.

    I feel like we’re painted into a bit of a corner here. I would love to hear some useful strategies that will hold men accountable for their responsibilities to domestic (and emotional) labour – especially when they have been raised to understand that there is a perpetual mommy in the world to do for them and to love them no matter what heinous shit they pull.

    • Me

      When he says “she started screaming at me”, he probably genuinely experienced it that way. Next he’ll feel in his right to “defend” himself “proportionately” for being attacked. Just goes to show his level of entitlement, delusion and immaturity.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Sorry again about the threads! Problem has been fixed — thanks for working around it 🙂

    • Missfit

      I totally agree with how you describe what the words nagging and bitching actually refer to and how they are used to dimsiss women’s words. When I say it is not healthy for anybody involved in a relationship composed of frequent yelling, I mean anybody, including the one who’s resorting to it. When a woman is at this point, it is often because she does not feel listened to, she’s overburdened, her feelings and requests not appropriately acknowledged. It is not healthy to stay in such a relationship for both party I think. You have to either change the dynamic (and make sure it does not come back! which might be the most difficult part) or end it.

      The search for useful strategies seem tied to the premise that there must be a relationship in the first place, that there is no other way around women cohabiting with a man in the set-up of a monogamous relationship. My strategy is to live another way.

  • pbutterfly2000

    Some men are so allergic to relationship responsibilities and so stubborn about their worldview that a woman must take care of them that there is no strategy that will ever work with them. These men will fight to the death rather than give in. They would rather be alone and desperately lonely, having to use porn and visit prostitutes rather than give in to a woman. And this is how those men usually end up – alone and lonely and very bitter – unless they have the luck to find a woman who will put up with their crap endlessly, hoping all the while that she can “fix” him.

    For men who have some adult qualities of responsibility, therapy can help, reading books together, and gently discussing what one would desire in a partner without having it seem like criticism. But you have to be careful with therapy. My partner told me, after ten years together, that he had “intimacy issues” and volunteered to see a therapist about it. After seeing her he became much worse – very secretive and angrier and more closed all the time. When I asked him how the therapy was going, he would snap at me and tell me it was none of my business. Later when he had left me and come back, he told me his therapist had told him to dump me. Then he said, “But instead I dumped HER.” So I think what happened is that the therapist fell in love with him and wanted him for herself, and was using his therapy visits as an excuse to separate us and ensnare him!!! His language – “I dumped her” – almost sounds as if they were having a secret affair. He went to this therapist in good faith to learn how to open up more, and the result of it was that he started to see me as a monster. This is why me stopping complaining was so important; it created a cognitive dissonance between she way she was painting me – a hysterical woman – and the way I was behaving – like a calm, reasonable person – which eventually led him to stop listening to her and to start listening to me.

    I didn’t know about all of this a until much later. But in the meantime we went to a therapist together to work out our relationship problems, and she also tried to break us up, ask making him think I was crazy and trying to get him to leave! (This is because I cried on the first session, obviously some sort of red flag for her that I was mentally ill, after which she tried to get me on medication). After two therapists had told him to leave, that’s when he left. I could tell this other therapist also favored him and had a crush on him. These women were probably thinking, why would you have a problem with this handsome, sweet man? They had no idea how closed and petulant he was and how vehemently he ignored me. He must have exaggerated my complaining so that they just wanted to nurture him and mother him and get him away from the bad woman that was me. What they didn’t know was how submissive I was in the relationship, how I’d done every thing he asked for every time he asked for it and helped him so much with his work and learned to be a gourmet cook because he liked good food, cooking for him every single night. I was upset because it was so one-sided – he ignored al of my requests while I honored all of his. The whole thing was so disgusting – these immature psychologists with their pop psychology and lack of complexity in handling relationship issues. If these women had been feminists, they would have helped me rather than enforcing his patriarchal bullshit.

    • pbutterfly2000

      So you can see, based on my story, how not resorting to emotionality when dealing with a man is important mainly so that this behavior can’t be used as a weapon against you, by him or other people.

    • Me

      Another problem with therapy can be the self-focus that it can encourage. I think the therapist and the couple should be on the same page who they/him are doing the work for, which I think should be you.

  • pbutterfly2000

    Ah, suddenly I remembered the thing which REALLY worked. I said to him, “Tell me if x is going to change or not, because I need to make some decisions about my future and whether or not I am going to stay in this relationship.” That made him change FAST. So I guess when you “nag,” you are giving the message that you are unhappy, but apparently you being unhappy is not incentive enough for him to change. For him to change, you have to appeal to his own self-interest: if he doesn’t want you to leave, he will change.

    • That makes sense and it’s great advice. I am less sure about ‘not resorting to emotionality” in a relationship that is actually based on an emotional bond. That feels like just another iteration of the one-sidedness you described in your story.

      And yes, therapists can be just as sexist as anyone else. That’s been a real concern of mine when considering couples counselling, that the counsellor will consider my goal of an egalitarian partnership unreasonable. I have had experience with therapists who take the attitude that how things are is how things are and women must adjust our expectations and accept a raw deal as a part of being “healthy”.

      I also agree with Me’s comment that a lot of therapy encourages self-absorption. I have seen this with family members who pay money – for many years in some cases – go talk about themselves once or twice a week with no particular goals to the process and no discernible change in their mental/emotional state.

  • jose

    I’ve found my friends generally see men as big, goofy, lovable dogs. When I see a group of men fluttering around a hot woman trying to be funny to ger her attention(happened a lot in college), I can see what that perception comes from.

  • marv

    My former spouse and I sometimes laugh at the fact that feminist, Catharine A. MacKinnon broke up our partnership without Catharine knowing either of us. We both had unquestionably lived a patriarchal life together (e.g., sexual division of labour) until the late nineties when I enrolled in a university course on feminism. Catharine’s works were the foundation of the class though she was not the professor. From that moment I rapidly became deprogrammed from my former perceptions of sexual relations, porn, prostitution and all of patriarchal civilization. Her teaching turned me inside out and upside down. Unfortunately my partner did not share my newly acquired consciousness and was bitter when I requested separation while maintaining mutual support. It took a few years for her to accept the evolution of the relationship. Nevertheless to this very day she feels no attraction to feminism, only indifference. We have a very harmonious friendship now, see each other as much as possible and always talk weekly.

    You might think I am a buffoon but ever since I met Catharine in her writings (never in person) I fell utterly in love with her as the most resplendent light/person in my life, infinitely more satisfying and empowering than any romantic/sexual intimacy I have had. I was swept off my feet. I saw her as the universe on a dark starry night with breathtaking wonder or sunlight dancing on the ocean (perhaps this is another version of the male gaze 🙂 She has been an unquenchable fire in my bones for the last 16 years.

    I sent her an email long ago only saying how much I appreciated the remarkable love she has for women and men. No other personal feelings were mentioned. I still think of her every day with more fondness and passion than I can ever explain to you. So I also agree that matters of the heart can defy explanation. My eyes are filled with tears right now with so much joy just expressing myself. Since and before knowing her I have not felt such deep sentiments for anyone else – male or female – and couldn’t possibly. I am actually afraid of ever meeting her because I know full well that I’d weep hysterically. I wouldn’t want her to be subjected to such frightening displays of madness. I gave up trying to understand my unrelenting peculiar emotions for my darling teacher long ago. It seems so irrational. Anyway I have never shared the intensity of the experience with anyone, not even my former partner.

    One last thing I can claim with unwavering certainty is that when I die Catharine will be my final breath and thought unless my cessation is too sudden to ponder her for the last time as my life partner. I am neither ashamed nor bragging of my long time affair of the heart with her. Madness? By conventional standards, yes. 🙂

    • Marv, are you a guy? I was surprised to see the word “she” in reference to your partner because it sounded like you were a woman talking about her husband.

      • Oops, my phone logged me in as Bushfire without me knowing. I’m not trying to sock puppet, sorry! Me/Bushfire = same person.

        • marv

          I am a member of the ruling sex class, likely until my death, sadly. If you are affronted by anything I have said I rescind it.

          • So you, a man, left your wife because she wasn’t feminist enough? I hope there’s more to it than that. What an unusual situation.

    • huha

      I’m not sure if this is creepy or adorable haha. But I understand you. When a person changes your life dramatically in a positive way, you sort of “fall in love.” You must have been very inspired by her. 🙂 I also very much appreciate Catharine. Words cannot describe how amazing she is. She is the type of heroine that is never portrayed in movies or TV. She has improved the lives of millions of women (and men) worldwide and continues to do so.

      A statue should be erected in her honor. Considering that famous predator Bill Clinton has one in Kosovo, making a few of people that have actually made positive change wouldn’t be a bad thing.

      • marv

        You can be sure it’s freaky. Definitely less so than obsessive/compulsive heterosexuality.

  • pbutterfly2000

    It doesn’t seem all that unusual to me: man abandons woman for a superior object of desire who is superior partly because she is not a flesh-and-blood reality but an idea, who because of being abstract and unattainable can be used forever to measure real life women against and have them fall short, so said man never has to commit to a real woman. It’s very typically male. The fact the the unattainable object happens to be a feminist changes nothing except to inject a little masochism and superiority into the mix (masochism because of the ostentatious display of self-denial, and superiority to other men in a competition for women because of having a much greater grasp of their problems than other men, and even, in your own words, than they do themselves)! There have been other feminists who have done great work, but you single out Catharine to build a fetish around. I’m all for admiring her work, which I do very much as well, but turning her ideas into a fetish for her person seems misguided. Of course your girlfriend was bitter. You rejected her in favor of another woman, which you insisted was not a rejection but a spiritual enlightenment. It’s as if you wanted to reject her but be absolutely immune from criticism for doing so, because you were rejecting her in favor of a higher, purer truth which she herself was blind to. Strangely sadistic and passive-aggressive behavior.

    • marv

      It wasn’t a matter of deserting my partner or expecting her to be more feminist or conforming to a higher ideal. We continue to offer each other love and affection. I was eschewing the institution of couple supremacy not the person. I think it is necessary that we move away from a *fixation* on heterosexual relationships to form more platonic individual and collective bonds with others. In patriarchal cultures nonsexual egalitarian connections are devalued because monogamous or polyamorous relations are deemed as the principal ones. You seem to buy into the ideal that a man must commit to a real woman as if nonsexual encounters are inferior or a form of purity. Self denial had nothing to do with it. It was a political decision to move beyond the status quo instead of remaining enslaved by old mentalities. She (former partner) is very satisfied with her many friendships and believes sexual associations are overrated. And why is living separately considered a rejection of her when we still respect and care for one another? I think you are an insightful person but put so much emphasis on the couple union that you unintentionally diminish the already second class status of more egalitarian alternative relationships within patriarchal societies. I guess I don’t understand either how separating women into devoted partnerships with men would undermine patriarchal structural power rather than reinforce it. And is it so wrong to have deeper feelings for those we love outside of these sexual fundamentalist walls because particular persons profoundly moved us in ways we never imagined before? I am really not looking for an idealized woman fetish to compare to other women – a dreadfully twisted notion. I am for the abolition of gender and it’s many dysfunctional oppressive manifestations and for human/nonhuman animal communion.

      • pbutterfly2000

        What I observed about your story is that she was bitter for a long time about decisions you made that ultimately had nothing to do with her, but only with your own passions and ideologies. You did not include her in your inner fantasy life. So in effect you were cheating on her emotionally with a stranger. It’s not that “I” value monogamy above all else, but that you disappointed and rejected someone on the basis of an idea, and an obsession with an unattainable female. That is a fact of your story. You thought you were so sublimely feminist and unusual and advanced for what you did, but I saw it as a way of controlling your partner (which it sounds like you’re still doing). Now I understand you better: you are a massively passive-aggressive man who used Catharine’s work as an excuse to reject your partner sexually, because you can’t stand committing to one woman both emotionally and sexually (this is a very common male form of passive-aggression by the way). Now you have gotten her to the point where she agrees with you that sexual associations are overrated. Wow. Of course it’s not wrong to have deeper feelings for those outside of “sexual fundamentalist walls.” But you said that you yearn for Catharine- a woman you’ve never spoken to – as your life partner. And that shows a serious split from reality. And while I myself highly value platonic relationships, it sounds as if you changed a sexual relationship to a non-sexual one (or at least a LESS sexual one, I don’t know the details) without consulting your partner. That’s what I find so controlling, so rejecting, and so typically male. You seem so comfortable playing with her feelings and keeping her on a string that I have a feeling this type of power is what’s really in it for you.

        p.s. Living separately from her when you used to live together, initiated by you, IS a rejection of her, period. And you also can’t say your choice was not about “the person.” It’s ALWAYS about the other person, because the other person has a consciousness, whereas an institution does not. To place an idea above a person is sociopathic thinking.

  • FormerLurker

    I know what Pbutterfly is talking about – it’s called the “surrendered wife” phenomenon. You can buy the book by Laura Doyle on Amazon…she claims her marriage improved drastically when she made a conscious decision to become more submissive to her husband, follow his lead, never criticize him, and generally “surrender” to him. She has a lot of feedback from wives who’ve tried to emulate her, and like Pbutterfly they seem (many of them) to have gotten really good results. Very interesting.

    • gxm17

      Why would anyone want to be in a relationship like that? Good grief, these women actually have their husband order their meals for them. Isn’t this just a form of S&M master/slave BS? I feel so sad for people who think “having” a man is worth abdicating their self-identity. They’ll suffocate their very self to “save” their marriage. It’s like a form of suicide.

      • FormerLurker

        Yeah, gxm that’s the criticism you usually hear. But the women themselves who’ve tried Doyle’s program seem to have good things to say about it…some even claim it saved their marriage, just as pbutterfly claims resulted from following her mother’s advice. So I’m not sure what to think…maybe it’s just the case that traditional gender roles lead to happier, more stable marriages? Btw, the newly “surrendered” wives also said they felt that their husbands began loving them more and more as these women became more “feminine” (in the traditional sense). Make of that what you will.

        • C.K. Egbert

          I’m sure gender-enforced marriages are more “stable” because relationships are hard work, and men don’t want a relationship: they want a slave. It sounds to me that the women have merely been brainwashed via systematic abuse, and in fact that is how those relationships operate. Non-compliance with the man’s will is punished; submissiveness means that you will get some “benefits”. Certainly the men do not “love” their wives; they are merely manipulating them. A relationship like that is inherently abusive, and abusers are often capable of being very charming (once again, manipulating the woman by rewarding her for obedience).

          I don’t fault the women for thinking things are better that way–in a way they are, because being a non-obedient and daring to think you are anything other than a man’s sex slave will get you punished in more or less severe ways (particularly when you are already in a dependent relationship).

          • lizor

            I agree with you wholeheartedly, however (and this is splitting hairs), I do think that men can “love” their servile wives, much the way we love pets. I guess “love” does not necessarily entail the sort of respect that we as members of the human species identify as a moral standard for our inter-relations.

            I know men who truly love the way their subservient wives are always there to take care of them, to buoy up their insatiable egos and to placate their insecurities. What’s not to love about a person whose primary goal is to see to your needs before their own and without expecting reciprocity? I really think that the dog metaphor is apt. I had a dog that I still cannot bear to think of too much without crying over his loss even though he died decades ago, but the fact is, I controlled his world (with kindness and benevolence). However, this is hardly a model for the kind of love/sexual partnership I want with another person.

          • C.K. Egbert

            I’d have to disagree, because I don’t think it’s always an issue of autonomy. It seems to me there’s a difference between merely having power over someone (controlling their resources, being able to discipline them, etc.) versus wanting someone to be submissive. In the wife case, they want their wives to change who they are fundamentally and want obedience for the man’s benefit. In the pet owner case, obedience is instead ensuring the pet’s needs are met (preventing harm to self or others, playing games, work). I’m sure that you loved your dog’s unique personality and that you wanted to make life good for your dog. The same can’t be said for the husbands: they don’t want obedience because they are benevolent; they want to change who their wives are so that they can serve the men.

          • Well I think we have to bear in mind too that when we use the word “love” that can cover a very wide range of constellations of attachment.

            I am basing my view largely on seven years working in fairly conservative communities in the prairies and B.C and for the most part outside of large cities with very traditional families.

            It was not a case of “they want their wives to change who they are fundamentally”. The women (speaking generally) expected to prioritize their male spouses in their daily routine, and they also expected their spouses to be the sole breadwinner or to provide the primary financial stability. Both parties held traditional views of what “men” and what “women” supposedly are. It was not a case, like many we are discussing here, where the women recognized injustice and were manipulated by the men into submission. There was a very gendered hierarchy and it was not a relationship model that I could live with for a second, but I will also say that I did not see any more open contempt for women in the way of degrading comments or physical threats than I have encountered in circles closer to my own demographic.

            To say that there was a complete absence of love there just is not the case and I do not believe that because there is a power hierarchy in a relationship that there can be no emotional bond.

            Catharine MacKinnon speaking about Andrea Dworkin’s analysis of the Right says that in exchange for siding with male power, the conservative spousal contract “gives women form, shelter, safety, rules, and love.” That is consistent with what I observed. And I have to say too that I really liked and respected many of the people I met. I learned a lot from them and consider a number of those I met to be my friends to this day. To reduce their marriages (almost all got married young and stayed married) to one-way manipulation and exploitation is just not accurate in this case.

            The pet comparison was the best I could come up with. Maybe it’s not a helpful one.

        • bella_cose

          “maybe it’s just the case that traditional gender roles lead to happier, more stable marriages?”

          Um, yeah, that’s why traditionally, women have been so satisfied with status quo marriages and why feminism is just a figment of our imaginations. Because women love being dominated by men, and if they’re lucky, being treated like treasured pets rather than human beings equal to their husbands.

          I think it’s far more likely that the men become more patronizing rather than loving, because love shouldn’t come without respect, and the women in these marriages are so insecure they’ll do anything to keep the marriage alive.

        • gxm17

          Way to totally miss the point. Why would anyone want to *save* such a marriage? If a woman is with a man who is only decent when she becomes mindless, docile, obedient, and subservient, then why is she with this terrible excuse for a human being? That’s not a loving relationship; and without love, mutual respect and camaraderie, what’s the point?

          And, FTR, I think you need to stop speaking for pbutterfly. You seem to be misrepresenting her comments, IMO.

          • gxm17

            And further, I’ve been married for freakin’ ever. And I’ve never been anything but an opinionated contrarian who orders her own salad dressing. Good grief, it would never even cross my husband’s mind to place my dinner order. I can’t imagine the self-loathing that must be required to think you’re not entitled to be loved as a fully capable and thinking human being.

          • Meghan Murphy

            What is the point of being married if you can’t be yourself? That sounds horrible to me. The, like, number one thing I want in a relationship is to be able to fully be myself and to be loved as myself.

        • lizor

          Sure, it’s easier to comply with a power structure and manipulate for trickle-down favours within that than it is to resist and insist a partner who carries socialized into exploitive behaviour and bigotry become socially and personally responsible for their shitty acts and poisonous beliefs. That’s a “success” I would not touch with a ten foot pole. And don’t kid yourself that complacent wives who are “happy” with their arrangement do not harbour (and manage) burning resentment against their masters.

          As bella_cose says, playing the compliance card means that “if they’re lucky, being treated like treasured pets rather than human beings equal to their husbands.”

    • stephen m

      In regards to “surrendered wife” phenomenon:

      *You have just entered the twilight zone (1959)* and substitute “stupefying nightmare” for “wondrous land of imagination”

      I cannot even imagine a more insipid and boring relationship for *both* parties of a marriage. Seems a bare subsistence living place for a woman to hide from their physically abusive relationship.

  • pbutterfly2000

    What I understand is that women of earlier generations were out of necessity craftier in dealing with men. They got their way whenever possible, but always let the man think he was the boss. An example is my grandmother, who never complained about her husband’s habit of going out drinking and gambling. But she would regularly check the place where he hid his money, in a mattress I think, and would take it and distribute it to her children and grandchildren. So she did whatever she wanted, but never confronted him.

    It’s also like the story of the African tribe where the boys are told, on their initiation to manhood, that they must make the women and girls think that adult men are gods who never defecate. The men have a very secret method of defecating so that women never perceive them doing it, and they think this is something they can hold over the women. But on the girls’ initiation into womanhood, they are told, “The men are going to tell you that they are gods that never defecate, but it’s not true!”

    • bella_cose

      I understand why women might have dealt with men in that manner in the past, but I don’t understand why anyone would want to expend energy on that kind of relationship. It’s inherently unhealthy for one person to try to dominate the other, and then for the dominated person to get even by swallowing their resentment, and being sneaky or manipulative. Resentment eats away at a person. It erodes trust and intimacy within a relationship. Why would anyone subject themselves or another to such treatment?

      Men should be held to a higher standard. If they can’t hack it, then they should be ostracized by women, not rewarded with submission, even if it is superficial.

      Ugh! This is probably why I’m still single. Happily so, I might add.

      • FormerLurker

        bella, I hear where you’re coming from…but I still find myself fascinated with Laura Doyle’s paradigm, and how quickly it seems to be catching on. The “surrendered” wives themselves (many of them former feminists!) claim they themselves are happier now, so how can we contradict them and tell them “no, you poor dear, you’re really a miserable slave and you’re just too dumb to realize it”? Isn’t that just infantilizing them?

        The whole thing is just really so fascinating from a human psychology point of view. Someone here should do a doctoral level investigation of this phenomenon, as it seems to be such an interesting experiment. The wives claim all they’ve done is stop nagging and let their man “be a man”, meaning I suppose to let him assume the leadership mantle. They stop criticizing him and defer to his decisions. But they claim that as a result, their husbands are far more attentive, loving, thoughtful, and caring to them…and as a result they (the wives) feel like the big winners in the whole affair! Agree or disagree with Doyle’s thesis, this is just utterly fascinating. What a fantastic sociological experiment!

        I wonder if Meghan has ever considered trying to be a “surrendered girlfriend” when dating, (even if she’s just playing that role)…and see where it goes. Meghan, I bet you could write a book about it if you did it. Don’t talk or act like a feminist, strive to embody the characteristics of one of Doyle’s surrendered wives, and see what happens in the relationship. Is it more stable? Is he happy and content? Are you happy? Does he treat you better? Do you feel more “feminine”? etc, etc. I’ll bet you could get a book publishing deal for that, no problem…and maybe some national level publicity too.

        • bella_cose

          Women are not dogs. The only reason some men can’t treat them like equals is because those men are childish and insecure. Having a relationship where one partner defers to another isn’t healthy. Those women are either brainwashed, or they are choking on resentment, and eventually stuffing it down won’t work anymore, and the relationship will end anyway.

          Men are not children (even though they may act like it) and it’s not up to women to coddle them.

          And seriously, why are you pushing this crap on a feminist blog? It’s really insulting and offensive. Are you a men’s rights activist? Are you so fascinated with women submitting to men because you think feminism is ruining the lives of men? Because men can’t step up and treat women like equals?

        • pbutterfly2000

          “Surrendered” is an unfortunate word to use when referring to a wife, mostly because it conjures up images of slavery in an already power-imbalanced world. I looked up Doyle’s book, and it seems idiotic in its suggestions for a woman to comply with a man’s every decision.

          If you are strong, independent, centered, and whole, you don’t approach others with negative energy, and you don’t attach yourself to harmful objects. You radiate a confidence and energy that are attractive and that inspire others to treat you well. We all need to stop speaking a language of shame and blaming with other people. Many of us were raised with this toxic type of language and communication style, and we don’t know how to communicate any better. If you stop the toxic communication, others will often stop too. If they don’t stop, it just means they are not ready to grow, and you can move on without bitterness. My relationship did not improve until I stopped living in fear that I might lose him. My fear was toxic and contagious. The “nagging” was part of a feeling of over-dependence on his reactions and what he was and was not giving me, which disappeared after I became stronger and more balanced. I don’t think these questions are really so gendered. Making them gendered, as Doyle does, is offensive.

        • gxm17

          FormerLurker, I’m sure you realize that one of Laura Doyle’s many anti-feminist ideas is that a woman should allow her husband to use porn because it’s a “man’s nature.” She’s basically a the-bible-is-right and wives-should-be-subservient-helpmates advocate. Doyle advises women to “abandon the myth of equality.” This is an ideology that is completely inconsistent with feminism, as equality is pretty much an essential feminist principle.

        • Meghan Murphy

          “I wonder if Meghan has ever considered trying to be a “surrendered girlfriend” when dating, (even if she’s just playing that role)…and see where it goes. Meghan, I bet you could write a book about it if you did it. Don’t talk or act like a feminist, strive to embody the characteristics of one of Doyle’s surrendered wives, and see what happens in the relationship. Is it more stable? Is he happy and content? Are you happy? Does he treat you better? Do you feel more “feminine”? etc, etc. I’ll bet you could get a book publishing deal for that, no problem…and maybe some national level publicity too.”

          I honestly don’t think I’m capable of it. I wouldn’t even know how, nor would I be able to pull it off even if I figured out how to fake it. Also, I feel I would be disgusted by any man who is attracted to that kind of woman, so yeah, I don’t think it’d work.

        • “The “surrendered” wives themselves (many of them former feminists!) claim they themselves are happier now, so how can we contradict them and tell them “no, you poor dear, you’re really a miserable slave and you’re just too dumb to realize it”?”

          Let’s say these women ARE happier than before. So what? To place individual contentment in the position of primary goal is an aspect of the individualist, consumerist neoliberal capitalist project. Many of us are operating from an analysis of power in the world and have made a choice, to the best of our abilities, to not reproduce an unjust culture. For many of us (thankfully) this analysis of the world means that we could not find happiness in conforming. The “Whatever suits ME” trope is the beast that is eating feminism, is it not?

          And I am not sure I have seen examples of anyone saying to a conformist woman “no, you poor dear, you’re really a miserable slave and you’re just too dumb to realize it”. We can legitimately say that choosing conformity sets the project of dismantling patriarchy back, and we’d be right. Saying that someone is reiterating male supremacy is not saying they are dumb nor is it patronizing to point out the indisputable fact that such conformity is not only NOT feminism, it’s anti-feminist.

    • FormerLurker

      PButterfly: It’s also like the story of the African tribe where the boys are told, on their initiation to manhood, that they must make the women and girls think that adult men are gods who never defecate. The men have a very secret method of defecating so that women never perceive them doing it, and they think this is something they can hold over the women. But on the girls’ initiation into womanhood, they are told, “The men are going to tell you that they are gods that never defecate, but it’s not true!”

      PB< that brings to mind a hilarious scene in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". The daughter is talking to her mother about this new guy she's dating that she's really into and saying that he could be "the one". The problem is, her dad is so traditional he'll never accept her beau because he's not Greek. The mother tells her to work on getting her father to accept the boyfriend, but the daughter replies, "Awww c'mon mom, you know dad is so traditional and set in his ways…he'll never listen to me, esp since I'm a girl…he always says the man is the head of the family."

      To which the mother replies "Yes, it's true…the man is the head. But the woman is the neck, and the neck can turn the head whichever way it wants!"

      LOL

    • lizor

      Yeah, there are zillions of examples – how about the TV show “Bewitched” where Samantha had to hide her supernatural powers to placate her dork of a [controlling, oppressive] husband?

      My grandmother managed things much the same as did yours, however, no one was under the illusion that she “did whatever she wanted”. She did not. She just managed some things behind his back. It’s not the same thing. She also told me that, in her view, marriage was a much greater sacrifice form women than it was for men and encouraged me strongly to never marry. (Even though she did love my grandfather, in many ways.)

  • pbutterfly2000

    RE: Sneakiness, I think it’s hard for people today to understand what it was like to live in a world before everything had to be transparent. A lot of understanding passes between people without the exchange of words. Most communication happens through body language and other signals. Peoples’ personal styles have become radically more transparent since social media for example, and it’s not like before Facebook everyone was walking around full of resentment because they weren’t always expressing every hostility and moment of elation they felt. I think our transparent, talky culture has not been so great for relations between men and women. Men as a total group are enraged at women invading what they consider their private spaces, which used to be totally hidden from women before the internet.I have a theory that the escalation of violent, humiliating porn is partly to make porn an exclusive men’s space again. The strategy is to disgust women so much that they stop looking at porn, because porn is not about all of us loving one another and being open about sex and our bodies, it’s about maintaining a space where men can dominate and control images of women.

    It seems like this new transparency could have been a great thing and brought everyone closer together with a fresh understanding between the sexes, but that hasn’t happened. This is of course because men will fight to maintain power at all cost. I also think men bond over things like extremely dehumanizing porn the same way that they bond over going to war together. Being able to degrade a woman means they are not getting soft inside, are not becoming like women or dominated by women, and will be able to kill if necessary. We really haven’t evolved that much from our near cousins the chimpanzees.

    • bella_cose

      While I do think the function of porn, and how it’s grown exponentially in its misogynistic depictions of women, is to keep women in their place, I do think it’s becoming less of a space just for men. I think more women are watching porn, now that they can watch it online, and not suffer the embarrassment of renting videos. This isn’t a good thing though, because now women are being indoctrinated as to how they should behave sexually, so they really don’t question it when men treat them like sex toys.

      • pbutterfly2000

        That’s exactly right – that many young women now enjoy porn – and that’s why men need to create their “own” porn. But men do like for women to watch SOME porn, because it trains them to be better sex dolls, as you stated.

  • Morgan

    The idea that this “surrendered wives” discussion is occurring on a radical feminist website is blowing my mind. It sounds like extremely conservative (religious or otherwise): women would be happier in the home, they’d be happier if their husbands were allowed to “be men” (whatever that even means), that we really don’t want jobs and the vote and all that stuff. Just let him make the decisions. You do all the cooking and cleaning and childrearing, and don’t you dare open your mouth and have an opinion. Sounds real feminist.

    Why don’t we flip the roles around. Why not he keep quiet, do what I tell him, let me make the decisions? Why should we assume men are more suited to that, when as far back as I can remember *I’ve* always wanted to make the decisions?? Why do we assume one is more suited at all – what if we’re *ALL* autonomous beings who want control over our own lives and a partner (if we have one) to contribute fairly to our shared existence?

    Between this and the other discussions in response to this post I am really having my mind blown. Tone arguments being made against women in how they handle their relationships (seriously, be nicer, don’t bitch and nag, is this really a radical feminist website?), having multiple partners vs. monogamy (again, women lose no matter WHAT, but we shouldn’t be pretending open relationships are somehow freeing for women – that’s what the “sexual revolution” sold to women in the ’60s/’70s, it wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now), and barely a mention that we could just forget intimate relationships with men altogether (there were a very small handful of commenters daring to suggest such a thing – sporenda and Missfit standout, sorry if there were others I didn’t mention). This is really sad. Feminist Current stands out as a place where serious critique of the structures in society occur, and I’ve been very impressed at the discussions around pornography, prostitution, femininity, celebrity culture, etc. But as soon as it comes to personal relationships with men, all that critical thinking seems to evaporate. If your politics disappear where your personal relationships begin, how serious do you really take them?

    Interpersonal relationships MATTER in the grand structure of society. We don’t pretend BDSM is liberating or feminist or even ok just because it’s in one’s bedroom. Most people here understand this. And yet when it comes to marriage or dating, somehow we don’t want to critique those as strongly. We don’t want look at relationships with men and admit that maybe they are very problematic generally and damaging personally. How is it remotely radical feminist to emotionally manage a man? How can you argue that PIV is great, even if women do enjoy it? Lots of women insist they enjoy the abuse of BDSM and we don’t accept that as a valid defence of the practice. (You personally can enjoy it all you like, but don’t go around saying it’s beneficial or even benign for women. Even enjoyed it still carries great risks for women.)

    Anyway, I don’t know how to end this comment. I just had to put all that out there. This is radical feminist space. We should be suspicious and critical of *ANYTHING* that promotes catering to, pleasing, emotionally managing, or even encouraging of relationships with men. Even if we really still want to have those relationships, we still need to be critical!

    • pbutterfly2000

      You’re right. It’s ridiculous to have this discussion on a feminist website; except that Meghan was lamenting the disappearance of a man she cared about, who left without much explanation except for this menacing hint: “you’re collateral damage.” And she posed the question of whether or not it’s okay to be kind to a man, and felt guilty about being nice to him. This is the context in which I gave my advice about the benefits of being nice to men – a context in which someone was hurting by being rejected by a man she wanted to be with, and does want a monogamous relationship, and yet is a feminist.

      Being an outspoken feminist CAN be compatible with being in a relationship with a man, but being mean to men for sport, or feeling guilty for being nice to them for fear of alienating your peer group and readers, is NOT compatible with being in a relationship with a man. It has nothing to do with being a slave or a servant. That’s hyperbole, and is twisting being civil and kind way out of context.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Oh he didn’t say I was “collateral damage” — that was just how I felt… Sorry if that was unclear. He did explain things eventually, but after a very sudden and confusing radio silence and via text. He wasn’t being intentionally cruel… He was just dealing with a lot, emotionally and otherwise… His feelings weren’t unreasonable at all, he just didn’t deal with them in an ideal way… (Sidenote: I really hate being in a position where I’m defending men — especially men who’ve hurt me, but there you have it… More feminist awkwardness.)

        • pbutterfly2000

          Okay, thanks for clarifying. I agree that he didn’t handle his feelings well. It’s really shitty though to break up with someone via text, whatever their feelings are. I mean, you have feelings too. If he had had a proper talk with you and allowed you to respond naturally, you wouldn’t have had to purge your grief by crying in bars.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Totally.

      • Morgan

        We all have to live our lives in the way that makes it easiest for us to survive, physically, mentally, emotionally. Whatever that might mean. And I’m not saying we have to live our lives in 100% accordance with our politics. But we have to be able to look at elements in our lives and say, “hmm maybe relationships with men are bad for us” or whatever. Even if we want it not to be. I didn’t see a lot of people doing that. My reference to BDSM was not to suggest that marriage/relationships are the same as BDSM, just that we should be as critical of them as we are of BDSM. I was not suggesting anyone was a slave.

    • FormerLurker

      Morgan,

      You don’t get it. You say let’s flip the roles around. OK, what Doyle is saying is that men tend to prefer woman who are “soft”, feminine, demur, thoughtful, compassionate, and supportive. She is saying if you embody these traits, you will find it much easier to find a husband if you’re single, and if already married you’ll find your marriage improves dramatically.

      OK, so let’s flip it around. Women tend to prefer men who are masculine, tall, rugged, in shape, hard working, educated, a go getter, outgoing personality, and who have a certain mount of status and prestige. This is what women as a general rule find attractive.

      So take a shlubby guy with a pot belly, who dresses without style, has not much of a personality, is shy, not much of a career going on, not very decisive or take-charge, lives at home in his parent’s basement cause he can’t afford his own place, and is really into video games, Star Trek, Game of Thrones, sci-fi, etc.

      Shockingly, assume he doesn’t have much luck in love. The ladies just don’t seem to be interested. What advice would you give him, since we are “turning things around” here? If you told him in effect to “man up” and make the kind of changes that would make him appear more “masculine” and thus more attractive to women, isn’t that being chauvinistic? If his current state is his personality, is it fair to him that women don’t find that attractive? Should he feel that women passing him up to be with a more successful, traditionally “masculine” man is a comment on how shallow and sexist women are?

      And here’s the key point. If you told him don’t change, because that’s giving into womens’ chauvinistic expectations of men…are you really helping him? Will that bring him happiness? What will change for him going forward? Are all women at some point going to magically change what they find attractive in a man?

      I trust you get my point. I mean my God, we wonder why people (both sexes) view feminists as man-haters! Someone on here called Darren from Bewitched a controlling, oppressive a-hole. Why? Because he went to work everyday to support his family, so Samantha could stay home in her nice suburban house and spend time with little Tabitha? Because he loved her and was faithful to her? Because he wanted to love her as an ordinary mortal woman, and not for her magical powers? Because she was thoughtful enough to greet him with a martini and a kiss when he came home from work in the evening? (shudders at her being thoughtful to her husband – slavery!)

      If things don’t change, I foresee more and more young men refusing to marry feminists, and more and more young women refusing to have anything to do with the movement.

      Remember, men and women are equal in terms of their moral worth as human beings…but they are not equal in terms of being identical. Let’s stop trying to push women to “become the men we wanted to marry” (quoting Gloria Steinem). Show love and understanding and compassion to your partner, and lay off the nagging and criticisms, and I bet you will see a wonderful reaction of love and tenderness from him that will surprise you.

      Oh, and once in awhile ask him to open that jar of pickles for you, or to kill that scary bug for you…men like to feel needed! 😉

      Or don’t. Maybe all of a sudden all men will change what they find attractive in women. Just as our shlubby sci-fi fan living in mom’s basement is himself waiting for women as a group to change what they find attractive in men.

      Keep waiting. It may be awhile.

      • bella_cose

        Yes, because all men are the same, and all women are the same. All men like the same things, and all women like the same things. We’re just a bunch of stereotypes with no individual traits. That’s why there’s no conflict in this world, either between men, between women, or between men an women.

        Your argument is completely moronic.

      • Morgan

        You’re right, I don’t get why someone would be advocating a return to gender roles on a radical feminist website.

        It’s clear though that you don’t “get” radical feminism.

      • C.K. Egbert

        This is a good summary of MRA “arguments.” It is impossible to treat someone as being of “equal moral worth” and turn around and say that they should (a) never express their feelings, (b) be something they are not (a bundle of stereotypes you think women should embody, regardless of their personalities or wishes), and (c ) act as someone’s slave with no thoughts or desires or wants of their own.

        Not all women want to get married and not all women want to be with men. Most men don’t want to marry feminists, certainly, but because they don’t want to actually treat women like human beings.

        Here’s a thought: Women can be very caring, attentive, tender, loyal, and loving. And yet they don’t require absolute submission and obedience in return. But for men to be “caring” their (female) partner must never criticize him (especially about those feminist concerns, like rape, abuse, exploitation, refusal to do his share of childcare…), never act as though she has any thoughts or feelings of her own? How exactly is he going to care for her when she can’t even say what she thinks or feels?

      • Leo

        What I’d suggest to your hypothetical sci-fi fan guy is simply that he bear in mind that it’s hard to meet people if you’re shy, for obvious reasons. Shy women have the exact same problem, trust me, it’s not something unique to men. The only reason it might possibly end up affecting them more is that women are expected and socialised to have better social skills, and not allowed to get away with not conforming to that – gosh, misogyny is the cause, surprise surprise. A good start would be for him to look for clubs to join, attend conventions. He might even find he’s more confident in an environment like that, where he can share his interests with like-minded people. All it needs is there to become more of a dating scene for introverts – it’s so bar/club focused at present, that of course there are going to be problems for someone like him, and for everyone really. It’s not conducive to meeting someone you actually have things in common with.

        Women are individuals, if you don’t fully appreciate that, than you’re not going to end up with any conclusion that isn’t anti-feminist.

      • “Someone on here called Darren from Bewitched a controlling, oppressive a-hole. Why? Because he went to work everyday to support his family, so Samantha could stay home in her nice suburban house and spend time with little Tabitha? Because he loved her and was faithful to her?”

        For chrissakes, NO. It was because he was a controlling oppressive dork – just like I said in my comment. All of that was literally true of his character. He had to keep Samantha, who was far more powerful than him, under CONTROL through OPPRESSING her remarkable abilities, see? That was the central tension of the show, plus Darren’s comedic dorkiness.

        “Because he wanted to love her as an ordinary mortal woman, and not for her magical powers? ”

        Bingo! You got it! She was NOT an ordinary mortal woman and his conditions for marriage was that she be far less than what she actually was.

        As for the man-child in the basement example: we all have to grow up. That means taking responsibility for ourselves as adult people financially and in terms of our health. I am not saying (because I predict you will misrepresent what I am saying here) that slobby dude has to go to the gym and make himself buff and pretty. But he does, like everyone else, need to ensure that he takes responsibility for his physical wellness and that does not FTR necessarily preclude having a some body fat for men or women. If your poor oppressed guy can’t get it together to transition from the care of his mom and dad, and chooses to stay home playing games and watching GOT porn, etc, then he’s staying in perpetual childhood – and a grown woman should not be faulted for not wanting to take on a relationship with someone who is that immature. That’s all.

        • Leo

          I understand where you’re coming from, but that assumption kind of bothers me, actually. I live at home with my parents because I’m disabled, therefore unemployed, therefore broke, I’m very shy, my anxiety issues make me indecisive, I wear comfortable, practical clothes, I love geeky stuff. I’m not necessarily hugely different from hypothetical guy, other than that I’m slim (too slim currently, actually, I lost weight due to one of the meds I was taking disagreeing with me and making me ill. So odds are, his bit of body fat is indeed healthier, as you say). Of course I’ve felt like my situation makes me immature, I’ve angsted and worried about it continually. But I don’t think it really does, I just really didn’t have many options – and I’ve seen disability/finance advisers, and everything, they didn’t think I did, either, they actually told me they didn’t think moving out right away was the best way forward. In this financial climate, is it really fair to assume someone like that is immature? It’s really depressingly easy to end up broke and relying on parents, and due to college/Uni people are often left with tons of debt before they’ve even got started on building a career – and those are the ones who were lucky enough to even get to go to college. Living with parents and trying to save can be a practical idea, over here if you’re under 35 you only get enough housing allowance for a bedsit. FormerLurker’s description was that hypothetical guy had ‘not much of a career going on’, not that he had no job and was choosing to just stay home and play video games instead. Although if someone was currently searching for a job -which can be difficult at present, sending out piles of applications and not even getting a reply is just so demoralising- it wouldn’t be fair to fault them just for having a hobby. The idea that liking playing video games makes someone immature, while having an ‘acceptable’ hobby like watching movies is usually seen as fine, even though the latter is actually less active in terms of participation (most games require problem solving, many involve a lot of reading), is just based on stereotypes. Not being much of a go getter isn’t the worst thing someone can be, actually considering how ruthlessness is rewarded under capitalism, someone who isn’t, might be less likely to be a jerk.

          Consider me immature, by all means, maybe I am, after all, it’s not fair if you think I’m not, but assume a guy like that automatically is, and I do think that’s one of the areas where sexism ends up backfiring on men – they’re expected to be financially independent moreso than women (it wasn’t that long ago that it was usual for unmarried women to remain at home. I actually don’t think living in bigger family or other groups as adults is necessarily a bad idea, makes more sense than people being isolated, and might lead to less reliance on het partnerships for companionship). But quite apart from my own situation, I’ve just seen too many young people end up in difficult financial situations to think it must be somehow their fault, and I think as radicals we need to look a bit deeper, not accept any stereotypes at face value (I’d guess FormerLurker wanted us to buy into them), and look at capitalism’s role in that (and ableism, in my case).

          • huha

            It’s immature because he could spend that time learning a new language, or learning how to program, or develop any other skill that might help with jobs. Women nowadays find ourselves in the same situation. It’s not just men affected obviously, but the ones I know and myself included are trying to enhance our resumes while looking.
            It’s not just the state of the economy that’s contributing to this. Many people just don’t want to take the responsibilities of adulthood. That’s what Michael Kimmel did extensive research and found that people (mostly men) just don’t want to think about the future but continue to live their college years. It’s not true for all of course, but it’s a trend.

            Anyway, volunteering is a much better hobby than watching movies or playing video games and watching porn, let’s be honest. It might also help with finding a job.

          • Me

            What FormerLurker tried to erase from the discussion is male violence and that preventing it should be a huge priority. After that there can be all kinds of discussions that tend to run around in circles and make little sense. They all tend to resort to stereotypes that don’t match with reality because of the premise that male violence doesn’t exist, doesn’t matter, doesn’t follow a pattern and that the pattern can’t be central to the discussion. It begins with the initial erasure, which was intentional and political while trying to bury the politics and intentionality of it at the same time. Frankly, though, Lurker’s (non)argument was completely transparent, idiotic and uninteresting in its sheer stupidity and lack of political consciousness.

          • Leo,

            I was not in any way talking about people with limited mobility, people who have suffered under the ravages of predatory economic policies, shy people, or so-called “geeks”. If this brought up past painful interactions for you, I apologize. It was not my intention at all. And it is very clear to me that you, whatever your circumstances, have nothing in common in terms of personal responsibility with our hypothetical guy. The intelligence and knowledge behind your comments here alone attest to that.

            As others have pointed out, Formerlurker’s charge that women don’t serve the needs of immature dead beat men, is way off base.

            I have known men who fit this category, who did enter partnerships, have kids (that they did nothing for), and who wore their partners down and eventually drove them away with their selfishness, dishonesty, laziness and entitlement. In short, they leeched everything they could from the people around them and mostly from their female partners (in a lot of cases taking the homes that the women financed and so on). These guys get into their 60s and 70s and depend on relatives or the state to provide food and shelter for them. They all – the several I know just from my own community – choose to live in squalor and don’t engage in even the most basic personal hygiene. And across the board they hate women and blame them for their own extensive inadequacies.

            I’m describing this because, to me, it’s the other end of the life story of guys who believe they deserve to be done for and who do not engage responsibly with the women in their lives. When I read FormerLurker’s comment, I felt it was an excoriation of women for not doing enough for these losers.

          • Mar Iguana

            lizor, you are on fire. Huzzah!

    • Meghan Murphy

      “The idea that this “surrendered wives” discussion is occurring on a radical feminist website is blowing my mind. It sounds like extremely conservative (religious or otherwise): women would be happier in the home, they’d be happier if their husbands were allowed to “be men” (whatever that even means), that we really don’t want jobs and the vote and all that stuff. Just let him make the decisions. You do all the cooking and cleaning and childrearing, and don’t you dare open your mouth and have an opinion. Sounds real feminist.”

      Also, like, have we all forgotten history?? When women DID behave like this they were miserable. THAT’S WHY FEMINISM HAPPENED. Remember Betty Friedan and “the problem that has no name?” Anyone? Bueller?

    • “as soon as it comes to personal relationships with men, all that critical thinking seems to evaporate.”

      That’s not a fair and accurate reflection of this discussion. Yes, a couple of posters (well, one, actually) have suggested a sort of placation within a relationship with a man – and there has been plenty of contestation of that idea. I get that you lament that only two posters have suggested severing all intimate relationships with men, but the topic of the blog post is the precarious landscape of intimate relationships with men and poses the question of how we might resolve our desire for that with our feminism. It is obviously a relevant issue given the enormous participation here in this comment forum. To simply say “don’t engage with men” is a peripheral point because it does not engage with the tabled problem.

      To characterize this entire discussion as a sort of permeation of Cosmo or Ladies Home Journal is a misrepresentation of what is actually going on here. Some have brought up compliance as strategy, some have, on the other end, brought up complete abstinence. But there has been quite bit of informed, and intelligent debate between those two poles.

      • Morgan

        Certainly a glib “don’t partner with men” is unhelpful. But a deeper analysis surrounding the problems of hetereosexuality might offer something more. For example, why are we all wanting to be paired up so badly, why we go through any of the rituals of femininity to do it, what do we give up or sacrifice of ourselves and what do we get in return and is it really worth it, could we be just as happy or happier minus the partnered-with-a-man relationship, etc. And, let’s be honest, is being in a relationship with a man really compatible with being a feminist? These are all related to the issue of that.

        “the question of how we might resolve our desire for that with our feminism. It is obviously a relevant issue given the enormous participation here in this comment forum.”

        Absolutely it’s relevant. But we’re feminists. We need to be able to ask CAN WE resolve that. Is it realistic or even possible. Is it fair. Do enough men exist who are so strongly feminist-allied that enough women would be able to even find them AND then also benefit from relationships with them. Is it good enough to find one that’s sorta-kinda feminist, if we can’t find one that’s REALLY feminist. Etc. etc.

        Feminism is about women as a class, as everybody here knows, but we can’t be advocating or arguing that relationships with men are good things when for quite a lot of women they are ostensibly the opposite, and for even more women they are at best not physically violent but very emotionally draining.

        ie. Maybe the solution for women having trouble resolving their desire for a man with their feminism is that they can’t resolve that. Maybe they either must compromise, evaluate why it is they want a relationship and try to move past that; or they compromise on their feminism. It is my belief in the current culture that truly feminist-allied men are so very rare that it is not practical or beneficial for women to seek out relationships with men. Other (feminist) women obviously disagree with parts of my argument or all of it. But let’s have that discussion, taking into account the myriad ways women are coerced into heterosexual pairings.

        • Morgan

          Reading some of the comments to some of my comments, I’m hoping no one took what I said as saying “don’t engage with men” – lizor is actually the first to say it, maybe she was exaggerating what I said to make a point (what I assumed she was doing), or maybe she misread what I said and believed I meant that. It doesn’t matter, it’s a good point to make that it’s impractical to expect complete separation. But I was not suggesting complete separation. My argument is soley about intimate relationships. We all obviously have to engage with men on some level just by existing. I’m not a separatist. Don’t let the discussion about forgoing intimate relationships be derailed because of how impractical ending ALL relationships would be, though. These are not the same thing.

          (And I’m not suggesting anyone is derailing, so please don’t take that as a personal criticism.)

      • corvid

        “To simply say “don’t engage with men” is a peripheral point because it does not engage with the tabled problem.”

        Secession from men, while an interesting idea, is really not a practical one for all women. That much should be obvious. That individual women, and even small groups of women, are able to achieve this in their own lives is great, but it doesn’t really tell us much about the viability of this on a large scale. Are we prepared to believe that, if women collectively simply stop having anything to do with men, things will change? We’ve seen the way they run things when left to their own devices….

        • Meghan Murphy

          Also, it’s worth pointing out that not all women are feminists either… So would avoiding all relationships with men resolve the (or any) problem? I want to work with and ally with and have relationships (friends, family, etc) with men AND women… Of course I understand the critiques of partnering with men on an intimate level and know full well that male violence against women is the/a key issue at hand, but I don’t see how individual heterosexual feminists avoiding engaging with men at all will resolve this? I’ve witnessed very important political and personal changes in male friends (quitting porn, etc) and yet have female friends who accept their male partners porn use or even use of prostitutes… And defend it! Obviously these women have been socialized to accept this and probably believe they have no other choice, but, I mean, are we to give up on anti-feminist women while we also give up on feminist men? Do we not believe in the possibility of good men who value women as equals?

          Obviously I’m struggling with all the issues you bring up, Morgan, that’s why I wrote the post and totally agree that we should be exploring all of it in a critical way… But, I mean, I have a hard time with the idea that being in a relationship with a man is necessarily incompatible with being a feminist… Maybe I’m just being stubborn because I don’t want to stop sleeping with and having relationships with men. I know plenty of men who are more feminist than lots of women I know and are more willing to accept and understand the arguments we make, as feminists, than these women are (obviously these women are not the ones perpetrating violence on other women, again, I get that). I suppose my rambley question is: Is it reasonable or productive or even necessary to write off all men? What will that accomplish?

          • Mar Iguana

            “Is it reasonable or productive or even necessary to write off all men? What will that accomplish?”

            It would accomplish bringing about “The Handmaid’s Tale” even sooner than anticipated because it is absolutely reasonable and productive to write off all men and they know it. There are three kinds of men: Abusers, abuse beneficiaries and unicorns, meaning there are two kinds.

            Ever see the movie “A Day Without A Mexican?” I’d like to see a movie, a dark comedy, about what would happen if every human female on Earth disappeared one morning, for as long as it would take to illustrate that men’s “civilization” would quickly crumble and their existence would have to be justified by something other than controlling women since that’s been about their only reason for being for millennia. It could be entitled “What’s Your Point?” or “You’re On Your Own, Boys.” It would be awarded the American Humane Association’s “No women were harmed in the making of this film designation.” Tragi-comic gold.

            I haven’t said much in this post because it’s too heartbreaking and I have nothing positive or hopeful to say about the dismal plight of heterosexual women. I do want to say that you, Meghan Murphy, are an incredibly brave women to admit how pathetic you are feeling about the state of your love life. Most feminists, including myself, would be too embarrassed to admit to how much time and energy, and to how many tears they have wasted on those who are not worthy.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thanks Mar Iguana.

            The problem with this theory, I think, is that it wouldn’t be/isn’t all women who would abandon men… Just radical feminists. Most women aren’t ready to abandon men, I don’t think…

          • Yeah, Mar, I’m with you completely re your last paragraph. Yup, we’ve all been there done that and cannot, canNOT believe we did.

            As to that imagined movie…hm…I read a lot of feminist sf, but can’t remember anything like that, and yet surely, someone must have already written it, yeah? If not…wanna co-author??

          • Mar Iguana

            So, you think this might be an original idea? I don’t read much sf, although I very much enjoyed Marge Piercy’s “He, She and It.” What a great movie that would make.

            And, “9 to 5,” one of my all-time favs. But, that was made in 1980, just before the backlash was ramping up. It would probably be very hard to find the money to make these kind of movies now.

          • oh you have to read ALL of Marge Piercy’s stuff! It is fantastic.

            and yes, i think it might be an original idea. though I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong. I don’t know how to get money for a movie, but I’m already having fun imagining the scenes…

            take the kid to school, oops, no teachers. okay, take the kid to work. right, that works out well. and at work, well, hello 9 to 5. kids hurts himself (b/c guess who was doing something MORE IMPORTANT), goes to hospital, oh. no receptionist. how to access your med records? and no nurses. three male doctors trying to deal with a full emerg ward…any bets on how long it takes them to just walk away from it all?

          • Morgan

            Meghan, that’s the problem with most feminist theories. Most women aren’t feminists (or radical feminists). But we sitll manage to critique things and put forward potential solutions, even if they seem unrealistic at the moment because not enough women are conscious. And anyway, you’re right, women will not abandon men. Even if all women WERE feminist. But we won’t get rid of pornography/prostitution either, because of those reasons, but we can still put it out there that getting rid of pornography/prostitution is the best solution to the problems of porn/prostitution.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ok, that’s fair. The difference I see, though, between working towards an eventual end to prostitution and pornography (as ‘unrealistic’ as that might seem to some), is that I don’t see men, as humans, as the problem. The purpose of prostitution is to subordinate women and I don’t believe it would exist if patriarchy and capitalism didn’t exist. But men would still exist without patriarchy — and they’d be fine. I mean, of course it would be totally fine to engage in intimate relationships with men if there were no patriarchy, no? Isn’t the problem that men are socialized within a patriarchal society and that’s why we have trouble being in intimate relationships with them, as women?

          • corvid

            I’d say it’s far more likely that we will see an end to porn and prostitution…. Again, perhaps this is naive but, how could one half of the human population possibly avoid the other entirely? Particularly when men are armed to the teeth and viciously controlling of women, each other and the environment?
            If y’all come up with a sci-fi novel about this, I’d be eager to read!

          • Mar Iguana

            What theory? I was just riffing on what would happen if women disappeared for a week, a month or two; just asking “what ifs.” I think watching men literally lose ALL their shit could be hilarious.

            In the movie about Mexicans disappearing for a day (to illustrate how white clueless yuppies would be pretty much helpless on their own with no domestic help), they didn’t ask to be disappeared, it just happened. The film doesn’t go into where they went or how they felt about it. The yuppies just woke up one morning and their domestics were gone. I thought it was a very funny film.

            In a film about women disappearing and showing how they felt about it they would probably be going from pitching fits to full-on berserk, with a small segment thinking “cool.” If women aren’t ready to abandon men by now, considering the unthinkable depravity visited upon them past and present, I don’t think they ever can be until patriarchy ends, mainly because they are kept on the mushroom farm (kept in the dark and fed shit).

          • Meghan Murphy

            I agree that would be hilarious. I thought we were talking about whether or not feminists needed to eschew all intimate relationships with men, no? I may have gotten off-track/lost a little, though…

          • Remember the movie ‘9 to 5’?

          • pbutterfly2000

            “men’s “civilization” would quickly crumble and their existence would have to be justified by something other than controlling women since that’s been about their only reason for being for millennia.”

            Perhaps this is the way it looks to you. But as an historical argument it’s ridiculous. I guess you laugh at the work of Shakespeare or Beethoven or Einstein as many feminists do, and dismiss it as the stupid and irrelevant work of dead white men.

          • Mar Iguana

            Yeah, whose version of history are you going by?

            And, btw, you are a really crappy guesser.

          • corvid

            All that genius would never have been possible without women laboring, mostly faceless and nameless, in the background!

          • pbutterfly2000

            Not yours, apparently.

            And I’m not guessing. You yourself deny any other reason for men’s existence than controlling women. Other reasons would include anything else men do, including everything they create.

          • corvid

            All that male genius would never have been possible without women labouring, mostly faceless and nameless, in the background!

          • pbutterfly2000

            Yes, obviously. And I’m sure women did much more than labor; they most likely invented many things along with men. Common sense tells us that men and women must have worked together with our big brains to great the civilization we have today, especially since women were most likely in charge of education and child-rearing. But discrediting men’s work throughout history is no way to even the score.

          • Mar Iguana

            “You yourself deny any other reason for men’s existence than controlling women.”

            That’s right. Ever since the creation of patriarchy that’s what they had better be doing 24/7, by any means necessary, or there goes male supremacy. Before patriarchy, it’s most likely they were more egalitarian human beings, rather than petty tyrants, who had better things to do with their time than lording it over women and competing with each other to own the “best” and largest number of females, the most valuable of their domesticated animals.

            Yes, women have worked alongside men as both co-creator and/or the actual inventor/innovator. However, when it came time to give credit for the genius of some idea, discovery, invention or innovation, women were erased by irrelevant, dead white men. It still happens every day. Men have no qualms about stealing the ideas and works of women and claiming them as their own. Example: James Watson and Francis Crick took credit for having discovered the double helix shape of DNA, when it was Rosalind Franklin who discovered it. But, in her day it was believed women could not become scientists.

            The aim of discrediting men’s work throughout history is not to even a score. It is about observing that with all the dazzling brilliance a man may display, the flaw in their works has been to completely leave real women out of it. I’m not dismissing the genius of the likes of Shakespeare, Beethoven or Einstein. But, with all their brilliance, they still had a spooky blind spot concerning the females of their own species. A good example is Shulameth Firestone pointing out in “The Dialectic of Sex,” that Marx’s theories about economics and control of the means of production ignores the unpaid labors of women and their lack of control over the means of reproduction. Kind of a big oversight.

            “Common sense tells us that men and women must have worked together with our big brains to great the civilization we have today, especially since women were most likely in charge of education and child-rearing.”

            Oh, please, common sense has had little to do with this glorious patriarchal “civilization” with which you are so enamored. And, the half-assed history of that absurd civilization has been written by the victors, men. Women were not allowed to learn how to read or write for thousands of years, except occasionally being taught just enough to be useful to their masters. It was against the laws of church and state to believe women possessed human intelligence.

            Women were likely in charge of education and child-rearing? Talk about ridiculous. Women were in charge of nothing. Especially after The Inquisition. They raised and educated their children under the strict supervision of their master’s dictates. The father was considered the sole creator of children since it was his seed implanted in women who served merely as the incubator, the plowed field. The invisible eggs of women were not discovered until the mid-1800s, when it was begrudgingly admitted that half a baby’s tissue may have been contributed by the mother. Not that this discovery elevated the status of mothers one whit; they were still legally mere chattel with no rights whatsoever to their children who were also considered the property of the father.

            To disabuse you of the lies of commission and omission that is the official male version of history, I suggest reading the more recent histories written by women who have worked hard to excavate the contributions of women that have been stolen, erased, buried and denied. Gerda Lerner’s books are a good place to start, especially “The Creation of Patriarchy.” The website http://womenshistory.about.com/ is a goldmine filled with the erased history of women. Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States” illustrates how much of the actual history of people’s lives is erased by the official versions glorifying rulers, warriors and brilliant men of the arts and sciences, especially the chapter “The Intimately Oppressed” about women who resisted their sub-human status.

            Your advice to women to: Speak to/treat men as if they are infants and simple beings; take care not to violate men’s sense of manhood; appeal to men’s self-interest; let their Nigels off the hook for bearing any personal responsibility for the general nightmare of women’s lives; whatever you do, don’t nag; and, your use of the word “bitch,” is repugnant. I think it’s pretty funny that after all your recommendations regarding how you won the love of your man you “suddenly” remembered that you had to issue an ultimatum to make him cut his crap.

            You believe the only problem with the concept of surrendered women is that it should include surrendered men. Yeah, that’s going to make for a great relationship: Two people who have to pretend they are less than their whole selves, as if men would go along with the surrender of ANYthing; fat chance. And, as if men even have whole selves considering the emotionally stunted existence they are conditioned to live. Good grief.

          • pbutterfly2000

            “That’s right. Ever since the creation of patriarchy that’s what they had better be doing 24/7, by any means necessary, or there goes male supremacy.”

            Yes they were doing that, but not 24/7, in the absence of every other activity. No.

            “Yes, women have worked alongside men as both co-creator and/or the actual inventor/innovator. However, when it came time to give credit for the genius of some idea, discovery, invention or innovation, women were erased by irrelevant, dead white men.

            This is true, but that’s not what you said.

            “The aim of discrediting men’s work throughout history is not to even a score. It is about observing that with all the dazzling brilliance a man may display, the flaw in their works has been to completely leave real women out of it.”

            This is true too, but that’s not what you said.

            “Oh, please, common sense has had little to do with this glorious patriarchal “civilization” with which you are so enamored.”

            Common sense meaning, it would be impossible scientifically for men to have created civilization on their own, no matter how controlling they were, since there are two genders that must have influenced everything that happened, no matter how unhappy men may have been about it. And I am not enamored of patriarchy. That’s an ad hominem attack.

            “Women were likely in charge of education and child-rearing? Talk about ridiculous. Women were in charge of nothing.”

            Women have historically always been in charge of small children. This goes back to our earliest ancestors, and earlier to our pre-human primate ancestors, and continues more or less to the present day. The development of a small child’s brain is extremely important to their later growth, so women raising the male children that would be the great inventors, warriors etc. was an important position in society, whether that fact was acknowledged or not. Women were also in charge of at least half of the chores such as obtaining food and containers for food and clothing, etc. They were also often the moral center of things, which we know by studying tribal cultures.

            “Your advice to women to: Speak to/treat men as if they are infants and simple beings; take care not to violate men’s sense of manhood; appeal to men’s self-interest; let their Nigels off the hook for bearing any personal responsibility for the general nightmare of women’s lives; whatever you do, don’t nag; and, your use of the word “bitch,” is repugnant.”

            I never said to treat men as if they are infants; I said that their emotional life is infantile in comparison to women’s emotional life, which actually can be proven through brain scans. I never said one should not violate a man’s sense of manhood. I merely pointed out that men are very sensitive about their manhood as an explanation of why it’s hard for them to listen to criticism. I never said women should let men off the hook for anything. The only thing I DID say was don’t bitch and nag, and I hate those words too but I was quoting them from someone else. But no one in a relationship should yell at their partner, because it doesn’t do any good. I was careful to say that so it was not specifically gendered. Being kind and patient is good in a relationship no matter what gender two people are. If you have such a vested interest in spewing vitriol against men that you can’t tolerate any woman being kind to them, then you have a hate problem and it has nothing to do with me.

            “You believe the only problem with the concept of surrendered women is that it should include surrendered men. Yeah, that’s going to make for a great relationship: Two people who have to pretend they are less than their whole selves, as if men would go along with the surrender of ANYthing; fat chance.”

            I never said anyone should surrender to anyone else, or pretend to be less than their whole selves. Ramping down one’s anger for a few weeks isn’t being less than a whole self. You can’t gain clarity when you’re always being reactive. Then if you’re still angry you can exit the relationship.

            Yes I love a man, but it does not mean that I love patriarchy. For you, the two seem synonymous. That’s another point of view – I don’t happen to share it.

          • lizor

            For the systematic erasure of women’s ideas and labour, also check Dale Spender’s “Women of Ideas and what Men Have Done to Them: From Aphra Behn to Adrienne Rich”
            as well as Marilyn Waring’s “If Women Counted”

            There is a great doc on Waring’s life and work available to watch online here:

            https://www.nfb.ca/film/whos_counting

          • “I never said to treat men as if they are infants; I said that their emotional life is infantile in comparison to women’s emotional life, which actually can be proven through brain scans.”

            Oh dear. Are you making a brain sex argument? You must know that brain plasticity means that practiced behaviour will shape the brain.

            Your argument makes me extremely uncomfortable. It’s like you are saying that men are unchangeable in their childish self-centredness and we should not waste time asking them to be responsible to their spouses and the other people* in their lives. Do you really think this?

            *when I say people, I really mean women. As someone else pointed out, many men are far more empathetic and responsible to one another than to the women who care for and support them.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I’ve thought about this all weekend, reading all of the responses, and I’ve changed my mind. I’m now of the opinion that being a radical feminist IS incompatible with being in a relationship with a man, unless one can separate the two. Being on a soapbox of any kind is not compatible with being in a relationship, nor is insisting that your partner change all of their values. Most importantly, if one is thinking of men in the abstract as the enemy, that is bound to affect how one treats one’s partner, and that partner is going to feel unloved and unhappy, not to mention attacked.

            The more I read this blog the more I dislike my own partner. When I begin to hate men in the abstract, I tend to apply that hate to him, even when he hasn’t done anything except just “be a man” (have a penis, enjoy privileges I don’t possess etc.) He is a rare man that does not watch porn and is offended by it because he finds it dehumanizing (and not through my influence), is gentle and considerate, is better about housework than I am, helps me with my work, has tremendous respect for women, etc., so I really have no reason to hate him. But I’m susceptible to that sort of ideological thinking, which is partly what ruined my relationship in the first place.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Well. Then I guess it’s a good thing I don’t identify as a radical feminist? I don’t know… I mean there are lots of feminists who have successful relationships with men… I think there are lots of challenges and that it isn’t easy to find someone who’s worthy, but I don’t think it’s impossible. I think a big problem for me lies in the feelings of attachment and then the way that heartbreak takes such a huge toll on me, the way I start to think, you know, “I’ll never love again, I’ll never anyone,” blah blah blah. It’s all this conditioning and stuff that we learn from romantic comedies — that we need a man to love us, we need a partner, etc. that men don’t seem to worry about in the same way. There just isn’t the same stigma against single men (especially older men). It’s not necessarily that I don’t think there aren’t men out there that I am compatible with, relationship-wise, but I do wish we could escape those gendered ideas around romance and the kind of obsessive/addictive feelings we are met with when we fall in love…

            I think women often obsess over their relationships and work on them in a way men don’t, too, which is also a result of socialization and the fact that maybe men feel more independent than women do and less afraid of being “alone.”

            Women learn that emotional (and sexual) labour is their responsibility and men don’t.

          • pbutterfly2000

            A lot of those feelings you have unfortunately are not just from socialization – they’re biological. Women produce a ton of oxytocin when they have sex, and men seem mostly not to. You are biologically wired to get obsessive and weepy over a man once you’ve become intimate with him, even if he is an asshole and you have nothing in common with him. You will also likely start to produce buckets of love for the poor schlub that he totally doesn’t deserve. Men simply are not producing these chemicals in anywhere near the capacity that women are. I think it has something to do with motherhood. Nature is cruel.

          • bella_cose

            Actually, according to much of the literature I’ve read on the subject of oxytocin, and hormones in general, it’s much more complicated than that. At least that which hasn’t been written by the evolutionary psychology community. Women that bond easily from sex, most likely do so because they’ve been told that it’s natural to do so. I always wondered what was wrong with me that I didn’t feel increased closeness and intimacy with someone after sex. I thought that’s what was supposed to happen, but I was rarely more than indifferent, unless I was already very close to the person. Then I realized that many women feel the way I do, and the crap about women being unable to have sex without getting attached was bullshit.

            Also, men bond to their babies, if they are around them, and it has to do with oxytocin levels, so it’s not just women that are greatly affected by it. I think oxytocin is released often when people are already attached and they touch, because it functions to strengthen those bonds. This goes for men as well as women.

          • pbutterfly2000

            It’s true that men also produce oxytocin during sex, but only when they orgasm. Then their levels drop back to normal, whereas a woman’s oxytocin levels can remain high long afterwards. Testosterone blocks oxytocin, and whereas men on average have much more testosterone than women, some women have a lot of testosterone as well. It’s true that people do different things with oxytocin, and only one of them is bond. Cultural influences do play a role in how one uses one’s oxytocin, it’s true. But in general, the more oxytocin, the more bonding that goes on.

          • Me

            Why would a man bond with and develop a lot of empathy for someone he fucks, when the whole act for him can often be something to put her down by and reduce her into a non-person?

          • C.K. Egbert

            Think if you were to put this in the context of race instead of gender. I have several non-white friends and I work with a critical race theorist. It would be absurd for me to feel attacked or “unloved” when they call out my white privilege, how it affects me, or even if they were to hate white domination. I think it’s only fair that men are as critically self-reflective as we are, and it would be as absurd for a man to have a problem with this as it is for me to get offended when people talk about hating “whiteness” in the abstract.

            I identify as a radical feminist and I’m always on my soapbox. That doesn’t mean I’m unable to have relationships: it means I expect men to respect me.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I’m not talking about calling someone out for their privilege. I’m talking about how ideological ideas can make people hate one another within relationships. I would never call out someone’s white privilege for instance unless they said something racist. And I wouldn’t call out male privilege unless a man said something sexist. Calling out privilege to attack someone who hasn’t been racist or sexist amongst friends is really obnoxious. No one can help the gender or race they were born into.

          • “Being on a soapbox of any kind is not compatible with being in a relationship”

            Why not? This sounds as if anyone who is passionate about social justice cannot be in a love relationship. It makes not sense at all.

            ” nor is insisting that your partner change all of their values. ”

            Again, this decontextualized the situation. Racism is not a “value” (at least not one worth rat shit) no matter how racist the cultural context. A racist culture just means it might take more effort for a member of the dominant group to resist the privilege that infuses their world. But it is still the moral imperative.

            I guess if considering sexism creates feelings of distance from your spouse, then you can decide to give up thinking about social justice for women for the sake of your relationship. It’s the double-bind that is central to this whole discussion.

            Like a column I read a few years ago – I think it was by Julie Bindel – called something like “Eat shit or ruin the whole day”. You can suck back the sexism, or play the party pooper by refusing to coo over the emperor’s lovely robes.

            I’m also not in agreement that it’s radical feminism that is incompatible and not other forms of feminism. If it’s feminism, its about acknowledged the sexual hierarchy. Essentialism that excuses or naturalizes the hierarchy is not feminism, no matter how many orgasms one might be having or how much personal wealth one has managed to accrue.

            I agree that it’s tough dealing with the inherent contradiction of loving a man in patriarchy.

          • pbutterfly2000

            No I don’t mean you can’t be passionate about social justice. I mean that relationships are not about shoving ideology down someone’s throat. There are other, more proper places for that. Of course if the other person is interested in the same issues, you can have lively discussions with them. I do talk a lot about racism and sexism in my relationship, but I don’t use him anymore as an example of what’s wrong with the world just because he happens to be a man.

            What I mean by not expecting someone to change their values is NOT that I would accept racism or sexism within a relationship. It’s that people have other things they are thinking about than what I am thinking about. I can’t force another person to be interested in all of the political issues I am interested in so much so that I always dominate the conversation. It’s not like he doesn’t have his own interests. I n fact, if I let him talk, he is really interesting and I can learn a lot. Most people have their own interests and concerns, and you have to balance those out and give other people space in a relationship.

            I never said I would give up thinking about social justice. In fact, since I’ve been less dogmatic with him, I’ve been much more involved with social justice. The reason this blog makes me dislike him, is that the tone here by some contributors is the tone I used to have – a level of frustration with men where it seems impossible for them to do anything right. It’s an addictive kind of negativity for me that I can slip back into. I mention all of this because it is very apropos to the topic at hand.

          • Me

            Maybe you could expect to be able to talk to him about this and expect to have your concerns and needs taken seriously? Talk about the anger and all and expect him to take it up as his responsibility to learn about it, read about it, have questions, what he could do to support you with it, so that you don’t have to do so much of the work of pushing any understanding on him, and instead have him meet you and your needs for a supportive environment and relationship?

            I don’t think it’s fair to say that when someone “hasn’t done anything” that they then have carried their responsibility and weight in a relationship. What if you needed him to DO something more, isn’t that just fair? Wouldn’t you hold yourself to the same standard?

          • pbutterfly2000

            I don’t think people are understanding what I’m saying. I was bringing childhood abuse and anger with other men who have mistreated me into the relationship. He was endlessly patient listening to me complain about all of this. But no matter how patient and loving he was, I was paranoid and non-trusting of him. So he nearly gave up on me, because years of love and support were not healing me, and I was taking my deep feelings of being neglected and abused in the past out on him. Once I worked on myself we have gotten along. I’ve read reams of psychology, and I’ve begun to sort out who is the enemy and who is an ally. Once I did that work on myself, I was able to see that he has been my biggest ally for many years and that I nearly lost something that would have been tragic to lose.

            That men and women think differently and many times have different concerns is not a reason to alienate a good person like that. This is where looking at men as a class and expecting them to “shape up” in numerous ways can be oppressive in a relationship. What I was doing was holding him to a much higher standard than I was holding myself to. I would not have endured very long in a relationship where someone was always picking at me. He seemed to like the challenge at first, but after awhile it was draining for him. The only thing I wish he would have done differently is to explain to me directly what I was doing and how it was affecting him, but I guess he was afraid to because my feelings were so brittle. And actually looking back I think he tried to but I didn’t listen, felt attacked, and so on.

          • Me

            Okay, I think I understand.

            Glad that you’ve been getting better. If this discussion is getting to you, remember that nobody here wants you to go back to that paranoia, addictive negativity and intrusive memories. If your relationship has been healing and good for you and you’ve found ways to help make it so, don’t forget that.

            To my mind there is no adequate comparison between relationships where the woman is destructive from a place like you describe for yourself, and relationships where the man is destructive. I also think what can be helpful advice in a good relationship can be very bad advice in a destructive one, and it’s very important to be able to tell the difference.

            Sounds like the paranoia and distrust you describe turned your partner’s love and support into a negative for the relationship, traumatic bonding and all that. Instead of expecting to feel loved, which should be a mutual expectation, he just wanted to feel not hated and get some relief. On the other hand, I think women especially are socialized to offer that love and support even when it only hurts them and the only thing they get back is the “love” in a traumatic bond, plus the abuse. The men in these cases would tend to be abusive and using another from a place of entitlement, whereas you would have done something similar and physically much less dangerous from a place of fear, which would make all the difference in terms of what to do with it.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I agree with this. I’ve been in relationships before where I was traumatically bonded with abusive men, Thankfully my partner is not one of them. I was not socialized to be loving and supportive by the way. My siblings and I were raised like wild animals. My partner on the other hand already had skills of loving and supporting others when I first met him.

          • Me

            Basically if the problem is with setting healthy boundaries, there is no other fix but to start setting healthy boundaries and learn as you go along.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Yeah, I’m not sure if it has to be about ‘changing someone’s values’ — I mean, for starters, I would think that you and your partner would have similar values to begin with and then, beyond that, the hope would be that you can have respectful conversations wherein you and your partner listen to one another? I don’t feel as though when I’ve talked to men I’ve dated about porn or prostitution or burlesque or whatever that I’m “on a soapbox” — I feel like they’re interested in learning and, in general, what I say makes sense to them even if they hadn’t really thought much about it before. Certainly they haven’t shown any interest in defending the sex industry… Which is not to say, like, these men are perfect and aren’t products of patriarchy and that they haven’t been objectifying women their whole lives or whatever — but is just to say that they were genuinely interested in learning and respected my perspective. Most men (and women, for that matter) simply haven’t thought about these issues all that much.

            Having shared values doesn’t necessarily mean that you will both know all the same things, have read all the same books, have had all the same experiences, etc…

          • pbutterfly2000

            Well yes you’re right. It just depends on how far you take things. Relationships, like everything in life, require balance. When I say “on a soapbox,” I don’t mean talking about political issues – so maybe I didn’t use the right phrase. I meant attacking people for who they are, using a political movement as the basis for that. Maybe no one here has ever done that, so you don’t know what I mean.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Hmm… I don’t know, I’ve probably done that before? I thought you meant that talking to people about political issues that were important to you equated to getting ‘on a soapbox’, whereas I think that your partner should probs be interested in hearing your perspective on political issues, ya?

          • pbutterfly2000

            Yes, he’s interested in my views about just about everything. So I guess soapbox was the wrong phrase. What I meant was that it’s obnoxious to attack someone for happening to be a man because you’re upset about men as a privileged class.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I’m not making a brain sex “argument,” I am merely pointing out a brain sex “fact.” The fact that men’s brains are different than women’s brains does not mean that they can’t become more empathetic and learn to listen better. etc. But it does mean that it will always be a bit harder for them to access and understand their emotions and the emotions of others than most women can. But of course if they have the incentive they can learn. Unfortunately men learning to be emotionally complex is not much rewarded in our society.

          • bella_cose

            It’s not a fact. It’s sexist propaganda that’s been substituted for science. Have you read Brainstorm by Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, or Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine? I highly recommend both.

          • And I said to you that while male and female brains might show some general correlative patterns that illustrate a binary, neurology now understands that such generalized patterns of formation are likely the result of generalized patterns of thought and behaviour. – i.e. dick behaviour makes for dick brain.

            bella_cose’s reading recommendations are excellent. Also read “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge. It’s excellent. He was one of the first scientists to come forward with serious warnings about the dire neurological effects porn use.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I myself am a big advocate of brain plasticity vs. biological determinism. But in order for us to change our brains, we have to want to. Men get more social rewards from thinking the way they do than if they were to think more like women, so I don’t see much incentive for them to change their brains. Perhaps if all women refused to sleep with all men until the men beame nicer and threw away their porn that would create the incentive. But if anything it’s the other way around – women have adapted to porn culture and continue to try to adapt to men’s thinking and expectations. I’ve read the Doidge book; it’s excellent.

          • “But in order for us to change our brains, we have to want to.”

            The end of that sentence is ” …change our behaviour”, and you can leave out the “want to”.

            The brain changes according to behaviour, thought and environmental stimulus. I think that you and I are on the same page for the most part except for the part where you seem to think men are less responsible for their shitty behaviour because of some [unevidenced] condition of their brain anatomy. I don’t know how you can hold to that, especially after reading Doidge.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I haven’t said or suggested anywhere that men are less responsible for shitty behavior because of their brain anatomy. I was talking about men being infantile emotionally based on men’s own self-assessments, no reading psychology books, and on my own assessments of them. I supported that with studies I’ve read about their brains being emotionally simpler than women’s brains. But I didn’t draw any conclusions from that as to what their responsibilities are.

          • pbutterfly2000

            I agree by the way with Rachel Moran about men: empirical observation shows that men will not stop using prostitutes out of the goodness of their own hearts or out of a sudden burst of caring about women’s lives. That’s why we need laws. I think that’s the sort of incentive men need to change their brains – a higher authority forbidding them to do something. Men respond to other men’s laws. And if an activity is widely socially condoned, they tend to feel okay about it. That’s why I think the Swedish model spreading throughout the world is the only thing that will really make a difference in the way men’s brains respond to issues about using women’s bodies. And we can continue to progress from there. I think it’s possible that prostitution (and maybe even pornography) could eventually go the way of slavery, seen socially as disgusting and repugnant. But I think that only if such ideas change in the general public view will they change in most men’s minds.

          • ” But I think that only if such ideas change in the general public view will they change in most men’s minds.”

            With respect: that sounds to me like a contradiction to what you said before about adapting to men’s childishness. The only “public” other than men is women. If external pressure on is the only way society will improve, then why do you argue for putting up with their denial?

          • pbutterfly2000

            I never said that there was a need to adapt to men’s childishness. What I said was that Meghan should not feel guilty for being nice to a man, and I used a personal anecdote about how being mean to your partner is not good for relationships.

          • huha

            The thing is that prostitution IS a form of slavery and men don’t give a shit. It’s only when men are slaves that they care.

            I agree that women need to unite and demand change. They are not just going to hand it to us. We need public campaigns and anti-objectification education.

          • pbutterfly2000

            That’s absolutely right. Public campaigns are so important. I would so love to see a book describing the ugly facts about prostitution as mandatory reading in schools. The general public is SO misinformed about what prostitution really is, and about the sex industry in general.

  • pbutterfly2000

    Clarification: telling someone they’re collateral damage is awful when you’re breaking up with them. It’s as if you’re telling them that they don’t really matter, that they are incidental. But I say “menacing hint” because it sounds more to me like a cop-out from someone who might have been intimidated by the relationship and was too cowardly to say so.

  • FormerLurker

    Looks like I kicked a hornets nest. Well, I guess I’ll just close by saying that feminism is supposed to be about choice. If some women choose to follow Laura Doyle’s advice and they and their husbands are happy with the results, who are we to judge? More power to them. Life is short and we all deserve some happiness in this life. Peace.

    • Consumerism is about choice. Feminism is about dismantling a sex-based power hierarchy.

      The “no judgement” thing is bullshit. We make judgements (i.e. analysis and “choice” based on that analysis) every day, all day long – cash or charge? heels or flats? porn or a feminist blog? The charge is nothing more than a cheap dodge from salient critiques.

      And don’t kid yourself – you did not kick a hornet’s nest. Your comment is banal and predictable. You confuse prodding denial with being simply, commonly, irritating.

      • pbutterfly2000

        I assume that the women in question have greater success with their marriage because they have become more self-aware. Doyle’s advice (which again, should not be marketed just to women, but to couples), although stupid in the way it’s presented, aligns somewhat with certain Eastern forms of spirituality, in which one’s pure potentiality is accessed through silence, meditation, and non-judgment. Being silent means that one makes a commitment to take a certain amount of time to simply BE. Once one stops the merry-go-round of judgment, one’s life can become clearer and one can let go of any anger and resentment that were a more reflection of the self, or else detach from harmful objects if it turns out that the harm was coming from outside of the self.

        Of course “non-judgment” is incompatible with feminist work. When one does any kind of meaningful work in the world, one must apply judgment as a part of making the work more excellent. Feminism is a political project, whereas couples getting along is more of a spiritual project (or ideally it can be both). I do really agree though that the tone and marketing of this book to women is patently offensive, whereas a book on Vedantic spirituality which contains similar practical principles is not offensive because it’s not about submitting to another person, but about becoming more in touch with oneself. And I’m also sorry that this book was mentioned in reference to something I said, because I find the idea of submitting to one’s man and playing weak and helpless for him revolting.

  • Oh! I think you’re absolutely lovable! And our blog discourse has given me heart burn, and yet, you are endearing, brave, and smart to me and I bow down to getting my ass handed to me over and over again.

    I think of Bright Eyes: “A good woman will tear you apart/ a box full of suggestions for your possible heart.”

    Stay Golden, Meghan Murphy.

    On another note, I met the love of my life at Whole Foods. I was a guilty ghost before I met her. She kinda put the foot down and we got engaged 6 months later, and we’re still going strong 5 years in. Whole Foods. Wine aisle. Though the bike rack played a role, too.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Aw thanks Kogen. I wish there was a wine aisle at the Whole Foods in Vancouver! 🙂

      • Kogen

        And just a comment about the blind spot from my location…my wife pointed out that maybe a Connor Oberest quote was not the best choice, as of his questionable status. I had no idea! So sorry for that oversight.

  • John

    I dated a radical feminist woman, she was cool to me most of the time though it was no secret she really didn’t like most men. She had been a lesbian for a few years prior to us dating. Right away she began to see some things that I would do that bothered her about men. For instance, sitting on the couch with my legs spread apart or my deep voice which she said seemed too macho at times. She didn’t like sports(except womens sports), I love sports. She threw away my sports illustrated swimsuit edition when it came in the mail. She didn’t like it when I told her it was wrong to generalize genders when I heard some of her opinions about men and women and social structures.I told her that I wasn’t here to try and change her so please don’t try and change me. I think that totally clicked with her. After a while she seemed to be less bothered by my actions and we getting along really well. She had a small circle of friends and they were all radical feminists. They didn’t like me very much around the time she started liking me a lot. She was pretty busy with work and school and wanting to spend time with me but she also wanted her friends too. Unfortunately they started cancelling plans on her and not answering her calls. She was really hurt because they were her closest friends. I felt really bad for her. I knew where one of her friends worked so I went to ask her if she wanted to come over to my apartment and have dinner and her friend yelled at me that I had changed her and she wasn’t cool anymore. I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t tell her at first because I didn’t want to her to feel sad but once she found out she confronted a few of them and they burned bridges. She kept a few of the other friends but it was awkward because like I said it was a circle of friends. We broke up a month or so later mainly because we didn’t have much in common besides good sex and good food but it was pretty amicable. She has a really sweet, smart, and pretty girlfriend now who also loves football which I tease her about but she seems very happy. I’m very happy for her now. I’m glad she got rid of those toxic friends because they were just hateful and miserable.

    • huha

      Only misogynists who objectify and dehumanize women buy sports illustrated. She was right. She was right to demand that you fucking stop sexualizing women’s bodies and treat all women and her included with respect. She was trying to point out behaviors (taking too much space, objectifying women) that you were socialized into and how that’s annoying and dehumanizing to women. But you don’t care, do you? For you, her demanding basic human decency you saw as ‘stupid’, right? You can’t imagine ever listening to women’s concerns and instead blame ‘toxic friends.’

    • Mar Iguana

      “…I wasn’t here to try and change her…”

      Bullshit.

      • huha

        Exactly. Complaining that her pointing out offensive behavior was “trying to change him” while at the same time he was trying to change HER, he demonized feminists and separated her from her friends.

    • bella_cose

      First, good for your ex for tossing out your Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Barely clad women posing to show their sexual availability to men, have nothing to do with sports, and it’s completely insulting to women in general, and especially to women who are sports fans. Second, there is nothing wrong with generalizing about gender or social structures. Look around you. That’s how most analysis of systems works. Just because women are critical of society and men as a class, doesn’t mean they’re talking about every man individually. Still, no matter how much of a feminist ally a man is, he’s still benefiting from being part of the ruling class. If you try to argue differently, then you’re just illustrating your privilege.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank god she broke up with you. She was way out of your league, from the sounds of it.
      (And your sports illustrated swimsuit edition is hardly much different from porn, so yeah she threw it out…)

      Her friends probably thought you were a controlling misogynist.

      • Yeah, I’m surprised she was with him for more than a minute. “Out of your league” — love it!

    • pbutterfly2000

      I feel like a lot of details are missing from this story. I mean, I don’t think it’s impossible for a group of feminist women to hate a man just because he has a deep voice or sits a certain way etc., but I just have a feeling we’re not getting the whole story here. What did you specifically do or say, or how did she change, that made her friends so furious? Was it just the Sports Illustrated, or was it more? You’re painting these women as a group of people that hated you just because of your gender. Is this actually true?

      • Meghan Murphy

        In general, anytime a man paints himself as innocent in a relationship and his female partner as the problem, I take it with a grain of salt…

  • FormerLurker

    Wow John, how many stereotypes could we fit in that narrative? Feminists = Lesbians. And feminists make for catty, back-stabbing friends. Also feminists are butch (as in love the NFL) and not interested in children or family life.

    No wonder your average woman out there is much more likely to identify with Laura Doyle than with Andrea Dworkin or Mary Daly!!

    • bella_cose

      I don’t know why you’re trying to normalize this “surrendered wives” bullshit. It’s actually a very small movement because most women don’t want to be married to big, whiny, insecure men they have to placate all the time. Even somewhat sexist men don’t want female doormats. Only woman-hating men do.

    • corvid

      1) Some feminists are lesbians
      2) Some feminists are “butch” (lesbians and otherwise)
      3) Some feminists aren’t interested in coupling with men or reproducing
      4) Andrea Dworkin and Mary Daly have been no-platformed in the media and all but wiped from our cultural consciousness, and that is why most women “don’t identify” with them.

  • John

    Wow, great responses. First off I broke up with her. I didn’t want to get into the details but she was stealing from me. I forgave her because she had developed an opiate addiction due to endometriosis and especially after she had a hysterectomy, she apologized and sought help for it. We are still good friends today and I’m becoming good friends with her girlfriend too. Second yes it is wrong to generalize an entire gender just like it is wrong to generalize an ethnic group. She is black and very against racism just as she is very against sexism. 3rd there is nothing wrong with appreciating the female form, have none of you ever been to an art gallery before? Sports Illustrated is not evil because once a year they publish a swimsuit edition. They also publish a “body” issue where the photograph male and female sports stars in the nude. I don’t hear anybody complain about Prince Fielder or whoever posing. It’s their choice.
    My point was that yes it is very possible for a radical feminist to be involved in dating men. I just wanted to share my experience. P.S. I have these things called testicles so I don’t want to squash them with my legs-sorry if that takes up space. And also are some of you really capable of being friends with a feminist who isn’t as “radical” as yourselves. I think probably not if you can’t successfully date someone who isn’t as radical.

    • bella_cose

      1. Generalizing is not the same as stereotyping.

      2. Sexually objectifying women has nothing to do appreciating the physicality of females. Men who say they “appreciate the female form” are really saying they only appreciate the patriarchal ideal of the female form, which is a minority of the various female forms out there. It’s misogyny, pure and simple.

      3. I have friends that are all over the spectrum as far as feminism goes. I also have many male friends. Some are extremely aware and willing to learn about and discuss feminist topics, and some don’t really get it beyond discussions of equal pay. I would guess your understanding of feminism is closer to those in the latter category.

    • Me

      “P.S. I have these things called testicles so I don’t want to squash them with my legs-sorry if that takes up space.”

      Do you use a wheel barrow or some other type of cart to haul them around, too? Sorry if I’m generalizing.

    • Mårran

      hmmm just thinking, I can’t remember ever seeing a guy sitting with his legs far apart here (in Sweden) whereas it is a common (and obnoxious) occurrence in the US. I mean, Swedish men have testicles but don’t seem to experience this issue… socialization is an amazing thing

  • John

    gen·er·al·ize verb ˈjen-rə-ˌlīz, ˈje-nə-
    : to make a general statement or form a general opinion; especially : to state an opinion about a larger group that is based on a smaller number of people or things within that group.

    ste·reo·type transitive verb ˈster-ē-ə-ˌtīp, ˈstir-
    : to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same

    They go hand in hand.

    • bella_cose

      Not really, if you understand anything about analysis. We could never analyze anything as a class, or say anything about a certain population, if we didn’t generalize to an extent. Using evidence to draw conclusions often employs a certain amount of generalizing to make it applicable. Stereotypes don’t rely on evidence. They tend to rely on faulty beliefs, and limited experiences, which are then applied to the whole.

      • Carrie

        Funny you say that because it seems like you reject science and therefore the scientific method of analysis.

  • John

    pbutterfly2000 I can’t really answer that question other than to speculate that they started to really dislike both of us because we were spending a lot of time together and they expected her to be a certain way-more like them. I don’t know. Even when she confronted them about it they wouldn’t really give her much of an explanation other than to blame her for turning her back on them which was completely untrue. I really didn’t care about the magazine, it’s not like I even knew it was coming in the mail. I found it when I was emptying my trash can and I didn’t make a big deal out of it.
    Meghan Murphy I wonder if you would take it with a grain of salt if the genders were reversed?
    Her friends might have thought something untrue about me but that just goes to show how you shouldn’t accuse someone of something you don’t really know about. Would you like it if people called you a misandrist? I’ve read some other articles on here and read the comments from what looks like the same 5-10 people and there is quite a bit of misandry but I’m not about to start generalizing and stereotyping.

    • bella_cose

      How predictable. Anytime women criticize men they get accused of misandry.

      Why don’t you try taking a look around you, from a woman’s perspective? Think about what it’s like to be treated as an other from day one, and having it reinforced in every aspect of your life. You can never escape it. When you try to talk about it, you’re told you’re overreacting, hysterical, irrational, too sensitive. Contrast that to men, who start carrying on about misandry, the second their privilege is questioned. There really is no comparison.

      • Carrie

        He stated to Meghan “would you like it if someone called you a misandrist?”
        That’s not the same as you Bella Cose actually calling him a misogynist. You are calling him a woman hater. Why don’t YOU try looking around from a woman’s perspective? So many of your comments seem deeply sexist.

        • bella_cose

          Just as so many of your comments seem deeply ignorant.

          I won’t be reading your comments or responding to you anymore.

        • amongster

          Carrie, by now I’m wondering if you can even know about “a woman’s perspective”. You sound like a male troll that has obviously no lived experience as a woman and is trying to mainsplain to females how the world works for them.

          • Carrie

            If that makes you feel better go ahead and think what you want, it’s obviously not the case but go ahead and keep telling yourself that if it makes it easier to believe your skewed ideas.

    • corvid

      5-10 women politely expressing their distaste for the way they’ve been treated by men on a blog…. versus domestic and sexual slavery, prostitution, millions of porn websites, etc.

      Tell me John, how DO you cope with being so oppressed?

  • John

    To generalize and form an opinion that becomes a stereotype can become bigotry.
    Corvid I’ve worked with the youngest victims of abuse and neglect and you’re dreaming if you can pin that all on one gender and it’s even worse that you would stereotype all men. I never said I was oppressed but I’m sorry if you feel you are.
    Bella Cose I wasn’t accusing any one specific person but there have been some voices on here that say that all men are this way because of…. It’s no different than saying all black people are this way or that way because they’re black. Bigotry is no joke and I don’t have time for people that aren’t able to have a discussion because they are so sure they know everything about everybody.
    Megan I’m sure you’ll find someone you really care about and that cares about you too if that’s what you want and you keep putting an effort out there. Sometimes people give up but that’s not the worst thing either. From my experience I stopped trying to meet women at bars because I wasn’t finding the best quality. Not bad people but sometimes they drank too much or whatnot. If it ain’t working try something else.

    • So you look at sports illustrated swimsuit porn and make the ridiculous claim that it’s egalitarian because there are some picture of men in it (one could only make such an asinine argument if one was completely oblivious to factual social conditions of women’s lives verses men’s); you make a predictable “not all men” argument (a position so broadly recognized as bullshit there was a widely distributed counter- hashtag for crissakes); you talk about “best quality” women as if we are dairy cows at a 4H fair.

      Your speech here revels much misogyny without even counting your presumption to come to this forum and perversely charge commenters here with bigotry.

      Many of the posters here have worked with abuse survivors, kids at risk, as crisis counsellors and so on. Your presumption to an authority you seem to think no one else here holds speaks volumns about your solipsistic arrogance.That you work with victims of abuse while holding this willfully ignorant outlook on people is scary.

      Based on your entries here, you come across as a garden-variety creep. Please go away.

    • corvid

      Nobody is trying to claim that abused men and boys don’t exist and that some women aren’t abusive. Feminists don’t condone abuse of any kind! Patriarchy exists, and pointing that out isn’t “bigotry.” We’re not trying to say “all men are like this or that”, we’re pointing to systems of control and repression of women that, unfortunately, have been engineered by men. Women were only recognized as being full persons relatively recently in history. Why you feel qualified to speak about this without understanding basic concepts related to feminism is puzzling. And it’s spelled “Meghan”!

      • lizor

        “Women were only recognized as being full persons relatively recently in history. ”

        You’d think that if John had in fact had a relationship with a “radical feminist” that might have come up at least once?

  • John

    Lizor you others like you have shown an inability to have a discussion without insulting someone who believes differently than yourself, and you want to bring up solipsism. I found this website because my sister was using my computer to write a paper for a class about how the voices of very few judge and detract the majority of self-identified feminists. She says who are they to judge if Beyonce or whoever is feminist enough? Why do you get to define feminism? Whether you want to admit it or not only a tiny percentage of women would agree with your extreme attitude and positions just as a very small percentage of Muslims agree with jihadists. That’s why you’ll continue to live in a closed off world full of bigotry you can’t see because your solipsism won’t allow you to grow. You’ll continue to judge women and men unfairly and you’ll continue to be not taken seriously. Have a nice day=)

    • Meghan Murphy

      No one is “judging” whether or not Beyonce is feminist ffs. We are using our powers of critical thinking to think critically about the world around us. She can call herself a feminist all she wants. And others can point out that sexualization and capitalism and the commodification of the female body is problematic in terms of women’s liberation.

    • pbutterfly2000

      I always get upset when I hear a white person refer to “reverse racism” when they perceive that a person of color doesn’t like them or says something against white people. There is in fact no such thing as reverse racism, because racism is only relevant when it is tied to the hatred of one race by a ruling race who has most or all of the privileges. Anyone who cries reverse racism in fact knows nothing about how racism works and does not really give a shit about it, to the point that either through sheer ignorance or through conscious exercise of their privilege they themselves are racist. What white people do not realize is that people of color are in the habit bowing down to them, are terrified of causing them displeasure, fear being punished and ostracized from the white society they depend on for so many things, and often unconsciously hate themselves because they have internalized white superiority. Thus it’s very difficult for people of color to complain about white people, and when they do they feel they are taking enormous risks. So it is always patently racist to silence a person of color who is trying to talk about race issues. I think you understand this.

      But sexism in the same thing. To not listen to your girlfriend’s complaints about men because you think we are all equal individuals who can’t be stereotyped constitutes a blindness to female experience that equates to blatant sexism. But for some reason, for many or most white men the male-female example doesn’t make any sense to them but the race example does.

      One example of the sex/ race dichotomy is, let’s say a theater boycotts a film that glorifies the KKK. Most people would take the theater’s side and say the theater was right to not screen such a film because it was dehumanizing to black people. On the other hand, any theater that would refuse to play a pornographic film on the basis of it being dehumanizing to women would be picketed and the free speech police would be all over it. They would be able to find a few women to interview who would say that the film was liberating to women blah blah, an actress who would say she loved performing in the film and was acting out her own personal fantasies with her own agency, etc. But none of it means anything because those women are afraid to say anything else, and their jobs depend on saying those things.

      This is why, John, you are in the majority and feminists are in the minority. Feminists, like people of color, are silenced at every turn because they threaten the status quo (and the multi-billion dollar sex industry), and because other women are afraid to speak up because they get so many benefits from being nice to men and conforming to patriarchal expectations. Have a nice day yourself, gloating about how much fun it is to be able to ignore all of this as part of the privileged class.

    • lizor

      John,

      I based my comment, as I said, on what you have written here which has repeated indicated deeply-held misogyny.

      I don’t “get to define feminism”. I just know what it is, just like I know that, in most places in the world, red lights at an intersection are a signal to stop. Neither is a personal opinion of mine.

      The rest of your comment is, *in my opinion*, too silly to respond to. I will not be reading any more of your troll-ish entries as it is not worth my time to do so.

      And I did have a wonderful day, thanks!

    • Carrie

      John you are right on.
      One thing you need to understand about many radical feminists is that they are constantly on the defense and often times due to traumatic situations in their lives. It can put them in a state of arrested development where they can’t have a conversation which often times alienates them from society. When I took a women’s studies class back in the early 1980’s there was a newer wave of feminists who looked down on men, it empowered them in their group but alienated them from the rest of everyone else. I was threatened with violence by some for speaking my points of view during class.The professor was actually from the previous wave of feminism from the 50’s and 60’s and didn’t understand the hate and the separatist movement. She eventually quit teaching the class because in her mind it was getting to be all about men=bad,women=good, which is not what non-radical feminists believe. I think you might find the website feministfrequency.com interesting. The author was just on The Colbert Report, you might like her take on feminism.

      • bella_cose

        You do realize that radical feminism started before the 80s, don’t you? Perhaps you need to study up on your feminism a little more, because your comment makes no sense.

        Radical feminists don’t hate men. It’s crucial in fighting any type of oppression to be able to criticize a class of oppressors, and that has nothing to do with the members of that class individually. It’s a simple concept, really.

        • Carrie

          Bella I was one of the first students at my college to take a women’s studies class. In the 70’s feminism did become less inclusive which made it hard for hippies like me and my friends to be included in the conversation. My professor was a hippie in the since she believed in peace and non-violence. My professor often spoke against the violent and separatist tactics of some radical feminist groups. The problem was that most of the women majoring in women’s studies at that time were indeed radicals who looked up to some of the violent and separatist groups and were not willing to have an honest conversation. It seems as some like to take that approach on this site. It’s just as important for men to understand feminism as it is women so I don’t see why you have to name call Jon. So you don’t want to hear his opinion… no need to be rude.

          • Meghan Murphy

            What do you mean when you say “hippie”? How did the political philosophy of you and your friends differ from those you perceive to be these new ‘non-inclusive’ radical feminists?

          • Carrie

            The rad fems were advocating violence against people who didn’t believe what they believed. There was a group that was very popular among rad fems called “Angry Wimmin” who were extremists that made threats, beat women and men up, and they even burned people’s houses and businesses down. Very-unhippie and a lot of hippies started calling themselves humanists because in their minds feminism was tainted. Then Dworkin and her rants against positive sex was very un-hippie. And the separatists…craziness
            You might have had to been there in that time to see the shift because it’s not like it just happened over night.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Which people’s ‘houses and businesses’?? You mean their porn shops?

            “Unhippie” isn’t a thing or a word so I have no idea what you are talking about there… Do you mean people who are critical of the ‘free love’ garbage?

          • Carrie

            You don’t have to believe in “free love” you just can’t be down with violence. Dworkin went way beyond calling out free love, if it was just that it would have been fine. She went way beyond that and even worse…

          • Meghan Murphy

            So when you say ‘hippies’ you mean ‘anti-violence’? You might want to be more specific about that because lots of ‘hippies’ were sexist, abusive, rapey sleezebags.

          • Missfit

            Yeah, Dworkin (the feminist boogeywoman par excellence) was so violent! She did much worse than the pornographers she denounced. She kidnapped innocent men she then castrated with a covenant of witches. Indeed, she filmed it and called it feminist porn.

          • derrington

            If you’re not down with violence Carrie, how come you’re riding shotgun for a group of people that are? You hate Dworkin for calling out pornography for the human rights violation it is and you talk of a world of men punishing other men for crimes against women or children. You are living in chauvinism’s fairy land. Men as a group do not protect women and children on the whole, in fact they are they people most likely to murder or abuse them and, even when not actively involved in the abuse, they are most definitely willing to cover for guys that are in order to protect the image of male moral supremacy. We have 50,000 paedophiles in the UK that have been identified as paedophiles but the police doesn’t have the ‘resources’ to investigate all but the most prolific. You can bet if they were ordinary terrorists rather than paedo terrorists they’d find the resources pdq. We have 85,000 rapes plus in the UK and an environment where only 1 in 10 is reported because the men’s media portrays women and children as generic liars about rape to the point so that child rape victims aged 12 and 13 are put into court with 8 adult male barristers calling them liars and saying they have fabricated the whole story of horrific acts of violence against them with not a shred of evidence that they are lying. Its the same for women victims, to the point that the victims go into court promoted as guilty of lying by gender or age until proven innocent, whereas the male perpetrator goes in innocent until proven guilty. You seem to be a total Fox News addict and unfortunately, that makes you on the side of the rapists, not of the raped.

          • bella_cose

            Guess what Carrie? This is one place where his opinion doesn’t carry any weight. If you feel like you have to defend him, go ahead. It makes no difference to me.

            Also, I just can’t take anyone who believes in biological essentialism seriously.

          • Carrie

            So you are saying you don’t believe in science? I guess you are a creationist?
            His opinion does carry weight to me even though you want to silence him. Meghan has also made some very ignorant comments about how a man’s view on feminism doesn’t count because he is a man. Guess what, neither one of you would be here with out men and feminism will never advance if you take that attitude. Sheeesh!

          • Meghan Murphy

            It’s not ignorant. It’s just a fact. Why would women care what men think about the women’s movement? Should Indigenous people care what white people think about Idle No More??

          • Carrie

            Fact-no that’s your opinion. It’s the opinion of the vast majority that feminism needs both women and men for their to be positive changes. You sound like a separatist.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Meh. Call me a separatist if you want. I don’t care. It isn’t true, but it also doesn’t offend me, so whatevs. I’m not afraid of being called a man-hater either, for the record.

          • I’m not reading all of “her” comments b/c it’s too painful to take in such idiotic nonsense as conflating biological essentialism with science or inventing stories about “angry wimmin” who destroyed property and assaulted people.

            I think “Carrie” is in MRA all hopped up on a BBC doc called “Lefties: Angry Wimmin”, a sensationalized account of the early radical movement in England that concludes that none of the ideas were substantive or operational – that it was all unfounded reactionary make-believe. This doc is a darling of MRA sites.

            I really think “Carrie” is a troll and he’s wasting everyone’s time.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I don’t understand this comment at all… Radical feminism isn’t necessarily about separatism… Certainly it isn’t about ‘men=bad, women=good’. I mean, I’m sure there are individuals out there who believe that, but I would tend to think they’d be more of the ‘goddessy’/’divine feminine’-types. Like, those who actually believe there is an innate femininity and/or masculinity. Cultural feminists (not like I know any of these, but I remember studying this briefly in first year WS) believe there is such a thing as a ‘female nature’ and would be far more likely to think women are naturally ‘good’ and men ‘bad, due to their ‘natures.’

        • Sometimes there’s miscomprehension. Sometimes there’s denial. Sometimes there’s just plain stupid.

        • Carrie

          You’re right that it isn’t necessarily about separatism but to many it is. I’m not sure how old you are Meghan but I was born in 1960 and my older sisters and brothers, my parents and society really shaped my view. It was a really exciting time. There was this left-over hippie generation that really supported feminism but they didn’t support violent acts or separatism. It was my last year taking WS when Andrea Dworkin wrote a book that really got a lot of attention from rad fems and I felt like because I in large part disagreed with her points as did most hippies we were being pushed out of the discussion. John made some very valid points and he shared an experience that could shed light to some people but it looks like some of the people responding didn’t really read it and were just looking to name call. An experience I can relate to.
          As a biologist I firmly believe women and men’s brains are wired differently so there are natural traits because of the way our brains are wired. Some of the radical feminists in that class didn’t want to believe it unless it showed examples of women=good/better. Society has a lot to do with the way people act but it’s also things like testosterone and estrogen.

      • And what’s interesting is that ‘feminism’ is SO subject to no end of ‘misunderstanding’. Perhaps no other word – the only close contender that comes to mind is ‘communism’ – has been subject to such gross confusion. And that’s telling.

        • amongster

          True. It seems like anti-feminists have become tired of fighting the movement so instead they pretend to join it in order to strip the word “feminist” of any meaning.

          • Missfit

            Seriously, going on a feminist website and making the effort to reach out to a man by saying ‘these women are damaged, come with us’ is like, part of the definition of unfeminist.

        • Carrie

          Yes because there really are different understandings of what feminism is about.
          My feminist hero is my oldest brother, he taught me about it starting when I was 6 years old. I have never known another person who has done more for women than him. When he came back from Viet Nam he was really depressed, ptsd. He went back though as a civilian not long after it ended because he wanted to help the women, men , and children. He helped educate many people about things like the importance of equality. The funny thing is he doesn’t really like the term feminist he much rather prefers to be called a humanist.

      • derrington

        I agree with you Carrie that looking down on men is no better than looking down on women, or black people or whatever other hierarchical hate pyramid you practise. However, having worked with radical feminists throughout the last five years on anti sexual hate media, I have never once heard anyone state that they think women are better than men. Quite the opposite in fact so the group of people you were in class with had severely misunderstood anti porn or radical feminism. What I have noticed though is that every time a radical feminist critiques a piece of male sexual privelege such as hitting or raping a woman or child, they are called a feminazi, a man hater, a rabid bitch or some other grossly intimidatory piece of verbal abuse or they are subject to online violence such as hacking their accounts etc or violence in the real world. Why would that happen unless a good number of people, men and women alike, are trying to maintain a system of male moral and power supremacy by intimidating anyone that whistleblows on their lack of the same. If pro sexism ‘feminists’ think that being part of a ideology that calls women and child rape victims drama queens, liars, fantasists etc makes them a feminist, radical or otherwise, then I’m a pink elephant, that can type and no one can say I’m not because I have the right to self definition, regardless of an externally corroborated reality … at all.

        • Carrie

          Are you really trying to say that there are a lot of people advocating rape, child abuse, and violence against women? I doubt that there are that many out there doing that. Probably some crazies out there but who would take them seriously. I think that radical feminists often use terms that are misunderstood by the mainstream like “male sexual privilege” or “rape culture”. I understand what you mean but many people look at those terms as crazy because of the context they can be used in. I hate the term “rape culture” because it suggests that somehow rape is normalized and accepted by men and women which I can tell you it is not accepted by society. Crimes like rape, abuse, and violent crimes are looked as the worst thing someone in prison can do and they are usually isolated in prisons because the other prisoners will murder them if they find out. That’s just an example to show how even the majority of criminals don’t put up with that shit. I also hate how some people say women can not be sexist…ignorance like that just hurts the advancement. Anybody can be sexist, racist, bigoted if they have views and personal beliefs that support those ideas. That whole idea that there has to be a majority vs. a minority or some power involved is completely ridiculous. It was an idea that was quickly rejected when it came out and I’m not sure why some feminists hold on to it other than it allows them to be sexist and not feel like a hypocrite.

          • amongster

            In which world are you living in Carrie? I so want to go where there is no such thing as rape culture.
            But honestly, do you really believe your own words? Do you know what porn is about? Do you think that prisoners get mad at rapists because they are such good feminists and would never rape any inmates? You sound extremely naive.

            Yes, everyone can be a bigot, that doesn’t mean everyone can be a sexist or racist. You need to be part of the oppressor class and have the power to discriminate against those of the oppressed class.

            Your ignorance must hurt.

          • derrington

            Carrie, I think the world has moved on from the land you live in. Internet porn promotes sexist hate speech as generic references to females of all ages – mainstream sites contain rape and lookie likey rape sections, barely legal sections with teenage girls dressed as pre teen girls enjoying and initiating being anally and double vaginally penetrated or throat fucked and choked. This is mainstream now and boys are pressuring their girlfriends into doing this. The largest producer and diseminator of child porn is male children. Notice how boys are now raping girls at parties and posting the rape on You Tube – this is not the action of people that even have the slightest inch of humanity towards females – and notice how the media with regard to rapes like Steubenville, Jada and the New Zealand gang make out that the rapists are the victims and the raped are the criminals? The rad fems in the 70s that burnt porn shops were right – pornography has always been hate media about women and children and has helped foster, promote and disemminate attitudes that have killed more US and UK women and children in hate attacks in the home in the past 10 years than servicemen have died in Afghanistan and Iran … inequality of power is what allowed the US to be taken from its indigenuous people, for black people to be enslaves and for women and children to be killed if not obedient to the ‘master’ of the house. I think you and your ‘hippie’ ways are dangerously naive and out of touch with what liberal capitalism is reintroducing – slavery on a mass scale, starting with the women and children in the third world producing cheap goods for a bloated Western elite with a ruling 1% of wealthy white males who do not give a flying fuck for who or what gets wiped out in their quest to hoover up the total world’s resources for themselves and their corporations.

  • John

    Well no doubt you can be against sexualizing women. I will probably have daughters one day and I don’t want them to be influenced by our over sexualized part of society. The truth is almost all women like sex and they wouldn’t condemn someone for looking at a sports illustrated. If you hate somebody for that you’ll have a lot less people to choose from.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Why would any woman want to look at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition (I assume this is what you mean since this is what was mentioned earlier)?? What on earth does the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition have to do with sex?

      Also, nobody is “hating” anyone. Uggggh. This feels like trolling. You aren’t responding in good faith.

      • bella_cose

        I think the idea is that since women = sex, then looking at media that sexually objectify women should appeal to women as well as men. It’s so completely illogical, but along the same lines as the argument that women are just so much more attractive than men, and that’s why naked women are plastered everywhere. And, you know, naked men are gross, because everybody likes tits, but penises? Gross!

        I don’t get it. I mean, I can appreciate an attractive female, but that’s not what turns me on.

        • huha

          What is “attractive”? Conventionally ‘beautiful’ as propagandized by porn? Any person can be attractive at any age with any body type. We need to stop confusing finding somebody attractive with objectifying somebody. Attraction is a number of things that happen between two people; it’s not just judgement based on appearance.

          Women in general do not objectify men but still manage to find them attractive. Men, however, seem to confuse objectifying a woman and finding her attractive, and that’s why they act like sexist assholes.

          • bella_cose

            I think there are a lot of people who only think of attractiveness in terms of physical qualities, and then only in societal ideals. Personally, I can think someone is attractive, and not be attracted to them. I can also see someone who I know is conventionally attractive, and not find them attractive at all.

            I do think, based on my own observations, that most men confuse objectification with attraction. It’s like they can’t imagine finding the whole woman attractive, so they break her into bits and pieces. Then when they do fall in love, they’re so conflicted because they want to respect the woman, but on the other hand, in a sexual sense, she’s not a full human being to them. Of course it’s much more complicated than this, but I do think it plays a role. Men think they respect us by compartmentalize. Treating us one way, while thinking about us another way. Or separating the good girls from the bad. They don’t get that it’s the dichotomy that’s disrespectful. Like some women are more human (though never entirely human) than others.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Totally. Most people who are conventionally attractive — like in a very superficial sense — are not people I am attracted to in the sense that I would want to date or even sleep with them. Many of the people I find myself dating surprise me — they aren’t necessarily the most attractive people, yet I’m very attracted to them. It never really makes all that much sense to me…

            From what I can tell (even from personal experience… Like the way men talk about my appearance), men seem far more superficial about physical attractiveness than women and will choose to date or sleep with women based primarily on their appearances/bodies.

          • pbutterfly2000

            Not only that, men can become deeply moved by women’s bodies, such that looking at a woman’s naked body can be the most emotional experience a man ever has, akin almost to a religious experience, if you listen to the way men talk and write! I think it’s the way most men actually fall in love! It’s only later (much later) that a woman’s brain, values etc. become interesting or relevant to most men. This is why many men will start to hate their wives and turn away from them completely if they gain a little weight or begin to age. On this basis, I do understand why some women would want to eschew relationships with them completely.

      • pbutterfly2000

        I think John really does feel hated, because his magazine choice was questioned and he feels entitled to never have anything he consumes be questioned. And the type of society we live in is one in which he has never been questioned for anything like that before, and likely never will be again.

    • huha

      You have to understand one thing: a naked or half-naked woman is just a naked or half-naked HUMAN BEING. Women’s nude bodies have absolutely nothing to do with sex. If you objectify women, you are dehumanizing us and taking our freedom over our own bodies. Objectification is a form of oppression. It is the first step towards violence. Even if you’re not violent yourself, you are participating in a culture which says that equating women’s bodies with sex is ok. Then, not you, but many other men will commit sexual acts of violence because they live in a culture which condones the objectification and dehumanization of women. Sports Illustrated and other media of the sort are a part of RAPE CULTURE. Women are portrayed as sex objects for men to look at. Women’s humanity is denied. It is harmful. You have to understand that.

      This web site is a great resource. If you need a more ‘soft’ introduction, then read “The Macho Paradox” by Jackson Katz. The book is far from perfect, but it might introduce you to some ideas (from an imperfect male perspective). Then, if you’re interested you can read the far more brilliant works of feminists like Andrea Dworkin.

    • derrington

      The truth is that almost all women enjoy sex if allowed to – so why are women that are shown enjoying sex in male media called hate speech such as sluts, bitches and c@nts when the men aren’t? I think rather than asking how your daughters will be influenced by hate speech, why not wonder how your sons will be since Steubenville, Jade and the Spit Roast gang in New Zealand have begun to exibit how young men behave when brought up in a rape culture that porn fosters, promotes and diseminates. Will your sons grow up to think rape is cool enough to promote on You Tube, and if so who will they rape to get brownie points from their mates for manliness? A girl their own age,17, maybe a couple of years younger, 15, maybe a girl that looks 15 but isnt, 13, or maybe they may start raping when they first start accessing porn around 11 so the girls they rape might be 9. My daughter was six when she was sexually assaulted at her primary school last year by 7 boys in her class and the year above. Dont forget, the biggest producers and publishers of child porn now are male children … and that’s after just 10 years or so of internet gender hate media. Imagine where we are going to be in 10 years time.

  • bella_cose

    In response to Donkey Skin:

    I attempted to clarify what I wrote. I think any reasonable person, who read the entire comment, would understand what I meant. If you want to continue to misinterpret, misrepresent, or take out of context, what I wrote, then that’s your prerogative. I don’t see any need to explain myself further.

  • andeväsen

    Meghan, talking about this was brave. I can’t say anything to make it better, except that I’ve been there, and most/all hetero feminists have also been there. It’s part of the heterosexual experience, whether feminist or not. Some weeks ago I watched a BBC documentary about the French revolution and Mary Wollstonecraft was discussed. She was a rationalist who in her earlier writings shunned romantic love, yet later in life her lover’s betrayal led her to depression and attempting suicide. Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of Western feminism, was not immune to whining about boys in bars. Not one of us is.

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  • Joanie

    ‘I fall off the face of the earth when I fall in love and forget to write and work and do my laundry and eat food and take my vitamins.’

    There’s your problem.

  • Meghan Murphy

    xx