Monday, February 19, 2007

Idealism run amok

Pretty Lady has come to notice, over the decades, that whenever she comes across a piece of sensible, pragmatic advice on how to cope with Reality, sordid and non-ideal as it may be, she is equally certain to come across a pack of raving idealists, passionately decrying the notion.

The Divide is really evident in the bedroom, where mum wants to shut the factory down to care for the most recent offspring, but dad wants sex just as much as he always has, baby or no baby. For most of us, supply can't meet demand. Then, because there is more work to do, we start to keep score about the division of labour; we end up in an endless tit-for-tat argument about who is working harder. Many women feel like their husbands "just don't get it," - "it" being the increased volume of work and the extent to which her life has been upended. Men, on the other hand, think that their wives have turned into control-freak bottle-wielding shrews.
This situation about sums it up; Pretty Lady was all agog, to see what came next. Unfortunately, in the view of the Raging Idealists, the proposed solutions fell short:
So what does the megatheocorporatocratic wife-mother construct have to do with a marriage manual on how to keep your hubby happy even though your id is completely subsumed by the interests of your neurotic kids? I posit that the authors are capitalizing on the housewife’s culturally-inflicted creative void in two ways. One, by profiting materially from the sale of a meaningless book based on the bogus premise that women’s inadequacy is at the root of all marriage problems, and two, by suggesting as a cure that women direct creative use of their ‘executive abilities’ toward sucking more cock.
Oh, well.

What struck Pretty Lady, after she'd gotten over her disappointment, was the corporatocratic housewives' discussion of Hubbys and Sex:
The male perspective was really eye-opening for the three of us, particularly when they spoke about sex. We were amazed when men used words like "reassurance," "recognition," and "connection." We learned that sex is so much more to them than a physical act; it is also how they connect emotionally with their wives. They also talked about the "wheels coming off" and "the sky falling down" when they lost that connection. One guy called it "soul destroying" when he was rejected over and over again. This was news to three of us. Before this book, none of us really "got it." Yes, we knew sex was very important to men, but we never understood why.
Pretty Lady finds it no less than astonishing that men, who from her perspective are primarily responsible from separating 'sex' and 'intimacy' when outside a relationship, appear to equate the two once harnessed into one. Can anyone explain to her what this is about? And, while they're at it, how one can give a decent blow job in only five minutes? Expert though she may be on the subject, that one stumps her.

26 comments:

Crom said...

"Pretty Lady finds it no less than astonishing that men, who from her perspective are primarily responsible from separating 'sex' and 'intimacy' when outside a relationship, appear to equate the two once harnessed into one. Can anyone explain to her what this is about?

This is actually very easy. Sex performed without commitment is a biological function and carries the same emotional attachment as eating a sandwich or using the bathroom.

Sex performed with a commitment has an emotional and spiritual component that men voluntarily attach to the act. It's a choice to make it mean more, and men -being very different emotionally from women - the act of attaching special significance to the sexual act is a major step for a man. So when they are rejected physically they take it personally since they have now conflated the two. A man being rejected sexually by a female he cares nothing for has no impact on the male psyche (well, mostly no impact unless the rejection is sustained from many women) since he is operating on the biological imperative only.

It hurts far more to be sexually refused by a woman you love than one that you are merely trying to pick up. This may not make sense to female readers since they do not differentiate the physical act from the emotional nearly as much as males and therefore lack the male perspective of indifferent vs. commited sexual activity.

prettylady said...

Okay, Crom, next question.

What does it mean when a man sexually rejects a woman he claims to love?

k said...

Crom, I'm glad Pretty Lady asked that question. I myself find your answer extremely interesting.

It definitely explains some past events I couldn't figure out.

It doesn't always hold true though.
Back in my long-ago (but reputedly babelicious) past, I had ever so many experiences with strong emotional reactions from uncommitted men whose sexual advances I refused. Often these were total strangers. My refusals were almost invariably courteous - I've always been aware of the scary riskiness of making an advance. That awareness really ramps up my desire to be gentle in my answer.

Perhaps it was a sign of their unhealth when that happened. Often it seemed like their fury, their outrage, derived from a sense of being cheated somehow. If they seemed to think I was standing in for some *Fantasy Woman,* then to say *No* would violate the script of the fantasy.

Of course, this was all made up in their heads, unbeknownst to me. So to be the recipient of great vitriol for the simple and absolutely righteous act of saying, *No thank you,* could be stunning, even downright scary.

Emotional involvement of the kind that creates this reaction doesn't just come from the decision to be committed.

Or maybe I'm just assuming committment is supposed to be both offered and accepted before it's actually in place.

You know. Not unilateral. ;-)

Chris Rywalt said...

If there's anything I've learned in my short time on this planet, it's that, in general, generalizations are impossible to make. Take, for example, the opening sentence quoted by Pretty Lady:

The Divide is really evident in the bedroom, where mum wants to shut the factory down to care for the most recent offspring, but dad wants sex just as much as he always has, baby or no baby.

Um, not in my experience. In my experience, in fact, pregnancy did nothing but increase the operation of the factory, and birth -- aside from the physical complications -- didn't slow it down a whole lot.

In fact this whole idea of the male as the sexual aggressor and the female as the unwilling participant is absurd on its face. Of course women want sex. And of course men want intimacy. It's just plain stupid to think otherwise. To think that men "are primarily responsible from separating 'sex' and 'intimacy' when outside a relationship" is crazed generalization: Maybe the men you know, dear, but not all of them. Not even close.

At this rate, I'm waiting for Pretty Lady to wax rhapsodic on how it's physically impossible for women to enjoy anal sex. Of course it was invented by evil men!

Sometimes I think the only truly rational response to human behavior is to stand back and say, "Wow, will you look at that?"

Crom said...

"What does it mean when a man sexually rejects a woman he claims to love?

Not knowing the degree of the rejection it is difficult for me to gauge, but for arguments' sake I will posit the following scenario: The male has rejected the female to the degree where no sex is had between the two, and the male has taken it upon himself to self-satisfy with pornography or other non-human stimulation. The man here makes no attempt at sex, and the woman waits alone in her bedroom hoping her man will come to her, and approach her. There is no third party involved here, an affair with another woman is an entirely different situation and is not applicable to the confines of this scenario.

I would say that the man no longer loves the woman he claims to love. If he does still truly have emotion for her, it is stunted and broken. To devolve a relationship from sexual to non-sexual is a determined turning away and is in my opinion, usually irreparable. The causes for this are myriad and not so important, why does anyone fall out of love with someone? The fact is that we all are capable of losing our active love for one another. This then is usually replaced by the ex-syndrome, where you truly wish the best for your former flame and will always be fond of them, but know in your deepest heart that things can never be the same as they were when the relationship was good.

A man who has utterly rejected a physical relationship with a woman that he loved, and was intimate with at one time is no longer in love, despite any protestations to the contrary.

A man who has reached this point but still dangles the idea of the relationship to the woman is no longer loving her, but manipulating her. This manipulation is selfish, although many men will try to convince themselves that they are doing the woman a favor by not dumping her outright, but this is merely arrogance and shows a stunning lack of understanding of the female psyche. The female in this scenario is most likely living in a constant state of tension and confusion, faced with a wall of implacability from her man that she shockingly cannot surmount. The normal sexual reaction of men is normally as constant as sunrise, and men respond sexually to women that they don't even like so for her womanly charms to fail at the foot of this wall is probably terrifying when they desperately love the man who built this wall.

My advice would be to immediately about-face and terminate the relationship with extreme prejudice. Extreme because it is unsalvageable and there is not enough honesty left in the relationship to discuss the real problem, which as I said could be any number of things. There is no relationship there anymore, only the decaying ruins of one.

It is in the nature of many women to blame themselves in this scenario, even when the relationship is long past. Understand that there is an 50/50 chance that you had absolutely nothing to do with the man changing his mind and ceasing to love you. It certainly could be something that you did or did not do, but if you were honest during the course of the relationship and were consistent in who you are then there most likely was nothing you could have done to make things come out differently. In addition, the man who sexually rejects you but is not strong enough to fire you outright is a cowardly fellow since most men have the courage to understand a losing situation is never best prolonged, rather dealt with and finished.

A man who understands this will not lead you down this path, rather if things truly go south he will break it off cleanly and leave you be - freeing you to find the one that does truly resonate the soundboard of your soul.

prettylady said...

Emotional involvement of the kind that creates this reaction doesn't just come from the decision to be committed.

K, that sounds to me like the kind of vitriol that comes from the bruised ego of a pathological narcissist. 'Emotional involvement' may be present, but it is solely emotional involvement with the self, and possibly with the fantasy, and possibly also with a deeply entrenched resentment of the entire female gender.

Shocking that this seems to be so common.

The female in this scenario is most likely living in a constant state of tension and confusion

That pretty much sums it up. Thanks.

Chris Rywalt said...

It's possible that a "frigid" man is suffering from low testosterone. It's often undiagnosed.

Anonymous said...

Absent any details (please do NOT supply them), another possibility is that the man has been rejected so often that he has simply given up and refuses to try any more. Then when the woman's interest returned, she was giving out signals that he simply didn't notice or didn't interpret correctly, especially if she had given out false signals in the past, or refused to believe them.

In any case, open and frank communication, possibly with professional help, is the only hope for salvaging the relationship.

Anonymous said...

Another possibility is that he's having "performance" issues, and is ashamed to admit it. Many men's self image is intimately tied to sexual performance, and any inadequacy strikes deeply.

Chris Rywalt said...

I agree with Anon 5:44. I've been known to avoid sex because I know I'm just not performing properly. It happens. Low testosterone can make it chronic, too.

Stereotyping men as being rutting animals doesn't help, either. Because if men are always supposed to be raging hard-ons in search of rapacious fucking, if a particular man doesn't feel up to it, both he and his mate are going to feel inadequate and ashamed. And guys like Crom will come along and say the man is being manipulative, because after all, "the normal sexual reaction of men is normally as constant as sunrise".

I'd say communication is the key, but that would imply an extraordinary degree of self-knowledge, understanding, and empathy, which is also extraordinarily consistent. But, you know, even the best of us have bad days.

Crom said...

Chris, let me recommend you take the category 'reading comprehension' for $100.

If you had read the posited scenario there was normal sexual activity at one time in the relationship, and the female had been "rejected" outright. Not ignored, not a slowdown in frequency, or a communications breakdown. The scenario posits deliberate physical rejection.

Furthermore, low testosterone is not normal, it is something that once diagnosed is treated by a doctor with testosterone patches and/or gels. Once the normal blood levels have been reached, most men find their libido has returned. If not, again most men go to the doctor to discuss other options to figure out why this is so.

The stereotypical male is not a rutting beast, that's a Hollywood/romance novel fiction. The true stereotypical male responds to an attractive female with a generally consistent set of physiological responses. I will stipulate that some do not, and you may be in that number. Remember, simply having desires does not mean you must act on them. If you have read anything I have ever posted you will see that I consistently encourage men to not act impulsively, but rather to use discretion and intelligence. Even my autobiographical post ends with me renouncing the "rapacious fucking" lifestyle in favor of commitment and morality.

I suggest you talk to your doctor about Androgel, and cease the limp-dicked attacks forthwith.

Chris Rywalt said...

Crom suggests:
I suggest you talk to your doctor about Androgel, and cease the limp-dicked attacks forthwith.

Actually, I use Testim. It helps some.

Doom said...

Pretty Lady,

Thanks for this post. And the comments have been quite useful as well. After reading here, I understand, now, something quite valuable. In digging around in the ruins of my last love I know why it is a ruin and not a church. And, it gives me a little more ease about my hidden natures.

I can't help anyone with what I now realize, but I can say that if you are true and true to yourself in spite of your hunger, even when you don't understand it, you will reap the rewards when you finally do. Good luck and stay true.

k said...

Yes, Pretty Lady. I agree on all counts.

That level of narcissism seems to include a sense of absolute ownership of things female. Not just her body. Her image. Her decisions. Her physical location.

Again, this includes women who are total strangers to the man in question. But if he feels he has ownership rights to that female, what difference does it make if they've been properly introduced? It's not even necessary to make any investment of time, money or emotion: you can go to a pet store and purchase a puppy, or you can pick one up on the street. If no other human is attached to a leash leading to that dog, then it's yours.

In real life, starting around puberty, real females have told that man, No. Others around them even upheld that woman's right to say No, including men who may not even have ownership rights (like a father or brother or boyfriend would).

Often, a very strong express or implied sense of outraged injustice was included in that vitriol. It mattered not how courteously I refused the advance: since any version of *no* was against that person's law, religion, and constitution, no manners could soften the blunt force.

So yeah, I'd think that deeply entrenched resentment of the entire female gender probably started very young, and ramped up at puberty, and ramped up again once the man in question felt he was of age enough to have his demands met. No more excuses about youth, etc. Every *no* would reinforce it.

Common. Very common. Frighteningly so. In people one wouldn't expect it from.
Analyze the worth of their character left right up and down, and still get that sudden punch in the gut reaction. Pure unleashed total hatred, and the desire to utterly destroy.

Terrymum said...

Entering the arena a tad late, can I ask a fact question: Is said male someone who once DID have sex with said female, or someone who says they love but have never stepped it up to the physical level? If it is the later (2nd) choid, can I posit other reasons for why the male who claims love but doesn't want or pursue sex?

Some men in such situations are really closeted (deeply). I've known it to happen.

Other times, the males are (a) already in another relationship and staying "true" (physically if not emotionally) and/or (b) are the type of people who ENJOY the drama (and pain) of "love from afar" and thus keep the tension going (on and on and on infinitum). Think knights in shining armour type. The type of male whose emotional counterpart is a woman hooked on romance novels. They love TALKING about how they feel, but can't or won't follow through - because that is too real (and would end the fantasy).

And finally, some men simply are afraid of women. They would rather have sex with anything else then to lose themselves and their hearts to a real live adult female.

Personally, I believe it is impossible to remain even friends with someone with whom you have that strong sexual pull, but it never gets acted upon. For a real live adult relationship to be possible in such situations, either that pull has to die off or the itch must be eventually scratched.

Terrymum said...

And bravo Crom for saying it like it is:

In addition, the man who sexually rejects you but is not strong enough to fire you outright is a cowardly fellow since most men have the courage to understand a losing situation is never best prolonged, rather dealt with and finished.

A man who understands this will not lead you down this path, rather if things truly go south he will break it off cleanly and leave you be - freeing you to find the one that does truly resonate the soundboard of your soul.

prettylady said...

Terrymum, to answer your question--the situation in question was very much option 1--initial extreme enthusiasm, followed by eventual complete rejection, coupled with a prolonged attempt to 'park' the relationship in this state of frustrating, confusing limbo, indefinitely to permanently. It was the most emotionally abusive situation imaginable, quite honestly.

And Crom is completely correct. It was cowardice, selfishness, arrogance and hubris that caused the man to act like this. Claiming to 'love' someone while wilfully acting to sacrifice their happiness over the long term is a scurrilous lie.

Love is not a feeling. Love is an action.

Crom said...

Just saw your post over at Vox's...

I did mention to to you that I had tried under a pseudonym months and months ago try to voice an opinion or two at Pandagon. Not only were my comments on that thread deleted, comments on at least two other active threads were deleted as well despite them being on an entirely different topic (and which had made it through the original moderator's cut) and there is now no record of my posts there at all.

It is a waste of time to type anything there, that blog is an endless echo chamber where the denizens have become so inured to the agonized shrieking of the insane that any sounds approaching normal discourse have become mortally horrifying to them. They cannot hear you, they gouged out their eardrums with their bloodsoaked abortion wire hangers long ago.

Terrymum said...

In that case dear PL, listen to Crom's advice. Any man who has had sex with a woman, then loses interest in it but says he loves her still either has an erectiel dysfunction he doesn't want to admit to having, OR he's simply "not that into you" any longer. A very very unhappy situation. I know. I experienced it too. A hard pill to swallow, to be sure, but waste as little time as you can in "Shaking the dust off your feet" and running in the opposite direction. If you do move along, be prepared, however, for SOME types of this species to return to the "chase game" if they see another male sniffing around their cast off. Do not allow the hound back into your bed. Unless there is a physical cause for his lack of sexual interest, and he admits to it, the pattern of love then reject will only repeat itself over again.

Terrymum said...

My parents taught me love wasn't a feeling. It is a decision!

thimscool said...

Like faith vs. belief, terrymum.

A decision.

I miss you, PL. Looks like your good works continue.

prettylady said...

Well, Thims my dear, I wasn't the one who went somewhere...

Lovely to see you!

thimscool said...

I've been plumbing the depths, and scaling the heights.

I'm weary, but I am beginning to see the light.

I would say that you might should see the light about a certain denizen of your zen den, here, eh Pretty Lady.

thimscool said...

What is wrong with the clock on this here blog thing? It's like we live on the left coast, for heaven's sake.

thimscool said...

One more thing I must say, after reading on... it definitely ain't the strapping Jacques, ya know what I mean?

prettylady said...

Oh no, Thims! I'm not harboring another Asp in my Bosom, am I? You know how dense I can be about these things.

And I don't know what's wrong with the clock; it does what it does without my knowledge or consent. But it does make me look all virtuous and industrious, up blogging at 6 AM!