Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Myth of Masochism

David revisits an old, old issue:

I know a lot of nice guys and I never once heard any of them ask why women are attracted to "bad boys". What they want to know is why women stay with bad boys and why after dating one jerk a women that seems to be inteligent would move right on to another jerk.
The short answer to your question, my dear David, is that this intelligent woman is making a fundamental, existential, and institutionally supported mistake in her spiritual-emotional paradigm. She will continue to make this very same mistake until it either kills her, or she is forced by intolerable misery to question the underpinnings of her thinking. There is nothing you can say or do until then to stop her making this mistake, because, being intelligent, she thinks she's thought of everything.

The nature of this mistake has nothing to do with masochism. The lady does not enjoy being abused. It may or may not have to do with low self-esteem; such behavior is just as likely to be caused by hubris as by an excess of humility. It is certainly not caused by Low Morals; such a woman, you may be assured, is doing her utmost to adhere to a higher ethical standard than that which she applies to others.

The mistake she is making--and listen closely--is this: She is trying to heal the world by absorbing a part of its misery. She is attempting to achieve Balance. In this action she is trying quite sincerely, albeit perhaps unconsciously, to adhere to the widely-held paradigm of Atonement, as performed by one Lord Jesus Christ. She is voluntarily taking punishment for the sins of others, in order to absolve them. And she finds, to her eternal bewilderment, that it does not work that way.

Pretty Lady finds it rather ironic that the selfsame persons who condemn codependent women for being stupid, immoral, and Bad Christians are often the same ones who regard guilt and sacrifice as zero-sum equations. The only difference between them and the unhappy codependents is that the condemners try to get rid of their guilt by projection and excoriation of others, rather than by taking on more than their fair share of punishment.

The fact is, as Pretty Lady has empirically discovered, that it is not possible to heal another person by suffering abuse at their hands. The sum total of misery in the world is not reduced, but increased by this behavior. 'Forgiveness' does not mean 'allowing oneself to be perpetually martyred without complaint.' Pretty Lady doesn't think she needs to engage in any fancy rhetorical flights to convince anyone of that.

The question is, then, what does 'forgiveness' mean? What was Jesus actually doing?

Pretty Lady's current suspicion, supported by the Course in Miracles, is that by the grace of God and through the medium of the Holy Spirit, he dismissed the case against us. He freed us of any need to excoriate self or others by removing the guilt that troubles us. For if one removes the damage, forgiveness is automatic, because there is no injury left to forgive.

22 comments:

Bobert said...

Well now.

And all this time I thought was because of what several women have tried to tell in the past about continually picking "bad boys" and losers....

Said they...
They felt they didn't deserve any better. They had been "bad" girls in their own estimation, and no longer "deserved" better.

Sure sounded like:

1)-Masochism, or:
2)-Total and complete bullshit.

I choose 2)-.

They just liked the thrill of it all... at least until it that type conduct caught up with them and they started trying to excuse their way out of it.

She is trying to heal the world by absorbing a part of its misery."

You really ought to delete that line.

prettylady said...

Why?

You are free to disagree with me, Bobert my dear, but please do not have the temerity to state that you know what is going on in another person's mind better than they do. Such wanton misattribution of motives generates more breakdowns in communication than anything else.

k said...

WOW.

Just...wow.

Perceptive.

Delete one of the most astute sentences I've ever read?

No.

The only difference between them and the unhappy codependents is that the condemners try to get rid of their guilt by projection and excoriation of others, rather than by taking on more than their fair share of punishment.


And frankly, while both are misapplied, I still have far more regard for those who seek to heal guilt even at injury to themselves, than those who seek to do it by hurting others.

In a heartbeat.

DuckMan said...

I think I wondered about the "bad boy/good girl" thing when I was in high school. Not so much since then.

prettylady said...

k, somehow I knew you'd understand what I was talking about.

You see, Bobert, there actually are people who view the world in a profoundly different manner than you do.

Anonymous said...

having been one myself at one time, i think that women who go for bad boys are taking the easy way out in terms of not having to make decisions. a bad boy will always make the moves on you; you won't have to implicit give consent to get physically involved, whereas a nice boy will not push you, will not act unless you invite him too. particularly for young women, it's often easier to give up control then to actually assent to sex. giving consent involves thinking about whether you want to do it and then taking responsibility for your choice. that's sometimes too much for a young woman to handle (the guilt, the judgment, etc.) so she goes for a guy who will make the decisions for her, and who is not awkward and tentative. he acts like he knows what he's doing so she doesn't have to think so much about what she's doing. abdicating responsibility is quite tempting.

Desert Cat said...

anonymous, I think you hit on a *big* part of it.

Abdication of responsibility.

To a man who knows what he wants.

I see it all too often. And it bothers the feminist side of my thinking when I see it. Women aren't *supposed* to be that way!

But then, I long ago decided that part of my thinking is screwed anyway. When viewed through the lens of traditional thinking it makes perfect sense.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, forgiveness. Such a simple idea and yet so hard to achieve. Oh if only I could forgive every "bad boy" that I had the misfortune to come across. But, yet, I guess I have to mainly forgive myself for allowing myself to enter into those destructive relationships. Pretty lady, you are so right on with your post. And the anon previous is right as well. I wish I could break the circle of "trying to heal the world by absorbing a part of its misery" but I, like many of my fellow beautiful ladies, are stuck with a sense, or maybe a desire, to heal and make better. Pretty lady, have you been able to curb this mostly female trait? If so, any wisdom you can pass on?

prettylady said...

I guess I have to mainly forgive myself for allowing myself to enter into those destructive relationships.

Ah. That is the nub of it. All forgiveness begins with the self. Once you have truly forgiven yourself for the thing you feel guilty for, forgiveness of others happens automatically.

have you been able to curb this mostly female trait?

Yes. Repeat after me: "I cannot change (heal) another person. I can only change (heal) myself." Repeat this many many times for many many months, preferably after you have been left shattered and destitute in the gutter by someone you loved utterly.

Remember, by placing the responsibility for healing squarely on the shoulders of the ones who need it, you are treating them with the respect they deserve as sovereign children of God, not as incompetent infants. Thus you are both honoring them and setting them on the path to true healing, should they choose to accept it.

Bobert said...

The reason I said you should delete that line about "She is trying to heal the world by absorbing a part of its misery.", is because all saying something like that does is provide a high degree of unearned and unjustified validation for bad conduct and poor choices.

Giving up control, abdicating responsibility and allowing others to make your decisions? All poor choices.

I have never - ever - met a female that was actually trying to absorb a part of the world's misery. Women(and other humans in general) are far to selfish for such altruistic activity. They may claim to be doing such, but in reality? Nah.

But - wowzers - it sure sounds good....


One other thing:

"... have been left shattered and destitute in the gutter..."

Gad, PL, just how many women do you know have been found wet, filthy, bones all busted up(shattered) in a gutter somewhere, having been so viciously tossed there by a lost love?

"Poetic license" being stretched pretty thin there...

Problem with all that is a whole lot of women actually buy into that stuff.

Does sell a hell of a lot of romance novels, so I guess there is some sort of justification for it all, even if it's only greed.

prettylady said...

Women(and other humans in general) are far to selfish for such altruistic activity.

Speak. For. Your. Self.

Problem with all that is a whole lot of women actually buy into that stuff.

YES. THEY DO.

Bobert said...

And you're not in it for the money?

prettylady said...

HA!

Anonymous said...

As usual, PL, you word it beautifully. Thank you for your insight. Of course, you tell me things that I already know but sometimes need it repeated to me by someone other than myself. Respect is always the key. By the way, the painting of yours a few posts back was truly "inspirational". Breathtaking.

danonymous said...

"trying to heal the world by absorbing a part of its misery"

Just to pop in my two cents.....I am of the mind that much of this stuff, for men and for women, is about a misplaced belief that we "can do" something about it when we cannot.

MOst often, I find, that by "being with" what is going on, neither criticizing it nor trying to change it, but not falling into the seductive trap of it, allows the other person to change on their own, and over time. Sort of like letting a child have a temper tantrum, without trying to hush them down. BUt it sure takes a lot of clarity to allow that.....and perhaps the newborn seeds of a personal confidence in the process of love.

prettylady said...

Danny, you said it all.

thimscool said...

If you are still reading this, PL...

How is it that the injury is no longer there to forgive?

Anonymous said...

"I see it all too often. And it bothers the feminist side of my thinking when I see it. Women aren't *supposed* to be that way!"

I'm no so sure.

Biologically I think that is the way they are. The biological woman is that way though the intellectual woman is not 'supposed' to be that way.

Anonymous said...

People come up with all sorts of philosophies about how we should act and how things should be and it is often well intentioned.

But when you replace reality with philosophy you wind up with problems and tensions in society.

prettylady said...

How is it that the injury is no longer there to forgive?

Resurrection, my dear Thims. Eyewitness testimony and all that, compellingly presented enough to stand the test of two thousand years.

thimscool said...

#

prettylady said...

Thank you, Thims! That thread got much more interesting after I stopped reading it, day before yesterday.