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Why can't he be supportive?

(71 Posts)
sleepingwiththeenemy Sun 30-Aug-09 23:56:00

Hi lovely ladies.
I wanted to ask your opinions on something. I have been planning for about 2 years now to set up workshops for women in self confidence. Not the usual stuff, lots of emphasis on fun and laughter. I am a therapist by trade, and have also taken diplomas in counselling, applied psychology and sexual therapy. My idea is to offer workshops for women whose self esteem has been battered for whatever reason...abuse, toxic parents, parenthood or just life in general. It would include sessions on body language, flirting (not necessarily sexual, more in everyday situations) and also a session in maybe burlesque (fully clothed) or belly dancing etc...all things to make them aware of themselves as feminine and beautiful, how to deal with other people and turn situations to their best advantage.
I saw so many women in the refuge when I was in there who had amazing strength, that I just felt that I would love to be able to do something to put them back on top again.
So...I was discusiing this with my 'partner' (fairly new relationship) and was so unprepared for his response. I am apparently a man hating lesbian type, who is blaming all women's problems on men! It's sexist to offer the workshops for women only blah blah...
I am the least man hating woman I know! But I am also in complete awe of women's character and survival instinct. I told him that if the women's course went well I would develop one for men...that was wrong too as he said 'I wouldn't want you in a room with a dozen men who you've taught to flirt, all coming on to you'!!!!! I told him it wasn't flirting as he understood it and he then said 'huh, women get dressed up for men, they wear nice underwear for men etc'. I was furious....most women I know dress up for themselves!!!! And nice underwear makes them feel feminine.
Now he's trying to muscle in and control the whole thing! I have run my own business before (he hasn't) and I'm experienced in this field (he isn't) but he is now dictating who I should offer it to, where I should hold it, how I should market it....
I can't bloody win angry

mamas12 Mon 31-Aug-09 00:13:52

O oh doesn't sound very intelligent or enlightened of him does it. Sorry, but it's really down to you whether or not you start off in a relationship with always trying to justify yourself.
why not find someone who will thoughtfully support you in whatever you decide to do.

sleepingwiththeenemy Mon 31-Aug-09 00:20:10

Mamas12...you're so right. I spent years being controlled and told I was no good at anything and couldn't do anything on my own. I've now built myself back up again and the feelings of panic that welled up when oh started putting me down and trying to take over....no way!!!
I think he feels threatened that I know what I want to do, and will go out and do it. He wants me to give up my house and move into his. He wants my password to the computer and e mail addresses. He wants me to throw out my bed because I slept with another man in it when we weren't even together!!!!!!

ChookKeeper Mon 31-Aug-09 00:42:04

sleeping - I'd also suggest he wants ...... a smack across the head grin

mamas12 Mon 31-Aug-09 00:42:21

Oh no you're making it sound worse now.
Do you really need permission to elbow him?
Be kind to yourself and stop allowing him to put you through this.

hambler Mon 31-Aug-09 00:59:40

I was going to defend him by saying some people just don't get the sort of stuff you are trying to do.

Then you said the bit about him wanting you to chuck out your bed and wanting your computer passwords. That is ridiculous

mathanxiety Mon 31-Aug-09 01:21:18

You really are sleeping with the enemy. Stop before you end up in a shelter. He is a cave man. You are a therapist by trade? Then you should not need MN to tell you this man is not worth a minute of your attention.

Servalan Mon 31-Aug-09 01:31:28

Eeesh! I'm afraid I hear very loud alarm bells. Especially with the throwing the bed out/needing your computer password stuff. Why are you with this man? The relationship you are describing here sounds the complete antithesis to the workshops you propose to run.

The workshops sound fantastic BTW. It just seems ironic that while you want to put so much energy into helping women find their confidence, at the same time you are involving yourself with such a controlling man who could potentially sap all of yours.

I could be way off here - I'm just going on what you have posted on this thread so far, but he sounds bad news TBH.

mathanxiety Mon 31-Aug-09 06:25:09

Yes servalan, there's so much irony here. You need one of your own (fab by the way) workshops.

tribpot Mon 31-Aug-09 07:05:54

Have you done the Pattern Changing course with Women's Aid. Because it sounds like you haven't changed the pattern. Just because he's not physically abusing you doesn't mean he isn't trying to control you.

sleepingwiththeenemy Mon 31-Aug-09 11:29:26

Hi ladies...don't worry, I am not allowing him to dictate any behaviour. I have my own home with the children which I have built up from nothing into a lovely home and I am no way giving it up. I am keeping my bed. I will no way give him my password (not that I do anything which I'm ashamed of on here but it's the principal)...
He's trying to dictate to me but I'm not allowing it so in that sense yes...I have learnt lessons from my past. However I do acknowledge that I myself will need some form of counselling (see my other thread 'witness protection in court'.
I'm not really running the courses from a relationship point of view, it is purely for women to be able to walk heads held high and to feel good about themselves. To be in touch with their own bodies and, to coin a phrase, release their inner goddess smile.
Incidentally, when I told my mum what I was planning to do she was horrified...why do people assume that a group of women together = lesbians??? She said it would be depressing having 'all those bloody women moaning' and I should just get a desk job in an office! That is SO not me grin

sleepingwiththeenemy Mon 31-Aug-09 11:30:36

Tribpot...no I haven't done that course, but I may well have to, just in case. Old habits die hard don't they?

Fruitysunshine Mon 31-Aug-09 11:33:13

Sleepingwiththeenemy: I will sign up for your first course! I need some help with my self-esteem and confidence!

womenfirst Mon 31-Aug-09 14:44:41

Hi Sleeping.

I think its great that you're not allowing him to dictate your behaviour, you obviously understand that that is exactly what he is trying to do. But you need to ask yourself if you want to be with someone who is even trying to do this. Do you want to have to constantly fight your corner, stick up for your rights and stand up to him? There are a lot of red flags here, a lot. You have obviously been involved in an abusive relationship before, can you remember how that started out? From my experience it can start out a lot like this, little things that don't seem like that big a deal, that you can handle perfectly well and you feel like you are in control. But over the years it wears you down, it starts to become more and more and you start to give in because it makes your life a lot easier and so on until you know where you might end up.
Only you know what is really going on and only you can make the decision whether to put up with this or not but the fact that you are worrying about it is a big red flag in itself, especially the fact that you say

"feelings of panic that welled up when oh started putting me down and trying to take over."

Those feelings are trying to help you and they are very important. I would hesitate a guess that you are (conciously or not) recognising the similarity here between how you feel when your new partner is doing what you mentioned to how you felt when your ex did something you know now was so wrong. The feelings you are experiencing are trying to warn you and your body is making you panic, it wants you to run away. You really need to listen to what you are feeling, it is the most accurate guide of what is really going on and will tell you everything you need to know, much more so than people on these boards or even your own logical thought. Please don't ignore it.

Also, please don't feel bad that you may have been caught in the same trap again. These men are very good at what they do, if they weren't no woman would go near them. In the beginning of the relationship if they were recognisably abusive then you would run a mile because you would have nothing much invested in the relationship, hopefully lots of confidence and self esteem, and nothing to loose. They don't start out like that because they know very well that they wouldn't keep you if they did. They start out fantastic to hook you in but there are always these little red flags- you have done so well and learnt so much to be able to recognise them in time. So don't feel bad about yourself. Tribpots idea for the pattern changing course is a really good one- it will help you even more and give you more confidence to trust yourself and your instincts.

I think what you are trying to do in setting up confidence classes is amazing and so admirable. But I have two suggestions if you are interested.
The first is to help yourself first. I think you should go on as many different confidence building classes that you can, read as many confidence building books that you can, and additionally get support and advice from people who work with victims of domestic violence if these are going to be one of the groups of women that you are interested in helping. You could even see about volunteering at a domestic violence helpline or something, whatever is available or appeals to you. This will be excellent research for seeing how other professionals work, the kind of exercises they do, the kind of advice that they give and will help you identify areas which you think they might be missing, things that your classes could address. And it will also help your own confidence, even if you don't think you need help, it could just be about helping you have the confidence to go for it with your business idea! I would recommend three books for you to read for starters- A Woman In Your Own Right by Anne Dickson, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft.

My second suggestion is that you really think about what you want the women to get out of the classes you are proposing. All your research will help you understand what things will be important for them. The reason I'm saying this is because (and please don't take this the wrong way, its not meant as criticism for what you are trying to do) I'm not sure that classes in flirting and burlesque are quite right for what I think you are trying to do. (Again this is just my opinion and I could be completely wrong here.) You spoke so passionately about the strength of the women you saw in refuges, in my mind there is just so many more positive ways to encourage this kind of inner strength rather than helping them to conform in a world where flirting helps you get ahead. Yes, turning situations to their best advantage is a good idea, but what about teaching them to ask directly and assertively for what they want, need, expect and are entitled too as human beings, rather than showing them how to use their feminine wiles to get what they want and feel good about themselves? It does so much more for my confidence and sense of self worth when I just actually ask for what I want directly as one human being to another, rather than charming someone to get what I want. Even though the end result is the same, by doing it my way I feel like I am rejecting the system that expects me, as a woman, to be submissive, attractive, flirtatious and charming in my interactions, something which is not expected of men. Why can't I just ask for what I need as a human being rather than resorting to what can sometimes feel like underhand tactics? Do you see what I mean? I'm going to recommend another book- The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.

Sorry if this is a bit of a feminist rant!

Best of luck to you Sleeping, whatever you decide to do. x

sleepingwiththeenemy Mon 31-Aug-09 15:21:57

Hi womenfirst...I think maybe I'm doing myself an injustice by using the word 'flirting'..as that conjurs up the wrong image. This is nothing to do with attracting men, or playing up to them, and even burlesque (or belly dancing) or whatever else is purely to allow women to enjoy themselves and see themselves as beautiful rather than 'just' a mum, or a wife, or an ex or a daughter....is any of this making sense?
I've read Lundy Bancroft...brilliant book. It helped me a great deal. It's very early stages and there is a great deal of work to be done before I get the wording and content right, but my motives are good grin

ABetaDad Mon 31-Aug-09 15:26:35

sleepingwiththeenemy - I totally agree with the point that womenfirst made:

"....but what about teaching them to ask directly and assertively for what they want, need, expect and are entitled too as human beings, rather than showing them how to use their feminine wiles to get what they want and feel good about themselves?"

Me and DW used to work in one of the most sexist industries in the world and frankly women were accepted if they were flirtatious and submissive. This was and still is always wrong.

Yes I am a bloke and DW is no feminist but teaching women to use voice tone, body language and modes of assertive communication that men use might be better. In my personal experience, acting workshops, role play, and public speaking training are good ways of doing this.

Burlesque?. Belly Dancing? Forgive me if I am wrong but surely that just originates in a tradition of semi naked dancing for the entertainment of men? I strongly agree that women need to feel more self confident about their bodies but perhaps a different route might be better. Perhaps classes teaching women how to dress with confidence for different occassions and for their shape and age might be better.

I do not agree with your DP's at all.

Good luck with the business - lots of professional women might well also be interested if you are interested in thinking of alternative target markets. smile

ABetaDad Mon 31-Aug-09 15:26:36

sleepingwiththeenemy - I totally agree with the point that womenfirst made:

"....but what about teaching them to ask directly and assertively for what they want, need, expect and are entitled too as human beings, rather than showing them how to use their feminine wiles to get what they want and feel good about themselves?"

Me and DW used to work in one of the most sexist industries in the world and frankly women were accepted if they were flirtatious and submissive. This was and still is always wrong.

Yes I am a bloke and DW is no feminist but teaching women to use voice tone, body language and modes of assertive communication that men use might be better. In my personal experience, acting workshops, role play, and public speaking training are good ways of doing this.

Burlesque?. Belly Dancing? Forgive me if I am wrong but surely that just originates in a tradition of semi naked dancing for the entertainment of men? I strongly agree that women need to feel more self confident about their bodies but perhaps a different route might be better. Perhaps classes teaching women how to dress with confidence for different occassions and for their shape and age might be better.

I do not agree with your DP's at all.

Good luck with the business - lots of professional women might well also be interested if you are interested in thinking of alternative target markets. smile

mamas12 Mon 31-Aug-09 15:27:58

womenfirst what a good post. I too felt a little uncomfortable with the becoming assertive through attracting men aspect of your courses sleeping. Women don't need to have mens approval or be admired that way, I'm sure you know that really. Good luck with working it all out I think the whole process will be as valuable to you as it is to other women who seek out your help.

Nancy66 Mon 31-Aug-09 15:28:08

sounds like you need to go on one of your own courses.

sorry, but I think it's a bit rich that you intend to try and counsel other women when you clearly haven't broken your own cycle of going for losers.

sleepingwiththeenemy Mon 31-Aug-09 15:29:35

And I just re read your post womenfirst, and I think maybe I came across as wanting to target women straight or newly out of abusive relationships...I would no way try and influence vulnerable women (of which I have been one myself)...that would be very wrong of me. I only mentioned abuse survivors because I know how low your self esteem can be after such a situation (this is in fact why it has taken me more than 2 years to reach this point...I simply wasn't up to it before emotionally). If you think of the way Gok Wan gets women to feel good about themselves in 'how to look good naked', that's the feeling I want to achieve. They may be women who have no confidence walking into a job interview, or a crowded pub, or something as simple as asking a shop assistant where something is in a shop. Some might be married, or in relationships, or single. It's nothing to do with attracting men, or using feminine wiles...but if you can achieve something with a smile it makes the world a much nicer place.
But I do understand what you said grin

ErikaMaye Mon 31-Aug-09 15:30:37

I think your course sounds absolutely fantastic - I wish I had the finances and official qualifications to allow me to do something along the same lines! You're going to benefit so many people. Your DP is being an arse Good luck with everything, you should be really pleased with what you've achieved!

sleepingwiththeenemy Mon 31-Aug-09 15:32:03

Firstly Nancy I am not proposing to counsel anyone.
Secondly I have said several times that this is nothing to do with attracting men. far from it. And submissive????? I'm sorry, but I think you have misunderstood the whole concept.

sleepingwiththeenemy Mon 31-Aug-09 15:35:01

ABeta Dad...I'm very aware of the word flirtatious....I know it's the wrong word but in place of something more appropriate I used that. I don't for one minute mean flicking of the hair, dazzling smiles and pawing over men to get what you want! That would be wrong and I would not be encouraging anyone to do that. It is about the small gestures, smiling rather than frowning if you like. Basically just being a nice person.

sleepingwiththeenemy Mon 31-Aug-09 15:36:30

Sorry...another point to make is that burlesque was just one of many options and it is FULLY CLOTHED! As is belly dancing, which is a fantastic method of exercise. I'm not persuading women to put on shows for men, just to be comfortable with their bodies.

Nancy66 Mon 31-Aug-09 15:43:05

Gok Wan exploits women for the sake of TV ratings.

I think you're spectacularly missing the point and the irony of your post Sleeping.

You should be running for the hills from your current relationship.

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