Is there any hope?(28 Posts)
Hello, I should probably let you all know that I'm male and apologies for posting here, but I've been doing a lot of reading recently regarding feminism and radical feminism and it's dawned on me how depressing the whole situation is. Femonade and RadfemHub seem to be full of articles on how men are violent, power hungry, selfish etc... and to be honest I can quite understand this point of view just simply looking at examples in my own life of the kind of priviledges I've had compared to my female colleagues, friends and family. Anyway, a couple of those arrticles suggest that this preponderance of men to do these things seems to be inbuilt, i.e. genetic which kind of got me thinking, if this is true what possible solutions are there for Radfems except to remove the Y chromosome from the genepool? Suicide is then on the cards for me!
Now, writing as a man I don't feel as though I have some given rights to exert power over women, (I try not to act in a biased manner but I'm pretty sure at a subconscious level and due to societies scruples I almost certainly do). So I'm kind of thinking that maybe the biological argument isn't necessarily true despite the pretty convincing arguments, and maybe things could change through behaviour/society rather than genetic. Is this the general opinion of feminisim? (yeah, I know generalising about feminism is a pretty dangerous thing to do).
Also, while I'm writing and accepting that this is a sort of stream-of-consciousness like post, I'd like to ask a question or two about PIV and sex in general. I got into the whole feminism thing because I was trying to figure a way out of a sexless marriage, DW I think used to enjoy sex but after a couple of kids and a lack of self confidence that side of our marriage has all but disappeared. After reading up about sex and womens perspectives on it I realised that most of the assumptions I'd made were probably wrong. I.e. I'm not sure she does enjoy it (PIV or other for that matter), or ever did. I understand that society (patriarchy) persuades women that it is for mutual enjoyment, a bonding exercise etc. to try to mask the underlying power exertion, but in reality it seems a lot of women don't necessarily agree with this but have become conditioned. I've tried to speak to DW about this suggesting that this could be a possibility, unfortunately she doesn't like talking much. So I suppose the question is: Is this as common as I suspect? What kind of quantity of women are being pressured into situations like this without consciously realising it? Finally any ideas on the best way to handle it?! I love her and want her and the kids to be happy.
Just realised, this post should probably be split between Feminism and Relationships, but I think I'd rather get the feminist perspective before boraching the subject elsewhere. At least then I should know if my expectations are unreasonable and/or immoral!
Sorry about the long post.
Those are complicated questions and I can only tell you what I think. I think that behaviour is partly biologically determined and partly social conditioning. I think that men can and should (and a great many do) control whatever tendencies towards violence might stem from their biology.
As regards PIV sex I can tell you that I do enjoy it myself. Physically and emotionally. I can't tell you whether I was socially conditioned to enjoy it so I have learned to. But I do enjoy it.
In my opinion, emphasising non PIV sex as a valid and enjoyable activity is most important for people who have low self-confidence and / or are sexually inexperienced. So that they can explore sex in a low risk way and build up their confidence and experience so that they know what they enjoy and how to ask for it. Which might include lots of PIV, or it might not. That would be up to them!
As regards your relationship with your wife, you might be better off posting in relationships. Trying to put myself in her shoes (always dangerous!) I'd say that feminist theory about PIV is less helpful than whether your wife feels happy and fulfilled in her life and your marriage.
I hope that's helpful in some way?
Well I personally think men are on average more violent than women because they are socialised to be so, not because it is a biological chromosome issue.
Re the sex bit, I'm slightly nonplussed by your question. How is it possible to have sex with someone for years and not have any clue if they enjoy it or not?
Re numbers, I don't know of any research, I don't know how many women have crap sex lives with me, but anecdotally it's a helluva lot, just see the relationships threads.
Rather than approaching your DW with theoretical possibilities of what might be bugging her, I would ask her about her particular feelings. But before you do, consider your relationship outside of bed. Are you friends? Do you talk about your day, your worries, your opinions, your concerns? Do you assume that she'll do most of the parenting and housework or do you do your fair share (50%)? Do you do the planning and thinking about domestic work and parenting or do you expect her to do that and then tell you what to do, leaving the ownership of the tasks to her and defining yourself as a helper? Do you support her career and expect her to put it central to her life and help her do that, or do you expect her to be a support to your career without reciprocating?
How you treat your wife outside of bed, is the single biggest influence on how she will feel about you in bed (assuming tht she is heterosexual). Once in bed, do you always assume that PIV is always on the cards following any sexual activity, or is other sex part of the repertoire?
I think you're probably beyond redemption. Join a monastery.
Sigmund did you actually read the OP?
I know he used the F word, you know, the one that triggers your red mist, but it reads to me as though he is trying to understand the issues and make good choices.
He deserves to be taken at face value, IMO.
Why mock? I thought you liked teh menz and think they're oppressed (that is a joke, we have been through a lot together these past few days)
I'm not going to comment on the sex side, because honestly I don't feel qualified to do so.
On the violence, we have never raised boys in an environment that is gender neutral and, IMO, experiments which claim to control for environment rarely do. So my honest answer is that I don't know if there is a genetic element. But I'm an optimist. So why not try changing the social conditioning elements and see what happens? Because my guess is that we are talking about most (even if not all violence), and eradicating most would certainly be a big improvement on now. Plus, if it became utterly socially unacceptable, maybe any genetic element could be overriden by the social element.
Thanks for all the responses everyone.
I had a feeling that trying to tease apart social conditioning and genetic conditioning could be a bit of big subject to broach, it's not as if social/biological scientists haven't been trying to do similar for years after all! However I thought it'd be good to see what the femeinist perspective is on it all.
Buffy - I'll head over to relationships to gauge opinion when I've plucked up the courage, but thanks for your words. You're right of course about being happy and fulfilled. I believe she is, although having two children and being a SAHM is, I think, more effort and stress than I get going out to work everyday. I think I've been looking for as many reasons as possible to try to understand why we've ended up this way and the net I've cast has included feminist theory which has piqued my curiosity. I may be assuming things are more complicated than they really are...
Basil - I hope you're right about the socialised bit, it'll make fixing things easier (only relatively of course, a major upheaval of society isn't an easy thing to do I'd imagine). RE: The sex bit, I've always thought she enjoyed it, but I've seen "When Harry met Sally" and I'm not naive enough to know that I'm quite gullible. The paranoia raised by ongoing rejection doesn't really help with managing an objective appraisal of our relationship either. Thinking about it, counselling could be an option if only for that reason. The "helluva a lot" bit is what worries me, I'd be gutted if I found out she had a cr*p sex life and didn't think I wanted to know.
I have tried to have a conversation about her feelings several times, it usually just comes back to the tired/stressed angle. I'm not sure if there is anything else underlying these, weirdly she's quite happy to talk about her concerns/feelings regarding her family and friends, but when I turn the conversation round to us, there doesn't seem to be anything she'd like me to alter about my behaviour. The housework, parenting etc... when I'm at home is generally split evenly. When I get home in the evening I figure she's spent most of the day looking after them so I'll take over the feeding, bathing, cleaning and most of the bedtime duties. Weekends I try to let her have a lie in and generally get the kids up (she's not as much of a morning person as me!). She does take ownership of the shopping, but that was a choice she made and I have offered to take over that side of things. Cleaning/laundry/household chores are blitzed at the weekend mostly by me, but she keeps on top of the smaller jobs during the day when I'm at work. I think we do a good job of equalising house/family work and I've asked if I can do more to enable her to have more time alone/in bed sleeping, but to no avail. RE: Her career, she has my full support.
RE: Sex, I have in the past assumed PIV was on the cards (to my shame), but have made it clear that it doesn't need to be and her happiness is my primary concern. Maybe my past behaviour is the issue here? Food for thought.
Sigmund - Thanks, made me smile! Rest assured the monastery route isn't an option. There are other more extreme options open but religion is one that I've explored and rejected previously. You may be right about the redemption thing though, I've made some pretty stupid assumptions that have influenced my behaviour in a way that embarasses me now in retropsect.
Amanda - I like your optimism, although the social aspect overiding the genetic aspect raises another aspect I hadn't considered previously. This just gets more and more complicated! It reminds me of Orwell's 1984, the whole doublethink stuff and the fact that we're all a product of our society and can't ever really be objective about ourselves, or each other. Heavy stuff that makes my head hurt.
That's an even longer post, apologies again.
You sound quite lovely keep
How old are your dc? I've been in your wife's position and it can be extremely tiring being at home with small kids. Are you sure that she is OK, in good health physically and mentally?
'Why mock? I thought you liked teh menz and think they're oppressed (that is a joke, we have been through a lot together these past few days)'
We have indeed
The OP is apologising so much for being male, I was a tad annoyed at him.
Reading Radfem blogs is about the last thing he needs, I'd have said. It seems to have induced a kind of apologetic frenzy in him! This isn't going to benefit anybody, and seems to have left him with zero self esteem.
However, I apologise for being flippant OP.
I think he's just reeling from his first glimpses of the view from the other side. Pretty bleak, if you care to look with an open mind.
But I think his approach is intended to be respectful rather than apologetic (sorry to speak for you OP ).
Personally I prefer it to the other opener that male posters tend to employ here, i.e. "look ladies, calm down and get a bit of perspective, I know you feel all overwrought about all this equality stuff that you seem to see everywhere, but listen here..."
DC are 4 and 2 Buffy, I know it's tiring for her (and me), I just can't shake the feeling that there's something else. Just have to try and talk again. She's in good health physically, mentally she's always had low self esteem and she's worried about her post-prgnancy tummy, I think that's pretty standard though.
Sigmund - Fair do's, there does seem to be a fair amount to apologise for though. Radfem blogs are pretty hardcore, but sometimes you need that metaphorical slap-in-the-face to force you to think about things in a manner you wouldn't normally. It has left me a bit depressed though!
Flippancy? I've been a lurker on Mumsnet for long enough to know that flippancy (and worse/better) is to be expected! No apologies necessary.
Have you considered some counselling? If you feel that the issues between you are serious or you're worried about your wife and you're struggling to communicate just the two of you, perhaps that could help?
I really think that relationships is more likely to yield you the answers you are looking for OP. I don't see how a feminist perspective can help you with your really specific personal issue.
And also, if it turns out that you are an entitled misogynistic so and so who bangs the table wanting dinner, expects your pants ironed and so forth, then they are just as likely to set you straight
Thanks Buffy, I'll sign out from here then. I'll pop back to the feminist board when I've seperated my relationship issues from feminism though (if they are separable), can't get rid of me that easily 'cos the subject is too interesting to drop now I've started reading up about it.
Thanks to Sigmund and Amanda too.
Question: have you spoken to yr wife about feminist angle?
How does she feel about it?
...although if you tried to initiate a conversation with your wife about your sex life by analysing the hidden power dynamics of PIV, it's possible that rather than not wanting to discuss it, she was thinking
My advice is separate the theory from the personal, at least for now.
Feminist advice: concentrate on making sure that you are treating your wife as a valued, equal partner and that you are concerned because you want both of you to enjoy a fulfilling sex life. Rid yourself of any lingering entitlement you might feel to 'get some' from her, that your 'manly needs' are being denied
Relationship advice: try and talk to her again without the RadFem PIV theory. Consider counselling to try and resolve any underlying issues. Post in relationships.
'Radfem blogs are pretty hardcore'. No shit!
Femonade and Radfemhub are very extreme. I can assure you that the majority of women would find the views espoused there completely alien to them. It's also bollocks. Do you really think women who are in relationships with men are experiencing 'Stockholm Syndrome'? Really? Stop reading it.
I would consider Buffy's suggestion of counselling. And stop apologising on behalf of your sex. My son's do not require anyone to apologise on their behalf. Good luck finding your answers
Sorry Basil, forgot to thank you too.
Kind of spoken to her about it but not in any great detail. I think she's a lot more practical than me and prefers to view things as they are, rather than look for any deeper meaning which may or may not be there.
I'd like our children to learn about gender/equality issues though and I think it's important for DW (and me) to think about how we're going to answer some of the questions/difficulties that invariably will arise. Having the historical knowledge, philosophy and politics of feminism to hand would probably help in this respect. Having said that, the kids are still quite young, so debating the writing of "the female eunuch" compared to "the equality illusion" is quite a way in the future for us yet!
...it is outside your comfort zone Sigmund, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bollocks.
If you find that these blogs challenge your assumptions OP, keep reading them! You are not obliged to agree with everything they say but they will challenge and develop your worldview.
Oh come on Buffy! 'Stockholm Syndrome'? I can accept that for seriously abusive relationships, but generally? It's just offensive to suggest that that is the case for all heterosexual relationships.
I think that's outside almost all comfort zones TBH. Anyway, I won't be arguing over this one. I just don't like to hear anyone, regardless of sex apologising on behalf of their sex, just smacks of low self-esteem.
Can I recommend a book that you might find interesting/helpful?
Wifework by Susan Maushart.
It might help you both unpick why she is so tired and stressed.
With reference to the sex, I can tell you that yes, it is possible that she has been having PIV sex all these years and not really enjoying it. Your wife's attitudes to sex will almost certainly have been shaped by how she was parented. She may not be ready or able to talk about this. Are you able to identify any attitudes towards sex in your parents-in-law that may be unhealthy or unhelpful?
Sigmund I don't have to agree with every single radfem word ever written to think that even the most extreme sounding ideas can be useful in making us examine our perceptions and prejudices. Even if one's personal conclusion is that no, all women in committed heterosexual partnerships probably don't have Stockholm syndrome (for example).
Why is that idea useful? Because it makes us re-examine the basis of one man one woman relationships and the power dynamics that might exist within them. We see those relationship anew, and have gained a better understanding and empathy for women who stay in abusive relationships (for example).
I suppose so. Although regarding re-examining one man one woman relationships, all relationships are different aren't they.
Yes they are, but also we do make some sweeping assumptions about how they work for most people. For example, we assume that both parties enter them willingly and we assume that if one or both stray then the other is justified in feeling betrayed. Those are just examples.
But the Stockholm theory gives us a new way of looking at those dynamics. Even if we reject the conclusion offered by the radfem blogger, it still gives pause for thought and a series of 'what ifs'. I'm not actually familiar with this argument, by the way, so I am arguing for not dismissing surprising new ideas as "bollocks" without giving them a fair hearing, instead I'm advocating seeing if there is anything of value that they can bring to our understanding of the world.
Thanks for the recommendation Jean, it's one of the books that seems to be on the "must read" list of most Mumsnetters and one I am aware of, just not got round to getting hold of a copy. But I will now.
I think the PILs attitudes certainly played a role in DWs views, but as I said in a previous post I'll try and explore that in Relationships rather than Fem/Womens rights.
The Stockholm Syndrome thing is particularly nasty way of looking at things, I hope there is no truth in it in my marriage, does make you think though. Which is certainly the intent...
I think Stockholm Syndrome is certainly a real thing in abusive relationships and in those which wouldn't formally be described as abusive, but where someone is treated as a sort of convenient object that fucks and picks up socks.
Lots of cognitive dissonance needed to deal with that sort of treatment
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