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New (male) poster - just...why??

(47 Posts)
sealift Tue 04-Feb-14 15:38:09

I'm a new poster. And genuine. My wife is on Mumsnet and I thought I'd come over here to have a nosey, found myself on the relationships board What a thoroughly depressing eye-opener. I guess I've had a very conventional life and, despite the normal ups and downs in my marriage, just have no experience or real understanding of some of the terrible, terrible things that women on here describe their partners and husbands doing to them.

My question is...well, why? I mean, assuming this is quite a widespread occurrence in the UK, what's wrong with these men; what caused them? The example they were given (or not given) when they were growing up; something about our society and culture that encourages or permits it?

I'm just genuinely interested in views (and no, I'm not a journalist). Obviously the women who post here are self-selecting so you can't necessarily draw conclusions about all men in the UK from their testimonies and stories. But...there's just so many brutal and horrific stories. They never seem to stop.

Keepithidden Tue 04-Feb-14 15:44:37

I was in a similar situation last year (except DW doesn't Mumsnet, as far as I know). Head over to the Feminism and Womens Rights section and there'll be plaenty of answers there.

It's mostly due to Power, the way society is set up and the ability of humans to segreate and treat those different to themselves as lesser beings, be it by race, age... ...or gender.

Keepithidden Tue 04-Feb-14 15:46:34

Forgot to say, it sent me into a bit of a spiral of emotions about my gender and my role in it all. It's shameful that so many of my gender treat others in this way. Try not to take it personally though, it'll get you down if you do.

sealift Tue 04-Feb-14 15:51:12

Yes, I guess it's a very complicated issue.

But just how widespread is it? How often is it the case that women meet men who are abusive, controlling, violent etc?

I guess I have a vested interest in this having two young boys and being (at the same time) completely baffled how lovely little boys like them (they are 6 and 3) could possibly turn out to be like the men described on this board but also being very very fearful that they could do. Probably not explaining that very well.

Perhaps an awful thing to say, but I'm glad when I read some of these threads to have sons and not daughters.

DavidTwattenborough Tue 04-Feb-14 15:51:21

Hi Sealift, welcome to mumsnet!

I don't know why some men (not all men, just the twats, misogynists, sexists and abusers) treat the women in their lives so badly. I find the relationships board pretty shocking sometimes too. I do think sexism & misogyny & rape culture are all contributing factors that encourage some men (again, not all men) to be dicks to women.

One thing that I think men can do to help is to challenge sexism & misogyny where they see it. By their nature, sexist men are more likely to listen to challenges by other men than they are from challenges from women, so challenging it where you see it is one way that men can really help us.

Ya mind if I spam the thread with a few links? I've been collecting these over the past few months & I think you might like them:

"On Labelling Women 'crazy'"

"101 ways for men to be an ally to women"

VivaLeBeaver Tue 04-Feb-14 15:53:49

Partly I think for every woman who posts about domestic abuse, affairs, etc there are a hundred or more women who are ok in their relationships.

Saying that some men are total shits. I work as a midwife and see a fair amount of women who are being cheated on, who are being abused or who have partners who just don't respect them and treat them like crap.

I do think something in society has badly changed in the last 50 years which has affected not just how men treat their partners but how people treat others in general. The road rage attacks, the violence on a Saturday night in town, etc. no idea what though but it seems more accepted/common now.

DavidTwattenborough Tue 04-Feb-14 15:54:47

I guess I have a vested interest in this having two young boys and being (at the same time) completely baffled how lovely little boys like them (they are 6 and 3) could possibly turn out to be like the men described on this board but also being very very fearful that they could do. Probably not explaining that very well.

The best thing you can do is to raise your boys as feminists! Teach them to respect women & treat them as human beings, and to always do their share of the housework.

Rooners Tue 04-Feb-14 15:56:22

I have the same fears for my children.

I hope they are unfounded but it terrifies me to think they might come undone when they enter the world of relationships.

I think for most men who abuse, it comes from a place of the abused.

They have grown up either in a very misogynistic world where men regularly treat women as inferior and initiate their sons into this view from a really early age.

Or where men attack women/abuse their mothers in their homes. They witness it and they copy it.

Or they are themselves abused. A partner I had was a serially violent abuser before I knew him - I didn't know about it for a while, but when I was told, I finished it immediately. In fact I'd already finished it as he showed some odd behaviours.

It was still a shock to find out.
But interestingly, and in a way unsurprisingly, I was also told that he was abused by his own father from an early age - beaten and so on.

So, what was he to do when he felt angry but the same as his old man - whom he would not hear a bad word against, and this man was himself in his 50s, his father long dead.

I guess that's why, sometimes. Abuse breeds abuse.

sealift Tue 04-Feb-14 15:57:45

Thanks David - will have a look at those.

Keepithidden - you're absolutely right. I sort of feel a sense of shame.

The worst of it is almost not the actions of the men involved, but how they damage the women. You can hear how broken, confused and empty they feel in those threads.

I actually wonder whether the men concerned really understand the damage they are doing, or even consciously intend to do what they do. Maybe some of it is operating almost at the sub-conscious level. Which of course does not even begin to excuse any of it. I just can't really get my head around that one human being would deliberately inflcit that on another.

Jan45 Tue 04-Feb-14 16:02:05

You are either a shit person or you are not, and remember we usually only hear what the women are going through, there's plenty women who are cheating on their partners too.

DadOnIce Tue 04-Feb-14 16:06:51

Don't forget that it's only in the last 10 years that a forum like this, gathering together everyone's bad experiences in one place, could have existed. Not to belittle anyone's experience at all, but as someone says above there will be 100 happy relationships for every problem posted on here. People only tend to post about happy relationships if invited - e.g. the occasional "Tell us something nice your DH/DP has done for you" thread.

I used to find it all depressing too, until someone said something akin to the above.

sealift Tue 04-Feb-14 16:08:24

Viva - I'm interested in that. Have things really got worse in the past 50 years? We're certainly a different society now, and arguably we are much more equal in terms of the opportunities available to women - whether in the workplace or personal life.

I can't believe that people (men) have so fundamentally changed in character in such a short time. Hopefully it is harder to hide abusive behaviour now than it used to be, so maybe we are just more aware of it?

Meerka Tue 04-Feb-14 16:10:38

far as I can see, there's some bleak reasons why people behave so. (bleak behaviour, bleak reasons). There's no simple answer but a mix of reasons why people act like this.

1) Not taught to treat others with consideration and respect. Not taught that everyone has a right to exist as well as just them ... comes down to "play nice together and share your toys" at its most basic. True at 5, true at 55. If it doesnt sink in that others have as much right as you to exist and be treated well, you tend to think that you are the most important person and others don't matter. Therefore in the everyday conflicts, you come first.

2) Even when taught consideration and respect, it doesn't stick with some people. Some people simply don't care about others. They could, but they don't. That simple.

3) Very badly hurt people can sometimes live with profound anger and this spills over into their closest companions. Then it becomes habit, they feel better having hit something and got a reaction and hurt someone else, it becomes ingrained and they can't see why they shouldnt.

4) sadly, historically might has often = right. Some people still live by that. You aren't as strong, you have to knuckle under. "I can hit you so I will until you do what I want, or until I feel better". The only cure is for someone like that to be brought up sharp; very similar to behaving worse and worse until you come up agaisnt the police and then realise you can't get away with some behaviour, so you don't do it again. The more power one side has, the more they tend to think they are entitled to get what they want by whatever means.

5) I'll get flamed for this but I stand by it. Men are often the ones with swinging fists (though not in my biological mother's family, there it was her). But there are some women who behave in appallingly cruel and wicked ways and taunt, push and enrage the folk near them until they break out in physical violence.

6) Manipulation, which is violence's subtler sibling, gets results. Sure, it's shitty and contemptible. But it gets results. Specially if you feel powerless to get what you want by open, honest communication ... Or if you want your goals regardless of what it costs anyone else.

7) The more patriarchal the culture, the worse the various forms of abuse. Point 4, really.

8) I can't point to the evidence on this, but I believe that in a very very few cases, some people are born with an instinctive enjoyment of hurting others. the man who killed Baby P seems to have been like that. Early intervention is needed to help these very few people learn better ways of acting. Again, I do believe these are very rare cases, much less common than perhaps some papers would have us believe.

9) I do think this tends to be more of a masculine-thing, but a sense of ownership of the people near them. Allied to that is outrage when people don't do what they want. Hence the vindictiveness of some people towards partners who have left, the beatings and very occasionally the killings. "you're mine and if I can't have you, no one will".

I would also say that some men behave appallingly, but so do some women. If you've read enough here to realise how terribly some men behave, then you've read enough to realise how terribly some women behave too.

Kind of wondering if i'll get flamed now, but here goes <hits post>

TinselTownley Tue 04-Feb-14 16:11:46

There's a great deal of danger in getting bogged down in the 'why?'. That's what kept me reeled in for years. I have always been utterly bewildered as to how my ex could do what he did - over and over - to me and his children. I could never fathom it so believed - on some level - the explanation he gave: that it was me, my fault and my responsibility.

I'm still as clueless as ever. Is it a mental health problem? The result of abuse he suffered as a child? A personality disorder? I have no idea. The minute I start to analyse though, I have to reign myself in and remember that - whatever the reason - I did not deserve the ongoing verbal and emotional abuse, the permanent egg-shell walking or the callous mishandling Olof the hopes and dreams I invested in us.

That way madness lies.

hiddenhome Tue 04-Feb-14 16:12:14

My husband isn't abusive, but he picked up on many disrespectful ways from his father. I'm now living with these things and I worry in case ds picks up on them now and carries them forward.

TinselTownley Tue 04-Feb-14 16:13:45

I have no idea who 'Olof' is but I like to think of him as a kind, Swedish sauna inventor who - one day - will teach me what it's like to have a grown up relationship where both parties get a little of what they want!

forumdonkey Tue 04-Feb-14 16:13:48

It's a bit like being sat in the doctors waiting room and saying why is nearly everybody ill?

It's a forum for advice and support so posters tend to post problems. I understand where you're coming from OP about how depressing it can seem at times but that's the nature of the beast.

nobutreally Tue 04-Feb-14 16:15:14

I (I'm female) found it shocking too when I joined mn - and what I found esp shocking was how many women couldn't initially see how badly they were being treated, and accepted their situation as normal/just how it is.

I think the 'for every bad story there are 10 women who just aren't posting that they are ok' is a slight get-out. I don't doubt it is true to an extent: of course women will be more likely to post on an anonymous, supportive forum. We are less likely to hear about these stories from our friends in RL - shame, embarrassment etc.

So what we hear on mn may be over-representative, but what we hear in real life may be under-representative.

As for why? I have a pile of work I should be doing, but as others have said, FWR will sort you out smile

Jan45 Tue 04-Feb-14 16:21:27

I also think women in general are more inclined to think they should work at making it better, we always want to fix things and are still seen as the nurturers and care givers.

We won't give up on someone or something until we feel we've exhausted all avenues, possibly a good trait but could be seen as a bad one too.

BlueSkySunnyDay Tue 04-Feb-14 16:22:43

As someone says there are plenty of us in happy balanced relationships. If I am tired or uninspired DH will cook tea, I get a coffee in bed every morning before getting up. People say "oh arent you lucky" well no, im not - I wouldnt have married him and would have stayed single if my only choice was some of the men I read about on here.

Im guessing that the worse offenders come from homes where they have learnt this behaviour is "normal" what are his parents like? Is a question I often ask on relationship threads as the close are, more often than not in their relationship (having had a horrible failed relationship with a man from a seriously disfunctional family when I was younger)

Part of the problem is that some women have so low self esteem that they will put up with this shit because for some reason we still tell ourselves that the ideal is "to be in a relationship" You cant stop someone, and are not responsbile for someone trying to treat you badly but you are complicit if you continue to let them do so. I started a thread recently where we discussed the whole "staying together for the sake of the children" farce and the ongoing issues that can cause the children involved in this situation.

I do worry about how our boys will grow up - obviously they see that their Dad and I have an equal relationship. They know I will tell Dad loud and fast if I feel he is being unreasonable (which goes both ways)

In DS1s group of friends the majority come from families where Mum & Dad are not together any more - and the racism, sexism, anger issues, jealousy over new families does seem to make them quite difficult angry boys. Im not saying that as "all children where parents are separated are like this" but just that within his group where Mum & Dad are busy with careers and new partners/familes I think they possibly feel its the way to get attention, I dont know. Im pretty sure that a child from a split family given time, attention and knowing its parents love it will grow up to be a balanced adult.

Jan45 Tue 04-Feb-14 16:23:11

I also think (dives for cover) that women are more considerate, kinder and dare I say it, have a lot more common sense and insight into consequences than what a lot of men have.

sealift Tue 04-Feb-14 16:24:33

Tinsel - I get that. I have the luxury of wondering "why?" from a very secure position. Impossible to quite put myself in your position. But I think I'd probably torture myself in wanting to know the reason why. And it would probably take some time to get to the conclusion you did, which is: other than knowing you did not in any way deserve the abuse, nothing else really matters.

Meerka Tue 04-Feb-14 16:28:03

also, yes, lots of people happy in their relationships around too =)

I suspect that violence was worse 100 or 50 years ago, but a lot more hidden. No proof ofc, only that it's seen as much less acceptable overall now and I do think that will hold some people back. Also it's easier for women to walk out of a violent relationship. The mental bullying can hold them captive, but financial, religious and societal/cultural pressures to stay are nowhere near as strong

It'd be interesting to know the true statistics of countries where women still cannot really leave.

Callani Tue 04-Feb-14 16:28:07

Can I just say how uplifting I've found your post and the responses here.

The best way you can ensure your boys don't turn out like these awful men is to do exactly what you're doing - be aware of what could happen and educate them properly so they don't grow up with entitlement issues which then turn into "I'm a man and I know best".

BlueSkySunnyDay Tue 04-Feb-14 16:30:45

"It's a bit like being sat in the doctors waiting room and saying why is nearly everybody ill?"

I do agree with this - I wouldnt come onto relationships and say "oh im so lucky, my marriage is wonderful, my children are brilliant" because quite honestly a) its tempting fate and b) its insensitive. I see "relationships" as a place for problems and questions not bosting.

LOL at OLOF - are you on a phone? Mine stitches me up quite frankly mystified by some of its predictitve words and have actually googled some of them!!

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