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I think I am actually speechless. Apparently the reason why men bolt is because

(94 Posts)
UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Sat 24-Nov-12 22:02:43

... They are not respected enough by their wives.

Tim Lott's column from the Guardian today:

"I'm going to stick my trembling head above the parapet this week and reveal what men secretly talk about when the women aren't around – at least the men I've known over the past 20 or so years. Contrary to myth, they hardly ever talk about sex. They almost never bitch about other men. They do talk about football, music, films, television and politics. They do value humour highly. They banter, josh and wind up. And sometimes they talk about their marriages.

Some men are happy in their marriages and don't have much to say. Others are reluctant to speak out. But many are frustrated. None of these men are cavemen. Most are fully signed up to feminism in one form or another. Yet the same issues crop up time and again.

Those dissatisfactions in full:

1) Credit. Husbands with children feel they don't get enough credit from their wives. This is especially true when the man is the main wage earner. Going to work every day and taking financial responsibility tends to be seen as a privilege, an "escape" from childcare. But like childcare itself, a nine-to-five job can be a privilege and a burden.

2) Respect. Husbands sometimes feel they don't get enough respect from their wives, who stereotype them as childish and failing to address their responsibilities properly. Men are infantilised. But perhaps men are just living up to expectations.

3) Priorities. Men are a low priority for their wives compared with work, children, friends etc. I once asked my wife to draw up a list of her life priorities. I think I scraped in at about fourth.

Please, sceptical women readers, whose lips I sense curling collectively, don't write in with comments such as "diddums" and "It's your turn to feel like that after six centuries". It's crass and dull. Children need fathers, as well as mothers, whom they can look up to.

Perhaps wives would also feel better if they respected their husbands more. I have mentioned before that I attended a marriage course last year. It taught a very shocking thing – that you should put your partner first. Not your children, or your work, or your friends. To a lot of women that is a cop-out, a throwback to the 1950s. But wouldn't they expect to be put first? Yet this expectation can be a one-way street. To many modern women, a man is seen as ultimately dispensable. Perhaps he is. But you can't expect any man to welcome the news.

It is easy to sideline these observations as whining. But perhaps that's just a way of not facing reality. Fifty years of feminism has meant that the grievances of the wife are sanctified in a way that the grievances of a husband are not. If a woman has a problem, it tends to be taken seriously. If a man has a problem, it tends to be waved away or patronised out of existence.

(Or so men tell me. So don't shoot the messenger. Anyway, this isn't a story about "women", but people in long-term relationships.)

To make sure that no one felt I was speaking out of turn, I emailed this article to half a dozen mates. No one did. The replies were not angry. They were moving and rather sad. Many men nowadays don't, on the whole, feel great about themselves. Men suffer from low self-esteem just as much as women do.

Wives can choose to listen or not. All I can note is that in all the relationships I've seen die over the past 10 years, it's always been the man who bolts. Perhaps it is that allegedly intractable male vice of irresponsibility.

Or perhaps there are valid reasons that the refractions of gender politics renders invisible – and the wilful blindness only becomes apparent when it's too late."

TunipTheVegedude Wed 28-Nov-12 15:56:28

I laughed at his claim that most of his friends are fully signed up to feminism in one form or another. I wonder which form that would be then.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Wed 28-Nov-12 16:02:01

Turnip probably the form where the wife STFU and pats him on the head for being a grown up.

grin Alameda

drjohnsonscat Wed 28-Nov-12 17:09:49

tunip I'm guessing it's the form that allows you to be right-on as a man, and bag yourself a vaguely thinking woman as a wife, and go on about how much you love your daughters but doesn't go as far as actually understanding what feminism means. And yes it does mean that men are no longer superior - they are not lesser - they're just the same as us. Tim does not like it really.

I'm guessing Tim would not be cool with knowing that Fox News have exactly the same viewpoint as him:

Prepare to want to bleach your own eyes after reading this.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 28-Nov-12 19:46:34

Really liking some of the comments on this thread, you are all much better at articulating how I felt reading it.

I don't particularly expect credit for being the bread winner (how I hate that phrase). I had a job before I met DH and we had a child, he didn't congratulate me for being employed then nor does he now.

And if my partner didn't respect me I wouldn't bolt, I would first check to see if I was doing something to cause that feeling and if not, actually talk it through with them.

A couple of years ago DH (SAHP) told me nicely but bluntly that I wasn't pulling my weight at home. I sulked, complained and self-pitied for about half a day before deciding that he was right. So I got off my high "but I work full time and provide for the family" horse and started doing more cooking, housework etc. I was embarrassed that I had to be told.

EldritchCleavage Fri 30-Nov-12 15:57:11

Well, the message in our group of friends seems to be that, as HolyGhost pointed out, there is just so much work involved in being a parent, and any lack of commitment to doing it is corrosive to a marriage.

DH is a SAHD and does hear plenty of those sorts of dismissive comments about men that Tim Lott seems to be talking about, and DH hates it. But that's from a particular minority of women. And that attitude usually seems to stem from the experience of being with a man who thinks as long as he brings in a wage you can ask him for nothing else, not even respect or fidelity.

It just shows to me that while most men would accept that they'd lose the respect of their fellow men if they behave like twerps, they think respect from women should be a given. Always.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 30-Nov-12 16:43:56

drjohsnsonscat I clicked on that fox news link, and the words "women are not women any more" flashed into my sight and I had to kill the tab immediately... Don't think I can handle reading it. grin

legojunkie Fri 30-Nov-12 16:50:24

Has he got a bag o'shite book to sell?

Altocumulus Mon 03-Dec-12 17:30:56


As a male in a long term relationship I found myself agreeing with much of what Tim Lott said, and think most of those dismissive commenters above rather prove his point. He has an important message and it is sad (but somehow doesn’t surprise me) that his heartfelt sentiments have been met with the mainly sneery responses above.

Looking at my own, and many of my friends’ relationships, it struck me some time ago that there is often something rather unhealthy about British middle-class women’s treatment of their partners. Lott focuses on the lack of respect, the lack of credit and the low priority the male partner is given, and I have seen this many times in relationships where the husband makes clear his commitment to, and love for, his partner.

I have one friend who is a stand-out bloke, good provider, helps about the house, is always supportive of his wife and has brought up two of the loveliest kids. Whilst I consider his wife a friend, I absolutely hate the way she complains about him behind his back, sneers about his (few) failings and shows mild contempt for him whenever they’re in company. And this is learned behaviour - her mother was exactly the same with her father.

That is an extreme example, but I would say that a good half of my UK friends and family’s relationships show a similar, if less extreme, syndrome. Yes, I’m sure it cuts the other way as well, with many men behaving badly to their partners, but the point here is that Lott is making a specific point that is very rarely discussed.

And this seems to be a particularly British thing. My own relationships in the past with French and American partners have been quite different in this respect.

Here’s UK-based but French-born columnist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet in last Saturday’s Telegraph:
“English women (seem to) prefer their dogs or their horses to their boyfriends (or husbands).”

Darkesteyes Mon 03-Dec-12 17:33:56

helps about the house,

See phrases like this imply that you think its the womans job. Oh and im working class by the way.

Darkesteyes Mon 03-Dec-12 17:39:39

Heres some food for thought that Tim Lott didnt mention in his article. I wonder why! hmm

Darkesteyes Mon 03-Dec-12 17:45:07

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Mon 03-Dec-12 21:03:32

I agree that familiarity can breed contempt, in LTRs it can be easy to slide into a lack of appreciation for the other, but that's not what I got from Lott's column. It was more that respect should automatically come with having a job and contributing financially to a family.

Agree with your point Darkesteyes

This week he praised married sex as it was more regularly available, albeit "with a bit of whining".

What an attractive picture that paints. hmm

Darkesteyes Mon 03-Dec-12 21:30:16

Hes sounding more and more like an absolute mysogynistic twat.

drjohnsonscat Tue 04-Dec-12 10:38:25

That doesn't sound like a healthy relationship alto, but "helps about the house"??

AbigailAdams Tue 04-Dec-12 11:12:32

Of course he is a misogynist. His lack of respect for women shines out in the article. Women generally don't disrespect men. We are taught from an early age not to. Men on the other hand are taught from an early age that the worst thing they can be is a woman. Women may lose respect for a man when he takes her for granted, "helps" around the house (i.e. doesn't take responsibility for it) and plays the big "I am" because they have a paid job and deign to provide money for their family etc. And that is before we get on to emotional/financial/physical abuse.

"the husband makes clear his commitment to, and love for, his partner. " Many abusers make a public show of their "love" and "commitment" to their partners. Non-abusers tend not to. They have no need to reinforce things like that.

Here’s UK-based but French-born columnist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet in last Saturday’s Telegraph:
“English women (seem to) prefer their dogs or their horses to their boyfriends (or husbands).”

Was that meant to convince us that Lott was right? I mean who is she? And from where did she draw this scientific conclusion? Ridiculous statement.

summerflower Tue 04-Dec-12 11:21:36

>This week he praised married sex as it was more regularly available, albeit "with a bit of whining".<<

The 'I don't want to, really' kind of whining? That kind of comment encourages men to see sex as an entitlement, and it makes me really uncomfortable, if I am honest.

EldritchCleavage Tue 04-Dec-12 12:44:19

Altocumulus, I've heard that kind of talk too, though I really don't experience it as being widespread. It is a strand of modern culture that is reflected in all those 'jokey' ads where the woman is really capable and the man is a dope.

However, it would be wrong to suggest it is even a dominant strand in our culture, which is still patriarchal and misogynistic. In fact, I think the dismissiveness is usually a reaction to misogyny and male entitlement. The couples I've met where the woman talks like this have been ones in which there have been huge problems, and problems arising from pretty awful behaviour by the man (though you may think well I would say that).

We're both generalising of course, and my generalisations are no more valid than yours. I just don't like it when people come out with the sort of stuff in the Tim Lott article as though this is the real reason modern relationships founder. This is a man's world, feminism is in retreat and women get the thin end of the wedge. To say otherwise is unreal.

RiaUnderTheMistletoe Tue 04-Dec-12 14:37:07

Whose whining does he mean, husbands whining to get sex or wives whining they don't want to? Horrendous either way.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Tue 04-Dec-12 23:25:41

What he's whining about is happening, but it's not what he says it is. Women are now more able to treat men as equals rather than being obliged to consider them as superior and some men hate this and whine and complain. Or, of course, start abusing their wives in order to regain their King Cock status.

As soon as women became able to dump unsatisfactory men they started doing so, but rather than men (collectively) realising that the party was over and it was time to start doing their share of the work, a lot of them retreated into misogyny and abuse. But that's sort-of Ok in that the more they do it, the more women will leave their sorry arses and they will woman-hate their way out of existence.

joanofarchitrave Thu 06-Dec-12 19:15:41

I have to say, I would look at it differently. I would regard the general 'all men are bastards and have tiny dicks, and my partner is a pain in the arse' kind of attitude to be pre-feminist - blaming difficulties in life on inevitable aspects of gender, rather than saying this is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour whether you are male or female. Jessica Mitford wrote about the attitude of some women she worked with in a department store in the 30s who regarded men purely as despicable meal-tickets; she found their views profoundly alienating but (since she was a communist) also saw them as a function of capitalism. Feminism should really allow us to move beyond any 'battle of the sexes' crap but it's very easy to get sucked back into it.

Altocumulus Fri 07-Dec-12 21:17:58


Some interesting responses.

@Joanofarchitrave - Really interesting historical perspective!

@EldritchCleavage - The jokey ads about male uselessness come from extensive research by ad and market research agencies amongst British women over the last 20 years. I know this because my wife carried out a lot of the research! The ads work because they tap into a deep, inchoate well of dissatisfaction amongst mainly middle-class women about their spouses and indeed their lives. The thing is, their lives are for the most part far better than any comparable cohort in other countries, but the dissatisfaction is taken in with their mother’s milk. It’s a particularly British thing.

I am generalising, you are right about that, and a lot of what I’m saying comes from personal anecdotal experience, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. I spoke in my last post about the fundamentally different attitudes of French and American women. Might I also add that with one exception, the strongest relationships amongst my immediate circle of friends and family come from couples where the female partner is Irish or Italian. There is a complete commitment from these women that is lacking in the British partners of other friends.

With one exception. The strongest, healthiest and happiest relationship amongst all my friends and family is a British couple where there is complete and utter devotion and commitment to each other, despite some very difficult times in the past. As Tim Lott said in his Guardian piece, spouses must make each other the most important element in the family. These friends have done that, and have raised two very sane and happy children to adulthood, but their focus for each other was always paramount and they have the best life imaginable.

Yes, EC, women often do get the thin end of the wedge, but that’s not really the point. Tim Lott hit upon something very important.: the importance of female commitment to the relationship. Total? If it works and is reciprocated you’re both in heaven. Partial? Better than life on your own, but a bit crap, really. I should know, I’ve had 25 years of partial commitment.

Darkesteyes Fri 07-Dec-12 21:42:03

Alto my mother is Italian. And part of the reason for the relationship being stronger is a lot to do with Catholicism and what that mysogynistic religion tells women that they should put up with.
And then they try to pass these attitudes down to their daughters.
Having watched my parents relationship (dad is British i know EXACTLY why it looks like it works fron the outside believe me!!

Darkesteyes Fri 07-Dec-12 21:52:55

My mother is basically a female mysogynist. We couldnt be more different from each other.
Hearing the way she and my dad talk about other women (i started a thread in Chat a couple of months back about the way she was blaming and gaslighting the survivors of Saviles abuse. The hatred and vitriol that comes from them both regarding women certainly makes me see why some men would go for a woman from a more mysogynistic culture. Hope ive explained this ok.
I grew up with this so know what im talking about. But its made me into a fighter. It also affects you psychologically though. I would be a liar if i said it didnt.

Startail Fri 07-Dec-12 22:17:35

I think there is a fair bit of truth in this.
Yes we should put our partners before our children, at least sometimes.

Work is many men's avoidance tactic, DCs are many women's, If couples don't want to drift apart they need to find a way to shelve these things now and then.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Fri 07-Dec-12 22:38:09

The piece is also heteromonogamist normative wank. Lots of people don't have any interest in or awareness of his boohoo middle-class-men-aren't-worshipped-any-more crap. Because lots of people are single, gay, childless, polyamourous. Heteromonogamy is neither 'natural' nor compulsory, and the sexist heteromonogamous setup of male master and female slave is totally unnatural. That's why it's reinforced with propaganda and violence.

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