Thursday, November 2, 2017

She Hates Men

Another week, another chance for Ask Polly to embarrass herself. As is my practice I will not burden you with very much of Polly's seemingly interminable bad advice. It is truly awful, so we can show respect by not repeating very much of it.

Yet, this week a young woman writes to Polly explaining that she hates men. She hates them all. She thinks they are all worthless, useless and horrible. You might have guessed it, but her relations with men have been less than fulfilling. She has a hint that she might be choosing badly—cleverly, she calls herself “the common denominator” in her serial failed relationships. 

She, and certainly not Polly, does not understand that as soon as men figure out that a woman hates them, looks at them through contempt-colored glasses, they are not likely to see her as relationship material. Duh? Do we still have to explain that?

At the least, we see that she is drawn to bad boys. She does not even notice the good boys out there. She understands that they cannot all be that bad, except that certain segments of the culture happily assure her that they are all bad, that women are never at fault for anything bad that happens to them or even for anything bad that they do.

In today's case we do not know how she presents herself. We do not know how she dresses or how she talks. We do not know her dating habits. We do not know whether or not her sometime boyfriends are really hookups.

Anyway, she is bitter and angry and hates men. Here are the salient portions of her epistolary screed:

I hate men. It’s an opinion that feels more timely now in the era of Trump and Weinstein and Cosby and Ailes and [insert millions of other names here], but one that I’m afraid might ultimately ruin any chance I have of contentment if I can’t figure out a way to stop being angry all the time. I’m almost 27, live in a major city, have a job doing things I’m passionate about, have friends I like, have a good relationship with my mom — the whole works. I’m incredibly lucky in every single part of my life except my interactions with the opposite sex, which have been almost universally awful from day one….

I got to college and still had no success dating (plenty of lovely male friends, though!), and finally lost my virginity while studying abroad to a guy who had a girlfriend. That would become a theme. The next guy I got involved with — my longest relationship, if you could call sporadic cross-country liaisons that — had literally been a pimp. The next guy I got involved with turned out to have a girlfriend. The guy after that also turned out to have a girlfriend, only he got me pregnant, too, so I had to get an abortion (which is obviously a blast). The guy after that was probably the only time I’d say I’ve been in love, but he didn’t want to have a long-distance relationship and then six months later slept with someone else in our same industry and basically made me feel like a pile of garbage. With the next guy, I thought I was finally playing my cards right — being patient and waiting for him to make an effort and treat me right. I thought it might go somewhere. Then he drunk-dialed me to tell me he loved me, and broke up with me 12 hours later when I told him what he’d said. I just found out he was on a certain viral spreadsheet, though thankfully I couldn’t corroborate any of the claims there.

All this on top of the fact that most of my male role models have hit on me at one point or another, and like every woman, I can’t leave the house without getting harassed and I am constantly underestimated for no reason other than the fact that I have ovaries. Friends with girlfriends keep flirting with me, and it makes me feel powerless. Oh, and my boss has an open sexual-harassment case that no one will talk about internally.

I really, really try to do things right and be open and friendly and receptive to the idea that someday a man might treat me like a human, but it just gets harder the older I get, and I can feel myself hardening as a result. Cranky old bitch is not a life I really want, but it feels imminent since I just keep getting burned. I’m finally coming around to the idea that this is not all my fault — yet I feel like I’m the common denominator. Clearly I have a history of making poor relationship choices. The alternative seems to be opting out, which just makes me feel like I’m wasting my youth.

I guess I just need some hope that it gets better, really. Everyone has always said, “Oh, you’ll find someone when you’re older!” Now I am older, and nothing’s changed except I feel more alone. I want to be able to meet a man (platonically or not!) and have some faith that he won’t be garbage instead of always assuming the worst. Is that possible?

One suspects that if she keeps dating men who have girlfriends or wives or significant others they are either lying to her—which certainly does happen— or she gets carried away by their charm and does not bother to spend the time and effort to find out about their lives.

One also notes that she developed good friendships with lovely men in college? Did they also end up hitting on her? Were they gay?

Of course, the letter writer fears that she is becoming a a cranky old bitch, which most men do not find alluring. And then Polly recommends that LW become a fully fledged cranky bitch.

Given Polly’s singular lack of perspicacity, she has lit on the reason why LW has had so many failed relationships. Being angry and embittered and hateful, she seems to be getting back what she is putting out.

Polly says:

In other words, you should consider becoming a cranky old bitch, starting right now. Because we do what we like, period. And when you do what you like, the world opens up to you like a flower — as if you are in charge, as if you are a goddamn prince!

Being a woman of her time LW is waging war against men. She does not understand why this has not brought good and decent men into her life. Simply put, if you hold it as an article of ideological conviction that all men are bad, you are likely to be attracted to the bad ones. Worse yet, if you find a good one you will be obliged to revise your convictions, and perhaps even your politics. And we can't have that.

Naturally, Polly recommends that this woman, who is suffering because she is waging culture war against men, should wage culture war against men:

Yes, it’s important to wage a vigorous war against the terribleness of men (and dioramas!) on many different fronts. But for your personal emotional health and resilience as a woman, you must choose to view the world of men through a new Cranky Old Bitch filter. Through this filter it soon becomes clear that men are simply too pathetic to waste your giant brain contemplating for too long. Sure, they lord their power over us, they cast their dismissive eyes on us, they attempt to jack off in front of us because they are sad deluded animals who always need a new fix to feel like more than nothing.

Obviously, the answer is simple. If you want men to respect you, start respecting them. If you want them to care about you, start caring about them. Erase that Tinder app from your iPhone and do not get intimate with any man you have not spent time getting to know. How about getting to know his friends, his family, his mother. That will at least guard you against his lies.

For her part, Polly does not have a clue about any of this. She advises this young woman to lean in, to be strong assertive and empowered. In truth, the woman has these qualities in spades. That’s how she got into this mess. If you imagine that I am caricaturing Polly, here’s her thought:

But it’s not just about speaking up for yourself after you’re treated badly. Being brave and honest includes warning people. Warn men about what you believe and what you need. Warn them about what you expect. Don’t ask if it’s okay. Don’t ask if they approve. Don’t wait to see what bullshit they’ll pull. Protect yourself. And spell it out for them, because a lot of them are really fucking dense. Tell them, “I can’t tell if you’re into this or not.” Then look at them without speaking and wait. Tell them, “You’re starting to seem like you might cross a line, and I want you to back the fuck off, period.” This is how you assert your right to have things the way you want them. You are the motherfucking decider, always. You say things like, “Do you have a girlfriend?” No flinching, no looking away, no apologies. Say exactly what you mean and then be quiet.

This tells us that this young woman should stop leaning in, stop saying what she means, stop being contentious and contemptuous, angry and hateful… because she is getting back what she puts out.

I realize that some people will be horrified, but I think that LW should go out to her local Sephora and buy a new fragrance: Essence of Feminine Mystique.


whitney said...

That is absolutely tragic. Someone should say to that poor girl, "you have been brainwashed since birth and trapped in an ideological prison so effective that you have become the warden and every time there are cracks in the walls you seal them with spit and lies and that's why you're so angry." I've known these women, I used to be one of them

trigger warning said...

I see your point, Whitney, but I think she should be a Darwin Award nominee.

Jack Fisher said...

I don't consider this tragic. This chick puts her story out in public and of course she's going to get ridiculed, can she expect otherwise? This is theater, or, better yet, a train wreck. And who doesn't like watching train wrecks?

Shaun F said...

"I’m almost 27, live in a major city, have a job doing things I’m passionate about, have friends I like, have a good relationship with my mom — the whole works."

A major family member overlooked in this statement is - the great relationship with Dad! Which I see as a telling fact as to what actually went wrong. The proverbial elephant in the room. How can the whole works not include dad? it's kind of like a pizza without sauce or cheese or condiments.

Sam L. said...

tw, I think she needs to be dead to be a Darwin nominee, but I'm guessing whe's on her way.