Thursday, February 1, 2018

Her Idiot Boyfriend Is a Feminist

She’s a feminist. A fully committed feminist. She is partnering with a male feminist. He is sweet and sensitive, a perfectly empathic guy who plays nicely with their child and the child she has from her first marriage. Of course, she does not want to marry. 

She did not want to marry her first husband but was pressured by his family… so she had a shotgun marriage. She does not want to go through it again, so she has chosen not to get married. Not to belabor the obvious, but one surefire way of never, ever getting divorced is: not getting married in the first place. I guarantee you: if you don’t get married you will never get divorced.

In any event the letter writer, who calls herself, This is Pure Bullshit, writes to Ask Polly. I am happy to tell you that Polly takes the opportunity to rattle on at a seemingly interminable length about what she really feels. It is utterly embarrassing. She should keep it to herself and not display it in public. But, what do I know?

Since Polly thinks it’s all about sexist patriarchal misogyny you can be confident that it’s not about sexist patriarchal misogyny. One will note that Polly, more than TIPB goes on and on and on offering us the ideologically correct view about marriage—that it makes women into property and makes men their masters. 

She might have noticed that marriage also protects women from men who take their commitments lightly, but Polly imagines, young and naïve as she is, that true love and gobs of empathy will solve all marital problems.

Anyway, as I said, this is not really a feminist issue. It’s a trust issue. It’s a public humiliation issue. It’s about a guy bragging to another guy at a Christmas party. And doing it in front of his live-in paramour.

Examine the situation, from the letter:

You see, my partner of over three years (“Liev”) told a friend and co-worker of his that I was pressuring him for a ring at his office Christmas party, in my (and many other mutual friends’) presence. And I am SO ANGRY about it.

I have made it very clear over the course of our relationship that I in no way care about a wedding ring or marriage. It’s a societal convention I’ve never identified with. I never imagined my wedding day as a child, never felt like it was something I needed for happiness. We’ve had this conversation many times … although he has said he wants to marry ME.

To be clear, it doesn’t matter whether she wants or does not want to marry. Liev, a feminist himself, is lacking in basic gentlemanly decorum, so he chooses to humiliate her in public… by exposing what should have remained a private conversation. It’s not about marriage; it’s about a wimpy, weak man standing up for himself… perhaps in the only way that he has left.

Apparently, her relationship with Liev is perfectly egalitarian, and also in serious trouble.

I’m now 35, with two kids. I was (and AM) a strong independent single mom with a career when I met Liev. We have established our lives together. I don’t need physical proof of our love. I see it every day, in the way he takes care of our kids, in the ways we take care of each other. I think that’s more important. He’s a very empathic, sensitive person who identifies strongly with women, who prefers their company to men’s. He’s definitely a feminist, he’s loving, he’s kind. I thank the fates for him every day.

It makes me feel a little bit weaker, a little bit more dependent, a little less ME. I don’t want to offend anyone by saying this, but I feel like it reflects upon all women, too. We keep trying to say “Hey, I can be a person without you,” but I don’t think it’s getting through.

What should I do? What should WE do?

This Is PURE Bullshit

Note, that Liev identifies with women. It’s worse than just being a feminist. And, if she, in front of his colleagues,  makes him look sensitive and empathic, in touch with his womanly side… then clearly his stature and standing in their eyes is going to crash. Perhaps, she asserted her power and dominance in the presence of said colleagues and he needed to fight back. Obviously, this relationship is in trouble. And not merely because he humiliated her in public. For all we know she humiliated him first, by treating him like her girlfriend.

Needless to say, Polly misses the point. She trots out her finely honed empathy and feels the letter writer’s pain. And she explodes with rage and hatred of men. It never crosses her mind—such as it is— that this male bashing might be the problem, not the solution, but that does not prevent her from beating up on this man, who is, not long for the relationship. All it will take is for some woman to walk up to him and treat him more like a man... and the game will be over. 

Admittedly, Polly’s writing here is lame, laced with profanity, but I will not censor it for as much:

Sometimes I think that men are designed to torture us by listening to us talk about our complex, conflicted feelings for hours (okay, fine, that part is pretty generous), acting like they understand everything (that part is good, too, probably, when you consider the alternative), then walking out the door and parroting every fucking stupid bullshit sexist thing they’ve ever heard.

Even the very best men do this. They don’t even know they’re doing it. I know I’m excusing male bumbling here, but I honestly don’t think these kinds of mistakes run that deep in a lot of cases, any deeper than unconsciously ingested cultural norms, at any rate. Saying “Ah, yeah, she wants a ring! You know it!” is a little bit like saying, “Aw, stop nagging!” to the wife YOU nag all the time. Men resort to clichés to cover their own not-all-that-macho tracks.

As you know, if you should ever address a liberated women with this string of expletives you will be brought up on charges. If a woman is asking herself why men talk dirty to her, she will do well to read Polly’s attempt to look strong… and feeble-minded.

Anyway, Polly considers that Liev, who has had his manliness beaten out of him, reverts to form when he encounters other male animals. Note the unsubtle derogation of men as animals:

Take almost any guy and put him in a new pasture or habitat, and he’ll immediately start mimicking the other animals there. Why? Because men, for the most part, feel weird around other men they don’t know that well. And it takes men centuries to get to know each other. As they slowly, painstakingly eek out some clue about what is really going on with other men, they’re all, “MAN SOUND! MANLY DON’T CARE SOUND!” and “HA HA MAN NO CARE! WOMAN CARE TOO MUCH, SILLY WOMAN! MANLY MUMBLE!” Trust me, I am married to a nerdy, neurotic professor, and when you set that motherfucker down next to a dude he doesn’t know, he is reduced to the lowest common denominator of tedious male small talk. Go ahead and tell me I’m gender-fixated. You know who’s the most fixated on gender anywhere, ever? Men. Particularly men who have long-term partners and are very good at being in long-term partnerships. Happily coupled men finally have the intimate relationships and best friends they’ve craved their entire lives (in part because it takes them centuries to barely-get-to-know other men), and this makes them even more paranoid about making man sounds. They seem less and less like their genuine, good, kind, open, weird selves around strangers, and more and more like confused animals.

Again, if men start acting like animals, where might they have gotten that idea? Wouldn’t want to defy expectations, would we now. What if this contempt for men elicits a reaction, a bit of push back? Why would anyone imagine that, in the interpersonal dynamic between the members of this couple, the woman’s actions didn't provoke his reaction? 

If such were the case then both parties would be at fault… assuming that the Christmas Party scene began when she said something derogatory about him or simply made him look weak and ineffectual. Perhaps she announced that he was a feminist, very sensitive and empathic, in touch with his feminine side. Perhaps she talked down to him. Perhaps she bragged about how well he plays with dolls. Surely, such an insinuation will hurt his career… by the way, we do not know what his work is. Apparently TIPB does not think it sufficiently important to mention.

And then, as though Polly had not already burdened us with her psychobabble, she goes on to say that if TIPB is that angry, it must mean that she really does want to get married. It’s a standard psycho trick. It shows disrespect for TIPB—why does Polly know what the woman wants? And besides, people more often marry because they are obeying a social convention than because it’s their heart's desire.

She explains:

Which brings us to you. You want something more from Liev. Maybe it’s not marriage. Maybe it’s just a gesture. But you do want something, or you wouldn’t be so upset about this. And yes, of course, you know you don’t need it. You know that you’ll survive with or without him. You know that he’s in this for the long haul. But you want him to give you more, to signal that he wants more, too. You are incredibly ashamed of this desire of yours. Because this must mean that you’re weak and stupid. This must mean that you’re just like everyone else. If you want something, you’re automatically reduced to wanting it for the same reasons everyone else wants it. You’ve spent your whole life looking down on this desire, and the worst thing in the world you could do is discover some tiny scrap of it, deep within yourself….

But in order to feel what you feel and GET WHAT YOU WANT, you have to let all those vulnerable, culturally poisonous, shallow-seeming desires into the room, once and for all. You have to show yourself, scary ingested gendered delusions and all. You have to own all the layers that go into making you who you are. You have to own your contradictory, irrational needs. You have to admit that you are someone who can be embarrassed and who can want something stupid or foolish or skin-deep, just because. 

As I said, this is pathetic. TIPB should examine her own behavior. She should ascertain whether she humiliated Liev before he retaliated. If so, she should apologize. And she should get over her habit of fawning over his womanliness. It will make any man crazy.


James said...

The intellectual and verbal gymnastics these people do around the simple but true "men and women are different" would make Olga Korbut blush. Oh the flips, turns, vaulting rhetoric, and dazzling spins are something to behold, but they still can't make a good landing on factual earth.

Jack Fisher said...

He’s a very empathic, sensitive person who identifies strongly with women, who prefers their company to men’s. He’s definitely a feminist, he’s loving, he’s kind. I thank the fates for him every day.

therefore, the golden retriever in my house is a feminist, the beagle is not. this chick's boyfriend, like both dogs and the horse, is a gelding.

Sam L. said... we know what Ask Polly's problem is, after that "Take any guy..." rant, and why she hates (or does an excellent facsimile thereof) MEN!!!!111111!!!!

Jack Fisher said...

in other words, a kind of a strawman argument.