Saturday, October 27, 2018

He's the Man, But He Doesn't Want Her

It’s a false dichotomy, between what Susan Forray calls a feminist man and what she finds in a man who declares that he’s the man. Since her relationships with both types jave failed, we might wonder about the one constant: her. But, she does not really address the issue, so we will avoid it… for the most part.

Forray had had her fill of feminist men. Or vice versa. For your edification she describes the breed:

I usually fell for men who didn’t argue when I said it was my turn to pay for dinner. These men noticed my intelligence before my looks, or at least they said they did.

Note the last phrase: she is beginning to see that these feminist men are simply frauds.

She had been married to a feminist man… and he had just divorced her. Note that he seemed to have initiated the divorce. By her description, the feminist man appeared to be a parasite:

Since my ex-husband had divorced me the previous year, I had been reconsidering what I thought I knew about relationships. And my previous belief in a relationship of equals seemed painfully naïve.

My ex called himself a feminist, but in our marriage that seemed to mean he felt fine about me dramatically out-earning him, fine about spending my income freely on luxuries, and fine about me covering the mortgage, the private school tuition for our children and the rest of our financial commitments. (At the time, he was building a small retail business from which he took no salary.)

Forray describes this as a partnership of equals, but it seems closer to a role reversal marriage. Her new wish involved pretending to be something that she was not:

I craved a man who sought to take financial responsibility for his family, even if I didn’t need it.

After my fantasy of a partnership of equals had failed to materialize, I seemed to want to replace it with a fantasy of paternalistic protection.

She decides that she wants to act out a new fantasy-- one that involves paternalistic protection. I suspect that she learned about it in therapy. Where else would you discover that life is about acting out fantasies? Besides, even though a husband might want to protect and provide for his family, this does not mean that he will act paternalistically toward his wife. Husband and father are two distinct roles. Apparently, Forray’s therapy did not make it this far.

The men I’d previously dated thought of themselves as staunch feminists — in hindsight, frustratingly so, at least in the sense that they were too inclined to defer to me (under the guise of respecting me) to ever take charge, either financially or sexually. I can’t blame them; the pattern of choosing men too reticent to arouse me had been mine.

I had interrogated the last man I dated on his Democratic bona fides before agreeing to meet for coffee. But with my new guy, I found myself quietly acquiescing as he told me his voting history shouldn’t matter. (I took this to mean his voting history was the opposite of mine.)

Staunch feminist men were weak and deferential. They were also Democrats… because no self-respecting feminist woman would ever date a Republican. Anyway, Forray decides that she must play the part of what used to be called a lady. Unfortunately, she is playing a role in a theatrical production. But, she does not believe in the role she is playing. And she has chosen a man who is more macho than manly, who protests his manliness too much.

For her part Forray seems to believe that ladylike behavior involves engaging in an elaborate deception, beginning with faking about playing chess and forcing herself to lose:

A week later, we played chess in an ice-cream parlor. I sensed that losing would dampen his ardor, so I left my king open to attack, letting him checkmate me twice. As we left, he took my hand and pulled me closer.

Lying in his bed before falling asleep, I felt guilty about the chess games. They were like fake orgasms, untruthful actions giving the man an exaggerated view of his talents. But these games didn’t hide sexual dissatisfaction; they hid my intelligence, turning me into someone he would feel a need to protect.

Her new man might not have been a world beater, but he was generous to her. And he had many good qualities:

But he wasn’t cheap when it came to me. He paid when we ate out; I never even offered, in part because I knew doing so would displease him, but also because I relished feeling cared for. He was fiscally responsible, generous and trustworthy.

So I told myself there was nothing wrong with the man being in charge of the money as long as he made good decisions. At the same time, I found myself becoming guarded around my new guy, evading his questions and hiding things I thought he wouldn’t like. When he asked if I ever went to church, I said no — but failed to mention I was Jewish. I never lied about my career, though I didn’t tell him the whole truth either. He knew I was an actuary but not that I was a partner at the firm.

She was living a series of lies. She had chosen a man who apparently made considerably less money than she did, who was less successful than she was. She must have known that her great career success would have been a turn-off to a man who had less success. Thus she hid it. One cannot quite understand why she imagined that he would never find out. In this day of Google searches, such information cannot long be hidden.

And yet, she liked some of his qualities, especially his strength and courage:

Despite my evasiveness, I knew what I loved about him. A few years earlier, a dog had attacked his son. He fought off the dog, but his son was left with stitches and difficulty sleeping. He sued the neighbor who owned the dog, getting a sizable contribution to his son’s college fund, and the neighbor moved away.

Given the choice between a man who said all the right things about supporting a strong woman and a man who shielded his child from a vicious dog with his bare hands, I chose the latter. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.

At least, she understands that feminist men are frauds. And yet, she could not develop a relationship with her new man without deceiving him. Eventually, the lies caught up with her:

He was smart enough, first of all, to see through my deceptions: the restraint during chess and the lack of candor about my career. There were other things he may have spotted too, like the mezuza on my door frame or the chess strategy books on my shelves.

And I think he must have realized I earned more than he did. When he expressed frustration that he hadn’t been able to save for his children’s college costs, I said nothing. And when he asked me about alimony and child support, I answered truthfully: I didn’t receive any.

When I made the mistake of mentioning work, he finally asked enough questions to find my career history online. It was aggressive enough (on his part) and evasive enough (on my part) for us both to feel like it was the beginning of the end.

A few hours later, I lay next to him

It wasn’t a mistake to mention work. It isn’t a mistake to be a partner in an insurance company. And yet, if such is her condition, she will necessarily have more difficulty in finding a man whose own achievements pale next to hers. It’s not just about acting out a fantasy. It’s not just about allowing the man to pay or to initiate sex. It’s about another lie: the lie that feminists told women.

Feminists said that a woman who achieves great career success, and who does not depend on a man for any but sexual and moral support, would not be needy and dependent. She would find men flocking to her door. They were lying. A woman who is successful and self-sufficient will discover that men who are less accomplished will reject them. The reason: he will feel like an appendage, not as a true provider.

No one would ever suggest that Forray should not work to succeed in her business. And yet, someone should have told her that her success is writing her out of the marriage game, even when she plays to win:

It seemed like an obvious decision, but I surprised myself by bursting into tears. What he had offered — strength, protection and generosity — were things I had been looking for without even knowing it. That’s the thing about gender roles. They can meet a need you were afraid to acknowledge, and they can take it all away when you don’t conform.


Sam L. said...

A man can't like every woman. A woman can't like every man. Sometimes, though, it works out. You have to be yourself and hope for the best. Or, good enough.

David Foster said...

"(At the time, he was building a small retail business from which he took no salary.)"

There is nothing wrong with starting a business from which you can initially draw no long as you're taking the effort seriously. Is there anything in the article (I couldn't read it) that suggests he wasn't working hard and seriously at it?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The issue was not his hard work or his decency.... The issue was the gross disparity between his and her success.

David Foster said...

"The issue was not his hard work or his decency.... The issue was the gross disparity between his and her success."

Yeah, I understand--but success in starting a business is rarely instantaneous. Most successful (married) entrepreneurs, whether male or female, had a considerable amount of support from their spouses, either in the form of generating the cash income or accepting a lower--hopefully temporarily so--standard of living.

I'm guessing that she extrapolated his business success into the future and concluded that he would *always* be less-successful than her.

Anonymous said...

Effeminate he would always be less-successful than Megyn Kelly's prolapse. Embalming fluid had rendered her flesh like poached chicken.

Anonymous said...

The issue was the gross disparity between his and her success proves his indecency NOT his hard work. A freshly poached graped chicken is lovely Tulips.

Anonymous said...

She exstraponlates his pole success in starting exotic dance Surely will consult her spouse is stoopid degenerate.

Ares Olympus said...

Forray: Given the choice between a man who said all the right things about supporting a strong woman and a man who shielded his child from a vicious dog with his bare hands, I chose the latter. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.

Women writers do love to confess dramatic false dichotomies to explain their feelings. It is hard to imagine what sort of man would not shield his child from a vicious dog with his bare hands, but now we know she believes her ex would have failed that difficult test.

Anonymous said...

Chicken fingers

Anonymous said...

Tulip the finger freshly graped chicken tender stoopid degenerate

Anonymous said...

Grand Tendie Of Everything?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Stoopid degenerate has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous said...

Once again, choosing externally specified thinking over innate inclination (or even thinking for oneself) results in destabilizing inner conflict. Over and over people living this deception are highlighted in the media, usually as social heroes. Their clinical-ized vocabulary and use of language make them easy to spot.