Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Case of Miss Heartbroken

As you know, men and women no longer date. They no longer spend time to get to know each other before doing the dirty deed. Still and all, when women engage in coital relations it means something. To men, the same act does not mean quite so much.

So, men and women hook up. A woman might imagine that she is engaging in correct relationship behavior. A man will most likely imagine that nothing very important has happened. And the woman will get hurt.

The solution is dating. It’s old fashioned. It’s no longer in style. With more and more women hooking up, any woman who chooses to date before consummation is likely to feel rejected and overlooked, even shamed for being a prude.

It’s a new form of sexual abuse. We have all heard the horror stories about sexual harassment and sexual assault, in and out of the workplace, in and out of frat houses. And we have all learned that what really matters is consent, point we accept completely. We all understand that men who commit such atrocities ought to be punished, severely.

And yet, we ought also to understand that, as a prophylactic strategy, this does not work too well. It might diminish bad male behavior in the workplace, but it will not have quite as profound an effect in clubs and at parties. Trying to control sexual behavior by issuing a series of taboos and prohibitions tells men that they can do what they please to women as long as they get permission, as long as there is consent. It no longer matters whether the sex is good or bad. The only issue is whether or not it is prosecutable.

So, we end up in a situation where men treat women badly, in situations where women have consented. Creating an ethos where the question is not how to treat women with respect but what a man can get away with does not work very well for anyone. Especially, it does not work very well for women.

So, we live in a hostile cultural environment, where men and women are enemy antagonists. And we wonder why men and women cannot get along. Duh? And we wonder why women end up getting hurt and having their feelings ignored.

But, if you ask yourself who created this new ethos, you would be hard put to come up with anything other than: that women, especially feminists, created it. After all, courtship was created by women in the Middle Ages, initially as courtly love. Dating and courtship developed over time, and they were women’s domains. How many of the great novels about courtship were written by or for men? How many women take advice from men in matters of romance and dating?

So, we have a letter from a young woman, a college freshman, who finds that her first forays with men have been painful and traumatic. She is, as she says, doing what her friends are doing. She is a late bloomer and has little experience with men.

So, she writes to Ask Polly, New York Magazine’s highly challenged advice columnist, who tells her that men are at fault, that men are both evil and pathetic. And Polly defends feminism, because, how else can she show how defensive she is, that is, how quickly she walks away from responsibility. As it happens, the woman’s behavior was not prescribed by the patriarchy. Most fathers would largely prefer that their daughters not engage in such behavior.

And yet, it is easier to blame the patriarchy. As opposed to what, you ask? As opposed to taking responsibility for having created a hostile cultural environment where men and women act like enemies. In short, Polly’s answer is the problem, not the solution.

The letter writer, aka Miss Heartbroken, describes her experience:

Enter my first boyfriend. I should have seen the red flags sooner, and I did see them, I just didn’t exactly think they were red flags. He was my first kiss, the first night I ever met him. For months and months we were practically dating, but we weren’t dating. He wouldn’t date me because he “didn’t want to hurt me and ruin our amazing friendship.” I told him I wouldn’t have sex with him unless we were dating.
I suppose that’s the reason why eventually he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was so excited I thought I was in love. And, more importantly, I thought he really liked me and cared about me. Two weeks into our relationship, he cheated on me on my 18th birthday.

Let’s be clear, she was taking advice from her girlfriends, certainly not from any men. She wanted something other than a hookup. She wanted to be his girlfriend. So he was happy to oblige, by saying the words. Who knows what it means to be “practically dating” but I assume it to mean that they were not dating.

She wanted a relationship so badly that she conjured one out of nothing. And he took it a step further, by punishing her for not having sex ... by having sex with another woman. I am happy to label him a cad, but the woman with whom he had sex was not the epitome of moral virtue. If other women had not been doing the deed, the letter writer would not have felt the same level of pressure. And the man in question would have had more of an incentive to “date” the letter writer.

And then, along comes her second boyfriend, so to speak:

Then comes the next guy on my very short romance journey. Long story short, I lost my virginity to him and then he ghosted me. This hurt almost as much as my boyfriend cheating on me. I gave him something that I can never get back. To him, I was just another girl he could brag to his friends about fucking, but to me he was the guy I really liked and will always remember as the person I lost my virginity to.

She made a mistake. She is young and is allowed to make mistakes. But, she was also doing as her friends had been doing throughout high school. She was having sex because she was ashamed of being a virgin. It’s the weight of peer group pressure, and it functions even when peers are looking to share their misery, not trying to give out good advice.

As it happens, Miss Heartbroken shares it all with her friends. They sound like the kind of people who read Polly’s advice. And, of course, they blame men. Because women are angels and men are devils. Sad to say, if women are giving it away for free, some men will take it. They do not want to offend a woman who has such low self-esteem.

Every time I tell people how I feel, they say the same thing: “Men are garbage. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’ll find the right person eventually.” It’s not that I’m trying to find the person I’m gonna marry right now, I just want to meet a man, romantic or otherwise, who doesn’t end up being a huge disappointment.

I know that I shouldn’t feel like there’s something wrong with me and that’s why guys walk all over me, but I do. People tell me to just not feel that way, but what do I do if I do feel that way and I want to know how to feel better?

I mean, am I just completely unlovable? Why do guys only want to have sex with me, never more? They don’t even want to be my friend. I feel like I’ll never have the answers I’m looking for.

Miss Heartbroken

Evidently, she is young and still somewhat innocent. This will sound somewhat crass, but she should make men earn her favors. And her friends should do the same. This is not one woman’s experience, but we are seeing a new set of cultural standards playing out in one woman’s life.

Naturally, Polly blames it on men. And she wants Miss Heartbroken to feel contempt for men. Apparently, she will boost her self-esteem by looking down on men.

And yet, think about this for more than a nanosecond. If women shower men with contempt and if they treat men as creatures worthy only of contempt, why do you think that men are going to want to get along with them? Why do you think that men will treat contemptuous women with respect? We might argue, correctly, that men should be better than that. They should. But, keep in mind, in matters of the heart, in matters of romance, women have home field advantage. And most men will take what they are given. It’s sad, but men did not invent the game of romance. Most of them do not even care about it.

Anyway, blaming it on toxic males ends up making women feel weak and powerless in their relationships:

A lot of women are disappointing, too, but it’s easier to remain fundamentally selfish and ignorant of other people’s needs when you’re a man who’s grown up in a patriarchal culture and continues to navigate a patriarchal world. Men can blunder around, barely able to communicate their feelings, barely able to employ even a shred of sensitivity and diplomacy, and people (women and men) in our culture excuse it.

Polly then says something sensible. Sleeping with a man is not the best way to learn about men, to get to know men or to develop relationships. She suggests hanging out with men, but she should have said, dating men.

You don’t know what a man even is. You can’t just sleep with men and learn about them that way. You have to observe and get to know men in a safe environment. You have to hang out with them and watch them and resist the urge to build your life around one of them. You have to see what men are from close range, but without imperiling your sense of yourself. You need to stand on firm ground first and foremost.

Then, of course, Polly walks back what she said above, and, instead of blaming men, she blames the culture. It is silly enough, even for Polly, who just a few paragraphs ago suggested that patriarchy created the culture. After saying that men are not garbage, she trots out some more contempt:

When you’re on firm ground, you’ll know that men are not garbage. Men are simply enabled by our deeply stupid, unbelievably greedy, unnervingly ignorant garbage culture. They’re like babies in rolling chairs who believe that they can walk. They’re so proud of themselves! It’s almost funny, except when it isn’t funny at all. But try to get a little emotional distance. Tune in to reality. When it comes to love, reality is much less frightening than your imagination. It’s also much less dangerous.

And she concludes by a paean to female strength. Now that #MeToo had been providing a multitude of instances where women appear vulnerable and victimized, we need to hear that women are strong.

And the thing you need to know about women is that we are really fucking strong. We have a very high pain tolerance. And once you notice that, you start to welcome the pain. You say Bring the pain, motherfucker.

No, telling herself to bring the pain is idiotic. Polly is suggesting that when Miss Heartbroken feels ashamed of herself, then she should go out and do it again. This is wrong. Shame is your moral sense in action. Her shame is telling her that she made a mistake. It is telling her to correct her mistake. Polly is telling her that she did not make any mistakes and can never make any mistakes, because she is strong and empowered. It is genuinely bad advice, even by Polly standards:

And when you notice how cowed you’ve been by your shame for your whole life? You start to welcome shame. You can’t hurt me now, shame. Step up and try. Do you know how good it feels to step around your shame and do exactly what the fuck you want for a change? Do you know how good it feels to finally know your own power?


Anonymous said...

Polly thinks using the F-word and the MF-word displays empowerment or strength but it is just stupid. I don't know why anyone writes to her so maybe this letter is fake. If it isn't, the girl's problem is a youthful lack of common sense. Males aren't garbage or horrible, but she has to know how they operate. It has nothing to do with her; they are going to operate that way even if they never met her. She has to get more information about human behavior but not from her dumb friends or Polly.

Sam L. said...

Men can be good and bad. Women can be good and bad. Ya gotta protect yourself from the baddies, by taking things sloooooooooooowly and getting to know them first. said...

I recently read an interesting hypothesis on this matter, the matter of girls and young women prematurely offering men intimate access, as they march to the “enlightened“ feminist orders. Specifically the author was referring to situations where females engage in intercourse, but later call it rape or assault. Healthy females are wired to know such behavior imay be reckless or dangerous, but their psyches have been numbed, perhaps brainwashed. What should be healthy self shame gets perverted and blames, ....
you guessed it, the males. We can indeed be such excellent sheep.