I had a girl friend once who taught me a lot. (A Japanese-American, BTW.) On one occasion I got into a big argument with her (about what, I forget), which ended when, finally, in extreme frustration, I exclaimed, “That’s not logical!” “I’m not logical,” she replied. I thought, Oh, that’s right. Deal with it.
There’s no answer for that, but for a man to know himself, who he is, and what he stands for; then she can take it or leave it. If she takes him, she will conform herself to the discipline of his logic–though she’ll continue to test him, so he’d better be sure his logic has integrity. If a man has to ask a woman to think for him, it just won’t work. If he’s so attached/dependent that he’s afraid he’ll lose her if he stands his ground–gently but firmly–he’s already lost anyway. And so is she.
What I’m coming to understand lately is that not only must I know where I stand, but past a certain point it’s useless to try to explain or persuade. Just state your position, and let her take it or leave it. ”Never argue with a woman” is not just a tired old joke; it’s real wisdom. If she’s worth your time, she’ll come around; if not, don’t waste your time. But in order to make this work, we males must be weaned, and few of us are these days.
Another time, another altercation, terminally exasperated, I asked her what she wanted. “I never know what I want until I get it,” she said. It was like one of those cartoon light bulbs went on over my head. “Aha,” I thought, “there speaks Woman.”
It’s certainly become plain by now that women really don’t know what they want; they may think they want one thing, but if you watch you’ll see that if they get it they complain even louder-and what they really respond to is usually something quite different. Thus do feminists dream of stevedores. And this is the answer to Devvy Kidd’s question about why women buy billions of “romance” novels–even as they demand that their own men behave like doormats.
It’s not that they really want their men to be doormats; it’s that they need their men to be strong, and how do you determine how strong something is without testing it? They do this instinctively, not consciously; naturally they think they want to win, but when they win, they lose. And don’t know why they’re unhappy. Being a woman is not easy; they can’t figure themselves out either, because, in the short run, they make no sense. For a woman, a straight line is not the shortest distance. Because in the natural order, her man is supposed to be breaking the trail, while she follows his lead.
I remember in my hippie days, out in the California Mountains, watching a young woman follow a young man on a trail in the forest. It was an archetypal scene, like Sita following Rama, the Last of the Mohicans: everywoman following everyman.
I had another girl friend once who wanted to arm-wrestle. She was a tough girl, but when I beat her, she was satisfied. I could see it: I’d passed the test, and right away she started fitting herself to me. (In fact, before I knew it seemed we were planning to move in together, which was more than I’d bargained for. I really wasn’t thinking ahead–which is the man’s job. Took some contortions to get out of that one, and I haven’t seen her since.) This is the fundamental, archetypal relationship of the female to the male. “He chases her until she catches him.”
Even Martha Burk and all the other feminists who so adamantly insist on entry to the boys’ clubhouse are doing the same basic thing: testing men. If they win, they lose, because boys can’t become men in a female-dominated environment. And any environment with females present is fundamentally female-dominated, regardless of appearances.
Every boy starts out utterly dominated by a female, a domination which requires decisive change to escape. But if he doesn’t escape his mother’s gravity field, the next generation of women will have no men to marry. That’s essentially our present situation. Few American males (myself included) would I call “men” in the real sense.
A woman cannot show a man how to be a man; what she needs is for him to bring her something she doesn’t already have–or know. Watch birds courting.
This whole process works just fine, more or less, in other species; but among humans, so much more complicated, with so many “choices,” it’s gotten seriously derailed. It’s not easy being a man either, especially in our time when the traditional processes that used to make men of boys have been lost. The best our culture has to offer these days are military basic training and football–neither of which has ever appealed to me in the least. In Burma, traditionally a young man becomes a monk for at least a few months, up to a couple of years. Having experienced a similar form of Buddhist monastic life, I can say it can be an excellent molder of character, if properly understood and applied.
A friend of mine does summer camps for teenage boys, wherein they learn wilderness skills and suchlike. And how to act. One assignment sometimes given is to sit all day in one place without moving, which is essentially the same thing that Buddhist monks do. It works. Young men need something to push against–preferably themselves–that won’t really hurt them or anyone else.
I’d say that male consciousness tends toward abstraction and identifying principles, then ordering thinking and behaviour on that basis. While female consciousness is based on feeling and pragmatic in the short term. Each has its place and use, but they are not “equal”; one or the other must be in charge, and it matters absolutely which.
I’m a fan of Jefferson also, though I certainly recognize his character failings. There were “men in those days.” They were all classically educated, too.
"If you allow them [women] to pull away restraints and put themselves on an equality with their husbands, do you imagine that you will be able to tolerate them? From the moment that they become your fellows, they will become your masters." -- Cato the Censor
Previous Philalethes Index Next
"No mother loves her child. To her, a child is a status symbol - to prove she is woman. A child is the ultimate bangle.
In contrast, man finds his immortality through his children: they are his future. Woman finds only self-flattery through her children: they are her now.
Yes, a mother's love is deep - about as deep as a woman's mind." -- Kevin Solway