Tommy Threadcraft believes that even though men who resent women are in the minority, it’s helpful to look at the reasons why.
One of the things I hear the most complaints from women (often times in response to complaints from men) about is the apparent disrespect or resentment that so many men demonstrate towards women. I actually see where they’re coming from on this one. I don’t think all (or even most) men hate women. I think actual misogynists are in the minority, but a lot of men who don’t hate women still hold a degree of resentment to women (or the position women are in, at least). First I should mention that I think most—if not all—resentment is a bad use of energy, though it’s usually not an intentional act. It inherently does you more harm than good.
The reason most men resent women is because their perspective is off. They’re focused more on things they can’t control and don’t like. They’re focused more on what others are or aren’t doing, rather than their own (in)actions. The experience of life is ALL about perspective. You’d be surprised at how many rich and beautiful people are miserable. They don’t usually look at themselves from the same lens that their fans look at them through. They’re prone to the same tendency to focus on what they wish they had that someone else has (or what they wish they didn’t have to deal with). It’s the destructive side to the ego. Human nature, or socially conditioned nature perhaps, often times works against us. This is why we it’s important to understand men who have some resentment towards women. It’s human nature to resent certain people or things when your perspective’s wrong. How could men resent women in the first place though? What did women ever do to men? Glad you asked…
1) Women represent sexual privilege/authority to the average man.
Today’s American male is more inclined to notice the social advantages and freedoms that women have “over men” due to societal norms, perceptions, expectations (or lack thereof) standards, and nature than he is to notice how he may or may not benefit from patriarchy. He sees women getting into clubs free when he has to pay 10 to 20 bucks. He sees the way men are expected to pay for dates during courtship (and drinks at bars). He sees how men are also expected to be the ones to initiate and escalate contact between the sexes. He sees how men are expected to protect their women from harm. Sometimes it seem like all men have are responsibilities, while it seems to him like women have options, luxuries, conveniences, high expectations, and a plethora of sometimes arbitrary standards.
The worst part is that many of these men see women as one of the most powerful authorities on his value and worth as a man. The way he sees it, women get to decide which men are worthy of any form of sexual gratification (aside from gay men). This is one of the reasons so many men tend to view women like they’re the government. For the most part these men obey the laws and know that they can’t and don’t really want to overthrow the government, but they still enjoy slandering politicians and debating changes in their local elected officials along with strategies for how to cheat or exploit the system.
I personally say that these men need to adjust their glass is half empty perspective and learn to use their own advantages. Women do have some advantages, but men have as many if not more. Most of the ones I just mentioned only apply to dating and relationships. In the laborforce it’s an entirely different story where women could say worst things about our privileges. Either way, only pessimists and people who find comfort in the victim position focus on their disadvantages and other people’s advantages. Leaders don’t do this. Not to mention, seeing women as government is one of the worst dating/relationship mindsets you could have. To me, that sounds like a stressful civic duty rather than a good time.
2) Some men don’t particularly care for women’s values/interests.
The blogosphere is FULL of discussions about the many differences between men and women and the disconnects in perspective we tend to have. We generally care about entirely different things. It’s interesting to see all the different types of things that matter to women that are insignificant, superficial, unnecessary, arbitrary, and sometimes downright odd to men (and vice versa). Men and women live in different worlds it seems, and a lot of men resent the way this disconnect relates to dating, sex, and relationships. There’s a lot at stake when it comes to sexual preferences, behavior, and expectations. Women set the standards for what’s acceptable, desirable, and undesirable in men. This is a level of perceived authority that not all men are comfortable with (as I mentioned in #2).
When it comes to attraction and sex women seem to value things in men that men don’t find as important. Hence the resentment. Many men hate how so many women get turned on by demeanor, style, and confidence a lot moreso than substance of character, compassion, loyalty, or intelligence. This isn’t fair because not only does this not apply to every woman, but if these men observed themselves they’d realize that their sexual attraction triggers were even more shallow, primal, arbitrary, and unsophisticated. Even if it were true though, it would also be true that there are countless women who value the same things as you to the same extent you do. Complaining about the ones that don’t isn’t the way to find those women. So I say move to plan B.
3) Women pride themselves on being complex.
Growing up in a house with four women I learned right away that women’s standards regarding comfort, cleanliness, and general satisfaction were higher than our government needs the debt ceiling to be. They struck me as experts at finding otherwise nonexistent problems, unacceptable quality, or discomfort in almost any given decoration, service, or product. This isn’t because they’re naturally negative or committed to discontent though. As the creatures of habit we humans tend to be, women in particular are a lot more detail oriented. They almost always value details more than us. This is why it seems like good is never good enough for them. The seemingly trivial aspects of a house, relationship, shirt, person’s tastes, or personality will usually somehow manage to be a lot more nuanced, bothersome, or generally a bigger deal to her than it will be to him.
Most men I know desire to be simple creatures, but I can’t say the same for what I see in most women. Women seem to crave challenge, mystery, intrigue, and other complicated things that disturb the peace men value so much. The average man resents the fact that so many women often feel the need to test him and reassure herself that he’s the one for her and that he’s qualified to handle her foolishness in case it flares up again later on. Women can also appear to be reluctant to accept how simple men are and how little we want or expect from them. Perhaps they’re annoyed by this reality because they realize that it means we can’t fully relate to them. Or who knows, maybe they just think it’s boring and disappointing. Even it that’s true, hatred or resentment is not the answer. Just find common ground and give each other space to be who you are. Decide what ticky tackness you can tolerate (from a woman who’s worth it obviously) and set your boundaries on the things you can’t and this becomes a non-issue.
Did I solve this problem or is there more to the story? What do you think? How common is it that men resent women? Do they resent the difficulties they have in finding the right woman for themselves as individuals or do they resent the choices they have to choose from? Is this more about pessimism and a “woe is me” mindset of a lot of men? Is this just a symptom of broken, complicated, and/or hopelessly conflicting gender relations? You tell me.
Photo: wheat_in_your_hair / flickr