When we Blame Men we Ignore this Uncomfortable Truth.

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“Men are such children!” my mother always said, in frustration, about my father.

“But men are children!” answered my mother-in-law in regards to her son, surprised that I still harbored hopes to the contrary.

“All men are children!” exclaimed my married friends when I had come too close to being fed up with the babysitting. “There is no one better,” is what they would say next, unwilling to contemplate any other way of relating.

I refuse to perpetuate this frustrating status quo that serves no one.

I don’t want my partner in life to be one of my children. This is not what I have signed up for! I want an equal!

Yet, when I speak to other women and dig deeper into myself, I realize that most of us do not really want an equal either: we want a father figure. We crave finally being taken care of by a stronger authority figure—which most of us did not have growing up, whether our fathers were physically present or not.

We fight for equality publicly, but privately what we still want is someone to save us, to spoil us, and battle the hardships of life on our behalf.

We enjoy being taken care of, yet we resent the price of losing our autonomy and freedom.

We are filled with conflicting messages, torn between the remnants of patriarchal conditioning and the need for change. We are so confused about what makes us happy that fulfillment eludes us. Most women I know, me included, end up blaming our partners for our unhappiness, abstaining from taking our share of responsibility for our own well-being.

When I coach women about self-empowerment, we focus on retraining their reflexes from assigning blame to accepting responsibility for everything that is happening in their lives. As long as we blame others for whatever is not working, we remain stuck in victim mode, unable to initiate change. It is only once we recognize our contribution to our current circumstances that we can step into our power to make the necessary changes.

I have witnessed this dynamic in my own relationship.

After years of blaming my husband for my lack of fulfillment, I decided to take matters into my own hands, pursue my own passions, and take care of my own needs. As I became more contented through taking action and improving my own life, I stopped blaming my husband for my unhappiness.

Women are caught in a vicious cycle. We rebel against centuries of being exploited by men, but we fail to notice how we exploit them, in turn.

We say we want equality, love, and partnership, but we really just want a man to take the pressure of being a self-responsible adult off of us. Of course, the moment one feels inferior to the other, resentment, fear, and envy become unavoidable.

The dynamic of mistrust and fear is revealed in our language. To “snag a man,” women go through all sorts of machinations. A friend on the brink of a divorce was told by the counselor that her husband will get remarried quickly, while she will have a hard time. The counselor was just citing statistics, but several years later, that is exactly what happened: her newly divorced ex-husband got “snapped up” pretty quickly.

There is a desperation in our behavior.

To get the guy to commit we use every trick in our seduction toolkit—then we try to break him in and domesticate him. We proceed to turn our men into helpless children: exactly what exasperates us once we have succeeded.

Our ideals of marriage still come with many conflicting and unrealistic expectations that are simply impossible for a normal man to live up to.

We want our men to be sensitive and vulnerable, but not too much so or they become too needy.

We want them to be strong, decisive, and take initiative, yet sufficiently obedient and willing to compromise at home.

They have to be good at making money and have a thriving career, all while spending plenty of time at home, available to help with the children and, whenever we want to talk, to listen to us with attention and understanding.

When any of these expectations fail, we feel betrayed. As women become more independent and take care of things that we would have preferred the father figure partner to resolve for us, we feel resentful. We come to the conclusion that, since now we have to do everything on our own, men have simply become obsolete.

The ridicule and debasement of men in the media and mainstream culture is now pervasive. The stereotype of the incompetent male head of the household is prevalent on television and in movies, with little respect shown for the man-children who can’t seem to do anything right and are usually saved by smart, witty women.

The emasculation of men has become normalized.

Most men are aware by now that, one way or the other, they are failing to meet their spouse’s wishes. Even those who try, just can’t seem to get it right. Here, too, I speak from experience, with my latest birthday fiasco still fresh in my mind.

Constantly feeling like failures, it is now our men who become resentful and simply tune our nagging out. They withdraw from us and turn to things that make them feel better: working more, drinking, watching football, watching pornography.

Women are not the only victims of patriarchy.

Men have also had the life force beaten out of them by the same system. Their emotional development has been arrested during their formative years, with focus placed only on their physical strength, and not on emotional intelligence and intuition. Many grown men shrink from the responsibility of adulthood in their relationships, turning into the ever-growing breed of the irresponsible, uninspired, and uncreative.

Our accumulated resentments and fatigue from dysfunctional relating with our partners incite us to lash out against men privately and publicly, loudly airing the long list of our grievances. They are also reflected in our divorce statistics.

The majority of divorces today are initiated by women.

Leaving a marriage feels like an empowering thing to do. Except, most of the divorced women I speak to quickly come to realize that being a single parent is too hard, and that navigating life without a partner is lonely, sad, and unrewarding. Inevitably, women want to be back in a couple set-up, newly desperate, betting that the next partner will be more attentive and understanding.

When we come home from our protest rallies and marches, after the giddiness subsides and the quasi-empowerment wears off, if there is not a man there who loves and supports us, we feel lonely and small. And no matter how loudly we proclaim that we’d rather be alone than unhappy, in the end we don’t want to be unhappy or alone.

We need to redefine what it means to be empowered.

We also need to understand that no man can give us happiness and flowing feelings. We produce them ourselves when we dare to open our hearts to loving and our minds to our own inner truth.

It is true that we no longer need men to survive. We modern women can totally live on our own. We can provide for ourselves and our children even if it is not always easy.

But is living on our own the point?

Survey after survey, experiment after experiment, prove that what makes life worth living are the deep connections that we create with other beings.

It is normal and healthy to share a life with a partner.

Patriarchal structures did a lot of disservice to the way women and men relate to each other. There is a lot of frustration, fatigue, and rage about the way things are. Centuries of dysfunctional relating will take time to dismantle and rebuild.

However, it is not by using the language of aggression that we can achieve results we hope for.

I feel that it is up to us, as women, to interrupt the cycle of unhealthy gender duality, separation, and alienation.

A woman’s force lies in her wisdom, her emotional plasticity, and her willingness to be the first to extend a hand in forgiveness and compassion. It is easier for us to find the right words and courageously open our hearts to love and understanding.

Most importantly, when we blame our men for the state of our relationships, we ignore to what extent we are responsible: we are the ones who raise our sons and daughters.

In schools, the majority of teachers are women. At home, whether single or married, mothers still spend much more time with their children than their fathers do—generally—and, therefore, have the most influence on their education.

We need to start by teaching ourselves and then our children about right relationship with ourselves. Only then can we forge constructive connections with others.

We need to teach our boys and girls about self-leadership, which is about being there for yourself in the way that we always wanted and needed someone else to be. It is taking time for self-care. It is feeling capable of facing our fears and feelings, and cleaning up our own mess.

For women, it is knowing that we can save ourselves—that we are enough on our own—which will finally make us feel equal to men. That we can have our emotional fulfilment without having to become either a slave or a competitor. That we can be in love and remain autonomous.

For men, it is cultivating their real strength and power through facing their feelings and being able to relate to their partners on a level of intellectual and emotional equality.

For that, we need to be willing to release the feelings of hate, distrust, and blame that permeate our relationships today.

Autonomous, whole, self-responsible, and self-actualizing men and women have nothing to fear or resent in one another. They can open to love and experience fulfilment through connecting in a non-needy way, shouldering life’s challenges together in equal measure.

Women and men complement each other. For the harmonious existence and perpetuation of life, we need both. This is for our own benefit and part of Nature’s perfect plan.

~

Relephant read:

A Fairy Tale Recipe for Divorce.

~

Bonus: The One Buddhist Red Flag to Look out for

Author: Galina Singer
Image: Mad Men (1999)
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy/Social Editor: Nicole Cameron

 

 

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Galina Singer

From Communism to Consumerism, from Atheism to Spirituality, from Victimhood to Self-Responsibility, Galina Singer has traversed several cultures and conflicting philosophies in search for meaning. The answers came when she took the time to look within, piercing through layers of dogma and multi-cultural conditioning and uncovering her authentic voice. Today Galina investigates reasons behind the depression pandemic and how to take back control over our lives through self-knowledge and self-acceptance. By peeling away layers of societal and family conditioning Galina helps clients to re-discover their authentic voices and wake up to the lives of freedom and fulfilment. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.

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Tony Muscat Oct 19, 2018 4:56am

This is the most sensible, truthful and honest article I have ever ready by a female. After years of feeling guilty, and months of reflection lately, I find out that I wasn't so bad and so guilty. Thank you.

Na RV Sep 18, 2018 4:43am

a well-balanced Argument on why really it's still mens fault ,because patriarchy. It's mens fault becaus while growing up men work on what they enjoy and are good at and that women aren't necessarily good at . While women work on what they enjoy and are good at and that men are not necessarily good at. it's still mens fault because if they would just work on their emotional IQ and act more like women we would all get along better.

Fred K Brattåker May 18, 2018 10:21am

James Doyle women that didn't speak up in defense of other women or against certain men have been attacked during that movement too. Meryl Streep is a big one that comes to mind. Thre greater your priviledge, the more upsetting people get when you don't use it to help others. So yes, women with priviledge have been called on as well, and called out. All of Corinne's questions are similar to ones I had.

Madelaine Culver Mar 30, 2018 11:23am

Marilyn Harris Xxxx

Marilyn Harris Mar 30, 2018 3:20am

Madelaine Culver YES!! YES!! YES!! This! SO much this! Thank you, Madelaine, for stating it so well! XO - M

Galina Singer Mar 23, 2018 5:31pm

Madelaine Culver I hear you. But I feel that your view is also limited. You choose to focus on things that support your position. Yesterday I went to a lecture on Zaha Hadid who said "your success will not be determined by your gender or your ethnicity, but only on the scope of your dreams and your hard work to achieve them." And I feel that she really knew what she was talking about. I also welcome you to read this: http://www.macleans.ca/society/want-men-to-support-feminism-stop-treating-them-as-the-problem/ No issue is just black or white. This is complex. But I feel that we will achieve more if we choose to collaborate and learn to communicate, so that both sides feel heard.

Madelaine Culver Mar 23, 2018 4:57pm

Galina Singer, when the immense power and privilege that has and continues to be granted to men by men via a profoundly discriminatory patriarchal system is taken into consideration, all points and suggestions made in this article can be understood as utterly simplistic and unrealistic. Women have been taking responsibility for the shortcomings of our patriarchal system for a very long time, and articles like this reinforce the idea that we should continue rather than acknowledge the real issue at hand. The real issue is that men are not often enough held accountable for their behaviour and attitudes towards women. Not in their relationships. Not in their workplaces. Not in society more generally. If only women did have the power, as you suggest, to take down the patriarchy from the comfort of their homes simply by acknowledging their own shortcomings and lowering their expectations of men. If only it were that easy. Patriarchy is indeed a prison for everyone, and it is indeed up to everyone to acknowledge their own part in it. However, within a system that routinely hinders and actively tries to prevent women from reaching positions of power and influence, it really isn't viable to suggest that women share equal responsibility. This article is extremely narrow in its view of an immensely complicated issue, and I maintain that those who hold the most power in society (i.e. men in this case) must take responsibility for them selves, support rather than stand in the way of women who are fighting for equality, and realise the immense privilege and power that being born a white cisgender heterosexual man has afforded them. We all want change; willful blindenss is not the way to achieve it.

Madelaine Culver Mar 23, 2018 4:53pm

Alex Obed, when the immense power and privilege that has and continues to be granted to men by men via a profoundly discriminatory patriarchal system is taken into consideration, all points and suggestions made in this article can be understood as utterly simplistic and unrealistic. Women have been taking responsibility for the shortcomings of our patriarchal system for a very long time, and articles like this reinforce the idea that we should continue rather than acknowledge the real issue at hand. The real issue is that men are not often enough held accountable for their behaviour and attitudes towards women. Not in their relationships. Not in their workplaces. Not in society more generally. If only women did have the power, as Galina suggests, to take down the patriarchy from the comfort of their homes simply by acknowledging their own shortcomings and lowering their expectations of men. If only it were that easy. Patriarchy is indeed a prison for everyone, and it is indeed up to everyone to acknowledge their own part in it. However, within a system that routinely hinders and actively tries to prevent women from reaching positions of power and influence, it really isn't viable to suggest that women share equal responsibility. This article is extremely narrow in its view of an immensely complicated issue, and I maintain that those who hold the most power in society (i.e. men in this case) must take responsibility for them selves, support rather than stand in the way of women who are fighting for equality, and realise the immense privilege and power that being born a white cisgender heterosexual man has afforded them. We all want change; willful blindenss is not the way to achieve it.

Galina Singer Mar 23, 2018 4:25pm

Madelaine Culver I see, I really do. Patriarchal fairy tale may have been invented by men, but women enjoyed it! I still have daily conversations with women who are miserable because their husbands turn out to be regular humans, with their fears and worries and weaknesses, and are not some knights in shining armor, with superhuman powers to make everything difficult in their lives go away! You seem to have a very singular view of the situation. In my conversations with men, they would love the women to stop with the unrealistic expectations from men! I feel that women were brainwashed (still are) by these fairy tales and it is about time we stop! I say let us shift the responsibility for our beliefs and expectations to ourselves and raise our sons and daughters outside of the obsolete and damaging fairy tale paradigm! This is in our power.

Alex Obed Mar 23, 2018 4:06pm

One can believe in personal responsibility and systemic misogyny/patriarchy. They are not mutually exclusive. You said it yourself that we are all victims of patriarchy. We all have work to do, personally and interpersonally. That much is clear. How do we change the system that is much like the air we breathe? As you yourself know, it's not so simple because it's... "systemic!" In the meanwhile, as people wake up to all of the conditioning, etc., what can people do? They can start taking more responsibility. And guess what--that will actually have an effect on the whole. You saw a lot of "victim blaming" here. I see a person calling out women for a behavior that is destructive within relationships: calling men babies. What really seems childish is trying to have it BOTH ways. Both trying to say that the situation is systemic and that men/women suffer because of patriarchy (which we all agree on, btw, at least the three of us in this conversation) AND then blaming men for that which, as you just admitted, they are naturally a victim of. So, I ask you, which is it: are men victims of patriarchy or are they benefactors of patriarchy? Because you seem to be saying both without getting the actual implications (and corresponding absurdity) of holding your position.

Galina Singer Mar 23, 2018 4:03pm

Thank you for your comment, Madelaine. I do not claim to be an exemplary feminist and I can live with the fact that my rhetoric may not seem sound to you. I do not mind if you cannot classify me into something that you can agree with. In fact, I prefer to stay outside of rigid classifications. This article is my personal observation, experience, and analysis. Being a woman I am all too aware of all the inequalities, unfair treatment, double standards and countless cases of abuse all over the world that you refer to. I have expressed my share of outrage in some of my previous articles. What I disagree with is bunching any group of people into an object of hate. Any group of people consists of individuals with their unique faces, stories and behaviour. I ask that as we point our fingers in outrage on others, that we also take a look at ourselves and how we perpetuate some of the dysfunctional relating.

Madelaine Culver Mar 23, 2018 3:53pm

Galina Singer, you seem to be forgetting that the 'patriarchal fairy tale' you speak of was invented by men as a means of keeping women in check, and that a lot of men still buy into this paradigm. If men are still buying into it then it doesn't matter whether or not women are taught to move past it because the 'patriarchal fairy tale' will still be expected of them. Don't you see how complicated this is? Don't you see how shifting the responsibility onto women is preventing men from being truly held to account for their enormous yet all too often disregarded role in all of this?

Madelaine Culver Mar 23, 2018 12:58pm

This article is the antithesis of sound feminist rhetoric. Contemporary feminism is not about emasculating men. Nor is it about expecting vulnerability and sensitivity from them. Contemporary feminism is about gaining equality and respect between men and women. That's it. I agree that we should all take personal responsibility for our own behaviours and feelings, but systemic misogyny is very real and needs to be acknowledged by everyone. Claiming that women are to blame for male childishness is utterly preposterous. We all have the power to choose for ourselves how we will relate to our friends, partners, lovers, acquaintances and family members. It just so happens that white (cisgender and heterosexual) men, who have benefited from more money, more respect, and more opportunities/privileges in society for hundreds of years, are still generally not held accountable for the disrespectful and pig-headed ways in which they choose to think about, talk about and behave towards the women in their lives. Patriarchy is a prison for everyone, which is why we must all acknowledge it for what it is: a system of male privilege which allows untold numbers of men to get away with sexual/verbal/emotional/physical abuse against women every single day across the globe. Men are without doubt emotionally stifled within this system, but it is not the fault of their female counterparts if they choose to behave in childish ways as a result. This article is not helpful.

Galina Singer Mar 20, 2018 9:07pm

Daniel Fox Thank you so much for this link! I just listened to it and find it eye-opening on so many levels; it’s truly precious food for thought. To be explored further. Thank you for having thought of me!

Daniel Fox Mar 20, 2018 3:58pm

Galina Singer you might find interesting this new podcast from The Hidden Brain https://www.npr.org/2018/03/19/594719471/guys-we-have-a-problem-how-american-masculinity-creates-lonely-men

Daniel Fox Mar 19, 2018 2:32am

Galina Singer And thank you for the good read.

Galina Singer Mar 18, 2018 5:14pm

Eivind Figenschau Skjellum It is an interesting question: what made me switch from anger to reconciliation? And it does merit its own article. But, basically, I started shifting my focus from my own pain and suffering to trying to understand my husband and what happened to us... I realised, that he was also stuck in pain and suffering. I also realised that a lot of the pain I was feeling was not caused by him, but from my own expectations. The switch from victimhood to self-empowerment became the magic: it was now up to me to do something about it... So this article reflects my own journey. Thank you for your thought provoking questions and discussion! I also really like "the shadow of the feminine!" It absolutely needs to be brought to light. I accept the mission - haha!

Eivind Figenschau Skjellum Mar 18, 2018 1:51pm

Galina Singer Just to be clear, I see that we men have tons of shit to clean up. There's a lot of dark masculine energy running rampant in the world. Just look at the evil present on the Dark Web. Though everyone's talking about toxic masculinity. Almost nobody is talking about the shadow of the feminine. And it HAS to be brought into the light. Thank you so much for doing it. Women don't seem able to hear it when men say it. So please keep talking!!

Eivind Figenschau Skjellum Mar 18, 2018 1:42pm

Galina Singer I wonder, what made you switch from anger to this place of reconciliation? That's a story which warrants another article I think!

Galina Singer Mar 18, 2018 1:25pm

Thank you so much for your comment! And there is always hope! I think we just have to allow the necessary stages to healing to take place, so I ask you to be a bit more patient and understanding with us women as we get our shit together, to use your words. Anger is part of the process, I am afraid, and I myself was in a very angry place just a year ago. But if we consciously try to keep our hearts open and recognize that we need each other for harmonious life, then eventually love will melt the anger. I do believe in love :) Thank you once again for your engagement here!

Galina Singer Mar 18, 2018 1:18pm

Thank you for reading and your encouraging comment, Daniel!

Eivind Figenschau Skjellum Mar 18, 2018 9:01am

Well done, Galina! Amazing article. The amount of women I see these days who are willing to own their part and realize the truth is bigger than "it's HIS fault" is small and shrinking. So to see a woman speak from a mature and responsible place is not only encouraging, but gives me hope in women's capacity to leave your habitual victimhood behind and become proactive allies of men. We're in this mess together and unless women get your shit together (just like we men are expected to), we're basically doomed. So maybe there's still hope. Thank you for such a big dose of feminine sanity!! :)

Rebecca Johnson Mar 16, 2018 11:39pm

Marilyn Harris I'm with you sister. Writing like this emboldens anti-feminists. Completely glossing over wage inequality, professional discrimination, and the burden of career setbecks due to childbirth is ignoring the reason why the majority of women continue to rely on men for their (financial) wellbeing and the safety provided by marriage. By NOT rehashing the cause you give men no reason at all to observe and change their privilege and advantage. Patriarchy is bad for men and women, but men get to earn 25% more while figuring it out.

Daniel Fox Mar 16, 2018 11:02pm

Finally! Thank you!! A balanced, matured and moderated observation - something we don't see a lot nowadays.

James Doyle Mar 16, 2018 6:00pm

She probably means the cultural expectation around men protecting women more than some division of household chores. We are seeing this at the moment in the discussion around #Metoo, where there are calls for *other* men to take responsibility and step in in ways *other* woemn are not being called on. That's the cultural norm.