Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Misogyny Tuesday

Ok, did the Religious Right have some meeting that I (obviously would have) missed? Or is the recent upswing in obvious misogyny part of the "christmas spirit"? Honestly, When a Woman Isn't in the Mood, Part 1 by Dennis Prager had my hands into fists after the first sentence. By the second paragraph, I was growling. (Really growling. People were staring.)

Update: Dennis Prager has, unsurprisingly, been divorced twice.

Given our preoccupation with politics and economics, it is easy to forget that for most of us micro issues still play a greater role in our lives. So here are some thoughts that, as heretical as they might sound "heretical" isn't word you are looking for. try "offensive" or "misogynistic" or "sexist" or, and this is my personal favorite, "shut the fuck up you stupid asshat", have been found extremely helpful, sometimes even marriage-saving, from listeners to my radio show, which features a "male-female hour" every week. it's good because it saves marriages. as if an intact marriage, no matter how miserable for one or both parties, is the greatest good. if that's how you judge success, then a marriage in which the husband regularly puts the wife in the hospital is good as long as they don't get divorced. it doesn't matter if this advice saves marriages, if the marriages being saved require one party to completely subjugate themselves to the other.
The subject is one of the most common problems that besets marriages: the wife who is "not in the mood" and the consequently frustrated and hurt husband. actually, research has shown that married people have more sex than unmarried people. contrary to popular culture, this makes sense. after all, there's the two of you, sleeping in the same bed and all. (maybe, some people sleep apart by choice.)
There are marriages with the opposite problem – a wife who is frustrated and hurt because her husband is rarely in the mood. But, as important and as destructive as that problem is, it has different causes and different solutions, and is therefore not addressed here. because men always want to have sex, so if they don't want to as much as their wives, it's a physical problem that needs a doctor. a woman who doesn't want to have sex is just being mean or frigid or withholding affection. (btw, if you are a woman and find you don't ever want to have sex, or not as much as you might like to, go to a doctor. there are all kinds of physical problems that cause loss of desire in women. sure, it might very well be stress or just plain tiredness, it could also be medication or hormones or a lot of other things. you're not being a bad wife.)

What is addressed is the far more common problem of "He wants, she doesn't want." i wonder how common this really is, or if we're just getting an unwelcome look at the sexual habits of fundamentalist christians. i mean, think about it. they're taught from birth that sex is Teh Evil. they have abstinence shoved down their throats from a very young age, and both boys and girls are taught that women who "want it" are badbad dirty whores. how could you possible, as a woman, have a satisfying sex life if you internalized that kind of shit? I know I couldn't. It took me more than a decade to get over that. If you didn't get over it, how eager for unsatisfying, dirty, badbadsex would you be?

It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Yeah, because otherwise that's rape. Yes, you can rape your own wife. Happens all the time. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom. Don't worry about your own desires and pleasure, sweetie. It's what your husband wants that counts. It's your duty to do it even if it is unsatisfying or even painful, otherwise you're being a bad wife.

First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife's refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). Not to be gross, but that's because sex for a woman involves letting someone else inside her body. If you're a man, try to imagine the invasive nature of this. Sure, if the sex is consensual and pleasurable, this is fine. (More than fine, but we won't go there.) If it's not, this is humiliating and . . . well . . . icky. This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Not the women I know. We all read women's magazines, buddy. Many women think men's natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman's nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it. Sure, we're all such idiots that we don't know that men view the world in a vastly different way on certain subjects. By the way, men like to fix things, women like to vent. Just clearing that up for you. Who are these women he's referring to? 12 year olds?

This is a major reason many husbands clam up. Also, men just aren't as adept with language as women, and are culturally conditioned to view talking about feelings as unmanly. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex. Instead of advising women to do it when they don't want to, indeed when it isn't pleasurable at all, why not just advise the men to TALK about their feelings? Oh, wait, that's right. Fundies don't talk about sex unless it's gay sex. They talk about that a lot.

When first told this about men, women generally react in one or more of five ways:
You have to be kidding. That certainly isn't my way of knowing if he loves me.
Because I'm an idiot and I assume men are women with outies!

There have to be deeper ways than sex for me to show my husband that I love him. there are. you know, like giving him a kidney.

If this is true, men really are animals. i like men, but they are a little basic sometimes.

Not my man. He knows I love him by the kind and loving way I treat him. he should.

You have it backwards. If he truly loved me, he wouldn't expect sex when I'm not in the mood. yeah, actually. it's ok to ask, but to continue to demand it when the other party says no isn't really loving, is it? my husband has not once, when i have said that i am in so much pain that being set on fire would be more pleasant, suggested that we have sex. i guess he's just unmanly.

I know this and that's why I rarely say no to sex. sigh. you know, sometimes it's not a bad idea to give it a whirl and see if you get in the mood. but, BIG BUT, this requires a partner who's ok with a little making out that goes nowhere if the mood doesn't appear. also, there is nothing wrong with saying "hey, not into this today. not going to be. i'll get back to you about tomorrow." to constantly do it when you don't want to removes the pleasure of doing it when you do.

Let's deal with each of these responses.
1. You have to be kidding. …
The most common female reaction to hearing about men's sexual nature is incredulity, often followed by denial. These are entirely understandable reactions given how profoundly different – and how seemingly more primitive – men's sexual nature is compared to women's.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA I love fundy morons! look buddy, i don't know what's going on in your bedroom (probably a lot of eye closing and thinking of england), but women love sex. we desire as strongly and passionately and, in the absence of judgment, will cheerfully rip the shirt of a man and throw him on the bed. (unless i'm the freak . . .)

Incredulity is certainly the reaction most women have when first being told that a man knows he is loved when his wife gives him her body. you know, you can't really give someone your body. this is like the idea of "giving" someone the tremendous present of your virginity. i'm ashamed i missed this the first time through. sex is something that should be shared, not given or taken. The idea that the man she is married to, let alone a man whose intelligence she respects, will to any serious extent measure her love of him by such a carnal yardstick strikes many women as absurd and even objectionable. men are different, get over it.
But the question that should matter to a woman who loves her man is not whether this proposition speaks poorly or well of male nature. It is whether it is true. And it is true beyond anything she can imagine. A woman who often deprives her husband of her body
again, the language of the man using his wife's body is disgusting and oppressive. if that's how my husband felt about sex, i wouldn't let him anywhere near my body. sharing, Mr. Misogyny, sharing! is guaranteed to injure him and to injure the marriage – no matter what her female friends say, no matter what a sympathetic therapist says, and no matter what her man says. (Very few men will confess to the amount of hurt and eventual anger they experience when repeatedly denied sex.) why would i want to married to this guy, anyway?

Of course, there are times when a man must simply refrain from initiating sex out of concern for his wife's physical or emotional condition. we're weak little critters. And then there are men for whom sex rarely has anything to do with making love for the love of all those things that don't exist, can we please get over this? it's sex. it's fun. if you like s&m, go for it. or whose frequency of demands are excessive. well, at least he's not suggesting that women "give" their bodies up 5 times a day. unless you want to have sex 5 times a day. though it seems like there would be some chafing issues after a certain point. (What "excessive" means ought to be determined by the couple before the refusals begin, or continue. not very helpful, buddy. one person might find more than once a week excessive, while another might not find it excessive until it's 10 times a day. it's a word with no definitive meaning.) But the fact remains: Your man knows you love him by your willingness to give him your body. give again. yeesh.

2. If this is true, men really are animals. they're fun that way!
Correct. Compared to most women's sexual nature those other women are whores!, men's sexual nature is far closer to that of animals. BWAHAHAHAHAHA considering my occasional preoccupation with [censored] involving [censored] that would be so very [censored], i must be an animal! the word Mr. Prager would probably use is "whore". So what?

That is the way he is made. it's that unsymmetric xy configuration. Blame God and nature. Telling your husband to control it is a fine idea. But he already does. Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control.

and my head just exploded. "heroic"? HEROIC?! not sticking your dick in any available slot is heroic? what about my "heroic" self control? you should see some of the men who walk around my office! oh, that's right. good women don't really want sex, they just give it up to make nice.

He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual nature's desire for variety for the rest of his life. he deserves a freakin' medal. anyone want to donate me a bunch of money for gold-plated awards in the shape of a penis held back 1" from a vagina? To ask that he also regularly deny himself sex with the one woman in the world with whom he is permitted sex is asking far too much. Deny him enough times and he may try to fill this need with another woman. it's your fault if your husband cheats on you. he could have tried talking to you or marriage counseling, but that's just not the manly way. If he is too moral to ever do that, he will match your sexual withdrawal with emotional and other forms of withdrawal.

3. Not my man.

Many women will argue, understandably, "My husband knows I love him. He doesn't need me to have sex with him to know that. And this is especially so when I'm too tired or just don't want sex. Anyway, my man only enjoys sex with me when I'm into it, too." he should. i can't imagine anything less sexy than trying to do it with someone who is tired, resentful, unfulfilled, and just lying there thinking of all the cleaning that remains to be done. i suppose you could do it doggie style facing the tv, so at least she's not bored, but that doesn't really sound sexy, either.

The importance of mutual kindness to a marriage is impossible to overstate. actually, this is true. it's very hard to get excited about a person you resent. when you come to the point where the dog is the only person who is reliably nice to you, you need to rethink things. But while necessary, it is not sufficient. Women can understand this by applying the same rule to men. Most women will readily acknowledge that it is certainly not enough for a man to be kind to her. If it were, women would rarely reject kind men as husband material. But as much as a woman wants a kind man, she wants more than that. If a man is, let us say, lacking in ambition or just doesn't want to work hard, few women will love him no matter how kind he is. you'll find a lot of women who go for this in second marriages, or at least relationships after the first marriage. money and ambition seem nice, until you've experienced it in the absence of humanity. trust me on this one. i can make my own money, but i need more kindness than the dog provides. In fact, most women would happily give up some kindness for hard work and ambition. written by the man who really makes me concerned for his wife. A kind man with little ambition is not masculine, therefore not desirable to most women. c'mon, Mr. Prager, it's not 1950. it's practically 2009! we're so over the traditional gender roles. Ooooo, watch me blow Mr. Prager's mind: some men stay home and take care of the kids while their wives work!

Likewise, a kind woman who is not sexual with her husband is not feminine. She is a kind roommate. a woman who is sexual prior to marriage? a whore. a woman who is not sexual after marriage? a lesbian.

Furthermore, a woman who denies the man she loves sex is not kind.

4. You have it backward.
Every rational and decent man knows there are times when he should not initiate sex. In a marriage of good communication, a man would either know when those times are or his wife would tell him (and she needs to – women should not expect men to read their minds. He is her man, not her mother.
mother's read minds? since when?)
But, to repeat the key point, rejection of sex should happen infrequently. And it should almost never be dependent on mood – see Part II next week.
i can't wait.

5. I know this and that's why I rarely say no to my husband.
This is a wise woman.
or a woman who's subjugated herself to the point where she can no longer distinguish between her needs and her husband's. is that some new definition of "wise" i am not aware of? She knows a sexually fulfilled husband is a happy husband. and who cares about a sexually fulfilled wife? (At the same time, men need to recognize that complete sexual fulfillment is unattainable in this world. what. the. fuck. is that supposed to mean?) And because a happy husband loves his wife more, this cycle of love produces a happy home. for one person, anyway.

In Part II, I will explain in detail why mood should play little or no role in a woman's determining whether she has sex with her husband.
I conclude Part I with this clarification: Everything written here applies under two conditions: 1. The woman is married to a good man. 2. She wants him to be a happy husband.
could you stop with the woman blaming? pretty please? If either condition is not present, nothing written here matters. But if you are a woman who loves your husband, what is written here can be the most important thing you will read concerning your marriage. Because chances are the man you love won't tell you. because the woman should be telling her husband things, not the other way around. it's unmanly!


  1. (lets see if i can finish before the zanaflex and halcyon kick in...)
    yeah, this one was also nicely disected over at pandagon. while Jesse has a certain flair, i liked yours better. i think its the set up - you didn't say anything all that different.

    something i want to add to this (if i may) is another aspect of that fucked up Maddonna/Whore dichotomy. because a woman wanting sex is a Whore (and we all know that whore is another name for prostitute). a Madonna is a woman who DOESN'T want sex and so trades sex for stability. (and a woman who trades sex is a prostitute)
    do you see how the patriarchy, in one fell swooop, converted ALL women into prostitutes?

    maybe its not all this bad. i mean, i actually literally KNOW guys who don't want to have sex with their wives - because their wives did everything "right" in the fundie eyes, so these wives are "pure women" who should continue to be shielded from the dirtyyuckycrassgrossetc of sex. guys who feel GUILTY even THINKING about having sex with their wives. and slowly, over time, they take that issue they have that is THEIR issue with how they see their wife, and then wake up one day and call that wive a frost queen castrating bitch who doesn't put out - and she doesn't put out because the husband WOULDN'T LET HER.
    ok, yeah not better. but i had to spell it all out there for me to see it all...

    its just all so FUCKING disgusting. my best friend is currently on the run from her rapist husband.

    i, on the other hand, have a kick ass boyfriend. before i had to have surgery on my hip, the sex was all me, i can't think of a SINGLE time he initiated in the first 3 1/2 years of our relationship. i had the higher sex drive. now sex takes LOGISTICS because of my hip (but we do have sex just about as much as he ever wanted, even if not as much as i wanted). he sometimes voices a complaint when its been like literally months, and its pretty mild and turns into a request to leave him alone with his porn for a couple of hours.

    but we do sleep on seperate beds. i need a soft squishy melty-into sorta bad that doesn't HURT. he likes a hard bed. but there are shoved against each other and look kinda like a sideways king size. and this way he doesn't kick me in the night :)

  2. yeah, i love the view that for women, all sex is a transaction. we can't actually like it or anything.

    sex definitely takes logistics when you're sick. my knees and hips kill all the time (among other things) so we have to pick ways that are easy on the joints. this did involve a learning curve (no, not tha- ow! jeez, what are you doi-oh, okay, that's all right.)

    my hubbie and i sleep in separate rooms. i (i'm told) thrash about in my sleep, and he snores at about 90 decibels.


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