Friday, 17 August 2018

Masculine traits

Leftie men like to give the impression that the way they treat women is thoroughly sensitive and liberated, unlike those awful right-wingers who're misogynists through and through. Leftie men are proud of their feminist credentials. They've shed all those primitive masculine traits. Or so they like to think.

The truth is that the powerful tentacles of masculine conditioning aren't shed that easily - if at all. They've been embedded in the male mind from a very early age - from birth in fact - and by the time adulthood is reached they're well dug-in and pretty hard to shift.

I know my own mind is warped by my masculine upbringing, and it would be stupid to pretend otherwise. I was taught that women should be seen in a certain way - that they should be objectified, fetishised, sexualised, pornified, commodified, trivialised, ignored, ridiculed, controlled and dominated. That's a hefty rejection of decent, healthy behaviour towards half the population, and not something that can just be shed overnight like torn jeans or a faulty kettle.

At the age of 71, I'm very aware that those disgusting misogynistic attitudes still hover at the back of my mind, however much I might pretend they've been thoroughly purged and forgotten. But unlike the men who still see those attitudes as normal and mindlessly act on them, I can at least clearly recognise the hatred of women that runs through them and consciously adopt different and more civilised behaviour.

When women angrily point out my residual anti-women habits, as they sometimes do, it's a timely reminder of that stubbornly entrenched conditioning that I might otherwise think the passing years have obliterated. If only. Unfortunately society did a bloody good job of indoctrinating me at a tender age when I was too ignorant to realise what was being fed into me.

PS: I think trying to shed masculine conditioning is like trying to shed a Catholic upbringing - virtually impossible.

29 comments:

John Gray said...

I do think that things have turned some sort of corner, but I am a firm believer that you get treated how you allow yourself to be treated
That needs to change more

nick said...

John: Yes, there's some truth in that, but it's not uncommon for self-confident, assertive women to be turned into demoralised nervous wrecks by persistently dominating, gaslighting men.

Cheerful Monk said...

Your post makes me even more glad that I'm retired!

nick said...

Jean: Indeed. The way some men behave in workplaces, often with the support of other men, is appalling.

Rummuser said...

For a moment the term Leftie threw me till I realised that you are not talking about left handed men but ideologically left leaning men.

I agree with you but, there is a lot to be said for circumstances and parenting that can change this. As you probably know, I come from a dysfunctional family with a philandering father and a balancing mother. Naturally, we three brothers and the youngest a sister grew up with very different values than the normal children did and at least in my immediate and extended family the phenomenon of treating women as objects does not exist. Or at least, I would like to believe that it does not and I have not been proven wrong yet.

nick said...

Ramana: I think it's very rare for a man to grow up with a totally healthy relationship with women and free of all the usual predatory male attitudes. Even with the most favourable circumstances and enlightened parenting, men pick up so many negative attitudes from other men, from friends, from workmates, and from the media, that normal behaviour gets discredited.

I'm glad you treat women with due respect. Too many men still don't.

helen devries said...

I used to deal with the results of appalling behaviour in the workplace, resulting in women being sacked or feeling forced to resign.
All very well to say that you are treated as you allow yourself to be treated, but not so easy when you are a sole breadwinner, or trying to cope with home and work responsibilities.
The worst thing though, was the lack of support from other women in the organisation...there was a great deal of pulling up of ladders behind them or joining in the undermining in order to reinforce their pwn position.

nick said...

Helen: The workplace behaviour of many men is still disgusting, but they get away with it because (a) they're in a more senior position or (b) you'll be punished for complaining or (c) nobody believes you or (d) as you say other women will ignore it. And yes, you may very well put up with lecherous behaviour in order to keep your job.

Bijoux said...

I feel fortunate that I've escaped most of these attitudes.

nick said...

Bijoux: You must have been lucky enough to have met some very civilised men....

tammy j said...

a very timely topic. and like Helen was a sole bread winner. as a young widow I always felt happy just having a job. and with that comes overlooking things said that now wouldn't even be allowed (I hope!). back then it was just accepted (especially since it was from people "men" in higher positions.)
we all agree I think that changes still need to be made. but it's a start and as with any kind of social change it will always feel too slow! I agree with Monk. I'm so glad to be retired!

nick said...

Tammy: Some men still need to accept that even touching a woman without her permission is unacceptable and counts as sexual assault. They still act as though a woman's body is theirs to fondle or caress whenever they feel like it.

But yes, we've advanced from how things were a few decades ago and there's much less tolerance of unwanted physical contact. Unfortunately at the same time social-media misogyny is getting a lot worse.

Ursula said...

Well, well, well, Nick - I see your exaggerating has not abated. Neither your irrational hatred of men. And your view of women who can't look after themselves. Don't you see what you are doing there? What sort of world do you live in?

Today, it was only nine thirty in the morning, I was out and about, in passing, I introduced myself to what you can only term "an old Geezer" - a legend on our street - and he kissed my hand. He was genuinely enchanted. Not least at my name Ursula which, naturally, oh the horror of it in YOUR eyes, led to Ursula Andress. On parting he kissed my hand again. He didn't ask me for "permission". And if he had it would have taken all the charm out off it. But, since he didn't have my permission you deem that "unacceptable and [counting] as sexual assault"? This is incredible. Next you'll tell us that a man opening a door for a woman, helping her in and out her court is a sign of "misogyny".

You have got to take your grey glasses off, Nick, and stop generalizing, giving men such a horrible image. I don't know what world you live in. It disgusts me. Mainly because it's not true. And, worse, you perpetuate myths - keeping them alive.

U

CheerfulMonk said...

Here's an interesting article about the doouble standard that still exists: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/08/elon-musk-new-york-times-interview-ceo/567835/?utm_source=feed

CheerfulMonk said...

"double" not doouble", of course. :D

CheerfulMonk said...

Here's another article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/famous-ladies-arent-flaunting-their-bikini-bodies-theyre-just-going-to-the-beach/2018/08/16/1d6ecc5e-a0b4-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html

nick said...

Jean: Excellent articles, thanks for linking. They show very clearly how women and men are viewed and judged in completely different ways on the basis of sharply-defined gender stereotypes. A woman cries at work? She's over-emotional and not up to the job. A man cries at work? He's just vulnerable and under pressure and "showing his human side". And so on and so on.

In a thousand different ways men and women are treated differently, to the constant disadvantage of women.

Yes, isn't it tedious how women going about their normal everyday activities are seen as "flaunting her fabulous gym-honed body" or "looking gorgeous after shedding those excess pounds" while men are simply doing the shopping?

kylie said...

There was one man I worked with when I was very young who threateningly ran his finger down my neck and shoulder but I have otherwise lived life unmolested. I might be tempted to imagine I wasn't pretty enough to attract attention but we all know that looks have little bearing on it.
The rise of the me too campaign has prompted me to wonder how I managed to escape but I have and I'm pleased

nick said...

Kylie: You're lucky to have lived life relatively unmolested. Indeed, I think looks have little to do with it, it's all about power and any available woman will serve the purpose - even frail old ladies in their eighties can be targeted. The #metoo campaign is great.

Joanne Noragon said...

I believe your analogy to shedding a religion is right on. Sexism remains rampant and embedded. I wonder how it will end.

nick said...

Joanne: I'm glad you said that, as someone else suggested to me that actually shedding Catholicism was relatively easy. But I've often read that that early emphasis on guilt and sin and shame is usually a life-long burden.

CheerfulMonk said...

nick,
I was raised a Catholic but shed that burden long ago -- people can change if they want to and are willing to do the work. For me it was a lot better than blaming my early conditioning. It's liberating.

nick said...

Jean: I'm glad to hear that. I guess if you're sufficiently determined to leave your childhood conditioning behind, then you might be able to. But if that conditioning is thoroughly internalised, it's very hard to get rid of it.

Joared said...

I’ve come in contact with all sorts of males in my lifetime both within my family, other personal relationships and in a variety of work settings. I’ve always found it best to consider each as individuals without any preconceived stereotypical categorizing based on gender. Frankly, some women have been as objectionable in their behaviors in quite a different way. There are rotten apples in both barrels, especially when there’s a power differential. I do think there are some cultures where patriarchal dominance prevails, not only in select countries, but also religions, and social groups. I think we can’t discount the effects of testosterone and the need for those with a predominant amount to be aware of the effect on them so they can adjust their behavior as appropriate (including with women, children, even other males.)

nick said...

Joared: You're right that in the first instance we should consider men and women as individuals rather than gender stereotypes. People don't necessarily conform to the stereotypes, and there are spiteful bitchy women as well as sweet, generous men. But I think there's a general tendency for many men to treat women abominably because that's what they've been taught to do from an early age. I don't think it's simply (if at all) the effects of testosterone. Men copy other men's behaviour and assume cruelty and violence is normal. I don't think Harvey Weinstein for example was testosterone-fuelled. He was just a powerful man who abused his power by mistreating women.

Ms Scarlet said...

I get the feeling that you've lived 71 years doing battle with yourself!
You've seen a lot of cultural shifts, and you came of age in the 1960s, when I guess there were many mixed messages regarding female roles.
I'd say give yourself a break, be a decent human being, and treat people with respect. It's the best any of us can do.
Sx

nick said...

Scarlet: Indeed, I've been doing battle with myself in all sorts of ways. My psyche is pretty tangled. But yes, exactly that, I do my best to be a decent human being and treat people with respect. An attitude that seems to be getting more and more unusual.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I've encountered plenty of the kind of guys you are talking about - the sexual harassment and intimidation and objectification. But for the guys who are doing their level best - I don't point out residual sexism angrily. I am thankful that they are trying and willing to engage in a conversation about it.

nick said...

Agent: Yes, at least there are men who recognise their engrained sexism and are actively trying to change it rather than letting it rip. But it's shocking how few of them there are.