Dr. Helen is a woman we all greatly admire, and for several good reasons. There is her courage in the face of heart disease; the fact that, though a woman, she very much wants society to show respect and fairness to men; the fact that, though a psychologist, she is able to recognize that not every claim her discipline makes is founded on the firmest rock of true science. All these things are the mark of a good person, one who is brave, seeks to understand the concerns of others different from herself, and honest in her inquiry.
Nevertheless, I find myself in disagreement with her on occasion. This week has provided several opportunities for me to scratch my head.
Most recently, this is her advice to men on production and consumption. Of course a man ought to strive to produce more than he consumes; even a purely selfish man can easily imagine reasons for doing so. He might wish to find a way to keep more of what he produces; but what you build in the world, along with the love you share with people who matter to you, is what matters most out of life. A man who follows this advice will not fill his heart.
On a different matter, I think that everyone learned my opinion of the Venusian Arts from reading Cassandra's page; but here is the short version for ease of reference:
On the one hand, the guy who wrote that has a solid handle on a number of problems that are disrupting the way young Americans try to form families and have happy lives today. He's right about the demographic problems, and he's right about a number of ways in which the old system was far better.I appreciate that the doctor wants to be on the side of men; but not, I hope, of men who don't merit it. Men who are themselves deeply angry at women ("fatpocalypse") are just as unlikely to produce an insightful methodology for achieving greater understanding between the sexes as the sort of radical feminist that got so much attention in the 1970s. I suppose chivalry seems "pig headed" to those males who view women as a class of self-absorbed parasites, just as it does to those women who view men as a class of hideous oppressors.
However, he's coming at it from a perspective that is actively hostile to women. He really doesn't like women. You can't construct an answer to this question starting from a perspective that is hostile to either sex....
[I]f anyone comes off worse in the piece than women, it's men who like women. I quote:
Hence, many men are still stuck in the obsolete and inobservant notion that chivalry and excess servility are the pathways to sex today, despite the modern reality that a woman's sexual decisions are no longer controlled by her parents, and are often casual rather than locked in matrimony. Whether such men are religious and called 'social conservatives', or effete leftists and called 'girlie men', they are effectively the same, and the term 'White Knights' can apply to the entire group. Their form of chivalry when exposed to 'feminist' histrionics results in these men harming other men at the behest of women who will never be attracted to them.... These men are the biggest suckers of all, as their pig-headed denial of the Venusian Arts will prevent them from deducing that excess agreeability and willingness to do favors for the objects of their lust are exactly the opposite of what makes women sexually attracted to men.
Now, while it's obvious that I rush to avoid any appearance of disagreement with Our Lady Host, and would never think of arguing assertively against any lady, this kind of gives away the game.
My relationships with women are not intended to be 'pathways to sex' in the first place. Neither am I interested in being 'sexually attractive' to the women I meet. I do enjoy the company of women, their charm and grace and easy manners, but I'm quite content with having my sexuality contained within the private space of my home.
I sometimes meet beautiful and desirable women, and I'm always glad of the opportunity to enjoy their company in a friendly way. If I wanted to take them, I'd take them. I don't, because that isn't what I want: what I want is love, which is harder to come by and harder to nurture and to defend.
That, I think, was what dear Cassandra was saying above about her husband: it's just not the same thing at all. If you've focused your mind on sex, you've missed the real thing entirely....
The real alphas out here are the ones who love women. Women know when they meet a man who likes and enjoys women, and they react accordingly.
The term they sneer at -- "chivalry" -- is an ethic of willful service to one another. This is true in its relationship between men, whether they were equal fighting companions, or lord and vassal, each with clear and binding duties toward one another. Chivalry's attitude toward women grew out of that same ethic, so that many knightly poems of love borrow the terminology of fealty and service.
I remain convinced that it is both the most successful and the most beautiful model of relations between the sexes. As longtime readers know, I have a whole series of essays on the topic linked on the sidebar, under the heading "Chivalry & Women."
Finally, on anger:
Men are typically more stressed and confused in arguments with women and remain bitter for longer afterward, while women are more comfortable amid verbal jousts, recover from them more quickly, in our ready for another round. Generally, it is fair to say that men are more intimidated in confrontations with women than the other way around.I certainly agree that the state should stay out of people's marriages. I'm amazed, though, at the study that finds men to be intimidated by arguing with women.
If I've heard one thing said a thousand times it's that women resent the way that men talk over them, ignore them, and generally just refuse to engage them if they aren't interested in the point the woman is trying to make. (Which, as Cassandra once noted, is exactly what men do to each other too!) That doesn't speak of intimidation. At best it's a kind of rough equity; but it's certainly not intimidation.
I can't recall ever being intimidated by a woman. I'm not easy to intimidate in any case, but I can only recall one woman who even tried to do it (and that while I was fairly young, and she an adult). It didn't work, though she did succeed in making me angry -- but not intimidated.
Are we sure the study is on solid ground? Perhaps it's a sampling error. Maybe the kind of guy who wrote the "Venusian Arts" piece (peacocking!) is the sort that's really so scared of women that, at the first sign of trouble, he wilts and slinks off to bitterness (but with the solace of ever-better Virtual Reality porn: who needs those women anyway?).
Perhaps that's the resolution. I noticed some commenters slamming on SWWBO because of her acronym, as though it were proof that she was just the kind of woman that the VA piece was discussing. I hate to think what they would have thought of the story of the originator of the phrase.
He was a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and a paragon of the sort of love they appear to despise. As a young man he fell in love with a lady called Lily, and sought her hand; but he was delayed in his purpose, first by her father and then by his own, until she eventually married another. That husband abandoned her after embezzling funds from his bank and running off with the family's savings as well. Haggard provided a home for her and her children, and saw to her children's education. She died of the syphilis her husband gave her, but supported and cared for by the man who had really loved her.
Perhaps that made him a fool; but if so, he was my kind of fool.