Monday, October 27, 2008

Addled Femininity

It is no secret that women baffle and confuse me. Heck, I am fairly confident that most men could attest to that statement. But more than anything else recently, I have been confused by the hearts versus the actions of women.

My personal penchant is to treat all women with as much respect as I can muster. I have on more than one occasion been accused of putting some women on a pedestal. I cannot explain exactly where it comes from, but I hearken back to a more chivalrous time. I still open the doors for women young and old, including car doors when the opportunity arises. I try to be patient with womens' thoughts and emotions. But above all, I try to take care of their hearts. I am not alone in these actions and I am certainly not above making mistakes where I am rude, hurtful, or discourteous. But in general I try to treat women with care and respect.

I have, however, noticed a trend from as early on as high school that many women allow themselves to be treated, in my opinion, with disrespect. I am not talking about the women society has slighted, who allow themselves to be in verbally or physically abusive relationships. That is to obvious of an example. I truly wish I could reach in to their lives and rescue each one of those women.

I am referring to the everyday woman who allows the men in their lives, be it co-workers, boyfriends, or friends to make dents in their esteem and leaves it unchallenged. These dents come in the form of what could be observed by many as casual flirting or joking. A comment about the large size of a woman's posterior, belittling a woman's looks or the care they have taken in their appearance and clothing, insulting a woman's intelligence, etc. I could go on but I think you are beginning to get the point. Rarely are these comments uttered with malicious intent but that does not mean it does not cut into the heart of a woman. I have talked with many women who on the surface take these comments and jests in stride but go home questioning their value, beauty, and worth.
Have you ever had a rough time with a group of male friends and gone home to discuss it with your friends Häagen and Dazs? You might be one of the women I am referring to. I have heard from women who have dwelled on a seemingly innocent comment or remark and allowed it to penetrate their heart. However, for unexplained reasons, these women go back to the same men who have hurt them and instead of letting them know of the emotional pain, they continue to receive more of the same abuse. What is more, they work harder to gain the attention of these men.

Furthermore, recently I have heard men call some women very derogatory things that I won't even post. And yet these women still try and curry favor and attention from them. I would hope for any man's sake that he should never utter such words towards my wife or daughter.

So women (men, your input is welcome too), this is the interactive part. I would simply like to know why? Why do women speak so much about finding someone to care for who they are, their heart and souls, yet allow themselves to be treated so poorly? Is it because the assumption is made that all guys will treat you in this manner so why even talk about it?
It is one thing to say in today's modern feminism that women can take the same jokes and jabs to the ego that a guy can. But I am finding in my observations, that is simply not the case. I would love some help for myself too. Is it appropriate to joke about the things a woman should still find sacred and reverent? Or, am I completely off base in all of this?
When I question my guy friends about it, they say they are just joking around and don't mean the things they say. Women, does it hurt or affect you in any way? Or, non-surprisingly, have I just misjudged and misheard women?


Russell said...

Roomie, u post some great ?'s at the end. These are some things I have wrestled with too in my past relationships and even now. I will admit i have failed at times to treat all women with respect and as such I will comment on your blog.

i think the main reason why so many women put up with men that treat them bad is because from my opinion its the way the south still works. I have seen it first hand from one of my former coworkers. He treated his gf like crap, talking to u badly hitting and flirting on other women while we were out and she wasn't there. the result??? She cheated on him. There relationship ended and he is back to hitting the bars/clubs searching for women.

The south i think has raised a lot of men that still believe they can say anything do anything to a woman and they should just stand there and take it, maybe later on talk to there friends about it.

UTKevDawg said...

Hmmm interesting point I had not thought of. Is this confined regionally and culturally. Or is it more widespread?

Russell said...

I would like to answer your ? but since I have only known southern culture I don't know. However, I would say yes that part of the reason has to be the southern culture from what I have seen. I do have a scewed perspective though.

lookatthosemoose said...

I think partially it stems from the social pressure placed on women that says if you are not in a relationship by a certain point in your life, you are surely subpar. This fuels self-deprecation and doubts as to adequacy, worth and self-value, unfortunately.

I've heard it said by a woman, any attention (be it negative) is better than no attention, playing on the "any press is good press," which I was actually blown away by. It seems many have the mindset of "better to be neglected than lonely." The figures on domestic violence can attest.

To me, these are not naturally tendencies, but have been planted and watered by what has become socially acceptable and ideas that are accepted by and large, in the sense that one's self-worth is solely measured by how others perceive, treat and speak of you. Nice post, Kevin.

Robbye said...

A woman’s deepest need is to know that she is valuable (loved, beautiful, desired, etc.). Being a creation of God and His daughter makes a woman priceless! Her heart is a treasure and she longs for a man who will step up and protect her heart. Yet many (most?) women are fed lies throughout life that she is of no value. The lies can stem from the world, from family, from friends, or from The Enemy, but women end up looking around them for confirmation that they are valuable instead of looking to their creator.

Women believe all sorts of lies and variations of those lies (and I suspect men do too, but that’s not my point). Two of the most common lies are, “I must be thin (or have a certain physical features) to be valuable,” or “I must be dating or married to be valuable (i.e. a man makes me valuable).” Believing those lies will cause a woman to act in ways that are contrary to her deepest need, but the lies keep her from seeing the situation with any clarity.

For instance, if a woman believes the lie that she must be dating or married to be valuable, she will act in a way that she believes will accomplish that “goal” most efficiently (with little regard to guarding her own heart). In this case, she may put up with poor treatment in order to retain the status of “in a relationship,” even when her heart is longing more. If a woman can’t see her value (because she’s blinded by the lies), she won’t feel that she needs to be protected or perhaps more accurately, she won’t feel that she *deserves* to be protected. Furthermore, this type of smarmy man is likely saying and doing just enough to validate the woman (giving her some sense of value) and keeping her hoping that things will improve. Though you mention that an abused woman is too obvious an example, I suspect that the root issues are the same and the cases of blatant abuse are simply the extreme of the same behaviors.

In short, women tend to pursue that which makes them feel valuable instead of seeing their intrinsic value, often causing greater damage to themselves and their esteem. Yes, women need to be seen as valuable and they need to be respected, treasured, and protected by the men around them. Comments and actions contrary to that are arrows to the heart of a woman, whether or not she will admit it or contemplate it. In the absence of a tangible protector, a woman can look to her Creator to protect her heart from such wounds, but that’s easier said than done in the day-to-day interactions with others. Keep doing your part as a protector, Kevin, and the right kind of girl will recognize it.

LauraC said...

I'd first like to say that this was a very well thought out and put together post. Thanks Kevin, for taking the time to think about the issue and to pose the questions. I felt moved to comment on this particular post because the topic is something that I myself have wrestled with for many years and only recently found some answers. That being said, the thoughts that follow are from my own experiences, and while I may refer to "we" or "women," please know that this may not apply to all.

I believe your answer has two parts. One is the ever present conflict between the desires of men and women, and the other is the image that a woman wants to project.

Many women want to be the person that a guy would like to improve himself for. There are some men who think this means that women want to change men. While there are some women out there have that as their goal, I contend that not all women fit that mold. I do think that many women would find it the ultimate compliment were a guy to say "You make me want to be a better man." Many women also think they know “what a great guy he could be.” We tend to get these notions from fairy tales, poems, and movies (See "Something's Gotta Give" for the first quote above). Such ideas are derived from fantasy, and therefore do not mix well with reality.

I have stuck around to be this life-altering girl. I waited to see the man I was with become the man I thought he was. I didn’t show my hurt because I wanted him to want to change on his own (ex: “I want you to want to do the dishes!) While I no longer believe the fairy tale notions apply in the real world, I do think it is important for you guys asking these questions to understand where the mindset might be coming from.

To address the second part, there are women out there who consider themselves strong, independent, and confident (all traits that I heavily identify with), don’t say anything when a man makes a remark because men tend to blame the woman for the discomfort. Statements such as “you didn’t get the joke” or “you shouldn’t have taken it that way” are said. I have confronted men when they have made a joke or statement that I felt was inappropriate, and the reaction made me feel worse than the original comment. Immediately after stating my discomfort or hurt, my sensitivity or sense of humor was questioned. So to answer one of your last questions, yes it does hurt, but sometimes it can cause more pain to stand up against it. This is not to say that a guy should be afraid to joke, or make light of a situation, certainly not. But should a woman confront you about it, listen to why it made her upset, explain your side, and agree to tread softer next time.

I must say again that I appreciate the questions being asked. I hope that my comments provide a little insight and prompt further discussion. I would like to pose some of my own questions regarding what baffles and confuses me about men, but this comment is long enough.

AngelaB said...

i LOVE this blog. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. As for the reference to the mannerisms of southern men, it's more widespread than just this region. sorry, friend.

btw i'm having a hard time believing that men actually think this way. perhaps honorable men are just so few and far between these days. consider yourself a gem.

Mikey said...

so a very holy man had a dream one night where God appeared and said to him, "you have been a very faithful servant, I will grant you one wish." and so after thinking for a long time, the man said, "i want a bridge to hawaii. i don't like flying and i want to be able to drive to hawaii." so God said, "well, i can do that, i really can, i mean, i'm God, i can do anything, but it's kind of going to be pain in the rear because of technical difficulties like getting builders and money to do it, and well you there anything else?" and so the holy man said, "how about to understand the mind of a woman?"...and then God said, "do you want that bridge 2 lanes or 4?"

with that in mind, let me say one thing...coming from a man who fights daily for the sanctity and sanity of his marriage with much patience...women are attracted to passion, they love to see a man with drive and aggresiveness and wildness and confidence...but the problem is they also want a man with stability, patience, humility, and gentleness...BUT, women, no matter what they say, will always be attracted FIRST to the man with goes back to some caveman thing, idk...but it's true...this is why the nice guy always ends up at home alone on saturday my advice as a guy, don't waist your time trying to understand women, you'll go crazy...instead be passionate, be wild, be strong, be confident and then once you have her in your arms, be patient, gentle, and the words of tim mcgraw, "i may be a real bad boy, but baby i'm a real good mannnn..."

Rachel said...

I agree with Robbye and Laura. I'm processing my own thoughts, but for now I'll add this. Your questions alone place you in a great position - women so love that you're questioning these things. Don't opt for the bridge, don't give up on being patient, etc. In reality, and I know I'm partially playing with semantics here, but the female perspective doesn't see that as something separate from being passionate, etc.

Amy said...

I think to put it all on a wide-spread universal attitude of why women put up with it is only going to get someone in trouble.

I do have a few theories from my own personal experience, though. Meaning, when I've allowed men to treat me like crap.

First, attention is attention. I think some women worry that if they don't allow a man to treat them like crap, they won't be able to be friends or "companions" with them anymore. Think about it... even you as men sometimes let people treat you as less than worthy to be in the "cool" group. It's the same thing. Getting bad attention is still attention.

Women think they can be "the one" to change a man. Sometimes this comes from our wanting to think of ourselves as better than the ones that came before, sometimes it's just a desperation of not wanting to end up alone.

Which brings me to a third point. Women are afraid to be alone. I've seen women bounce from man to man their entire lives, none of which are good enough for them. As someone who has been single for 4 years, I can speak with authority that being single for any amount of time starts to wear on the ego. Some are willing to deal with the worn ego to wait on that guy who is perfect and right for them, some are not.

Like I said earlier, though, I'm not sure this is a universal idea that can be pinned to one thing.