"We are not feminists because we hate men; we are feminists because we respect and love men and we don't understand why they do not always return that respect."
Germaine Greer, author of the “The Female Eunuch”
Many women have been puzzled by this lack of love and respect. After all, logic suggests that if you love someone, they would naturally love you in return. Yet many women in relationships with men don’t find this and often experience the complete opposite.
To be fair, there are some men who can fully appreciate a woman’s love for them but it isn't true of all of them. The mystery for too many women is that when they try to love men, they only receive contempt, abuse and even violence in return. As a result, large numbers of women all over the world are beaten up, raped and murdered by men. The most common way women become murder victims is to be killed by their male partner.
Not only this, many women today have access to pornographic videos on the internet and are shocked by how badly women are treated in these films. The same is true of video games made for young men, which are full of extreme violence, some with female characters on the receiving end of it. It suggests that many men are sadists, because they become sexually excited by seeing women being mistreated. The question women ask is, “why are men like this?”
One of the barriers to understanding this is feminism itself. The feminist dogma, which claims that men and women are the same, is not helpful, because it is clear that they are not. Yes, it's true you can find feminine men who will act like women, or masculine women who behave like men, but people like this are in the minority. The way the majority of women and men think, feel and behave are radically different from each other.
The biggest difference between men and women is that women give birth to children and men don’t. The very fact of childbirth and childcare makes women unlike men in so many ways. The maternal instinct makes women far more caring people than men. Feminists don’t want to be reminded of this. It would be too easy for chauvinistic men to use this fact to claim that women should stay at home and look after the children while men go to work.
Unfortunately, when following the feminist dream, women find themselves trying to hold down a job as well as look after their home and children, with limited support from men. This is because, on the whole, men do not have the same commitment to care for children as women do. They love them, maybe, but not in the way a woman does. As a result, too many men are left free to pursue their careers and hobbies and mostly leave childcare to the woman.
If we look at the animal world, we can get a clearer understanding of why this is so. In most species of mammals, (which is what humans are), males fight each other for dominance and access to females. We see this clearly in animals like stags, rams and bulls who bash their heads together every year. So we find that males instinctively associate competition, aggression, violence, dominance and submission with sexual desire.
Male birds have been observed helping to care for the young and in some species do as much, or even more, than the mother. This is not true with mammals, where most males do little to help and support the mothers with young. In some species like bears, tigers and lions, the males will even kill and eat the young of their own species.
Female animals rarely fight each other, as their instincts are largely concerned with giving birth and looking after their young. The masculine drive concerns competition, aggression and violence, while the feminine one is maternal and is all about love, caring and nurturing. They couldn't be more different.
This is why many men who are loved by women do not always give love in return. A man instinctively competes against everyone, including the woman he is having a relationship with. She shows love for the man, but he is fighting her for dominance. It's not going to be a successful outcome for the woman.
When male animals battle each other there is no sense of fairness or equality. The winner has greater access to females and food, while the loser is pushed away. We see a similar situation in human males. When men compete against each other for money or power, the rules of the game are, “the winner takes it all”. We can see the result of this in the big gap between rich and poor in all patriarchal societies. The poor are the losers in the endless fight for dominance between men.
If a man exhibits the same attitude in his relationship with women, he may compete against the female by verbally abusing her or beating her. What he wants is her submission to him. When he thinks he has won this game, because he has made the woman frightened of him, he then assumes he has the right to dominate and mistreat her. Many men, who are losers in games they play with other men, feel that this is the one game they can easily win, because they are bigger, stronger and more aggressive than women.
The crazy truth behind all this is that many men want loving women, who will care for and support them, but instead of being grateful, they return this love with abuse. What these men don’t realise is that women are not playing male competitive games. They don’t know they are supposed to be fighting for power with their male partners; all they know is that for some strange reason, their partner is being horrible to them. It's a mystery.
Women then try to tame men by being even more loving or trying to reason with them. Sometimes this can work, as occasional men come to realize that their relationship with women is not a fight for dominance. Some men can even appreciate this, relax and enjoy the fact they are with someone they are not in competition with.
Although some men can wake up to the fact they are acting like jerks and become ashamed of their behaviour towards women, what often gets in the way is the pull of popular culture, which tells men they need to be tough and macho. It encourages men to be even more aggressive than they normally are. They believe that women love men who are assertive, dominant and even violent. Many women fall for it too and come to think they should love macho men.
Too many men can get away with their selfish behaviour because women tend to treat them like children. Women love their children deeply, but on the whole, children show very little appreciation for the things their mothers do for them. As some mothers have complained, “no one knows what I do, until I don’t do it.” Women caring for children become used to giving and nurturing without reward or thanks. This means that for many women, an unappreciative man is just another selfish child.
Men also use a double standard about women who freely have sex with lots of men. This is exactly what men want- women who will give them sex with no strings attached. But instead of being grateful, they call women like this whores, sluts and tarts and treat them with contempt. Paradoxically, men seem to respect women who will say “no” to them and play, “hard to get” games, because they are behaving like men.
They have similar attitudes towards prostitutes who, again, are giving men what they want- sex with no emotional attachment. They show no respect for these women. Many sex workers are frequently attacked physically as well as verbally and even murdered by men, unless they have some form of protection, usually a pimp, who may also beat them to show who's boss.
So we have the strange situation that if women give men what they want, they show no gratitude. However, if a high-class prostitute demands large sums of money for her services or treats the man cruelly, then she is given far more respect. This suggests masochistic behaviour in men. They only admire cruel and demanding women, because it reminds them of themselves. It's what they would do.
The possible masochism of men is another barrier to understanding what is going on between men and women. This word comes from the works of a 19th century author called Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who wrote a famous novel called, “Venus In Furs”. In this story he describes a relationship in which a man is completely dominated and mistreated by a woman. (It seems this story was partly autobiographical.) From this book came the word masochism – the desire to be badly treated.
The irony is that von Sacher-Masoch was a man, but the word 'masochist' is generally used to describe females. In the early 20th century it was commonly believed among psychologists that all women were essentially masochistic. They really want to be hurt and mistreated. This belief has since been challenged by feminists but it still remains strong in popular culture.
The problem for men trying to understand women is that the behaviour of women who give unconditional love without complaint and those who are masochistic are very similar. The difference is that a person who gives unconditional love is acclaimed as a saintly person, while the masochist is thought of as being mentally ill, with self-esteem issues.
As a result, women with abusive male partners are hit with a double whammy. Not only are they being abused, but it's claimed they secretly like it, because they have a mental illness. Men who mistreat women want to believe this, because it justifies their behaviour. As many men who abuse or rape women like to claim, “she was asking for it.” It's a rationalisation. If they conceded that they were gratuitously hurting kind and caring people, their behaviour would be seen as abhorrent, even to them.
Fortunately, not all men want to treat women badly, but even when this is true, women often have further problems. Some men want to go from one extreme to the other. Instead of being men who mistreat women, they want to be men abused by women. This was clearly true in the case of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
So if men who hurt women are a mystery to women, what are they to think of men who want women to be cruel to them? In the Femdom scene men ask, plead and even pay for women to dominate and humiliate them. Again we can make sense of this if we go back to men’s competitive instincts.
There are men who still instinctually desire to compete against women for dominance, but because they recognize that women are caring and loving people, they don't want to hurt them. It's the first step on the road to loving women. As far as they are concerned, there is only one other option - it means that women have to abuse them. In men’s competitive games there has to be a winner and a loser. It's very black and white thinking. If a man cannot be a winner because he is not ruthless enough to compete with and dominate a woman, then the price he has to pay is to be a loser. He is not macho enough to be a winner. Given the choice, such men would prefer to be in a relationship where women mistreat them, than the other way around.
For most women this makes no sense at all. They see no problem with simply being equals in a relationship. They are used to co-operating instead of competing. But the competitive instinct is too strong in men, even when they are aware of it. It's what is normal for them. Just as caring and supporting people is normal for women. In most situations men naturally compete to get their own way or to impose their views, even if it makes their partner or children miserable. It's a very powerful instinct and difficult to ignore.
In the wild, male animals can only co-exist by establishing a hierarchy of some kind. When two males meet each other, they growl, threaten and even fight each other, until one male backs down. This then makes him subordinate to the other male, and a pecking order is established. Most male animals end up playing the subordinate role because there can only be one male leader in any group of animals and he will demand constant submission.
Men are not much different. The whole of patriarchal society has been created by men as a hierarchal system, though the pecking order in human society is mostly established by who has the most money. Men have to do this, because it's the only way they can co-operate without constant conflict. As with other animals, most men end up playing a subordinate role, because in all patriarchal societies there are far fewer Chiefs than Indians.
Men want the same system in their relationships with women. They want one of them to be established as the boss for the relationship to work. If this doesn’t happen, then the man becomes unhappy until the pecking order is sorted out. He needs to know whether he's in charge or not.
This constant jockeying for position can be a problem even in the Femdom scene. Women complain that Femdom men try to “top from the bottom”. They instruct women how they want to be dominated or abused, so they hang on to control that way. They still want to be in charge even though what they are ordering is that women whip them and abuse them. As a result, if a woman doesn't keep making it clear that she is the boss, she can find herself simply acting out their fantasies, just like any other woman.
This might be just another habit. Men who pay a dominatrix become used to telling her their fantasies and having them acted out. Truly dominant women have to put them right about this and change the relationship from fantasy to reality. This is why in femdom relationships, men have to frequently go through rituals like kissing the woman’s feet, to remind them of their subservient role. Femdom men call this 'going into sub-space', which is the feeling they have when submitting to female authority.
A relationship where the woman is the boss solves most problems for women. She can make her male partner take his fair share of looking after the house and children. She can decide to continue working and make her male partner leave his job to become a househusband. This allows a woman to have both a career and children at the same time, if that's what she wants.
A truly dominant woman doesn’t have to involve herself in the femdom game of abusing her male partner. We cannot assume that a woman is cruel and vicious just because she is dominant. It’s perfectly possible for a bossy woman to be a compassionate and caring person. Just because dominant men tend to be brutal and selfish, it doesn’t mean dominant women have to be the same. It is women’s strong maternal instinct that makes it possible for women to be caring and loving leaders, who do not abuse their position.
For women, love is instinctive and natural, so much so, that it has been suggested women 'love too much'. For this reason, women who try to participate in the competitive games men play in sport, business, politics or even war, are encouraged to suppress their loving feeling towards others and try and be as ruthless as men are. Some women are able to do this, but not the majority. Because of their maternal instincts, female leaders feel they want to be a good mother to the people they rule, not a cruel tyrant.
Men are also capable of love, but their competitive instinct gets in the way. It's not easy to love someone you are competing against, but it happens. Take boxing for example. Before a fight, the two boxers will insult each other to try to “psych each other out”. Then they will fight and try to inflict as much damage as they can on each other. Afterwards, they will embrace and even show genuine love for each other.
The same is true in all competitive sports, where sportsmen demonstrate a degree of both love and hate for each other. It is also true of businessmen or politicians. They use all sorts of dirty tricks to try to outsmart their business or political opponents, but are still able to socialise with each other. It is even true of soldiers in war, who are trying to kill each other but then can show genuine love for their enemy when the fighting stops. Unfortunately, it can also happen when men have relationships with women, much to the confusion of the woman. Women do not understand why men can be both loving and cruel in their relationship with others.
Men complain women are very mysterious and complicated. What is ironic and not so well-known, is that women say the same thing about men, as we see with the Germaine Greer quote at the beginning of this article. The big problem for women is that they are largely unaware that competitive men tend to love and worship winners and despise losers. If a woman presents herself to a competitive male as a loser, not able to beat him, then the man will feel contempt for her. When women try to appease an abusive man, all that happens is that they receive even more abuse.
There is a saying that, “people can only love us to the degree we love ourselves”. This is the lesson women have to learn in their relationships with men. A woman who doesn’t love herself is a sitting duck in any relationship with a man. She is far more likely to accept either verbal or physical mistreatment from men. By doing this, she unwittingly encourages them to do it even more. This is also true for mothers caring for children. A mother who is too self-sacrificial can be taken for granted and even treated badly by her own children.
A woman with an abusive male partner can find herself in a vicious cycle. She accepts selfish and cruel behaviour, which undermines her self-confidence and causes her to hate herself. The man picks up on her self-hate, thinks she is a loser or a masochist and assumes, “she is asking for it”. The abuse becomes even worse.
It seems that men can love and worship women who love themselves, but find it much harder with women who are less self-confident. One way out of this dilemma is for the man to train or encourage woman to love themselves, as sometimes happens in the Femdom world. Even though women will find it a very crude way to do this.
In relationships between men and women, women can teach men how to love others, but only if they are able to love themselves and take the leadership role. Likewise, a man can teach a woman to love herself, if he is able to love and respect women himself. What seems to get in the way of this is popular culture.
Many women read romantic stories, in which the heroine is swept off her feet by an alpha male type. This might be fine in fiction, but when acted out in real life it means the woman can find herself the victim of abuse. We can see this clearly in romantic novels like, “
and “Fifty Shades Of Grey”. In these
stories, the heroes are cruel and sadistic men. The women who are their victims
appear to enjoy being treated like objects for the pleasure of the man. It's a
powerful message of the wrong kind. Wuthering Heights
Men are exposed to similar ideas in books and films, where the action/adventure heroes are mostly violent men. These heroes become role models for many boys and men and the underlying message is reinforced - that all problems can be solved with force, violence and aggression. It becomes a disaster when men apply the same solutions to problems in their relationships with women or even their own children.
What is clear from all this, is that men need to learn how to love others, so they will not hurt and mistreat them. Women need to learn how to love themselves and reject ill-treatment from sadistic men. This can only happen in a relationship where the woman becomes the dominant partner. Equality is something most men cannot deal with, because of their competitive instincts. So the best way a woman can protect herself from abuse and violence in a relationship with a man and get him to love her, is to take on the leadership role. She needs to demonstrate that she is, at all times and all circumstances, a winner and the person in charge. That way the whole family will benefit, as the head of the family will be a loving and caring person.