They write columns with titles like: When a Woman Isn't in the Mood: Part 1. This particular column was written by Dennis Prager.
The subject is one of the most common problems that besets marriages: the wife who isn't "in the mood" and the consequently frustrated and hurt husband. [...]
Prager begins by making it clear that the problem is completely different if the genders are reversed and he won't be addressing that problem.
I believe the real reason for the bold double standard is that Prager's advice is so bad that the men who love Prager's advice -- when it is directed at women -- would rebel at being expected to follow Prager's advice whenever their wives ask them to perform something central to the marriage or the wife's need to feel loved whether it be sex or something else.
If Prager won't personally follow his own advice and won't demand that men follow it that tells me that his advice stinks. He tries to hide the stink by informing readers that men and women are fundamentally and biologically different so that obviously bad advice for men magically becomes good advice for women.
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. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.
Translation: marital rape is now illegal and the "traditional" solution to a wife not consenting cannot be used without the husband fearing the rightful charge of rape.
Instead of teaching these men healthier ways to relate to their wives, Prager chooses to ignore the reason or reasons the wife isn't consenting and to tell her that she must consent.
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). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. 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.
This line is familiar to those of us who had boyfriends tell us that if we loved them that we would let them do whatever they wanted. This isn't about love at all, but emotional blackmail which is mutually exclusive with genuine love.
It wasn't genuine love which motivated my boyfriend to rape me when I made it clear that I wasn't going to give him what he wanted. If he loved me, as he claimed right after he raped me, at all it was in the same way that he loved a good hamburger or the way he would have loved to own a Corvette.
Any boy or man who is so insecure with himself that he can only feel loved by having a girl or woman submit to all his sexual demands has serious internal problems that won't be fixed by having a wife or a girlfriend always saying, "yes."
Prager is addressing the surface problem those predatory boyfriends face after they marry. Boyfriends who don't know how to have mutual and respectful sexual relationships are the men who will turn out to be husbands who don't know how to have a mutual and respectful sexual relationship with their wives.
If a husband cannot tell that his wife loves him in any way other than her giving him sex whenever he wants it, he immediately needs to go into therapy. Not couple's therapy. Individual therapy.
He needs to understand that emotional blackmail is not an expression of love, it is an expression of careless entitlement, disregard for women and shortsightedness. That is directly contradictory of any profession of love on the man's part.
Prager is right that a man having sex isn't proof of love, but he is wrong with the implication that men's love isn't expressed or disproven through sex. A man who loves genuinely will seek sex from his partner and have sex only in ways that expresses genuine love. A man who loves genuinely will respond to sexual problems with his partner in a loving way.
This is a major reason many husbands clam up. 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.
This is a socialized response not a biological one. Yet Prager uses biology to defend it and to help such men escape personal accountability.
This description is of men as perpetrators or victims depending on whether they simply take the sex they want with no care about the other person or beg for it with no care about themselves. In fact, this description dangerously links perpetrator mindset with a sense of victimhood.
Prager seems unaware of it, but these are not the only 2 options for men.
What I find particularly scary is that this mismatch between the inner man and the outer man, which Prager describes as normal, reminds me of details that are coming out about the man, Bruce Pardo, who premeditated a Christmas eve murderous rampage in Covina, California on his in-laws house. Some of the stories fall into the trap of making the divorce (and the woman's part in it) responsible for premeditated murder of 9 people by a man who was described by some as "nice."
This explanation is based on the flawed belief that the cause of this man's external change from nice man to monster has an external cause when the cause was internal.
Divorce didn't cause this man to murder anyone. One man decided that his revenge for divorce or the divorce settlement would be murder. He'd planned his escape to Canada, complete with $10,000 in cash which he had strapped to his leg, and only failed to anticipate that his rampage would leave him with burns.
With that man's underlying attitude the trigger could have been a workplace dispute and the location of the mass murder could have been a company Christmas party.
But fewer people make excuses for festering resentment directed at co-workers since that attitude in the workplace could put them in danger. Prager's model of marriage only puts wives and ex-wives and their families in danger.
Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control. He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual nature's desire for variety for the rest of his life.
This is a load of BS which seeks to use biology to help men dodge personal accountability. Prager himself disproves this biology theory by talking about men's resentment. To Prager, men who marry are living martyrs.
The underlying belief is that sexual conquest proves masculinity so that faithfulness robs a man of his main validation. It is, "I boink, therefore I am MAN." If he doesn't boink, he fails to be a MAN.
According to Prager, husbands who are too moral to cheat will make their wives who don't submit sexually pay in other ways. This is pettiness not biology. Prager claims that the importance of mutual kindness is impossible to overstate, but the rest of his column contradicts the idea that husbands practice genuine mutual kindness or even should practice it.
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. In fact, most women would happily give up some kindness for hard work and ambition. A kind man with little ambition is not masculine, therefore not desirable to most women.
This description isn't about how women love. It simply puts forth the view that all women are basically gold diggers. This echoes the lament of the fabled Nice Guy TM who complains mightily that his niceness is not rewarded by having women fall at his feet.
The problem with the reference to "kind men" is that often this terminology is used when people mean passive, secretly resentful, self-sacrificing or deceptive. Nice guys TM don't have mutual relationships with women, sexual or not, any more than the ideal so-called masculine men do.
According to Prager, sexual problems in a marriage can only be solved by the wife submitting sexually to her husband. Prager fails utterly to address how husbands can consistently create a mood where their wives won't want sex. If Prager did address this issue he couldn't continue with his premise of husbands as living martyrs.
Prager's column continues, but after his description of angry, quiet husbands there is no need for my reading to continue except to see what kind of thinking can lead a "nice" man to dress up as Santa and shoot a 9-year-old girl in the face before continuing a rampage with guns and a flame throwing device.
This column can be useful since a man's opinion of it will tell women quite a lot about that man and whether he has been socialized to be resentful toward women.
Hat tip: Shakesville
Update (12/31): Part 2 of Dennis Prager's column is out and he digs himself a deeper hole and ends by declaring that any woman who gets a bad result after following his advice is married to a bad man. This is a familiar disclaimer which takes an intrinsically negative view of many men.
This sharp dividing line between good and bad men is needed by Prager in order to stick to the biology defense (men are animals who can't learn how to create an environment in their marriages where their wives will be in the mood for sex frequently) behind the advice.
If Prager acknowledged the inherent danger within his advice to create attitudes and behavior in men which would cause Prager to call them "bad men" then he would have to admit that the problem is with his advice itself.
Instead Prager used "bad men" as his fall guys.
This reminds me of what I learned about the debate over slavery in the US before it was abolished. The argument by slaveholders was that the horrific abuses highlighted by abolitionists was not caused by slavery but was caused by a few bad slaveholders. If slaves were owned by good slaveholders then all slaves would have a good outcome if they just submitted to whatever they were ordered to do. All bad outcomes for slaves were either caused by bad slaves or bad owners, not the structure and injustice of slavery itself.
Bad men don't just happen they are created by a mix of external and internal stimulus, resentments and rationalizations.
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Labels: ethics, Violence Against Women