Saturday, June 4, 2016

Hint! Hint!

     Are you a man? That is: Do you possess the fabled Y chromosome, that which produces male genitalia and conduces to the high-testosterone behavior characteristic of “guys?” Have you been dealing with derision of your sex from those who lack the Y chromosome – i.e., women – for as long as you’ve been aware of the existence of two sexes? Does it occasionally make you want to scream and break something – or someone?

     Welcome to the club. It’s a big club – approximately half the human race – and enrollment is involuntary. Genetics determine whether you’re a member, not how you “identify.” In case the allusion is a bit obscure, have a pictorial dramatization:

     The specifics of our coupling gear aren’t the only thing that sets us apart from non-men (i.e., women). There are numerous differences between men and the Y-chromosome-deficient. You might have noticed a few of these in your travels. One that I’ve frequently remarked upon is semiotic:

     “The cardinal difficulty,” said MacPhee, “in collaboration between the sexes is that women speak a language without nouns. If two men are doing a bit of work one will say to the other, ‘Put this bowl inside the bigger bowl which you'll find on the top shelf of the green cupboard.’ The female for this is, ‘Put that in the other one in there.’ There is consequently a phatic hiatus.” [C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength]

     Another is women’s inability to say what they mean. In particular, we have this common conversational sequence:

     He: What’s the matter?
     She: Nothing.

     Any man who’s spent more than a year connected to a woman via marriage, betrothal, or other romantic entanglement knows quite well that there’s a lot more wrong than “nothing.” He also knows that she’s casting about for a way to get him to deal with it for her. Also:

     He: [Statement of how it’s going to be.]
     She: Fine.

     Could it be any clearer that it’s not “fine,” that she’s already plotting her revenge and will make sure it stings as much as possible without running afoul of the criminal law?

     There are endless other examples. Some of the most illuminating have to do with – drumroll, please – sex. Whereupon I submit the link that has my hackles up:

     Men in long-term relationships tend to underestimate their female partners’ sex drive, new data from two Canadian universities show. A study published last month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology indicates that the conventional wisdom eternally exploited in sitcom riffs and stand-up routines—that wives are incapable of satisfying their husbands’ gargantuan libidos—may be a figment of the male imagination....

     The researchers found that, on a regular basis, men significantly underperceived the degree of their female partners’ sexual desire, while women consistently made accurate judgments about how much their male partners wanted sex. Among diary-keeping couples, on days when men underestimated their female partners’ libido, the women showed higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

     This suggests that, whether consciously or not, men might be better partners when they think they have to work for it—in other words, a man will try harder to please his female partner if he thinks she’s not responding to his advances, which keeps him from taking the relationship for granted and getting lazy. Another likely explanation for male sexual underperception: fear of rejection. On days when men reported in their diaries a high level of motivation to avoid sexual rejection, they were more likely to underestimate their partners’ desire for sex, perhaps as a precaution against making advances that could go unreturned.

     The phrasing of the above is what’s got my ire up. Let’s stipulate for the sake of this tirade that the objective realities are exactly as those Canadian studies suggest. Every sentence in the above citation proclaims this aspect of inter-gender communications difficulties to be the man’s fault. He “underperceives” her desire for sex. Men generally “underestimate” women’s desire. The shortcoming is ours, rather than hers for not being clearer about it.

     Great God in heaven. Keep the sharp objects away from me, please. Is there anything better known about women’s proclivities than that they refuse to say explicitly what they want from us? It’s always hints. Men are clear and specific about their needs and wants. Expect a woman to come right out and say it? You’d have a better chance of skiing through a revolving door.

     There might be good reasons for that aspect of female non-communication. It’s possible, as the article suggests, that it conduces to better male-female relations overall. But that wouldn’t change the facts before us: that she refuses to say what she wants and blames the consequences on him.

     Now, concerning “fear of rejection.” Most men are rejection-averse; that’s well established. But in the majority of cases it’s not fear of the rejection itself. It’s a subconscious awareness that a pattern of rejection can produce highly undesirable long-term consequences: in particular, a sexless relationship. After some unforeseeable number of rejections, he’ll stop asking. He knows it; she knows it.

     Combine the above with women’s far greater propensity to decline sex – in particular when his advance is nonverbal, so she can pretend she simply didn’t know what he had in mind – and the conclusion cannot be evaded.

     Sexual difficulties are a contributor to roughly two-thirds of all sundered marriages. My conviction is that women’s communication limitations are important to the overwhelming majority of those.

     It’s in the nature of things that he must take the sexual initiative. But it’s also in the nature of things that should she refuse him often enough, sex will go permanently “off the agenda” – and in the great majority of cases, whether that was her intention or not:

  1. She’ll be more satisfied with the results than will he;
  2. Regardless, she’ll characterize it as “his fault.”

     And nothing that the woman who wrote the cited article can say will change that.


Anonymous said...

"This suggests that, whether consciously or not, men might be better partners when they think they have to work for it—in other words, a man will try harder to please his female partner if he thinks she’s not responding to his advances, which keeps him from taking the relationship for granted and getting lazy."

Men would be better ... if they TRIED HARDER .... (wait for it...) ... when she's NOT RESPONDING TO HIS ADVANCES!

Mein Gott in Himmel!

RAPE. This woman wants to be ravished (i.e., RAPED). And suggests that husbands rape their wives, and boyfriends rape their girlfriends, and Muslim immigrants rape ... well, whomever.

And a man is a poor "Partner" (and a bad lover) if he DOESN'T!

I can see why this prompted an article.

Linda Fox said...

True, MOST men and women fit this model. In fact, ALMOST all.

And, then, there are the outliers: my husband and myself.

I am direct, he is subtle.
I am decisive, he is hesitant and considering all the aspects.

Is it a wonder that I excel in "male" fields like: computer programming and network administration, teaching physics and chemistry, and have hobbies like robotics and ham radio?

My husband enjoys cooking, and is addicted to the HGTV network.

Francis W. Porretto said...

(chuckle) That's an outlier, all right, Linda. And I'd say it's nearly as rare as the famous pitchblende deposits of Manhattan.