Same writer, Yahsar Ali, is offering advice to men about how and why we should respect our wives or significant female others.
In this piece he unpacks a man’s tendency to say “I better do X or she will be angry”. He sees that the way we’d expect him to, that the expectation of a volatile reaction to, say, our late arrival at home, is disrespectful on our (man’s) part. I have to wonder if he ever read about Pavlov and those doggies. In case he missed that, there is an enormous amount of study put into conditioned responses, both through positive and negative reinforcement, and conditioning both positive and negative responses.
Ignoring conditioning, Ali says:
we tend to take action to placate a woman’s potential unhappiness rather than taking action to show her respect and love.
When we say something like, “Mommy will get really upset,” we are in danger of teaching our kids to do something respectful, like being on-time, as a way to avoid a reaction.
Think about it. How many times have you said to someone, “I have to go, she’s gonna rip my head off if I’m not on time for dinner.”
He is ignoring popular culture (selectively) as well. Usually things that are expressed in the humor found on hats sold at truck stops or in roadside diners along route 66 have some basis in reality.
Why do these placards, this wine, and the famous country song exist? Because it makes a statement of fact into a humorous anecdote suitable for repeating.
Doesn’t he know that women do react to perceived wrongs sometimes irrationally? Has he never seen a woman become angry at her husband or boyfriend even when he arrives late because of traffic or a late flight? Has he not seen the alternative, rather than an angry outburst the man is faced with a seething caldron that is millimeters from boiling over? Has he never read about the different ways men and women process perceived affronts to them and their time, or any wrongdoing that evokes anger for that matter?
The fact is a man can choose whatever motive he wants, but he is going to arrive late or commit some other minor offense that transmogrifies his loving partner into something unrecognizable and even scary to the kids.
Women don’t pass through anger. They check in and stay awhile, and there is no consistent formula for getting them out. While momma is in anger, the temperature and pressure inside the home fluctuates wildly, sometimes changing the tone and tenor for days. Don’t the kids get some kind of message from that too?
Whats that old cliche about a woman scorned?
Its like this, men say these things because they are metaphors for reality. Its like nervous chatter before a dangerous mission, or gallows humor. He has been there and done that to the extent that he realizes that even if he arrives on time or early, there is a 50/50 chance he will be cross examined and rebuked for something, anything that can reassert her control and his constant awareness of her power even while he is away doing things she has sanctioned.
The writer goes on to show how daft he is when he asks:
Can you imagine if your daughter would say that about her boyfriend or husband?
“If I’m not on time, John is going to rip my head off.”
You would assume she is being emotionally or physically abused.
So why are we setting such an example for our sons?
Exactly dude! So why not think the same thing about the woman as the antagonist? Is dad being abused and controlled? There is an excellent chance that yes, he is. But, in a world where she can do no wrong, that’s OK. Even if she flips out routinely, don’t overtly do anything to try and avoid her flipping out, I mean its ok the kids witness her instability, but for daddy to mention it as a motivator will harm them for generations to come. And daughters learn no bad habits this way? Come on man!
Do you want your son to think that all women do is nag, complain, and flip out? Do you want them to think that normal, courteous behavior like being punctual or showing respect are only tools for appeasing a hysterical woman?
What about your daughter? Do you want her to believe she can gain respect and admiration from others because of who she is and what she does? Or do you want her to think the only way for her to ever get noticed is through anger and/or hysteria?
The first statement is the old straw man insertion of the word “all”. yes, frankly I DO want my son to know that women CAN nag, complain, and flip out, and that if he sees that behavior while dating, attempt to address it and if no progress is made, move along. Id tell my daughter exactly the same thing. Who is teaching the daughter that anger and hysteria gets her what she wants, dad for avoiding it, or mom for doing it?
The entire issue is that women do flip out about things, and men do well to first and foremost just not marry those types of women. If they end up married to one, in the interest of their kids not seeing daddy verbally bludgeoned by mommy, it is fine that the kiddos realize what is really happening, because they will realize it anyway. A 12 year old seeing mommy yell at daddy when he/she and daddy arrive home late would think daddy was uber pathetic if , when rushing to get home , he made a remark like” we need to get home on time because we love mommy and that’s what we do for those we love”. The 12 year old may say, er, Dad, isn’t it really so she doesn’t kick your ass?
He finally challenges us:
But if you’re reading this story and think I am overreacting and parsing words, I want you to do one thing: take a look
at your children.
OK, yep, they are fine. But I need to wrap up this post because my wife is about to wake up and it annoys her that I spend too much time blogging.