Man hating

“Happy Valley” is a police drama by Sally Wainwright set in and around Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. The most fleshed-out male characters are the three murderers, two of whom are violent rapists. One other main male character is drunk and disorderly, making a fool of himself outside a pub, and the most sympathetic male character is a loser who has gone back to his mother after being thrown out by his wife for having an affair. Occasionally, he says sensible things. The protagonist, Sgt. Catherine Cawood, whose nickname in the nick is “Brunnhilde”, is a saint in human form. Always seeking to do the right, compassionate thing, always considering implications and the long term, she bears up under great stress. Her daughter killed herself after giving birth to her rapist’s child, and Caroline is bringing up her grandson and caring for her recovering alcoholic/addict sister.

In the last scene, the grandson is chatting away about wanting a dog- an alsatian or pit-bull or rottweiler- and my distinct impression is that Caroline is wondering if he will grow up to be like his murderous rapist father. I almost don’t want to admit it because that is so horrible.

In Middlemarch, the women in every case rule their men. Mary loves Frank but insists he get a good income before she will consent to marry him. Mrs Bulstrode cares for Mr Bulstrode in his disgrace. Though the Doctor is far more intelligent and sensible than poor Rosamund, she runs rings round him, always getting her way. Dorothea wants a husband more intelligent than she. It’s not possible, and her attempt is a disaster. He is mean cowardly and impotent, and falsely impugns her honour, publicly. So she picks her second husband because he is physically attractive.

All men are stupid I can cope with. All men are arrogant fools with a colossal sense of entitlement and resentment, and potential for extreme violence- even the ones in suits with responsible jobs- is more difficult, especially as women saying this probably think I’m a man. Margaret Atwood said Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them. Er- steady on-

I like to imagine I am not murderous. Really.

Here’s Storyending, who went for a drink with a man she loathed because she needed some information from him. She overcame her patriarchal conditioning and used men’s argument techniques on him, with the result that she defeated him completely in argument.

Though-

In both series of Les Hommes de L’Ombre, there is a strong female main character, but with a flaw. In the second series, the woman is blackmailed because she paid a fixer to arrange her international adoption- “bought a child”. In both, women go mad for love of the Gregory Fitoussi character. Women might not feel flattered.

I googled “All men are rapists” and found this article considering whether the human aversion to violence against humans is innate or inculcated.

To my women readers: are you frightened of men?

Gentileschi, Judith and her maidservant

19 thoughts on “Man hating

  1. There are worse things in a woman’s life than falling for Gregory Fitoussi… 😉

    I am not afraid of men in general — my father was my favorite parent, my daily life is spent in the men’s (husband and sons) presence 24/7 — but I am wary of some strange men, especially in unfamiliar places. I suppose that’s natural caution.

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  2. I would agree with Emma, and my father was an extremely tolerant and patient person. I. Hate to say there may be cultural differences and generational. The Portuguese men I have recently met seem more charming than the Spanish guys but there is a big campaign about domestic violence in both countries! But there are also so many economic issues of earning enough so. I realise I have missed out on Happy Valley and am a bit cocooned here with trees and maybe sheep. Am also reading The Barn at the End of the World, a book by a Quaker, Buddhist, Shepherd!
    I look for the bit about rams and the ewes are baby producers.

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  3. That’s a difficult question. It would depend where I was and how I was feeling. I’m in Argentina just now and feel vary of strange men, but then mugging isn’t uncommon, and I look conspicuously foreign. Edinburgh is the kind of city where everyone is invisible to each other, strangers rarely make eye contact and any kind of harassment is rare, especially for middle aged mothers who don’t go out much.

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    • Reading of Storyending’s encounter with the man she calls “Douche Bag”, or “DB”, made me quite paranoid. I wondered if H, over whom I suffer a particular syndrome of symptoms and responses called variously attraction or love, was treating me like a project- can she get this trans to revert? Something to boast of with the radical feminists. And I wonder if I want to see her on Friday as arranged. And I have speculated about reverting for years, wondering if it would make life easier, and why did I want to transition anyway- there is no reason except the Desire itself like a monolith or an ocean or a straitjacket. There is no real or authentic me, and feminine is a patriarchal social construct.

      And- right now I am warmed by love and care. My bicycle was written off, I emailed Quakers and got several offers of bicycles; one Friend has brought hers over and given it to me, apologising all the while for how unfitting it is while I see it as so much better than the one I had. And I cried on her shoulder and there seems a possibility that I might be capable of seeing the truth and making decisions and protecting myself though it seemed impossible. And she sees me as feminine. And I feel slightly less ridiculous and disgusting. Words on screens don’t really get there.

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      • Feminine is pure patriarchal social construct? Absolute bollocks. Some aspects of feminity have been exaggerated in some cultures, some have been harmful, but the fact remains that in broad strokes most women identify with feminine characteristics because it’s part of our nature. I hope what you’re feeling is genuinely coming from you and is not a result of that radfem fringe infiltrating your thinking. If it’s inauthentic for you to express female, it’s equally inauthentic for every woman on the planet who does so. In the end we do what feels most comfortable for us as individuals, and at this stage there’s little point in tearing apart what is biologically natural and what is environmental, because we simply can’t know. We can discuss theory and try to break down gender stereotyping for the next generation, but for ourselves we are what we are in this moment.

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  4. I don’t how it is in other parts of the world, but here in NZ “stranger danger” is much more true for men than it is for women. Statistically women far safer on the streets or in public places than men. Unfortunately women are much more likely to suffer violence from someone they know and away from public places. So for women it’s not the stranger they should be so concerned with, but those who are nearest and dearest to them. A terrible state of affairs, but one that unfortunately still exists.

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    • When I was 16, I went on a school trip to Pitlochry for the theatre. Three of us wandered through the town at night and were set upon by a group of eight lads, for no more reason I can discern than because we were there, yet not from there. Yet you get over it, and over 25 we are past that sort of thing. I think fearing ones partner would be incomparably more debilitating.

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  5. I like men. When Barry says above that men are statistically at greater risk than women, I fear it may be because women limit the risks they take. I do feel sad that I am not free to walk in remote woods, lanes and fields in the same way a man would be. I have tried to convince myself it would be OK and I’d be safe, then I happen to see a girl appealing for help to find the man who attacked her when out for a daylight walk in a local nature reserve on Crimewatch. Very, very few men would do that, but sadly a small number would.

    I’m going to read a bit more of what you say about femininity before commenting on that part. I believe women are as logical as men.

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    • Or men are as emotional as women.

      I was despairing when I wrote this on Friday. I am depressive and saw things particularly blackly. I grew up with a restricted idea of “men’s roles” and appropriate responses in men, and transition was new freedom for me; and now being assured that my personality and character fits as a man, all that is left to me is my desire to express female, which makes no objective sense. Now I am greatly cheered up.

      I and a friend, separately, were concerned about going into a particular pub alone. She thought she would be seen as trying to pick a man up. I thought I would be looked down on as a trans woman. In fact I was pigeon-holed as an Outsider. I avoided pubs, fearing confrontation. The chance of it happening may be slight, but the consequences if it does are not.

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      • I’m glad you’re feeling better. I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to take the man/women lists of adjectives you read too seriously. There’s an element of truth, but I’d classify myself as quite male in my thinking too, assuming males can be believed to have the monopoly on any given characteristics or feelings, which I’ve been lucky enough to have been brought up to believe they don’t. My dad was very emotional.

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        • There are differences. You have that fear, I don’t. It is possible the lists of adjectives show tendencies, but how men and women actually are is very wide. And certain ways of being are judged: we would not have the words “harridan” or “pansy” if such people did not exist, but the words are strongly condemnatory, though the qualities of a “pansy” might be celebrated in a woman.

          I feel tolerated, and sometimes not even that, and seek to justify myself. I transitioned because it was what I wanted more than anything else. Go one stage back. Why would I want that? “Because I am ‘feminine’.” I am unsure what that means, still, and it would not by itself justify the choice. I want to use the words to liberate, not to define or control myself or anyone else. Though I am “feminine”- the word has meaning, and I like the qualities in me. After loathing and denying them, this is an improvement. How liberating to say “I am soft, and that is beautiful”! And if you see yourself as “quite male” in your thinking, recognising the paradox of that thought because your thinking does not make you a man, I hope the quality you glimpse and call “male” pleases you, too.

          I have been reading about language and understanding, how language and culture affect human understanding of the World, even non-realist positions claiming “It’s language all the way down”. I take a critical realist view: I hope to post on that.

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          • That will be interesting. I love language, but we soon find out that words are clumsy tools when we try to express something subtle. We don’t really control a word we use – we have to live with all the associations others have, but we don’t. When the subject is potentially emotive, it can be a bit like pressing on a pedal, not knowing whether you’re driving a F1 racing car or trundling an old fashioned sewing machine. That’s why it’s difficult to discuss things that matter to us and one of the reasons why your blog is so useful. You dare to press the pedal anyhow.

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