Assuming nothing; questioning everything

A friend of mine had just broken up with his girlfriend, when they seemed to have been getting along quite fine. On asking him what caused the breakup, he said with ease that “she was not wife material”. I got even more curious because this phrase is often used to describe women that party too much or women who do not care at all or ‘enough’ about the domestic domain.

My friend clarified that she was not a party animal or lacking in domestic skills. She was however not wife material because she did not submit to him. At this point my feminist blood was boiling as I wondered how anyone would have the nerve to ask another human being to submit to them. I asked him what exactly this submission was all about, and what it entails. To which he responded that submission was about making him feel like a man.

‘Wow!’ I remarked, at the thought of how ambiguous that job description was. ‘How is she supposed to make you feel like a man?’ I asked. Before he could answer, I asked him, ‘and why don’t you feel like a man?’. I pointed out that it was rather obvious to me that he was a man, and I imagined it was that obvious to everyone else. If I had talked to him on the phone, without meeting him, I would be 99% sure (leaving room for any possibility) that he was a man. I continued to point out how his name, his dressing, and his demeanor all bore the cultural markings of being male. I didn’t need to undress him to confirm that his genitalia was indeed male. After pointing all that out, I asked him again why he didn’t feel like a man?’.

He rambled something about how I had misunderstood what he meant by ‘being made to feel like a man’. He said that it was not about being a man, biologically, but about having his ego soothed. That apparently, was what was required to make him feel like a man. The next question was how and why? How do you soothe the ego of a man, and why is it necessary for him to have his ego soothed for him to feel like a man? Why can’t he just feel like a man, based on his anatomy? And why is it the business of a woman to soothe his ego?

YourEgocopy

At this point, he was also equally angry with my questions, and he said that I was exactly the kind of woman his ex was. A woman who doesn’t care to understand and meet the needs of her man. Women like me, he said, are a pain in the neck for any man to have, and that is why we are labeled ‘girlfriend but not wife material’. His suggestion to me was that I need to change, or be single all my life, or even if I’d get married, I’d be miserable, because my husband would cheat on me with a woman that would pamper his ego. I was made to understand that men are created with the need to have their egos pampered, which is why the Bible is clear that women should submit to their husbands. It is the way God created man, and a woman who doesn’t understand that, needs to contend with an unhappy life.

I questioned that clause in the Bible, to which he responded, the Bible was the word of God, and should never be questioned. We should just obey it wholly as it is. At this point, it was clear that we would not agree, so we left it at that. On the same day, a local daily published an article about pampering the ego of a man in order to keep him. A woman in her 40’s working as a manager, gave an example of how she would pretend not to understand what was happening in the news, and would ask for explanations from her husband to make him feel smart. I sent my friend the article, asking him if this is what he meant. He never responded, and we never spoke again. My questions remain unanswered, what exactly does the word submission mean? Why do (some) men need it? And if it’s about being made to feel like a man, why don’t you feel like a man?

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Comments on: "Why don’t you feel like a man?" (33)

  1. Men need their ‘egos’ pampered the same way women need to be pampered with ‘love’. A woman can care for her man and all but he still needs his ego massaged to FEEL successful in his pursuit of fulfilling his evolutionary/biologic purpose (imposed by nature). It’s just one of his EMOTIONAL NEEDS.Your question is comparable to me asking why do women need romance and why their need to FEEL loved even after providing all their material needs? Men try to understand and fulfill women’s (non feminists) EMOTIONAL NEEDS…… listening to their endless complaints, buying flowers and chocolates, telling them how exceptionally beautiful they are, cuddling…..the list is endless but all in all why do women need to FEEL ‘loved’?

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    • Thank you for reading and for your comment Sam. Everyone needs love. I really doubt there is any man that wants to be in a loveless relationship (but I always leave room for any possibilities). The idea that the needs of women and those of men as so different is a social construction, perpetuated by different structures in society. The list that you produce as characteristic of women is made up of those stereotypes propagated by these social structures. Women are portrayed as emotional, insecure and irrational, while men are portrayed as rational, dependable and emotionally unavailable. They are stereotypes and these characteristics do not define all men and all women, just like the stereotypical ethnic characteristics attributed to different ethnic groups.

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    • Women don’t need their egos stroked with candies etc. However, it seems men think their ego should be massaged because it’s their right, and would quote biblical verses to support their misguided ideas. However, this has nothing to do with being an emotional need for them; it’s all about power.

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    • Women don’t need their egos stroked with candies etc. From what you said, it seems you think men need their egos massaged because it’s their right. Some would quote biblical verses to support this misguided notion. Lest we forget, this idea has nothing to do with being an emotional need for them; it’s all about power.

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      • women dont need their egos stroked with candies etc. That i agree. But (many) want it to ‘FEEL ‘loved”. They love it as an expression of ‘love’.It excites them. They find it ‘romantic’. It’s NOT a man’s right to have a submissive wife who massages his ego. It’s his personal preference, something like a motivation to stand tall in the fight against nature/the world while competing with other males ie evolutionary/biologic purpose imposed by nature.

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      • Thanks for your comment Shayera. It is indeed about power, and the need for control.

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  2. ‘loved’ = ‘romanced’ in my above comment.

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  3. Love is different from romance. And that’s why I put ‘love’ in quotes. I hope we both agree on that. I have been in a couple of relationships and i can tell you that its not just stereotypes. You express your love by caring, providing, not criticizing, being concerned,giving sex (not making ‘love’) etc but it doesn’t complete the whole idea of love to a woman. Men and women evolved differently due to their different biology in nature.Males and females have different hormones which have different effects on mood.And even when its the same hormones, we find them in different quantities. That’s why men and women are excited by different things. To further illustrate my point, scientific research (with evidence ) has shown that there are differences in sexual arousal between men and women in terms of desire. That was nature’s on way of preparing the genders for their different roles.. It’s not just a portrayal by society but evolution. Men’s needs are different from women’s. Even though you say we all need to feel loved, men and women ‘like’ it expressed differently (evidence and not just stereotypes). …………I look forward to reading more of your articles.

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    • Society still has a role to play in all this. The idea of men as providers and women in need of all these material indicators of love/romance has been created by capitalism. Because of inequality, men for a long time, and even presently in many cases tend to have more money than women, so obviously, those with the money spend more than those without. So capitalism, being cognisant of that, creates a system where the idea of love/romance is material, requiring men to spend, and women to need these material things. We’ve been socialised to believe that men should express their love through flashy engagement rings, lavish dinners and endless gifts. Meanwhile the capital machine continues to thrive on these ideas of masculinity and femininity.

      The truth is, not all women are excited by these expression of love or romance, but because the message is constantly in our faces, we internalise and thus expect these in intimate relationships. That is why your relationships are similar in that respect. Of course research will prove that men and women have different needs or in their behaviour, but that is because they have been socialised differently and accorded different roles in society, all shaping how they see and respond to things.

      Part of what I do with my blog is question all these messages that society feeds us, because in the end they are highly disadvantageous to women, but also to men, and to intimate relationships.

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  4. Your statement about how society and capitalism mould us s very true. Now lets take those two factors out of the equation. If you look at other species, don’t you see how dissimilar males and females are in terms of behaviour, aggression,roles, hygiene, one ‘gender leading the other etc? Femininity and masculinity are not just ideas created by a segment of society (with ulterior motives) as you posit.

    Truth is, also not all men want submission or their ego soothed, the same way not every child likes candy, or not everyone is heterosexual or sadistic. That can be said with just about any human characteristic you mention. The research i alluded to above doesnt show gender difference from a social causation basis but from a genetic/biologic/inherited origin.(Hormones, neurochemicals and brain activity)

    If you are so sure that not all women want the same things, and if you really detest men who require submission/ego, then let humans be. We shouldn’t force or convince others to be like us, behave the way we want them to, or to loathe the same things we do. I hope feminism takes this approach.

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    • Men and women are biologically different, I agree. Biological differences are however exaggerated in terms of how they translate into psychological and social differences. These, unfortunately have created social notions of women as best or naturally suited for the domestic sphere and men for the public sphere. But given equal chances, we see men and women being able to competently perform similar roles in the domestic domain and in the public domain.

      Despite this fact, the division of labour in the home is unequal, often burdening the woman. Women also continue to be denied roles in the public domain, particularly leadership roles, because society still holds the idea that women cannot lead. A good example is the recent Afrobarometer survey which close to 100% of the respondents believe that a woman cannot hold the position of president or governor.

      The powerful in society have always created narratives about those with less power and ways of organising society for purposes of sustaining power and control, which is why we had slavery, colonialism, denial of the right to vote for women etc. Had some people not resisted, then these kinds of oppression would have continued much longer.

      For feminists, ideas of masculinity and femininity also fall in that category, and unless we resist, then oppressive ideas of gender will never die.

      I don’t think I am shoving it down anyone’s throat. If anything, ideas of femininity and masculinity have been shoved down my throat, making it seem as if it is a choiceless situation. When women are told that they will not be happy in relationships unless they submit, play dumb and make sacrifices that deny them the opportunities to live their full potential, that presents a very choiceless situation for us.

      My idea is to generate a different kind of debate and narrative, from the mainstream one. People cannot make informed choices if they are only presented with one narrative about life. Some people may be happy to conform, others not. At the end of the day it’s about presenting people with choice, and not having to be confined in the boxes that society creates. It’s about saying, there isn’t one way of being feminine or one way of being masculine, and questioning ideologies that make it seem that way.

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  5. You have brought up other issues that were not part of the main article that i was disagreeing with. I can not refute them (issues of one individual oppressing the other ie humanism). I am therefore tempted to think you ( and other feminists) usually exaggerate personal issues so as to get an avenue to perpetuate your agendas.

    However let me engage you on this specific matter of ” When women are told that they will not be happy in relationships unless they submit, play dumb and make sacrifices that deny them the opportunities to live their full potential, that presents a very choiceless situation for us.” When a woman sets her standard by proclaiming that she can never date/marry a man who doesn’t have a car, doesn’t earn a certain amount of money, or possess such/certain characteristics (essentially meaning that unless the man sacrifices and denies himself some things or proves himself to be very/more hardworking or adept at manipulating his environment than his contemporaries); feminists praise such a woman saying she is confident, assertive and knows what she wants in life and what will make her happy .That she is finally in charge of her destiny and is emancipated from the domineering patriarchal society. A woman is allowed to demand certain standards from a man but he cannot demand certain qualities from a man. When confronted to address this double standards, feminists will go further and then blame men (patriarchy) for creating a woman who demands/desires such qualities that i have mentioned above. I tell you a man can never win with a woman’s argument. Another instance is when a man impregnates a woman (by deceiving her) and takes off, he is branded irresponsible but no fault falls on her. On the other hand when a man is deceived/fixed by a pregnant woman, feminists say how the hell in this age of condoms did he let it happen. Such double standards are making a man’s life seem like a ‘choiceless situation’ as you put it.

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    • d'Arthez said:

      Sam, do you really need to control women THAT much, even in the blogosphere? Is your male ego that fragile?

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      • I want feminists to understand men before coming up with hateful opinions. If a mature discussion is your idea of a need to control women, then suit yourself. And yes my ego is very fragile that i have never had the temerity to impose my masculinism by attacking women on blogosphere with hate-filled anti-female articles.

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      • d'Arthez said:

        As if these men understand women, before they demand submission. And how is it hateful to say that “blind submission” is not the best women can aspire to? Enlighten me.

        First of all, you don’t need to write these anti-women blogs. Kenyan men are doing a good job at it in real life. It permeates the social fabric of the country. As a man, it strikes me as nothing short of idiotic. As a man, it strikes me as even more idiotic to argue that Kenyan men have it so hard.

        As for the fragility of your ego, it is quite obvious for all to see. You are constantly making stuff up (just look at the examples you gave in your longwinded rant), hence women cannot win, despite your pathetic attempts to mask it as the contrary.

        Your discussion is hardly mature. You blame women for everything. What are you? A man-child? Someone who cannot handle the notion of the existence of a single woman out there who is not willing to cater to your every whim? Well, that is your right. Maybe even your preference.

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      • Thanks for your comments d’Arthez. You hit the nail on the head (in this one and in your comment below). Awesome!

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  6. As if these men understand women…so thats why you are against my attempt to make feminists understand men? And i did not state that the hate arises from ” blind submission is not the best women can aspire to?”
    Yes i dont need to write blogs not because other men are doing it but because i am different. If you have issues with men who are doing it in real life, then sort it out with those specific men. I haven’t argued that kenyan men are having it hard or is ‘choiceless situation’ a synonym for hard?

    If you claim i made up stuff then i can subject this article together with your opinions as just figments of imagination. I can easily disregard this whole article as a longwinded rant.But i am not you. Pathetic, you call it? I can easily call yor lack of appreciating my style of communication as pathetic. Then again i am not you.

    Have i blamed any woman for everything? Let alone anything? Have i mentioned anything pertaining to a single woman out there? If anything The writer is the one who cant handle a single man who has set his standards for a wife.
    Am i a man-child? Do i have a fragile ego? Aren’t these examples of disparaging remarks we (feminists or not) should be fighting against? You really can’t turn down a chance to devalue my worth.

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    • d'Arthez said:

      Because you’re different? Stone age “thinking” represented as “original”, or “different”. Only in Kenya.

      Yes, I claim you made up stuff. Kenyan fathers don’t exactly have the best reputation providing for their children for instance. Or in the faithfulness department. Rest assured, ye with the fragile ego, women are blamed for both those social ills as well.

      But no, you cannot even entertain that notion, since the reality that you live a highly privileged life, in comparison to Kenyan women, is something you do not want to admit. So you distort reality, and claim that feminists (as if they have power) blame men for everything. And thus, you allow yourself the cop-out that you don’t blame women for everything, when it is completely implied in your line of reasoning.

      If women are to submit, they also do not have responsibility for anything, as they have given up their autonomy to a higher being. One with a penis. Hence, your submission drivel, ends up with blaming men, but only because women are denied any shred of autonomy in your preferred relationship. A master-slave relationship is hardly an intimate relationship worthy of the name. Unless you are in sadomasochism.

      Women have an obligation to understand men? Yeah, and you bring up 101 stereotypes about women, but that is “sufficient understanding”. Maybe it is time you joined the second half of the twentieth century. The twenty-first seems a bit beyond you.

      You claim that I can’t turn down a chance to devalue your worth? I have never met you. I am confident that I have never interacted with you before. Just two posts, and you’re already claiming I devalued your worth? Does not sound like a man with a healthy ego to me.

      I could also have applied the following: “I have a penis, hear me roar!”, but that is just a more graphic representation, of the same pathetic entitled attitude. You are a man-child. I have seen plenty of those. Both in Kenya and abroad. White, Black, and Indian.

      What, do you expect me to pamper to your male ego on the internet?

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  7. How can love be compared to ego ‘soothing’? ‘Men need their egos soothed just like women need to be pampered with love’? I know that has already been addressed but its a rather ridiculous thing to assume men don’t need love. Maybe what you meant is that men feel loved in a different way? Even so, a slave cannot love her master.

    But what does ‘feel like a man’ even mean? It sounds rather archaic. And just like Cera asked, what is it exactly that makes you not feel like a man?

    ‘Letting humans be’ when their preference is for ‘submissive women’ hardly makes sense. It perpetuates sexism. That said, who forced anyone to be anything they are not. If you are the kind of human who can only be in a relationship where he has total power and control, and your significant other has to be a slave or submissive (a rose by any other name), then its just who you are which is an unfortunate type of human to be. It doesn’t seem to me like the writer is on a mission to change you. She’s only interested in a society where nobody has to be submissive, not a struggle for power over anyone.

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    • I put ‘love’ in quotes to indicate that it doesnt hold the exact definition as in the dictionary. I even equated the ‘love’ to ‘romance’. And yes what i meant was that men feel loved in a different way. If a man or any human for that matter demands you act/be a slave and you are not ok with it, then revolt if you have to. However you and i don’t and wont have the same understanding of wifely submission.

      Feeling like a man sounds archaic. I agree. Thats why i went to great lengths try to explain the evolutionary origin it. It has something to do with male roles in evolution during those archaic times. That’s why males were more muscular to fight nature for the sake of children and women. For one to survive, they had to be physically dominant ie fit. They had to compete against other men too. Who doesn’t need high self esteem in the evening when faced with a daunting task tomorrow morning?
      Letting humans be was my way of responding to her assertion that all women are not the same. The same i way not all men are the same. If submission doesn’t work in her relationships, then let it stop with her. That’s why i substituted force/convince.
      Wifely submission doesn’t mean total power and control. A woman who strives to be the best companion to her husband will just evaluate his needs (if he cannot express them explicitly) and act that way. The same way a husband who strives to be the best will always surprise his wife and keep the romantic fire kindled.

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      • Who pampers women’s egos now that they are also faced with the challenges of competing in the public domain? And more so, in a society that keeps reminding them that the public space is not their territory?

        If you consider women asserting their rights as nothing but ‘feminist rants’ or ‘hateful opinions’, you can choose to ignore them, rather than demand that feminists understand men.

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    • Thanks for your comment Varyanne. Very well said.

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  8. Every relationships just runs best on mutual respect and understanding. If I get the things that make you happy and I’m willing to stretch myself to do them for you because I feel happy too when I do so, and vice versa, we will cope better. When it is about two people, it doesn’t matter what truths, myths and stereotypes existed before. What matters will be now, us.

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    • Thanks for your comment Rixpoet. It’s true what you say. Unfortunately these truths, myths and stereotypes shape the way we see things as men and women. That is why it is important for society to be exposed to divergent ideologies as tools to develop critical thinking skills.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. @Kenyan Feminist. It’s up to her partner/friend/family to pamper her ego. As i said a partner has to understand the other’s needs and provide. You cannot expect society to do that. The world is a cruel place and everyone and everything is trying to kill or if not to put humans down. Your friend wasn’t demanding submission from all women but as he told you from his future wife.
    On issues of rants, it was a first used by your fellow feminist to describe my comments, and hateful opinions, was directed at her/his comments which sadly you agree with and praise.

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    • When someone tells another that they will never be happy in a relationship unless they learn to submit, and to pamper the ego of a man, or invokes the name of God and quotes scripture as justification for mandatory submission, how is that not a prescription for all women?

      Isn’t that what society tells us all the time anyway? That we have to worship the ground that our husbands walk on, or pretend to worship it, act brainless in relationships, not to have more ambition than the man, lest he feels insecure and leaves for a woman available to act dumb or without ambition? That we are disobeying the word of God when we choose not to go this route? How many sermons are preached in Church on the same? Please tell me how that is not prescription for all women in marriages.

      Yet when a critique of this message or a different opinion is offered, the same people dismiss it as hateful feminist rants and opinions. Whether your response was addressed to me or not, it is not grounds to generalise feminist writing as hateful opinion, and if you choose to categorize it as such, you have the option to ignore it.

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    • “At this point, he was also equally angry with my questions, and he said that I was exactly the kind of woman his ex was. A woman who doesn’t care to understand and meet the needs of her man. Women like me, he said, are a pain in the neck for any man to have, and that is why we are labeled ‘girlfriend but not wife material’. His suggestion to me was that I need to change, or be single all my life, or even if I’d get married, I’d be miserable, because my husband would cheat on me with a woman that would pamper his ego. I was made to understand that men are created with the need to have their egos pampered, which is why the Bible is clear that women should submit to their husbands. It is the way God created man, and a woman who doesn’t understand that, needs to contend with an unhappy life.

      I questioned that clause in the Bible, to which he responded, the Bible was the word of God, and should never be questioned”.

      Please tell me how that is not a formula for ALL women?

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  10. That is not a formula for all women…its for those who will come into his life.and those who follow the bible. If you dont like it be an atheist or dont be with him or and quit trying to change him. If you dont believe in something dont force others to. Personally i dont believe in the bible so dont ask me about it.

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  11. Here is my idea of wifely submission..avoiding criticism (mostly public), no rebuking (kugombanisha), not trying to change me from the way i was before you met me, encouraging me even when my deals fail to go through, leaving within my means(money), not comparing me with some other well to do guy and wishing she was with him on my face,not pretending to know everything, following my advice and not her friends or others when it comes to relationship issues …..etc You cant imagine how many couples fail when it comes to such common sense things

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    • living within my means….lol

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    • d'Arthez said:

      Avoidng criticism: In case you have not noticed: women in Kenya get criticised no matter where they are, how competent they are at the jobs, caring for children (if present), for what they wear. Give her a burqa, and make certain she does not leave the house. How egalitarian.

      No rebuking: Yeah, those 100 shilling trips to the hookers would have gotten so expensive. So why not buy a wife, and demand that she gives sex. It is a long term investment. Brilliant idea. And you’ll have legal control over the offspring too.

      Not trying to change you: Of course not. That would be a #1 threat to your ego. You’re entitled. And the last thing entitled people want is that being pointed out to them. By forcing her not to point out the obvious, you can get away with your idiocy much longer.

      Encouraging you when your deals fall through: Everyone has their bad days in office. In life. Nothing to strange about wanting a bit of encouragement then.

      Living within your means: It is the price to pay for desiring your wife(s) to be burqa-clad. Never mind the fact that a man like you would insist on having full control over financial expenditure, no matter how small or minor the sums involved are. If she made her own money, you would not have her begging for money to pay for the school fees. Clothes. It is a real boon to watch women beg for money to buy their undies.

      Not comparing you with others. Classy women don’t. Classy feminists don’t. And I am sure you never made lewd remarks to waitresses, female staff in the office or elsewhere. Never commented on women being ugly, or hateful. Oh wait, that was too much to ask when you were anonymously commenting on this thread.

      Not pretending to know everything: Since you obviously prefer your wife dumb, that is hardly a problem. At least on her part. On yours, I am fairly confident it is a major problem.

      Follow your advice: Your relationship advice amounts to: Man = Tarzan / Fred Flintstone. woman = Jane / Wilma Flintstone. Somehow, that strikes me as slightly detached from the 21st century.

      And now you’re pretending that Kenyan marriages are successful? How many wives and husbands do not divorce, because they either cannot afford to, or because they have to keep up appearances? Most of those marriages are based on your precepts. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for your original ideas ….

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