I've tried to keep this post tame, but you might not want your kid reading every single word.
Over the past few months (year?) I've done my fair share of rambling through the world of manosphere/Game/anti-feminist/marriage oriented blogs. And it's depressing. Like really depressing. I realize that our no-fault-take-the-kids-and-all-his-money divorce system is also really depressing, but this other stuff is also bad? Why? (Now remember this is a rant ie not a carefully thought out series of syllogisms). Because it's patronizing. And whiny. And vicious. And contains about at much logic as the ocean contains longleaf pines. On one hand the guys have a point - marriage in America is messed up, but it goes beyond that. From elementary school onwards men are increasingly pushed into ways of thinking and acting that come easier to girls - in skills ranging from fine motor skills in kindergarten to collaborative thinking in offices to "sharing" at the church's men's group. It's hard being a rough and tumble boy in this sociological climate. Heck, it's hard being a quiet, studious, won't take guff from anyone kind of boy. Unless you're into "feelings" and telling women what they want to hear it's hard to fit in anywhere. So we get the manosphere/men's rights movement. And I'm not just rolling my eyes. For one of my philosophy classes I elected to report on The Myth of Male Power. Not exactly a feminist screed. And what I read really amazed me and changed the way I felt about men in general. I didn't realize that in many ways sex discrimination had swung so far over as to actually discriminate against men - particularly with regards to the law. But the way the author is this book reacted against it was all wrong. The way most men react to this reality is all wrong. Instead of "manning up," a phrase they hate, they do a whole lot of whining about how this b*^&% left them with no clue and took everything. They whine about the pastors who shame men and praise women. They whine about the women who won't sleep with them, and then they whine they can't find some little virgin to have their babies. If a girl disagrees with them they just refer to her menstrual cycle or compare her brains to rodent wheel. When a girl does kiss up to them they accept her contributions as fitting tributes to their maleness. Then they whine some more when a woman says that women can divorce for reasons beyond "And I caught him bed with that whore when I came home late one day after driving all over town to find his favorite brand of car wax!" Just because your last wife accused you of "emotional cruelty" doesn't mean that your neighbor's wife didn't actually experience it! Now who's arguing based on their emotions? Really?
And for the record I really don't think men suck. I do think they should in general behave in a more assertive/less PC gentle manner than they currently do, but I don't think men suck. I just think men are capable of a whole lot more than finger-pointing and blaming. If you hate the church you're attending you could talk with the pastor, start a group for men to discuss issues pertinent to them, or even decide to join the pastorate yourself and start a church that is able to value men and women without devaluing either one. If your wife drags you to a counselor who plays the "mean man" card then calmly but firmly tell your wife that you won't be coming back (or paying for her to go back) until you find a counselor who is able to respect both your roles. If you haven't been having sex for months don't be surprised when she divorces you! You should have been talking about this after 7-10 days! Of course her reasons for leaving you are BS! She's probably fighting the real reasons tooth and nail. You've got a couple of options. Listen to her rail at you and then go whine to your blogfriends, or ask her what's really going on and keep working at it until you figure it out. Any savvy counselor knows that the reason most likely isn't the reason. Here's a question. Ask what's got her so scared. If things have been rocky she might be scared you don't care if she leaves, so maybe she's going to test the waters. Maybe no one ever told her that women can be attracted to multiple men and therefore she's scared she made a mistake (or that she's going to make a mistake). Whatever you do, don't just stand there. Unless of course you're a radical egalitarian and don't believe that men have ecclesiastical or paternal headship. In which case you should probably just go back to your man cave and pray to your large screen tv. It probably won't do any good, but at least you can watch the game. But if you're a MAN that means that you've got agency, authority, and responsibility. In short, you can act. Incidentally is also means that when your wife leaves that she left under your watch. That doesn't mean you were a crappy husband, but it does mean that you were supposed to be there at the wheel guiding things along and that you actually being down the hold counting rocks doesn't change anything. To extend the metaphor, an unfaithful wife is guilty of desertion and not mutiny. It's still your ship even if she decides to scupper the bilge and scram.
So when I say "man up" what exactly am I saying? I'm not saying that men should be more touchy-feely, sacrificial, whatever-says-goes appeasers. Although I haven't seen the movie I think that given what I've heard "Fireproof" is a pretty dumb movie. Buying your wife's love isn't being a good husband. My dad was an appeaser. Let me tell you, it often sucked. You're heard the saying "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" It should read, "If Momma ain't happy she should keep it to herself and stop blaming the kids!" While I do talk with Allen when I'm frustrated I really do try to keep in a "I"m trying to work out my emotions" vein and not a "you know you really tick me off because (insert inconsequential reason here)." That said, if I'm not talking about appeasement, what do I mean by "manning-up"? I mean that men can and should be proactive with their wives. They should be talking enough to know when she's bringing home bad attitudes from her fabulous single bar-hopping friends so that he can encourage her to spend time with other women (young moms, her aunts, a deacon's wife, his friend's wife) who can encourage her personally and as a wife. Note that I'm saying husbands have a measure of authority/responsibility over how their wives spend their time. In a similar vein he can be on the lookout to encourage efforts at womanliness - compliment her when she wears a nice skirt or when you're at a bookstore ask if there's a cookbook or home design book she's been eying that y'all could get while you're there. If she already cooks for you then appreciate it, and teach your kids to appreciate it. If all that sounds too wishy-washy for you, try this one - keep encouraging her to do things that please you. I tend to not put the lids back on things, but after a year of Allen saying "Hey, Natalie, I'd appreciate you putting lids back on things" it's actually a pretty consistent habit with me. Allen is happy there aren't lids cluttering up the counters, and I'm happy that I'm doing something of which Allen approves. Finally, this is something Allen mentioned early on in our marriage. Men should look for ways to genuinely say yes to their wives. Hear me out. This doesn't mean that men need to bend over backwards to a wife's unreasonable demands. With some men it might seem like all her demands are unreasonable, but keep looking. If from a cloud of BS you suddenly hear, "And this darn faucet has been driving me crazy 'cause half of it sprays sideways when you try to use it" then let me suggest you hie yourself to Home Depot so you can replace her faucet. What have you done? You've listened to her. You've met a legitimate need. You've provided. You've done what a good husband should do. Hopefully you've even spoken to her heart. At any rate, you aren't just standing there anymore.
And finally, can I just say that the emotions and language used by these manosphere bloggers is just over the top and often gross? Allen says to not read the comments because nothing good happens in comment threads, but I like to scan them to get a sense of the context in which a post or blog exists. Whoo boy. The manosphere isn't for the faint of heart. If someone even suggests that men have responsibility in a marriage that's broken up or that they're swaggering around with egos like a couple of big balloons taped to their puffed out chests then the finger pointing, sarcastic, patronizing "wit" that is man scorned descends on the sinners head like crude oil erupting from an old Texas geyser. And here's where my woman card probably comes the most into play. I don't get it. These guys all talk game theory and then when someone on the internet says something they don't like, instead of ignoring it with alpha male disdain, they show up en-mass and complain. And by complain I don't mean refute. I mean they toss around words like "strawman" and "feminits" and "wimmin" and "betrayal" and generally pound their chests a lot. I recently saw a great deal of this on a blogpost talking about power dynamics in relationships and ego. You'd 'a thought she posted pictures of a diminutive nature and attached their name to it. My stars! But here's the deal, "hurt feelings" is a (immature) woman's game, and men who do it pretty instantly lower their status. So they have to do a whole lot of patronizing and posturing so it doesn't look like they're complaining. "Oh, what's that? I'm not licking my wounds. This is an old injury I got the time I bagged a supermodel while wrestling a boa constrictor on a peak in the Alps. I just think it's a pity you're probably eating cold ramen alone with your eight cat." On another site I also saw several references to whether or not it'd be a good idea to deliver some verbal smack down to an opponent since it would lead all the women reading said smack down to become sexually aroused. EWWWW! Creepy old internet dude. I'm beginning to wish I'd followed Allen's advice to not read the comments. For being a bitter old man who doesn't care about women he seemed pretty intent on the reactions he could elicit from said women.
Speaking of comments (and I promise I'll close with this), I saw plenty of comments relegating women to the role of disobedient child. It seems like all us wimmin need a firm disciplining hand in order to be good woman and receive the sexual fulfillment we crave. I gotta ask - where was this "firm hand" when that wife your were excoriating three comments ago left you? I suppose you woke up and learned game and have been having a high time of it since. But how many chaste, emotionally stable women have you attracted? Oh, 0. That's what I thought. While the principles of being alpha (ie displaying assertive, confident, somewhat dominant characteristics) might be generally attractive to women, the only women who are attracted to guys who think all women are emotional unstable are...(wait for it)...emotionally unstable. Maybe that's why some of these guys are so up in arms about "emotional abuse." Although I'll agree that the definition of emotional abuse has been stretched to mean something more like "and I just wasn't very happy," if you'll read a little about hardcore game theorists a lot of what goes on is certainly manipulative and at least borderline abusive. Just because she likes the bad boys doesn't mean that jerking her around constantly is in any way, shape, or form moral or manly. Trying that sort of BS on emotionally mature, chaste women will get you exactly no where, and men who respect women will despise you. By respecting women I mean men who are willing and able to lead their wives and daughters and who understand their wive's feminine gifts as a unique complement to their own. They aren't threatened when women roll their eyes at the funny things men do because they're either too busy doing those things or rolling their own eyes at the funny things women do. High status or low, they are confident enough in their own masculine ways of thinking and doing that they aren't offended when their wives express a similar confidence and pleasure in her own ways of doing things. These are the men who can protect and love women without becoming or creating either slave or tyrant.
Ok, so what does this amount to? Stop whining. Respecting yourself doesn't mean disrespecting women. God made men to be leaders - abdicating doesn't make it the woman's fault. Yes, there are some messed up women out there. You can still keep praying and looking. I was a messed up woman once myself, but Allen hasn't had any complaints :)