Friday, February 11, 2011

...remember that men are not the enemy.

A somewhat decent (though still a tad self-centered) article in the Village Voice: "Dear Single Women of NYC: It's Not Them, It's You." The plight of the single lady (via Newsalert):
But I'd argue that it's not about being picky. It's about having all of these options, and not knowing how to choose from among them, or whether we even want to. It's about the years of being told we can have it all, and suddenly being deeply afraid to admit that that house of cards has been a sham all along because no one really gets to have it all. (And so, the self-professed adamantly anti-marriage Elizabeth Gilbert—who ate, prayed, and loved her options into a bestseller and a Julia Roberts movie—ultimately "caved" to marrying her foreign-born partner so that he could live in the U.S.)

Everyone has to make choices. This isn't to say that if you want a successful career and to be a wife and a mom, you can't do it. Nor that you can't do it fairly well. But inevitably, you'll have to give up one thing for something else. Why should you settle? Because that's what all humans do when they make choices....

Once you know what you want, narrow the options, make your choices, and go for it. But until you do, embrace not knowing. Make New York your playground and stop complaining about how single ladies have it so hard in this city. Along the way, remember that men are not the enemy. Many of them are reasonable and good and not at all the brutes we've made them out to be, even if they don't want to marry us (and some of them do).

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

On psychology and subversion

Neo-NeoCon has a good post on the NYT's article on the bias of social psychologists that many of you have been emailing me about (thanks btw):

For obvious reasons, several people have sent me this link to a NY Times article on the overwhelming presence of liberals in the field of personality and social psychology. Conservatives? This group has barely ever heard of em, except perhaps as subjects to study.

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt has, however, and he addressed the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s recent convention, confronting members with the fact that their profession is almost completely dominated by liberals to a degree so profound that it is a “statistical impossibility” that it is accidental.

So Haidt has suggested that the group begin a affirmative action hiring policy for conservatives in order to offset it, and a few members (although not the executive committee) have even agreed that it would be a good idea to set a goal that by 2020 the Society include a whopping 10% conservatives.

Wow, talk about tokens! It’s hard to imagine that the affirmative action one out of ten would feel especially welcome around those casual discussions that tend to feature the knee-jerk dissing of conservatives and their political position. I know; I’ve been there too many times.

Haidt has a suggestion for that, too, although it’s a sly one. He gave the assembled psychologists an assignment: “to overcome taboos, he advised them to subscribe to National Review and to read Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions.”

Watch out, social psychologists! In Haidt, you not only have a conservative on your hands, you’ve got a subversive.

I was one of those token libertarians in my psychology program, and I admit, it was rough. I almost fell out of my seat listening to some of my professor's ideas about politics and society. I still hear some of this biased liberalism when I go to Continuing Education classes, so I usually do them online now so it won't bother me as much. I do speak up now whenever I go to one of these events but it is tiring to have to do that over and over. I can only imagine how the (rare) current crop of conservative or libertarian psychology grad students feel. My advice to those students: Don't let them run you out of the field. Stand your ground and try to make it to the other side of the PhD and get your ideas out there. Or just do what Haidt did, become a subversive. You just might change a few minds.


Amy Alkon, author of I See Rude People, has an interesting column on porn:
It's hard to have a rational conversation about porn because people's first reaction is so often knee-jerk hysteria. I got a lot of that in response to this particular column; for example, as one guy wrote, "Porn focuses on body parts, not on sex. This is how bestiality develops." Yes, we see that all the time: One week, a guy's surfing the net for busty blondes; the next, he's got the hots for the neighbor's Labradoodle.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

"Overwhelmed by female anger, men fold."

My post on the decline of male space seems to have hit a nerve with over 150 comments and counting. The discussion appears to have drifted into how hard it is to find a woman that understands that a man might have his own needs, including the need for his own space and actually has respect for men, and hence, her partner. One important question that commenter dunkelzahn4prez asked me, "How does a man go about calling out behavior from a woman that is, at best, unacceptable? And what does one do when the woman's response is to escalate?"

That is a great question for so many men out there lack the resources and psychological tools needed to deal with women who do not respect them, both prior to marriage and afterwards. Acquiring these tools is a process, one that takes practice and patience with oneself, especially for the men out there who have been keeping quiet to keep the peace.

My friend Richard Driscoll, a psychologist, wrote a terrific book on the different communication styles of men and women entitled You Still Don't Understand in which he highlights the difficulties that men have in relating their concerns to women. Men are more easily overwhelmed by emotional conflict than women and react more strongly to less provocation. Driscoll states:

Contrary to popular expectations, men are markedly more intimidated by angry women than women are by angry men. Men tend to become confused during such confrontations, more so than women, losing track of what is said and where the argument is going....Overwhelmed by female anger, men fold."

How do men explain why they often withdraw from their wives rather than arguing hard for a win? A man might say that he wants to "do what's right," or he does not want to "get his wife upset." He might say, "It is no use arguing with her because it just makes her mad".....

Men typically appear calmer than their wives, who are more visibly upset, so it is easy to be fooled. Remember that the appearance is merely a masquerade.....

The silence is known as "stonewalling" and it does lower stress for men and thwart their wives. Yet crouching behind a stone wall remains a tactic of those who have no voice and lack the will to confront the argument head on.

At best, you will end up bitter and removed, at worse, wanting a divorce and being so cowed by conflict that you give her everything you own. Learn to tolerate conflict. So, my basic advice to men who want to know what to do to gain respect in their relationship is to practice and learn to be more comfortable in male/female arguments. First, start with something that is not too intimidating like giving your opinion on an internet chat board--start with this one because few here will judge you too harshly for having non-pc opinions on gender. Branch out to boards where people are critical. Learn to deal with it, even if it means being called a jerk. See how it makes you feel. Bad? Learn to live with it because if you are male in this society and stand up for your needs or wants, you will be called a jerk and worse.

Second, move onto a real world relationship, your mother, sister or female friend say something derogatory about men. Call them on it. Don't withdraw or let it go. For example, your mother says all men suck and never do any housework. Say, "I'm a guy and that makes me wonder if you like me much." Watch the startled look as mom realizes that she might be acting like a bad mom.

Finally, once you are comfortable with this level of criticism, look to your interpersonal relationship with your girlfriend or wife (though this one will be harder if you have been letting her get away with put-downs and disrespect). Next time your significant other shows what you feel to be disrespect or is dismissive of your feelings, speak up. Say, "I feel that you are not being respectful when you say X. Please don't do that." If she does it again, drop the please and say, "do not talk like that to me again." If she continues, if a girlfriend, think about whether she is the right one for you.

John Gottman, who studies marriage, points out in his book, The Marriage Clinic: A Scientifically Based Marital Therapy that it is not so much the conflict that causes ill will--"What matters most is the ability to repair things when they go wrong." If your girlfriend or even wife refuses to even try to address your grievances, is this really such a great partner for life?

If you have any more advice on how to deal with girlfriends or wives who do not respect their boyfriend or husband, drop it in the comments.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

The decline of male space

I was just thinking about male space last night as I drove through some neighborhoods and saw televisions flickering and men gathered at neighborhood club houses to watch the Super Bowl. It seems like only on this day are men allowed to have a place of their own. It reminded me of this piece I read about the decline of male space (via News Alert and Instapundit). The article was written by Brett McKay, the author of The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man. He makes a number of good points about the decline of male space at work, bars, barber shops and even in the home:
The rise of suburban culture with its emphasis on creating a domestic nest, usually meant sacrificing male space for the good of the family. Home designs in the 1950s exchanged the numerous, smaller rooms of the Victorian home for fewer, larger rooms. The goal was to create more open space where families could congregate together and bond while watching the Honeymooners on TV.

With no room to call their own, men were forced to build their male sanctuaries in the most uninhabitable parts of a home. Garages, attics, and basements quickly became the designated space for men, while the women and children had free reign over the rest of the house.

I have often seen men, especially those who do not get along with their wives, practically living on the couch or in the garage. Sometimes, they are treated no better than the family dog. On the other hand, some basements these days are pretty nice and men often go there to get away from others and get some peace and quiet.

If male, do you have a space that you call your own? Do you feel that there are fewer places for men to go?

Cross-posted at the PJ Tatler.

Update: Little Miss Attila has more thoughts on male space.