How much abuse do men get in relationships with women that never gets labeled as abuse because it is standard data, just so normal that it is merely background noise that no one notices or names?
Dr. Tara Palmatier posted an article a little over a year ago that I posted to the Men’s Rights subreddit. The article listed the specific tactics a female abuser uses:
1. Keep your Mask on at All Times.
2. Damsels in Distress are Hawt!
3. Sex Bomb!
4. Rinse, Wash, Repeat and Put Him on a Long Silken Leash.
5. Let the Shit Tests Begin!
6. Escalate Shit Tests and Commence Blame Shifting and Gaslighting (Squee! Squee!).
7. The Carrot and the Whip.
8. Put the Lid on the Cookie Jar Half-Way.
9. Seal the Deal!
10. Pee on his Territory.
11. Isolate, Isolate, Isolate!
12. Crank the Dial on the FOG Machine.
13. Put the Cookie Jar Away and Only Break Out in Case of Emergency.
15. Instill a Sense of Learned Helplessness.
16. HOOVER! Because You Suck.
Yes, this behavior is sociopathic, but that hardly means that only sociopaths engage in it. Perfectly “normal” people act like sociopaths when sociopathy is the cultural norm. In this case, the gender norms—both toxic femininity and the traditional form of masculinity that licenses it—are themselves sociopathic.
Yes, this behavior is sociopathic, but look at how romantic it is!!—how closely it follows the romance script.
When I posted the article to reddit, this comment was typical:
[+]AlexReynard 1 point2 points3 points 11 hours ago (0 children)
I’m reading this, and thinking, ‘This is the script for basically any mainstream comedy couple.’
It is. So let’s look at how closely Dr. Palmatier’s list follows traditional gender norms:
1. Keep your Mask on at All Times.—Because women are “socialized to please people.”
2. Damsels in Distress are Hawt!—Because a man’s utility is measured by his usefulness to women, and the way you activate his sense of agency is by downplaying your own and damseling for you life.
3. Sex Bomb!—Again, because women are “socialized to please people.” And besides, men are all mindless horndogs you can manipulate with your vaj, amirite?
4. Rinse, Wash, Repeat and Put Him on a Long Silken Leash.—Because men need some breaking in, and that takes time. But the “love of a good women” is all he needs to make a Real man of him, so he had better knuckle under.
5. Let the Shit Tests Begin!—Because the precious vaj is the Holy Grail (how Freudian is that?) and he damned well has to earn it. Folk tales, myths, and pre-modern literature are full of these tests. The one that comes to mind immediately is Hunting of Twrch Trwyth or the test Thingol sets Beren in the Tale of Beren and Lúthien.
What would be the female equivalent of proving yourself worthy of sex and a mate? “The path to a man’s heart is through his stomach” maybe—and how deep in the past is that? Who under 50 can even remember that saying?
6. Escalate Shit Tests and Commence Blame Shifting and Gaslighting (Squee! Squee!).—And blame shifting works because Woman is the moral guardian who judges the deeds and misdeeds of men and gets to decide who is and isn’t a Real Man, so regardless of what he thinks happened, you know better than him.
7. The Carrot and the Whip.—More of the same. This is when you start making him prove he’s better than all those other losers, those less-than-Real Men who couldn’t hang on to your high-maintenance ass.
8. Put the Lid on the Cookie Jar Half-Way.—Because now it’s time to dial back on the sex, and your perfect cover is that “nice girls” don’t really like sex that much, they just submit to men’s animal desires, which they of course are above.
9. Seal the Deal!—Because a real, mature man should want to play house with you, and if he doesn’t, well, he’s just an immature commitphobe.
10. Pee on his Territory.—Because you’re the lady of the house, right? You are in charge, even if it’s his house. Men are just beasts anyway; restrict his access to his own house until all he has left is a man cave and if you decide he has fucked up, you can send him to sleep on the couch.
11. Isolate, Isolate, Isolate!—Because it’s more romantic to need only one person in life. What, aren’t I enough for you? You woman-hating brute, don’t you love me? Don’t you care about my feelings, my needs? Fine, go on, go wherever you think you need to go …
12. Crank the Dial on the FOG Machine.—Because a real man is measured by how well he takes care of a women, you get to quit your job and feed off of him. Hell, half the time the law will consider him responsible for your upkeep and deny him the right to throw you out.
13. Put the Cookie Jar Away and Only Break Out in Case of Emergency.—Because a really “nice girl” doesn’t like sex, remember? This is when you start shaming him for beating off and looking at porn too because, after all, you have a perfect right to shame him for his filthy needs.
14. CONTROL.—Because he is really just a man-child after all, isn’t he, just a simple creature with simple needs … Didn’t Dr. Phil tell us that women understand how to do relationships better than men do by, like, a factor of ten?
15. Instill a Sense of Learned Helplessness.—So he could never really take care of himself. He needs a strong, confident woman to do all that for him, and if he balks at that, why, he is just “threatened by a strong woman.”
16. HOOVER! Because You Suck.—He may push away, but what does he really know about who is the right person for him, and who is bad …?
See how easy this is? We all grew up to think this is perfectly normal! This is how men are supposed to submit to the higher women.
And for a taste of how gendered this is and how traditional gender roles shape the terrain, here’s an example from that thread of all the social and legal support a man subjected to this kind of abuse can count on:
Yeah that sounded too familiar, I could not finish reading it,
Moving in together she did not like my furniture so it had to go.
Cutting me off from my friends and family, because she did not like them and not fighting and arguing and I wanting peace was more important than a relationship with a friend.
Cutting me off financially; I was a student so was not that hard getting angry and jealous if I worked overtime or got extra work, creating drama or not telling some one called so then I was “unreliable” and did not get called for an extra shift
The physical abuse was intermittent before got worse; when I was cut off from every one she did not hold back and she would destroy all my few remaining possessions.
Was openly mocked by police and domestic assault help lines.
Finally left with no money and a bag of my dirty laundry as my only possessions to stay at a homeless shelter and find an old boss / friend that I knew to borrow some money to take a bus to another city and live on my mother’s sofa.
How does this align with traditional gender roles? Do traditional gender roles license this in women more than in men? I think the police answered that for Toronto Mike pretty well.
dungone offers some analysis in this thread:
This doesn’t apply to all women, but it does apply to feminine gender roles. At the most basic, core level, the behaviors described here are all based around the principle of sunk cost. Increasing the other party’s sunk costs, while minimizing your own, creates a power imbalance that is described in this article in one of its more extreme manifestations. But it can be really subtle, and it’s pretty much always there to some extent as long as the traditional dating script is being followed.
The active person virtually always has the greater sunk costs than the passive person. And that’s virtually always the man. In fact, having the greater sunk costs means taking on the greater risks, paying for things, etc., and so by definition it puts you in the active role. And by definition, the passive role puts you in the position of trying to manipulate the active person to do your bidding. You can be really nice about it, you can be completely sincere, and you can in fact even love the man with all of your heart, but the dynamic remains, no matter how subtly. And that makes it especially hard for guys who have been through a relationship with a full-tilt manipulator to cope with even a normal, loving relationship for a long time afterwards.
The active person – male hyperagency; the passive person – female hypoagency. This is how “The bottom is always in charge.”
dungone sums up:
Yes, you are correct. All relationships that follow traditional gender roles do look abusive, but it’s because they really are. The main difference is that a disordered woman can turn it into a science through a dispassionate and relentless application of the female gender role. Remember, this is describing what borderline, bpd, narcissistic, or sociopathic women would do. If it hits a little too close to home with what even normal, loving women also do, then perhaps it’s a good reason to think about whether or not some of those behaviors should be considered acceptable.
Yes, this behavior is sociopathic, but that hardly means that only sociopaths engage in it. Perfectly “normal” people act like sociopaths when sociopathy is the cultural norm. In this case, the gender norms and the romance script are sociopathic.
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