Dr. Z's "No Trust, No Lust" Question

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-06-2006
Dr. Z's "No Trust, No Lust" Question
27
Wed, 01-24-2007 - 4:59pm

"If your experience is that you get jabbed and zinged by those closest to you on a semi-regular basis, it's hard to let down your guard. This is a big deal in sex past the lust stage, where women need to be relaxed enough to let go of their body boundaries, trust, let their arousal build.

Does that make sense?"

Interesting topic on so many levels, Dr. Z. I'm absolutely certain my wife suffers from this syndrome.

Does it have a name yet? May I suggest "Battered Trust Syndrome?" You could call it B.T.S. or possibly B.S. for short (Yes, that was snide. I apologize). I suspect if you gave it a name and talked about it a bit, it'd show up in the DSM. Every other "syndrome" seems to. And yes, I did just end a sentence with a preposition and I don't care.

There are a number of very interesting implications. Granted, a few of them are logical leaps, but nonetheless, I do believe our culture hears what you just said and arrives at these implications. Here they are, as I see them:

1. Because women appear to be more . . . fragile, men have a greater duty of care, at least a greater duty to care for the emotional wellbeing of the women around them (not to mention financial, physical (i.e. protection), etc). Men appear to be more resilient, at least emotionally, and possibly in a variety of other ways.

2. Ergo (as a result of #1), men are more responsible for the welfare of the women in their lives than the women in their lives are responsible for them. Therefore, men are required to make decisions, considering not only themselves, but the women in their lives (i.e. The "scope of impact" of a woman's decision-making is narrower. Women can just "feel" their way through decision-making, instead of actually having to consider the impact of a decision on the men in their lives.). Doesn't that sound like a leadership role? Do men really "naturally" (as a consequence of the nature of male/female relationships, their roles, etc) lead women? Should they?

3. The idea lends credence to the notion that "sex is merely a symptom of greater problems in the relationship. Resolve those and sex will take care of itself."

4. Women are not responsible for resolving relationship problems, particularly sexual ones, because a) Emotions are implacable forces of energy that are "un-overcomable," and heck, shouldn't be "overcome" anyway. The idea here is this: Emotions = Truth. Deny your emotions and you deny Truth. b) Men were responsible for causing the damage in the first place and hence, they should be the ones to clean them up. If your dad did the causing and your husband's stuck with the cleaning . . . doesn't matter. That's just inconvenient for your husband.

My take on each of these:
1. It's an inconvenient truth. Women ARE more fragile and men DO have a greater duty of care.

2. Again, inconveniently, not to mention unpleasantly, true. Men just seem to often forget that leadership roles don't include a license to boss. It simply means that the leader has more responsiblities.

3. A load of hooey that women have spewed to avoid making changes.

4. Another load of hooey.

Thoughts?

P.S. Let's dispense with the "you're a mysoginist pig" aspersions. Assume that I've heard them before.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2006
Sat, 01-27-2007 - 3:12pm

I'm pretty much with you here because I believe it isn't any more true for women than it is for men. I think it's universal that no one really wants (over any length of time) to get down and dirty with someone who keeps walking on them and zapping them with crappy-feeling zingers.

And I never bought that stuff about women being so delicate, having sex drives so difficult-to-cultivate, that exquisite care and pinpointed-targeted attention is needed to let it grow and blossom. I think people either have a healthy sex drive or they don't, and they are either happy or not with treatment that is decent or not from a partner and therefore either do or don't want to have sex with that person, based on the like for and treatment by that person, amongst other personal factors.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2006
Fri, 02-02-2007 - 11:11pm

Hi crf,



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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-03-2007
Sat, 02-03-2007 - 9:40pm

OMG! That makes so much freakin' sense that it isn't even funny...and I'm not being a smartass either. What you're preaching is basically what my husband has been preaching to me....the roles of men and women. In my old school of thought, I disagreed with him...but with his 'logics' behind conversations with me, things make so much sense.

You make an extremely great point....men are better at making decisions than women b/c women are too emotional for that....and that is ok. We are women and we HAVE TO BE emotional. As mothers and wives we have to be 'extra sensitive' in this area...to care for the ones we love. And, your other great point, is the fact that if her emotional sense is damaged, it would have been by a man, and he does have to repair it. Another woman could not fix that. So, of course she would have sex issues....b/c sex is emotional for women.

I have the same issues your wife has. I came to this board to look for help...I see I have found it. Thanks a lot...

Jana

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2005
Tue, 02-06-2007 - 9:26pm

ok. Let's take your premises in order:

you say. . . 1. women are more fragile emotionally and men are stronger. I would restate that to women are more honest with their emotions and men are more repressed.

I agree let's not mention (. . .financial, physical (i.e. protection), etc). I am sure this is your personal experience. It doesn't mean that is true for all couples.

2. You say . . . men have to make decisions and consider the impact on women. The "scope of impact" of a woman's decision-making is narrower. Once again, I believe this is true for your situation. It definitely is not true for my situation. I don't know if this is even a gender issue. I believe it is more of a maturity issue. I would restate your premise to be:

The more mature and responsible person in the relationship (regardless of gender) can and should make the broader decisions which impact more than just themselves.

3. I am not sure where you are going with this one. I do believe problems in a relationship lead to problems with sex. Those couples with no or little conflict in their relationship do have less problems with sex.

4. You say. . . Women are not responsible for resolving relationship problems, particularly sexual ones, because a) Emotions are implacable forces of energy that are "un-overcomable," and heck, shouldn't be "overcome" anyway.

Boy what a load of hooey. I agree. Women are not small children and are not incapable of using logic over emotions. I am sorry if your partner is immature and never grew up. That is once again, your personal experience and cannot be extrapolated to extend to all women.

Ok. For your take on your premises.

1. Women are not more fragile. They are weaker physically and are socialized to pay more attention to their emotions and to cooperate/give in. Men are taught to be leaders and to ignore their emotions. IMO, Society would be better off if we socialized women and men to be more alike. What a waste of strong intelligent women to teach them they are fragile and need to be "taken care of." What a travesty to teach dumber, weaker men that they must rule the roost. (NOTE: I am not saying all women are strong and intelligent or that all men are week and dumb. I am saying statistically that there are strong, intelligent women and weak and dumb men.) People should be allowed to be what they are capable of being -- regardless of gender. If this means in some relationships the woman leads and the man follows -- there is no shame in that. Just as there is no shame in a dumber, weaker woman allowing a man to make the "broader" decisions.

2. Once again, this depends on the couple. I tried to let my husband lead for ten years. We got kicked out of house after house, went on and off welfare, had basically a very ramshackle life. When I finally realized I was the more mature and responsible person in our relationship and I began making the major decisions, our lives became much better financially and definitely became more stable. From my personal experience, I cannot extrapolate that all men are weak and women should lead them. Nor from your personal experience can you extrapolate that all women are weak and men should lead them.

3. A load of hooey you say? Yes, and perhaps your wife spews it to avoid making change. However, once again, I believe a couple with fewer problems in other areas will have fewer problems with sex.

4. A waaaayyyy big load of hooey. This is a big generalization. Emotional problems should be dealt with and overcome. The problem persists when EITHER partner refuses to make changes. BOTH partners must be willing to change or it won't work.

And I don't think you are a "pig." You are simply someone trying to take your personal experience and broaden it to include too large of a category.

Ever hear of syllogisms?

Here is what you are doing:

My wife is weak and emotional.
My wife is a woman
Therefore all women are weak and emotional.

A and B are true, but that doesn't mean that C is true.

It is the same as my saying:

My husband is immature and irresponsible.
My husband is a man
Therefore all men are immature and irresponsible.

Oh, and the reason it doesn't work well is that you are trying to take a specific instance and turn it into a universal truth. Universal truths are very rare.

GT

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-06-2006
Wed, 02-07-2007 - 10:52pm

gticantbeme = Smart woman. This is gonna be interesting.

Each and every comment you made regarding excessive generalization is fair and that argument must be addressed, something I'll do now.

gticantbeme, I'm sorry, but I have met three women in my life that I would consider emotionally mature, possessed of true emotional strength (no faux chest-beating, screaming harpie, wanna-be strength), capable of examining feelings AND circumstances, capable of thorough and fair self-examination. Three. One sister-in-law and two of my sisters. My wife? Hell, no. My mother? Don't get me started on that one.

(To be fair, I do have one pretty cool neighbor who seems pretty self-assured and emotionally competent, but since I don't know her well, I can't conclusively give her a pass.)

I have met PLENTY of women so my sample size is not small.

I see one or more of the following from ever other woman I've EVER met:
1. Aren't capable of filtering emotions through some sort of "does this even make sense?" analysis.
2. Are easily cowed or have an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness . . . even when the men in their lives are wonderful people.
3. Can't seem to get over "damage" done to them in their childhood or by some man.
4. Suffer from poor self-esteem and can't seem to figure out the knack of positive self-talk, fair self-examination.
5. Un-examined emotions run their lives. If she feels controlled, then someone's trying to control her. If she feels overwhelmed, then the circumstances of her life are overwhelming (instead of considering the fact that she might be pre-disposed to hit the panic button).

I'm sorry by my experience with women has left me with the inescapable conclusion that on the whole, they're fragile, rather immature beings, more so than men. The ones that aren't? Absolute gems and the men in their lives are truly lucky.

I have a hunch that you're one of those women. Why? Because you were able to review what I wrote and write a rational, cogent argument instead of screaming, "Pig!"

Having said that, I'll post a few other comments in response to specific points you made.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-06-2006
Wed, 02-07-2007 - 11:07pm

"You say . . . men have to make decisions and consider the impact on women. The "scope of impact" of a woman's decision-making is narrower. Once again, I believe this is true for your situation. It definitely is not true for my situation. I don't know if this is even a gender issue. I believe it is more of a maturity issue. I would restate your premise to be:

The more mature and responsible person in the relationship (regardless of gender) can and should make the broader decisions which impact more than just themselves. "

I agree with your re-statement and I even sorta like it. Steven R. Covey discussed circles of influence and circles of concern and your re-statement fits with his discussion quite well.

However, I'll still claim a correlation between true emotional maturity and gender. Men are simply emotionally stronger, more capable of dealing with problems and crises as they occur. Therefore, men more frequently find themselves in the position of having to make those "broader" decisions.

Women tend to fall apart. One example: They don't forget the harm done to them. True forgiveness and truly moving on are almost impossible tasks for most women. A man simply has no choice but to move on, apologizing even if he's not in the wrong, accepting deeply flawed, neurotic marriages. Why? Because women, as a rule, are incapable of these choices.

More coming . . .

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-06-2006
Wed, 02-07-2007 - 11:23pm

"I am not sure where you are going with this one. I do believe problems in a relationship lead to problems with sex. Those couples with no or little conflict in their relationship do have less problems with sex"

Here's where I'm going with this one: I'll grant you that problems elsewhere in a relationship can, and often do, create sexual problems . . . if you take this view of relationship involvement: "I'll do only what I want to do, only when my 'emotions' indicate to me that I can and should and want to." Under such circumstances, it's very safe to say that the state of your sex life can be used as an indication of the overall health of your relationship.

So for the emotionally immature (i.e. the woman) sex is nothing more than a barometer of "how well he's treating me."

He treats me well -----> Good sex life. I am incapable of acting, incapable of "work" until I get my "good relationship." I can't contribute to the health of my relationship, only receive a good relationship and then, if I'm happy, I'll act.

Taking a more mature view of the topic, yes, the state of your sex life is an indicator of the health of your relationship . . . as is how well you communicate, as is how loving husband and wife treat each other. Her choices regarding sexual participation, not to mention how she treats him in other ways, DETERMINES the health of a relationship as well as acts as a barometer of how well you're doing.

Hope this makes sense . . .

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-06-2006
Wed, 02-07-2007 - 11:30pm

"Women are not more fragile." - Would that that were truly so.

"They are weaker physically" - True, but not entirely germane to this topic.

"and are socialized to pay more attention to their emotions and to cooperate/give in. Men are taught to be leaders and to ignore their emotions." - This is an interesting topic. Nature vs. nurture. Fine. If you care to take the "nurture/socialization" argument, I'll contend that men ignore their emotions and stoically soldier on . . . because they have no other choice. Steve Martin in "Parenthood" - "Women have choices; men have responsibilities." That's been my life so far.

"IMO, Society would be better off if we socialized women and men to be more alike. What a waste of strong intelligent women to teach them they are fragile and need to be "taken care of."" - Why, exactly, is it that women just seem to fall so easily into such roles? You can't blame "socialization" entirely.

"What a travesty to teach dumber, weaker men that they must rule the roost. (NOTE: I am not saying all women are strong and intelligent or that all men are week and dumb. I am saying statistically that there are strong, intelligent women and weak and dumb men.)" - I'll agree . . . to an extent.

"People should be allowed to be what they are capable of being -- regardless of gender. If this means in some relationships the woman leads and the man follows -- there is no shame in that. Just as there is no shame in a dumber, weaker woman allowing a man to make the "broader" decisions." - Shared power, shared responsibility is my ideal.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-06-2006
Wed, 02-07-2007 - 11:41pm

"Ever hear of syllogisms?

Here is what you are doing:

My wife is weak and emotional.
My wife is a woman
Therefore all women are weak and emotional."

Yes, I know what a syllogism is. Bear in mind that not all syllogisms are flawed; "Syllogism" is not a fallacy such as red herring or argumentum ad hominem. It's merely applied deductive reasoning.

Now, your assertion is that I'm over-generalizing. A fair criticism. However, my sample size is FAR larger than just my wife.

The only legitimate criticsm you can make is that my criteria for determing emotional maturity is a) somehow flawed (colored by my experience, for example. Maybe I expect too much of women) and/or b) I judge male and female emotional maturity differently and in that difference, I'm unfair. To be honest, I probably haven't done enough examination of those criteria to adequately respond. At the moment, I'm too busy grousing and complaining on a woman's bulletin board. I don't have to be all stoic and manly here. ;}

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-06-2005
Thu, 02-08-2007 - 12:27am

I agree this should be very fun, as I love to debate.

Thanks for the compliment. I like to think my husband is lucky but sometimes I think he wonders. LOL.

On the one hand, I agree with you. I have met a lot of women who let emotions rule their lives. In fact, I usually ended up when I was younger being the "logical" girl in my group.

On the other hand, I have to wonder if so many women would be ruled by their emotions if they weren't programmed to believe that is the fate their gender has given them. I also hate to see anyone perpetuate the myth that women are "fragile creatures, ruled by their emotions, who must be protected by the big strong male."

The basis for my belief that it is socialization rather than genetic material that makes some women be those "fragile creatures ruled by their emotions," is alas partly my personal experience.

So although I don't want to sound like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth, here is my take on why it is dangerous to perpetuate this myth.

As I teenager, I was (all conceit aside) beautiful. I was 5'8" tall, with a 36/22/24 inch figure. I had long blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes and a face I was told repeatedly was beautiful. If genetics helps you to picture me I am mostly Norwegian with some English/Irish/Dutch thrown in. My biggest problem with dating? Opening my mouth, or talking about my grades in school. More boys asked me out on one date and then never again, because I refused to be dumber and more emotional then they were.

The only thing that kept me from behaving like a "emotionally fragile, dumber woman"? My mother, who sat me down and told me to be careful. "I see," she said, "that you like to pretend you are stupid and insipid in front of the boys. I just want to warn you that could backfire. Do you want to spend the rest of your days, pretending to be dumber and more emotional than you are? Do you want to be something you are not forever? Because . . . what happens if you fall in love with someone and he falls in love with someone . . . who is not truly you?" Smart woman my mother.

She made me think, and I refused to be someone I wasn't. It took me until I was 20 years old to find someone who would accept me for myself, a man who was not afraid of the fact that I was smarter than him.

Then it took me until I was 28 to give up and truly take charge of our lives. To begin accomplishing what I knew I could. Why? Because society pressured my husband to believe he had to "take charge." To be the strong one . . . and frankly . . . it just isn't in him to be strong. Society pressured me to let him "take charge" and to take care of home and hearth, so I did. The sad thing is: I basically raised my daughters myself because home and hearth was women's work and making a living fell to me as well because I was mature and responsible and wanted more for my daughters. A more androgenous society would have served both my husband and I well.

Finally I am sorry emotionally fragile, illogical and weak women are the type of women you have known, but I gravitated towards a college career. The women I know are pretty much all strong, logical and emotionally stable. So you see my belief that women are not born emotionally fragile and weak creatures rests not on my own abilities . . . but also on theirs.

So to sum it up. . .

I think it is environment that is causing you to see women as weak and emotionally fragile people. I chose to go to an environnent where I would be "somewhat" accepted. I have had to fight and prove myself better than the men I work with over and over . . . to earn less than they do. For instance the department I created earns the college half their money. I built the system we still use. Yet, I make less money than 2 of the 4 men in the MIS department. I have provided statistics showing that my job should make more than their positions, but to no avail. Why don't I leave you ask? Because I have an 82 year old mother who won't leave my small town and -- emotion won't let me abandon her. (As an aside, I wonder, does that make you see me as emotionally weak or compassionate?)

Finally, I hope if you have daughters you teach them they can be strong, logical, intelligent PEOPLE. Because if you don't you risk turning a potentially strong, logical, intelligent person into a weak, emotionally fragile woman. And that. . . is not something I would wish on anyone . . . much less someone I love.

Oh, and I have three daughters. Two are married and they are both logical, EQUAL partners in their relationships. The other one is only 12 but already is finding out that most boys don't like strong, intelligent, emotionally stable girls. After all everyone likes to feel superior and men are raised to feel that way.

People have told me my daughters are different, stronger, more intelligent and logical than the ordinary woman. Genetics? Some of it I am sure, but I think socialization paid a large part in how they turned out. They never knew they were supposed to be weak, and they saw their mother being strong.

So my contention is that even if most of the women you have met are weak and emotional . . . they may well not have started out that way. But expectations and habit are strong forces and unfortunately, I believe as a society we sell many women/girls short.

Oh and if you made it this far? I do see hope. My oldest daughter (23) had a far easier time finding someone to accept her as she was than I did. Her husband is strong. Mine I have come to the unfortunate conclusion was attracted to me because he was weak and somewhat feminine. SIGH.

My hope is my granddaughter? Will have an easier time yet finding someone who will accept her for who she truly is, so she doesn't have to learn to be something she is not. I will fight for that.

I am having fun debating you and I hope you respond.

GT

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