Bull in a China Shop…

Men are… difficult. Well, the male ego is difficult, fragile. Yes, fragile is the word I am looking for. Women have been sugar coating ridiculously minor issues in order to avoid catastrophic damage to the male ego for eons. Take something like bad breath. If one of my girlfriends missed a brush up after a round at the Garlic Rose, I would simply say

Oh, sweetie, you really need to do something about that breath

Or I might just hand her a breath mint. Enough said. No hard feelings. In fact, she would probably be grateful. But use that tactic on a man and you are doomed to be forever remembered as either (1) an evil bitch or (2) a hurtful, mean Cruella who damaged his self esteem beyond repair.

So, what do we do? We leave articles about bad breath sitting out on the table. Or maybe we turn the volume up during oral hygeine commercials. But we certainly never SAY it aloud.

Before anyone asks…no my lover does not have bad breath. But we were discussing the fragile male ego and he brought up an interesting point. Maybe, just maybe, men’s egos are so fragile because women have been dancing around them for so long.

I read an article a few years ago involving a metaanalysis of two popular women’s magazines. It found that the magazines overwhelmingly portrayed male needs as more important than female needs. Things have not changed.

Cosmo still talks about how to please a man in bed, ‘please a man’ being the operative phrase. And it is not just Cosmo; the sex advice given in most women’s magazines focus on fulfilling male fantasies. A good female partner is portrayed as one who knows what men want, not on what she wants. I have not come across a single article on how to masterbate – not one. I think I remember reading one in my early 20’s. That is pathetic. I do not want to pick up a woman’s magazine and read about how to get a man off – I think we have that covered by now. I want to learn new and unique ways to get myself off.

I could fill a good sized book with the articles I have seen about finding Mr. Right. As if that is the primary way to happiness for a woman.

The worst part is how insidious it is. Popular women’s media is bombarding us with ‘men’s needs’ and ‘the male ego’ which constanly need to be pandered to and placated – and we resent men for it. We are tired of sacrificing our needs for them. We are starting to see men as weak and unfit. But we fail to recognize that, by putting a man’s needs above our own, we both create and enable the qualities we most despise.

And what really sucks is that I am not sure I am willing to break the cycle. Let’s face it, if I started being as blunt with my lover as I am with my girlfriends then things would get a little rocky. And things are good. So why should I fight this battle? After all, I’m a woman – I can take it.

Update

I forgot to mention that I had to shave my cat.

She did not like me very much at first, but now she is hopping around like a kitten

She did not like me very much at first, but now she is hopping around like a kitten.

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~ by aikaterine on August 22, 2008.

3 Responses to “Bull in a China Shop…”

  1. I used to work in a newsagent and when I saw work, I actually mean slack off. So I read a lot of magazines. And the thing is there’s really very little difference between magazines aimed at women and those aimed at men. You just need to replace the make-up tips with football. Mens’ magazines are full of articles about how to attract women and how to please them in bed. Men do rate themselves on how well they can please women sexually. That’s pretty much what the obsession with penis size is about, regardless of its actual importance to women.

    I also think the fragile ego thing is more to do with relationships versus friendships than men versus women. Putting someone else’s needs above your own isn’t a female thing, it’s a relationship thing. And in healthy relationships it balances out. It seems to me that what you call “protecting the fragile male ego” is actually just being sensitive to the insecurities of your partner. Men do the same thing. And if the things you have to be sensitive about seem trivial to you, well, the things that men have to be sensitive about with regards to the women in their lives are just as trivial and just as important.

  2. EP-

    I have browsed a few men’s magazines; and, although not an expert on them, the sex talk I have seen in them is male-centered. The title of the articles might be “How to Please a Woman”, but the content is mostly a re-hash of what men would like to believe – not what is actually the case. I have always been interested in the philosophy of sex (my university actually offered a class in it); and have had the opportunity to ask men a lot of questions about it. Most; if not all, have very little clue what a woman really wants. And it is our (women’s) fault.

    I agree that putting someone’s needs above your own should balance out in a healthy relationship, should. Women are responsible for enabling a culture where ‘should’ is not normally the case. Let’s face it, the whole equality among the sexes is a relatively new phenomena. Actually, it has just recently been re-realised. Our ancient female ancestors enjoyed more equality than women today. Women today still feel like they are the one’s making most of the sacrifices in relationships.

    I treat my girlfriend’s insecurities with care and concern; while at the same time being blunt with criticism or advice. In point of fact, my girlfriend’s insecurities are few and far between. Avoiding them is pretty easy. With men; however, it seems like any criticism or ‘blunt advice’ hits on an insecurity. Are men really this insecure? I don’t think so. I think they are just reacting to the way women talk to them. Women have pandered to ‘the fragile male ego’ for so long that men interpret criticism from a woman as… something worse than it should be.

    Being sensitive to the insecurities of your partner is very important. I am not equating the male ego with insecurities. Insecurities are a character trait of all humans; the male ego is a creation of the female mind. The former should be treated with respect and care. The latter has become so ingratiated in our culture that we take its existence for granted.

    I agree with your response, in theory. But in application things are not that black and white.

  3. I think you’ve hit on the reason for this perception of fragile ego when you say that men interpret criticism as worse than it’s intended. Women tend to be more adept at using criticism as a tool of emotional violence than men. The idea of an angry women reeling off a list of their partner’s failings is, of course, a stereotype, but there’s possibly a grain of truth there. So perhaps some men have become sensitised to the form rather than the content of the criticism, because the form is closely associated with the intention to wound.

    If that’s the case, then the equivalent interaction would be a man directly insulting their partner. Direct insults are how men communicate criticism to other men. Calling another man (at least one you know well) a “fucking wanker” is perfectly acceptable in a wide variety of situations and, unless offence is intended, it’s unlikely to cause much offence. By contrast, calling a woman a “fucking bitch” is horribly offensive in almost every context. So maybe direct criticism is to men as direct insults are to women?

    And of course, the idea that men shouldn’t call women these kinds of things is also rather ingrained in our culture and taken for granted. So is this men pandering to women?

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