Monday, June 9, 2008

Recognizing Your Allies

There are two kinds of heterosexual men: those who are turned on by themselves, and those who are turned on by women.

There are men who are turned on by self-aggrandizement, who use the compliance of women to their will as evidence to others that their self-importance is not a delusion. By default, they are habitually unmindful of their woman’s feelings and injure her pride often. This kind of man can be nice, and he can tell a woman what she wants to hear, but he does so only on the condition that he gets extra-credit from her for it. He then reverts to the minimum level of compliance necessary to keep her from looking for someone else.

Then, there are men who get turned on by women who seem more important than themselves, who outsmart them, win out over them, achieve professional success ahead of them -women whose will they want to comply with. Such men will always find opportunity to point out to a woman where she is more brilliant than themselves and others, where she outperforms themselves and others, and their passion for her, plutonic or romantic, is ignited by all the times she displays her self-contentment and social independence from them. In essence, they are infatuated with her for her leadership qualities, which inspire them and others to follow.

One noticeable distinction between them is that self-infatuated men rarely see themselves as being self-absorbed. Women-infatuated men, by contrast, are usually hyper-aware of their potential to be self-absorbed and fault themselves for missing or not noticing the preferences of the woman they are with. Men are either essentially one or the other, it seems. This is most likely due to their tendency to be hierarchal-minded, assuming leader-follower relationships, rather than community-minded, assuming egalitarian relationships, when not under the consistent influence of female thinking.

With men who love women, their attraction to a particular woman
has more to do with her success at getting what she wants rather than
any particular set of bodily features. That is because they don’t
perceive women as a form of entertainment, in contrast to the former
kind of man who seems to believe he is conducting casting calls for
a Broadway musical about his life. A man who loves women sees a woman as his inspiration, a role model, and seeks to be included in her perceived social popularity and success by entertaining her, and by responding frequently to her will in a needed vacation from his own.

A woman will know this kind of man by his conversational habits such as frequent attribution of credit to her, acknowledgement of her insight, and tunnel vision of her successes in competitive situations. This is the kind of man who women wish they were with when they are involved with the other kind. But for a woman to enjoy and maintain that kind of admiration and support, she has to understand what this kind of man is responding to in her and receive what he is offering.

False modesty and expressing self-doubt are of no use here, despite their usefulness in wielding the will of self-absorbed men by baiting their ego. The habits developed in the company of less desirable people must be broken, because they mask the very strengths and genius of a woman that these men value her for.

By agreeing with a man’s bragging over her accomplishments, talent, cleverness, social popularity, beauty, and most of all complete independence from him for success, a woman allows this kind of man to have a place in her life, one of a follower or loyal ally; but most importantly she confesses the previously censored truth about her to herself and others. It is the truth about her because a person’s true social identity comes from what potential they have to be important to others, not unimportant to others.

When a woman emerges from the shadows to own up to all the ways she impresses the men who actually see her, she is claiming her right to enjoy herself and receive overdue credit for her skills and achievements. She is also rewarding a man for his righteous attitude and attentiveness towards her with her approval and acknowledgement of his success at pleasing her. This reinforces his behavior and makes other men question theirs.

This way of interacting with men is worth making a habit out of, one likely to be self-reinforcing and socially contagious.


Richard said...

Hi Ms. Christina,

As usual, your comments were insightful and provocative. I especially like your point about about men who "get turned on by women who seem more important than themselves, who outsmart them, win out over them, achieve professional success ahead of them -women whose will they want to comply with." I am one of those men, though sometimes I wonder how many of us there are and whether this is an unrealized archetypal potential in all men. I certainly hope so, because it requires a relinquishing of the male ego, which would be a net benefit for our society. It is a playful, delightful reversing of the yin-yang polarity that patriarchy paints. It implies that female-led relationships are fun.

I look forward to reading more of this wonderful blog.


Anonymous said...

I like this. Hell, I love all of your writing, but it seems to me women, including empowered women, still want a man to be manly. They don't want weak willed men who are easily manipulated or controlled by everyone, who have no back bone, who are not assertive, not ambitious, not confident, stupid, and basically lack any of the so called alpha male characteristics that women want in men. Yet a manly man seems less likely to want to become a servant/foot stool for women. Is there a fine line between this 'ally' you speak of and a weak sniffling boy? If so, what is the boundary? How does a woman recognise it?


Blanche Black said...


Yes. I go into some of this in the article on Chivalry. These men are turned on by women who are stronger and smarter than them. They portray women that way and when they interact with a woman they tend to call attention to the ways in which a particular woman is impressive to them or more successful than them. In their socializing with other men they will not participate in conversations where women are being spoken about disrespectfully, and some will even find ways to speak up and challenge men who make such comments in order to dismantle misogynist thinking. Some refer to themselves as simply "Pro-Feminist". Some men might call it "submissive". Others don't know what to call it but just avoid certain parts of guy-culture.

One distinction I've noticed is that while most average guys will be intimidated by and avoid women who have a lot of strengths,-such as being highly intelligent, very attractive, mentally independent or making more money than them- submissive men will be drawn to such women. Average guys want to appear better than women and find it hard to do so with these women. Submissive men want to cheer strong women on and see them get the appreciation from others that they deserve.

It seems to me that the main barrier to sub men being recognized by dom women is some sub men's aversion to publicly expressing their appreciation of such women and desire to cater to them, perhaps out of fear of criticism from other men. If they never manifest these qualities to potentially dom women, they hide the cues that inspire a dominant woman to express her dom nature with them. When submissive men repress their public appreciation of women out of self consciousness, they are basically acting ashamed of valuing women in front of other people.

Nevertheless, I think a dominant woman can recognize the subtle signs of a submissive man, just as clearly as they can tell when an average guy is slightly patronizing them, disregarding their concerns, not taking their professional expertise seriously, denying them credit for their success, and being critical and argumentative with them. Submissive men provide a welcome relief from the riff-raff.

Anonymous said...

As usual, this is so true that average guys want to be better than women. Which is fine, competition is healthy. However, I am so disturbed by the blatant institutional mysogany in our culture. Hence, As a result of religion and institutional gender raising, dominant women have to dumb it down and pretend to go along in order to sustain her standing in a relationship and in the community. As, our socialogical construct is for community to police the dominance of a woman by insistanting it's politically and socially incorrect to make your own decisions without the consent or being lead by a man.

Blanche Black said...

Yes, there is an undertone of misogyny to a lot of the social expectations people have for women's behavior. I watch people's reactions when a strong woman speaks up for herself to ensure her recognition or to pursue her interests, and I notice that many men will practically demonize such a woman for it. But, I always notice the men who refuse to chime in with that, who seem to secretly like it when a woman takes the upper hand in a social transaction, who secretly smile to themselves when those women win.

I have a number of male friends like that in my life today. Interestingly enough, the majority of them are muscular and involved in the military somehow. One man I dated who was like that was a very tall, attractive, muscular tree man who had his own business and was well respected by other men -and yet he got turned on by women who took the upper hand with him and other men.

Perhaps men who are secure in their masculinity and sense of their own strength are excited by strength in a woman, even when it seems to surpass their own temporarily. Or maybe it's a genetic and more random thing. What I do know is that there are a lot of men hiding in plain sight who get happy about strong women winning over their male competitors, and in most cases there is nothing effeminate about them.

Patrick said...

Ms Christina, let me see if I understand your point of view. You seem to be presenting men as either self absorbed or submissive. There is no other possibility. It seems to be a rather simplistic caricature of men.

I couldn't imagine a well adjusted man having trouble genuinely complimenting a woman on her abilities or achievements. Giving her credit doesn't require that he be submissive.

The other implication is that a man who doesn't kiss a woman's ass is self absorbed and not worthy as a man. It appears you are transferring the sense of privilege and entitlement, which you accuse the self absorbed men of having, to women. It doesn't represent the egalitarian relationship, for which you state, men need the influence of female thinking.

On the other hand, you raise some good points about the type of man who goes out of his way to compliment a woman. To me, this simply means that he is looking for and focusing on her good points. I think it's a great policy for anyone in a relationship to look for and encourage the good in their partner. Granted, a self absorbed person would not do so, but it still doesn't entail that submission is the only alternative.

I am submissive but most men are not and it irritates me when it is forced on men as an ideology. Either he is self abasing regarding women or he is a jerk.

Having said that, I am not submissive towards all women. She would actually have to be superior to me in some way that I admire and your article seems to recognize that. I may express my admiration in a submissive manner but recognizing someone's virtues is not an inherently submissive quality.

So in short, you are giving men a binary choice: either self aggrandizement or self abasement. I think it's a false dichotomy. Why can't he be a confident secure man who isn't threatened by other people's, even a woman's, superior ability?

If I am misunderstanding your position, please clarify it for me.


Blanche Black said...


Perhaps you were ad libbing on the article in your own head.

The question is, why do you equate a man complying with a woman they admire as self-abasement? Why would you even assume complying with a woman is equivalent to being submissive in nature?

It is your mode of thinking that polarizes male respect for and response to a woman's preferences to an extreme form of self-deprecation. Only people who are not used to any form of self-sacrifice to sustain relationships perceive such mild concessions as the end of the world.

There is a difference between a man who respects and responds to the will of the woman he is pursuing, and the man who pursues her while disregarding her will. These are two different attitudes among men on the topic of women because of pressure they seem to get from other men.

It is the male culture men operate out of that requires them to choose whether they will be "one of the guys" by joining other men in trivializing women in their own dialog and choice of entertainment, or whether they will be... what's the term they use?... oh yes, "Pussy-whipped". It is the male culture you live in that puts a man's natural responses to women in one extreme category or another, NOT women.

Men need to focus on being extra attentive and appreciative of a woman's will in a relationship simply because, culturally speaking, they are so bad at it. However, practice makes perfect.

Women don't need that kind of practice. They need to practice being attentive to their own will, expressing it (honestly and non-manipulatively) to the man they are with, and having it accepted and responded to, to the degree that man is capable of. A woman gets that practice when a man who chooses of his own free will to pursue her practices his “other”-centeredness while he is with her.

Certain boundaries are important to recognize. There is nothing here that indicates a man should comply with the orders of any woman, or all women, or that he take any absolute orders at all. Nothing here indicates a man should even be a sexual "submissive". A man chooses the woman he pursues and interacts with. And in the context of him choosing a woman, he is making a judgment call about whether he trusts her judgment and values or not. If he has a wavering attitude, vacillating between respect and resistance, then the double standard is in him with his attitude towards give and take.

In other words, your attitude towards women is your problem, it is on you to find a woman you want to please and gain the approval of, and it is on you to do it.

-Ms. Christina