Romanticising love and mythicising the power of love, has literary got us twisted. We really need to talk more about how everyone erroneously assumes that you’ll instinctively know how to love. It’s not true. We need to admit that we are dealing with an emotional attachment being triggered by our perception and understanding of the promise of this mythical and romanticised version of love.
For the most part, it’s a fuzzy projection of what we learned in our primary family of birth and societal conditioning. When we bring this perception and understanding to scrutiny we begin to unveil the messy multi-layered intersection between our emotions and our psychology. But none of us wants to look at this multifarious intersection so we bypass it with the romance and myths.
We all want to believe that we learn to love from the family but Bell Hooks reminds us that the family’s primary function is care not love. Even then care is not a given you only need to think about how some families are quick to want to protect themselves from what they perceive as shame when a child is abused instead of protecting the child. If you’ve ever wondered why so many women love into victimhood or martyrdom start with the family of origin then follow the path into societal conditioning this is usually the place where the complexity is birthed?
Generation after generation society reduces our romantic emotions to instinctual impulses there-by implying simplicity where there is inevitable complexity, which brings me to my point. Yes, navigating love can be complex, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Not being taught how to successfully navigate the intricacy and nuance of love is where previous generations have failed us and we are in danger of doing the same to future generations if we don’t stop to course correct.
Examining the foundation that we are working from is the only practical approach because it will show us that reconstruction is necessary. Societal evidence consistently points to love being something women survive. This directs us to the broader view that women generally don’t thrive in love. The only reason this perspective feels and looks true is the fact that we live in a world where culture, tradition and religious beliefs, have systematically sustained a world where love is approached on the basis of gender roles to create structure.
A structure that believes in the dominance and superiority of one sex over the other. A structure fed by systematic abuse, trauma, and oppression with dominance as a tool for self-gratification and control, and for millennia this system has ‘worked’. But when we talk about ‘how things work’ and ‘that’s how it’s always worked’, we rarely stop to ask: working for whom?
Answer: For men, the people who get to enjoy the self-gratification and control.
It’s not surprising then, that when the desperate need for the #metoomvmt was brought to the ‘mainstream’ by adopting #metoo these conversations were swiftly met with a venomous backlash, mostly from men.
‘Because how dare you women want to question our methods of self-gratification and control over you, this works for us.’
These are the same men who proudly uphold the narratives ‘boys will be boys’ and believe that a women’s intelligence, confidence, power, and independence ‘emasculates’ a man. The real problem then is that Patriarchy has told us that a woman or man can do something to a man that makes him less of a man, but there is nothing you can do to a woman that makes her less of a woman. Apparently, we are built to take anything and everything. We never get tired of hurting and we never tire of tolerating. We never get frustrated with being sexualised and we are built to acclimate and accept abuse.
Acknowledging that our love lives are governed by Patriarchy is where we women need to start if we want to reconstruct our approach to love. We’ve been socialised to accept that we owe it to men to minimise ourselves to feed their ego. Men have been socialised to believe that they are entitled to anything they want from a woman. We women, need to come to terms with this in order to stop seeking love where patriarchy is determined to fulfil self-gratification and control.
Women are evolving to embody physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial agency. It’s not happening overnight it’s a process. We are getting clearer and clearer that in relationships we really need is a man who will listen, challenge his own internalised patriarchy and hold other men accountable. But men refuse to answer this common sense call to do better, evolve or adapt. Perhaps someone needs to tell them what happens to species that resist evolution and adaptation. The only reason for resistance is that doing better takes away their entitlement of self-gratification and their sense of control.
This is evidenced by Gillette’s recent campaign with a clear goal to continue the social justice conversation. A razor brand saying ‘Hey, guys this culture of bullying and sexual harassment needs to stop, let’s do better’ that’s all. But it was met with intense push back by men suggesting that they don’t need to be told how to be decent human beings, they are doing just fine with toxic masculinity.
Discussing the sometimes insidious relationship between big brands in the social justice waters and profits often derails the conversations focus so let’s not go there. Instead let’s focus on how most women were surprised that men would take this campaign so badly yet when you take a step back you’ll see that these men were saying ‘I won’t stop bullying, sexism and sexual harassment because if you take that away from me you’ve ‘emasculated’ me. This is the world we live in. And, the men who think like this are the men most women are falling in love with.
What Patriarchy has done since time began is lure us into creating relationships through a lens that normalises the systematic subjugation of women. Telling us that, that’s just what men do, that’s a normal relationship. We keep coming to relationships self minimising ensuring that we don’t ‘emasculate’ men. Tolerating the things that hurt us because ‘that’s just what men do.’ Accepting the abuse because ‘that’s what normal relationships are like.’ We accept this as a ‘normal relationship’ whilst subconsciously fighting the idea of subjugation and being lesser.
Part of us wants to be compliant because, in a world where they are taught to conquer we are taught to submit to be liked and to be chosen, the other part wants to freely express herself and be independent of men’s approval but society has conditioned us to believe that we need men. They are the bridge to our happily ever after regardless of the cost. In ‘normal relationships’ the cost for this fairy tale ending is everything yet even after paying this price it remains out of reach.
The next time you wonder why you are still single? Redirect that energy to gratitude for not being in a ‘normal relationship’ with one of these men.
The next time you feel pressure to compromise so you can finally have a man, remember your standards protect you from these type of men’s bullshit.
The next time you are torn about walking away from a relationship that you are enduring remember that how he treats you is what he thinks you are worth.
The next time you wonder why the relationship is not working be honest with yourself and engage your common sense …when two people are compatible it works.
The next time you wonder why you keep dating the wrong men, consider who keeps dating them and ask yourself why?
The next time you are struggling with the idea of wanting a man for the sake of having a man, consider Patriarchy’s role, and what you may need to unpack.
The next time you find yourself thinking he’s not great but at least he’s giving me attention, remember society has conditioned you to be grateful for a man’s attention, any man. Remember that these men decided that they tell women their worth on the understanding that women are always inferior.
The next time you are battling to assert your worth for a man, remember to the right man will see and know your worth you never have to prove it.
The next time you are conflicted because he wants to have sex and you don’t want to. Don’t. Remember most men were taught that sex is about conquering and most women were taught that they need to please him. Remember you too are part of this so it must be consensual and pleasurable for you too.
Why do you need to remember and consider all this? Because so far you’ve been using a dysfunctional generational template and now is the time to course correct if you want the right love. And it starts with reaching that place where you reconstruct your approach to love cultivating more self-awareness and self-nurturing. From here you can begin to attract men who are committed to doing the work, to be better.
This article was first published on MoirasConfab.com