What These Guys Are Really Afraid Of

The Forbes story that won’t die (not to mention the lame efforts by Forbes to send the story — and an earlier one by the same author that began, “Wife or whore?” — down the memory hole) are given the Rebecca Traister treatment here.

Traister hits on something that I wanted to address yesterday when I read Jill’s piece below and then about how money affects divorce rates: these retrograde articles trying to push women back into the kitchen and get them married and pregnant and keep them that way are motivated by one thing: fear.

Noer’s Forbes article reeks of it. All of his “advice” about marrying career women is at heart a manifestation of his fear, and the fear of men like him: that unless he keeps her in a cage, no woman will stay with him. My God, if she finds out there’s a world outside the house, there will be no keeping her at my side! If she has a job, she has contact with other men, and she might cuckold me. If she has money, she has the means to leave me. If she’s invested in her career, she might refuse to get tied down with children, and she’ll not only leave me, she’ll leave me without giving me ownership of her womb. If she works as many hours as I do, she might expect me to do my share around the house.

Now, there are several levels of fear represented here. First, there’s the insecurity that a woman with her own interests might grow tired of him. There’s the fear of losing privilege — after all, if a guy’s been raised to think that his wife should be his maid and his mommy, and she refuses to play along, that might mean he might have to consider picking up some of the slack instead of having things done for him. There’s the fear of her finding someone else — someone better. There’s the fear she might outearn him, or succeed where he has stalled out, and that’s not supposed to happen.

So what’s a guy like Noer to do, now that the law so inconveniently allows women to work, to have their own money and property, and to seek divorces? His solution is to find someone who won’t outearn him, who doesn’t have as much education, who will be dependent on him and who won’t have the means to leave him should she realize that she’s stuck with an insecure, whiny loser who sees no real difference between wives and prostitutes.

And should she leave him — well, boy howdy, I bet he’d feel betrayed that she would even consider it. How disloyal. The nerve. He might even feel the same way our friend from the Very Special Moderation Queue does about working women and divorce:

I have no problem with women working. Although I do have a problem with paying child support and alimony to ex-wives that no longer put out, or do anything for their ex husbands. It is a waste when that money should go to support the new children and wife in the next relationship. Children should automatically go to the father, and our famous feminist bitches would figure out a way to save the marriage. Perhaps she would cook more, put out more, do the duties of a good wife, more, etc.

Nowadays having the children go to those who can least afford it, is, well a complete disaster. Men are being treated like sperm donors and wallets, I’m sick of it. I want a bitch that is loyal to me, and the family. Not a woman that just needs a sperm donor, or a wallet. To me that is heartless, despite the fact said behavior happens with reckless abandon.

Or Dr. Bartha, who blew up his brownstone rather than let it be sold to satisfy the judgment in favor of his ex-wife in their divorce:

My brother died because his wife was able to divorce him with lies and help from N.Y.S., with help of the legal Aid Society, woman’s shelters et cetera.

Now my brother is dead and his ex-wife is enjoying his house. I do not know why he worked all his life.

The same thing happened to me but I am still alive. . . .

I can understand if someone wants to divorce it should be easy. There should be no economic incentives in the process! The division of assets should be made, based on the contribution each person. There is no rational explanation for the present method. An automatic division is only giving more incentives to divorce. Cordula did not work for 15 years and still she is supposed to get more than 50%. When slowly she started to work I never saw her money it went to her personal account in a bank in Netherlands. …

If I had had a prenuptial agreement Cordula would have never divorced, there would have been no economic incentive.

But Noer — and the editorial staff of Forbes — are well aware that even though Noer and his ilk are afraid, playing to their own fears won’t get them very far. They need to play on the fears of women as well — don’t get too into that career, gals, you’ll never find a husband — the right kind of husband — that way. And we all know that you’ll be miserable if you stay single, even if you claim to be happy. You need a husband and babies to be a complete woman. They’re joined in this effort by the likes of Caitlin Flanagan, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, David Brooks and whoever the hell it is at the New York Times and the Washington Post who keep assigning these kinds of articles to reporters — not to mention Newsweek and its infamous “You have a greater chance of being killed by a terrorist than finding a husband after 35″ article.

While the aim is to get women to give up their ambitions so as to create more potential wives for insecure men, the side benefit for these men is that they won’t have to compete against so many women in the workplace!

The sad thing is, there are in fact women who have bought into the marriage-is-the-be-all-and-end-all myth so much that they’re quite effective targets for fearmongering articles. Take writer Liz Jones, for example — successful, attractive, and so consumed with self-loathing because she didn’t have a husband that she wound up marrying this loser, who is quite aware of her fear and quite willing to exploit it (and then tell the world about how he humiliated his more-successful wife to remind her of who wears the pants in the family):

My wife is older and more successful than I am, but the bedroom has always been the arena in which I have brought her down to earth.

The female orgasm is the natural mechanism by which men assert dominion over women: a man who appreciates this can negotiate whatever difficulties arise in his relationships with them.

Last Christmas, my wife threw me out after discovering I’d been cheating on her. On the night we got back together, I made strong, passionate love to her. Unfaithful as I’d been, I was not going to let her have me over a barrel for the rest of our marriage. I needed to keep a sense of self and not allow her to mire me in guilt and a desperate quest of forgiveness.

I needed to let her know what she would be missing if we broke up for ever. I gave her a manful bravura performance that night, and at the height of her passion, I asked her: ‘Who’s the boss?’

The question threw her. Initially she wouldn’t give me a reply, but I enticed it from her. ‘You are,’ she finally gasped. ‘You are!’ I am a very difficult man to be with. I know I have caused my wife great pain and anxiety. But she is an adult, and ultimately it is wholly her choice whether she wants to be with me or not – I cannot be anyone other than myself.


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29 Responses to What These Guys Are Really Afraid Of

  1. Pranav says:

    Everyone’s been throwing in their two cents on this one. I liked Mark remy’s bit this morning

  2. Ginger says:

    All of his “advice” about marrying career women is at heart a manifestation of his fear, and the fear of men like him: that unless he keeps her in a cage, no woman will stay with him. My God, if she finds out there’s a world outside the house, there will be no keeping her at my side! If she has a job, she has contact with other men, and she might cuckold me. If she has money, she has the means to leave me. If she’s invested in her career, she might refuse to get tied down with children, and she’ll not only leave me, she’ll leave me without giving me ownership of her womb. If she works as many hours as I do, she might expect me to do my share around the house.

    It’s interesting to note that these men seem incapable of putting themselves in the woman’s shoes; they don’t consider how *they* would feel if they were removed from the public sphere and kept as subservient, unpaid laborers. All that concerns them is how they feel, what they want, and how they’ll look to other people if their hypothetical wife/slave strays or gains independence.

    I suppose that’s the very definition of privilege, isn’t it?

  3. anon says:

    You know what really says it all? The entire concept that a woman “should put out.”

    Oh, catch me before I swoon!

    *barf*

  4. Nick Kiddle says:

    Children should automatically go to the father, and our famous feminist bitches would figure out a way to…

    …kill the abusive jerk and get away with it?

  5. Natalia says:

    Wow, just wow. Nice consolidation. These jerks are all basically saying the same thing.

  6. petitpoussin says:

    Right on, zuzu! Fear is the bottom line here – in all of these stories we’ve seen recently, from that triple-threat week of Joe Francis —>Tucker Max —> Nirpal Dhaliwal (or as I like to call him, That Wanker), and now, this week, with Noer. But your fabulous crew here, and so many other feminist bloggers, keep calling ‘bullshit’ when these articles go to print, which keeps the fear where it belongs – with these insecure [long list of expletives], so that hopefully less women buy into it themselves.

    I love the humor that’s surrounded the response to the Forbes story, thus forever disproving that age old joke:
    Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    A: One. And it’s not funny.

  7. nonwhiteperson says:

    All of his “advice” about marrying career women is at heart a manifestation of his fear, and the fear of men like him: that unless he keeps her in a cage, no woman will stay with him. My God, if she finds out there’s a world outside the house, there will be no keeping her at my side! If she has a job, she has contact with other men, and she might cuckold me. If she has money, she has the means to leave me.

    It’s interesting to note that these men seem incapable of putting themselves in the woman’s shoes; they don’t consider how *they* would feel if they were removed from the public sphere and kept as subservient, unpaid laborers.

    Marriage and motherhood are a form of slavery to me because many women are still beholden to men to survive financially. People say that women have a choice to marry or have children but World Bank President Barber Conable said at the 1986 meeting of the World Bank and IMF “women do two-thirds of the world’s work…yet they only earn one tenth of the world’s income and own less than one percent of the world’s property.” If women own 1 percent of the world’s wealth (money left over after paying bills to invest in education, a mortgage, etc.), women are practically forced to marry a man and if they have children, she is often beholden to him financially to raise the children.

    http://www.zaadz.com/quotes/Barber_B_Conable_Jr

    http://www.unf.edu/dept/scholar-programs/ospreyjournal2005/makka.pdf (see p. 3)

  8. nonwhiteperson says:

    A 1981 report to the U.N. Committee on the Status of Women avers that while women represent half the global population and one-third of the paid labor force and are responsible for two-thirds of all working hours, they receive only one-tenth of world income and own less that 1 percent of world property.

    (See Feminist Politics and Human Nature (1988), p.138, by Alison Jaggar)

  9. Lauren says:

    I love Rebecca Traister and her takedown of this article. By god, thank you, Rebecca. One of the things that Hirshman touches on in the Salon response is just how goddamned anti-male this article is. For all the hemming and hawing about how feminism has ruined marriage, what you absolutely cannot sidestep is that the overall premise is how delicate and fragile a man’s health and happiness are, and that women are to blame if their husbands are unhappy. To borrow a quote from Ilyka Damen, it’s like saying that men are delicate orchids that require exact treatment and fine handling, a mindfuck if there ever was one once you put that together with Noer’s belief that men must be dominant, or else.

    Delicate, yet dominant, exotic plants. Fucking christ.

  10. Ginger says:

    Delicate, yet dominant, exotic plants.

    Kind of like Audrey from “Little Shop of Horrors”?

  11. ilyka says:

    LOL at Ginger, and thanks, Lauren, for the mention.

    I can actually take this thread into the stratosphere of blogging fan-wank by tying the dominant-but-delicate mindfuck in with something Amanda said recently:

    . . . we have forced our opponents to at least verbally concede that women should have equality as a basic human right. Whatever they may think about women, anti-feminists have to pay lip service to the idea of women’s rights and stuff their anti-woman arguments into Trojan Horses.

    One of their strategies is to try to rhetorically erase the women they are butting heads with, so they can make the debate about something other than these women and their rights, because they can’t win when using that frame, having already conceded that feminists are right that women are fully human.

    I think Amanda’s nailed it, and it explains dominant-but-delicate perfectly: Having conceded the main argument to feminists, the only tack left to take is the pity-fuck ploy: “Okay OKAY, you win, you’re right, but, gosh, can’t you see how hurt I am? Are you sure winning was really what you wanted? Was it worth causing me all this pain? Did you have to do this to me? Why are you so mean? Are you sick of my whining yet? Won’t you please change your mind?”

    What makes a guy like Noer so much FUN is that he’s trapped himself so perfectly in his own stupid “women were put on Earth to nurture men” beliefs that he’s rendered himself incapable of ever understanding why women enjoy answering all his above questions with “Yes, yes, yes, absolutely (and I wish another woman had done it sooner), because you’re a douchebag, very much yes, and NO.”

  12. “Now, there are several levels of fear represented here. First, there’s the insecurity that a woman with her own interests might grow tired of him”

    Exactly right.

  13. therealUK says:

    It’s interesting to note that these men seem incapable of putting themselves in the woman’s shoes; they don’t consider how *they* would feel if they were removed from the public sphere and kept as subservient, unpaid laborers.

    These men refuse to empathise and recognise the value of women’s humanity. What they do instead is project, and that’s where the fear comes from.

    Because if you believe that the only way to feel human is to be crapping on someone lower down the food chain than you, then there’s always a terror that you’ll end up up as the crapped-upon rather than the crappee.

    And specifically when it comes to women, these men are very invested in making sure that the female half of the human race are not allowed to go “too far”, or then they (women) will be the ones running the world with men left emasculated and subservient and the bottom of the heap.

    (apols. if this is a double post. The first attempt seemed to disappear into thin air)

  14. therealUK says:

    Another thought, at a slight tangent regarding the responses to the Forbes article, and then the reaction of Forbes themselves.

    Over here, in the UK there are anti-feminist articles like this spewing forth all the time from the reactionary press, lads mags, and even from the more “respectable” media. But, we don’t seem to get the same strength of rebuttal here that is generated in the US. I wouldn’t have expected that Forbes article to have gone down in anything like the same way over here at all.

    It is interesting, that feminist discourse seems to be much stronger and in some ways much more influential in the US than the UK, yet in other ways, in practical issues such as contraception, welfare, housing and universal health care, the UK seems to be more women-friendly.

    Perhaps it’s a class thing. My family and background is poor working class, so maybe I notice some of the small advantages we have here nowadays that a similar woman would not have in the US. But at the same time, most (not all) of the American feminist and politics-lite blogs that I read seem to be coming from people with more academic/professional concerns, concerns which seem to carry more clout.

    That’s an observation, not a judgement btw.

    I think analysis of attitudes and systems and power structures are vital, but somehow I don’t seem to see as much of it coming from the UK, and really I’d like to see more.

  15. julia says:

    Boy, ol’ Nirpal is quite the catch, isn’t he? Real men make money leveraging their more talented wives to get published. If it isn’t quite as much money, a little ritual public humiliation and the occasional highly-publicized sexual betrayal will take the taint off while you spend hers.

    Nowadays having the children go to those who can least afford it, is, well a complete disaster.

    I love this argument, because it recognizes the important and little-mentioned fact that history started when that bitch divorced him. She’s divorcing him because he refuses to do the dishes? Sounds like a terrific reason to let him raise the kids as a single parent, even though she’s the one with experience in that area.

    Here in the real world, the presumption of maternal custody is less than a hundred years old, and its appearance tracked astonishingly closely with the decline and fall of child labor. When children were a financial asset, fathers got them. When they became a financial liability, mothers got them.

    None of this, of course, affect the basic point, which is “my mom should be raising my kids because my ex didn’t worship me as a god like Penthouse Forum and Nirpal say she’s supposed to because I have a penis”

  16. zuzu says:

    Here in the real world, the presumption of maternal custody is less than a hundred years old, and its appearance tracked astonishingly closely with the decline and fall of child labor. When children were a financial asset, fathers got them. When they became a financial liability, mothers got them.

    Ooh, that’s an excellent point. Any recommended readings on that?

  17. Silver Owl says:

    I believe fear does play a role, but I think sheer laziness plays an even bigger part in movitation.

    These types of men are just down right lazy. They go out of their way to use psychological manipulation to ensure that women do more while they do less and they want to be congratulated on their laziness.

    “I needed to let her know what she would be missing if we broke up for ever. I gave her a manful bravura performance that night, and at the height of her passion, I asked her: ‘Who’s the boss?’

    The question threw her. Initially she wouldn’t give me a reply, but I enticed it from her. ‘You are,’ she finally gasped. ‘You are!’ I am a very difficult man to be with. I know I have caused my wife great pain and anxiety. But she is an adult, and ultimately it is wholly her choice whether she wants to be with me or not – I cannot be anyone other than myself. ”

    Here’s a guy, that is incredibly lazy, on purpose. Basically he’s saying, he’s too damn lazy to actually handle a respectable relationship so he’s going to use psychological and emotional manipulation based on sex to ensure that his wife accepts his laziness and congratulates him for it.

    All of his actions and plans are about not giving up his laziness. He wants to continue to do and contribute less while getting her to pick up his slack. He wants to be thanked and accepted for his sheer laziness.

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  19. zuzu says:

    Thanks!

  20. Nathan Willmore says:

    Background:
    I think of myself as a fairly modern, enlightened man. The Forbes article was obviously misogynist horseshit.

    I want an equal partner in my relationships, not a mommy, not a maid, and not a baby factory.

    I just wanted to add my thoughts on the fear issue:

    You’re absolutely right. This reaction is the male hindbrain reacting in fear to the social changes in the last generation. Despite these changes, there’s still the old image of the man as protector, provider, etc embedded somewhere. I imagine this is cultural, and will change as time goes by, but it’s still there. The cognitive dissonance created by a stong woman in many men is in many ways responsible for the anti-feminist conservative movement.

    Let’s think about this from a male point of view:

    a) Nearly 60 percent of college students are women(http://papers.nber.org/papers/w8964)
    b) Women’s salaries are approaching men’s(yes, there’s still a glass ceiling effect)
    c) Women are exerting more pressure than ever on men as far as selection goes.. Men now have to try to impress (career) women(see: Metrosexual phenomenon), although certainly not as much as the other way around(for now)

    Women are becoming better educated than men, and will at some point earn more more money because of this(societal change is slow.. think 50 years from now).

    Although the mouthbreathers like the author of the Forbes article and his ilk probably arent aware of this consciously, they can feel it in the way society is evolving. And it scares them.

    Hell, I’m man enough[will that get me flamed here? ;)] to admit that it scares me. I’m smart, I’m educated, I’m great in bed… but what does someone who’s not have to offer?

    Men are having to cope for the first time with competing on a level playing field. This fear of being alone, familiar to women, is a new thing for men and it scares them.

  21. bmc90 says:

    Nathan, you are not going to get flamed by me. My hope is that familiarity will eventually breed contempt for these ideas, as men go through several generations with wives and mothers who work and earn as much or more than they do. In a way, this reaction always puzzles me because you have to go back to my GREAT grandmothers in my family to find women who did not work for wages, but I guess the professions of Rosie the Riveter (one grandmother installed that newfangled device radar in planes for the war), teacher, pianist, cook, and salesperson were pink collar enough not to be so threatening. Plus men often took control over the wages women earned (and still do), so it just was not as threatening. Control is something we all hunger for, but an equal partner is actually better for men’s long term well being. I.e. if my mom were not at the top of the teacher pay scale when my dad was downsized, we’d have moved to a trailer. Having someone else to fall back on financially, who can share the angst of paying the bills, understands what it is like to have snarky co-workers and a wanker boss, are all good things. And guess what, actually knowing your kids by sharing in their care and knowing how to start the dishwasher are also good things. Helplessness is not sexy, cool, or overall, convenient. Eventually, even the most hard boiled sexists will figure that out, or just be a tree falling in a very empty forest.

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  23. Nathan Willmore says:

    I wish I could edit my post, I forgot something important.

    Warning: This may be a bit more controversial than my last post.

    Someone brought up “the presumption of maternal custody.” Let’s go through the reproductive issues, and how they relate to the fear thing.

    Male/Female couple. Woman gets pregnant. What happens?

    F: Does not want child
    M: Does not want child
    Result: Abortion

    F: Wants Child
    M: Wants Child
    Result: Child

    F: Does not want child.
    M: Wants child, believes abortion is wrong, whatever
    Result: Abortion

    F: Wants Child
    M: Doesnt want Child.
    Result: Child. Man pays support.

    If the couple has a child and then later splits up, the woman pretty much automatically gets the child and the man pays support.

    I don’t really see how it could be any other way without severely abridging a woman’s right to choose, but it’s still kinda threatening from a male perspective.

    The dipshit who married Liz Jones talks about the power of the female orgasm, and its relation to domination.

    The reverse is also true. The male orgasm can let a woman dominate a man.

    Yet another reason for the fear and loathing response discussed in TFA.

  24. KnifeGhost says:

    I don’t really see how it could be any other way without severely abridging a woman’s right to choose, but it’s still kinda threatening from a male perspective.

    And yet surprisingly easy to get over.

  25. amaz0n says:

    Male/Female couple. Woman gets pregnant. What happens? … it’s still kinda threatening from a male perspective.

    But what happened to precipitate the woman “getting” pregnant? Women do not magically become pregnant, and fatherhood is not randomly assigned to the closest dude in the immediate area. Men who do not wish to become fathers would be well advised to consider the myriad birth control options available to them instead of placing the responsibility on their female partner. Men who do wish to have chidren would be well advised to discuss that desire with their partners, in advance. Waiting until pregnancy occurs to let a woman know that, shucks, you’d really like to have a Junior does not behoove a mature adult.

    The only men threatened by women’s access to abortion should be those who believe that contraception and children, and discussions about both, are only the responsibility of women.

    If the couple has a child and then later splits up, the woman pretty much automatically gets the child and the man pays support

    Um, no.

    There is no magic law that says women always get custody. The disparity between men and women in custody situations occurs because so many men do not want custody of, or are too complacent to seek custody of, their children. Men who seek joint custody of their children in divorce situations are likely to get it, unless they are considered unfit in some way.

  26. Nadai says:

    Male/Female couple. Woman gets pregnant. What happens?

    Let’s see …

    They both want a kid: Woman undergoes 9 months of pregnancy and multiple hours of childbirth. Man does not.

    Neither want a kid: Woman undergoes a painful medical procedure. Man does not.

    She wants a kid, he doesn’t: Woman undergoes 9 months of pregnancy and multiple hours of childbirth. Man does not.

    He wants a kid, she doesn’t: Woman undergoes painful medical procedure. Man does not.

    You know, I don’t think that looks all that good from a female perspective, either.

  27. Tally Cola says:

    F: Does not want child.
    M: Wants child, believes abortion is wrong, whatever
    Result: Abortion

    Yeah, I’m sure it’s really that simple. There was never ever a woman who *struggled* with the idea of having an abortion, and made a *very difficult* choice about it.

  28. kate says:

    If the couple has a child and then later splits up, the woman pretty much automatically gets the child and the man pays support.

    Yes, that is controversial and just damn wrong. My father won custody of my brother and I in 1967. He had more money, more time and the tenacity to win at all costs; one of them being that we never knew our mother growing up.

    I am so damn sick and tired of men whining that they don’t get custody of their children when I have yet to find a man who is willing to put in the hard work and effort to ‘get’ his children.

    More often than not, I see men turning a blind eye, going off to start another family or live as a happy bachelor and complain to anyone who will listen how the mother of his children abuses, neglects or mistreats the children he is unwilling to take the effort to fight for.

    What’s even worse about this lie is that the fact remains that women will oft stay with a man who has more financial resources than her specifically because she knows that he will and can wear her out in court until she gives in and gives up the kids or gives up fighting for support.

    Divorce court dockets are full of vengeful, raging men with plenty of resources using their children as their last means to punish and fight it out against their wives. Sadly, many of these men win in the end and the children lose.

    Such illustrates to my observation that most men still see children as nothing more than an extension of their ownership of the wife, once that’s gone, so goes responsibility for the children. When the mother cares for the children and takes all responsibility for them, well then the man should pony up, whether the child was ‘wanted’ has little bearing on its existance and the parent’s responsibility for its welfare.

    I pray for the day when having a family and raising a child no longer have any connection to ownership or domination. That more women are working for and retaining their financial independence into marriage shows some hope.

    The next hope I have is when men like the writer of the Forbes peice cannot even troll the breakroom at Wal-Mart’s to find a mate, as none would have him.

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