Men Are Not Animals to Train for Your Amusement

Back before I learned to stop worrying and love the patriarchy, an article like this one in the New York Times about the benefits of using animal training techniques on your husband, would have pissed me off for the fucked up ideas it perpetuates about how men and women should relate:  Men are big fucking babies who cannot be reasoned with and so women have to stop treating them like human beings and instead, treat them like exotic animals who must be taught new tricks through the use of behavior modification.

Yes, it’s just an never-ending supply of grossness–men are unreasonable brutes; it’s women’s job to manipulate men into proper behavior; women are responsible for the emotional wellbeing of the household; men have to be carefully studied and scrutinized; if women have problems with men, the appropriate solution is to force the men to change, instead of either changing women’s own expectations and responses or explaining to the men what the problems are and letting the men either decide to change or deal with the repercussions of not changing; etc. etc.

See, I think this kind of article is insidious because the author comes to a good conclusion before veering off into "let me run your life" land.  Her husband loses his keys.  He grouches.  She attempts to appease him.  He grouches some more.  They end up fighting.  She decides to stop trying to appease him, thus he grouches, she ignores her desire to meddle and provide for him something he can provide for himself, he grouches a little more, and he finds his keys.

But does she take from this success that she should not try to appease her husband when he is upset about something that doesn’t concern her, because it’s kind of meddlesome and patronizing to run around trying to provide for your spouse something that he can provide for himself, especially when he’s not asked for help?


She just changes her meddling tactics.  Now she’s not meddling by trying to do things for him.  Now she’s meddling by manipulating him.

If I were still a feminist, I would point out that this is bullshit.  Grown ass men are, by definition, grown ass men.  They can take care of themselves and they can ask for help when they need it.  Anticipating the needs of your man and trying to meet them, when you’ve decided for him what his needs are instead of him, is disturbing.

Ha, and if I were still a feminist, I’d point out how this is doubly insidious because it looks like the innocuous and pleasant "We take care of each other and I do things for him, because I love him, and he does stuff for me because he loves me" stuff that happens in relationships.

But, alas, I have renounced my patriarchy-renouncing ways and so, instead, all I can say about it is "I’m glad that she seems to be doing the laundry and making dinners.  What a good wife!  Go patriarchy!  Woo hoo."

Or can I even say that?

I may need to check with Kleinheider and see if I can still blog as a patriarchy-supporting woman or if I should be spending that time in his kitchen or scrubbing his toilet.  I probably haven’t been a PSW long enough to earn myself a Shafly or Coulter dispensation, but for the sake of Tiny Cat Pants, I’m hoping I can keep writing.

One thought on “Men Are Not Animals to Train for Your Amusement

  1. I gave up trying to appease years ago. I understand that if he’s had a bad day or week, that most often it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I don’t deserve to be the scapegoat, but it’s better if I just shut up at that point and let him vent. And I ALWAYS get an apology the next day, once he realizes what he did. Though I am a slow learner, twenty-six years of marriage has taught me something. But do not underestimate the power of behind-the-scenes manipulation. Like, sorry, but if you don’t throw your laundry in the basket, it will not get washed. And, I’m not going to pick your socks out from under the bed. Those are also lessons I have taught the boys. And how to do their own laundry. And iron. I must not be a good feminist. Damn. I’ll try harder from now on.

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