The Hazards of Being Male (1976)
- A fifty-seven-year-old college professor expressed it this way: "Yes, there's a need for male lib and hardly anyone writes about it the way it really is, though a few make jokes. My gut reaction, which is what you asked for, is that men—the famous male chauvinist pigs who neglect their wives, underpay their women employees, and rule the world—are literally slaves. They're out there picking that cotton, sweating, swearing, taking lashes from the boss, working fifty hours a week to support themselves and the plantation, only then to come back to the house to do another twenty hours a week rinsing dishes, toting trash bags, writing checks, and acting as butlers at the parties. It's true of young husbands and middleaged husbands. Young bachelors may have a nice deal for a couple of years after graduating, but I've forgotten, and I'll never again be young! Old men. Some have it sweet, some have it sour.
"Man's role—how has it affected my life? At thirty-five, I chose to emphasize family togetherness and income and neglect my profession if necessary. At fifty-seven, I see no reward for time spent with and for the family, in terms of love or appreciation. I see a thousand punishments for neglecting my profession. I'm just tired and have come close to just walking away from it and starting over; just research, publish, teach, administer, play tennis, and travel. Why haven't I? Guilt. And love. And fear of loneliness. How should the man's role in my family change? I really don't know how it can, but I'd like a lot more time to do my thing."
- In Harness: The Male Condition, pp. 6–7
The New Male (1979)
- It is my interpretation that on the deepest archetypal level the feminist movement is partially fueled by an intuitive sensing of the decay and demise of the male. Women are rushing in to take men's places, as much for survival's sake as for any sociological or philosophical reasons. He has become a hyperactive, hyper-cerebral, hyper-mechanical, rigid, self-destructive machine out of control.
- The Cardboard Goliath, p. 8
- He treats people as objects for manipulation.
One part of this orientation was cogently expressed by Dorothy Schiff, one-time owner, publisher and sole stock holder of the New York Post, and for many years one of America's most powerful women. In a published interview she commented, "Most people to me are nothing but personnel problems."
Discussing her personal life, she commented, "Unforeseen problems always arise in my marriages. Maybe very common problems, but they always take me by surprise." When the interviewer asked her what sort of problems she was referring to, she replied, "That the other person has needs …"
- The "Secrets" of Success, pp. 41–42
- Like basic distrust, manipulation as a style of relating is a deeply rooted part of the personality. It emerges from early conditioning experiences which put the primary focus on achievement, goal orientation and winning. … Some have more of that dehumanized jungle ability to manipulate than others. It cannot really be taught because it is not a question of a handful of moves but rather a constant, all-pervasive style that is always in operation.
- The "Secrets" of Success, p. 43
- A divorced man talked about his experiences with women:
Everybody is looking for a winner. They're impressed by position and status even if they're not being treated well. They evaluate a man by such things as his dress and his home.
If you start saying you want freedom and space, they can't handle it. You can just tell that they wouldn't be there if you didn't have money. … It's really easy to get laid. Just go to a nice place dressed nice—everyone's looking for a well-off guy.
Society preaches that you must be this or you must be that. Success has nothing to do with human qualities. I found that it was empty. I couldn't feel a damn thing emotionally. I was numb. Everything was in order, but nothing—no tears, no real happiness, no real sadness either. When you can't find anything to be sad about, that's really sad! I'm getting so I don't want to do anything. I'm emotionally upset by humanity. Not that I'm an angel, but it's discouraging to see that there's only one place you can go. Everyday I almost feel like vomiting.
I've always had people crash on me, but I've never been able to crash on them. It scares the hell out of me. There's no one who cares enough. The only reason I'm here is to keep the whole damn thing up. I wonder why I can't sink. It's scary.
- The Liberation Crunch: Getting the Worst of Both Worlds, pp. 146–147
- For most men involved with a woman who is throwing off the traditional feminine harnesses and restrictions, her liberation has meant nothing more than greater involvement with household chores, child care, and support for the woman in her new career and academic aspirations. In other words, it has only added to his pressures, responsibilities and burdens, and stretched him thinner, without providing any obvious benefits in terms of greater freedom, mobility, expressiveness, security and satisfaction, feminist rhetoric notwithstanding. What feminists describe as beneficial to the man in these changes is an ideal—a potential rather than the reality of his daily existence.
- The Liberation Crunch: Getting the Worst of Both Worlds, p. 161
The inherent contradictions and binds men find themselves in in trying to become less macho in their relationship with a woman were poignantly expressed in a letter written by a young man to a New York newspaper in response to an article that addressed itself to a question posed by a woman writer—whether women would be able to think of a non-macho man as sexy. The letter writer wrote:
I am by nature a gentle and non-aggressive 27-year-old man who often finds women turned off sexually by my tenderness and non-macho view of the world. I have come to realize that for all their talk, a lot of women still want the hairy, sexy, war-mongering, aggressive machoman of their dreams. So after several fruitless years as a gentle poet-man, I now turn myself into a heavy machismo when I go out with a woman. It works. I open the doors, I order the food and drinks, I decide which movie or play we will see. I keep my shirt unbuttoned down past my nipples and wear a gold chain around my neck with a carved elephant tusk medallion, and if the relationship is not working out, I make the first move and tell my companion that I'm sorry but we're through.
The sad thing about all this is that it works. After all those years of being naturally sensitive and gentle, and now I've got to turn myself inside out just to appear sexy. It's fun and it's nice, but I do wish I could just be myself again.
- Who Is the Victim? Who Is the Oppressor?, pp. 165–166
Perhaps the single most valuable contribution of feminism has been the way it has chipped away at men's fantasies about women. Today it is the destructive woman, consciously or unconsciously intent on controlling, manipulating and exploiting men, who feeds on his regressive, pathetic desire to see himself as the dominant superman. … This hostile attitude was well expressed by one woman who responded with the following comment to a survey on attitudes and experiences regarding the roles of men and women in our society. She wrote:
"[If men learn that women are superior] we'll be stuck with a lot of sniveling little boys clinging to our skirts. It's better to let them think they're king of the castle, lean and depend on them, and continue to control and manipulate them as we always have."
A man is in jeopardy if he fails to realize that the "fragile," "passive" women of today is not "feminine" but repressed, and may well emerge as the angry woman of tomorrow who will turn the tables on him at a time when he may hardly be prepared or equipped to adapt to the changes. Such is the price of refusing to recognize what is.
- He and His Changes, pp. 188–189
- When I am asked about my own motivations for changing, my response is that the alternative of not changing seems far worse and more frightening. Mine is not idealistic rebellion or personal sacrifice. From my point of view it is a matter of survival. I do not want to pay the price I see extracted from most of the men around me.
- He and His Changes, p. 244
The Inner Male (1987)
I have frequently had men describe the following scenario to me: "If at the beginning of a relationship, I keep the woman at a distance and don't want to get too close, she feels that I am pushing her away and that I am not making a commitment—that I am afraid to be intimate. When I finally let down my guard and try to be intimate and close, when I really make myself vulnerable and give up control, which is uncomfortable for me, then I feel really inadequate. She blames me for things that she never blamed me for when I kept my distance. When I start to get close, that's when I am accused of saying the wrong thing or trying to control her. So I am better off staying at a distance and letting her complain about a lack of intimacy."
Stewart, age thirty-six, described it this way: "Maryann was liberated on the surface, but the undertow was very different. I would find out a couple of evenings after I had been with her that she was very angry and I wouldn't even know that I had done something wrong. She would be angry because she said I wasn't really involved enough. I didn't care enough about her. The irony is that the women in my life whom I've made the greatest effort to get close to are the ones who always wind up saying they are angry because I wasn't getting close. When I made no effort to get close and really kept my distance, I never got any complaints. The moment I felt I was really opening myself up to be intimate, that was when I was found to be failing. That is the double bind for me."
Another such truth was experienced by Alex. He said, "If you keep the control, the distance, then the woman is kept insecure; and so long as she is insecure about the relationship, she will be less inclined to attack. If she's interested in you, but you keep her at a distance, she will be careful about attacking you. She won't criticize you because she's afraid of you. The moment you cross the barrier and actually start to get committed, you find that she begins to feel that you are inadequate as a partner. You know then and there that you are never going to be able to satisfy her.
"I found this to be true sexually. At the times when I personally thought I was the most sensitive and the most involved and caring as a lover, I would find out often that I was a failure. At the times when I allowed myself to be totally selfish, without apology and didn't give one thought to what the woman experienced, I never got any complaints. I was never told I was selfish as a lover. In fact, I was often told that I was wonderful."
- Why men and women can't talk to each other: the hidden unconscious messages of gender, pp. 39–40
The growing singles world gives us another vantage point from which to see how sexual desire and excitement are a matter of distance elements. A couple goes to bed, perhaps on the first or second date, with seemingly great sexual appetite and desire for each other. The sex was "great," but the man, who believed he really wanted "great sex," never comes back for more; or the woman, who seemed to have been so "turned on" and sexually responsive, is not interested in a repeat performance.
There is an often expressed "singles lament": "The ones I'm really turned on to don't seem to want me; while the people who want me, I can't get excited over." Then, finally, the disturbing conclusion: "The good ones are all taken, only the undesirable or 'sick' ones are left."
- Sexual excitement and distance: sex is not sex, is sex, is not sex, p. 110
"Most so-called liberated people that I know are full of it," remarked a caustic, albeit articulate, businessman attending a seminar I gave on emerging male/female relationships. "The feminist leadership is a good example. They have the worst qualities of both men and women. They have all the answers and nothing you can say ever changes their mind. Then, from what I read, one turns on and attacks the other—supposedly for ideological reasons, but it's just a variation on the old-fashioned male ritual of ego-tripping—'I'm for real, you're not—I'm the greatest, you're nothing.'
"It's a real cast of characters, these feminist leaders," he continued. "There's the glamor queen one who's trying to be a movie star without copping to what she's doing. It's obvious, though. She's always being seen with celebrities and she's always dating the richest, most successful guys. Then there's the other one who's like a Jewish mother—complaining and telling everybody how to change, and how to live. I'm surprised she doesn't try and tell us what to eat.
"I looked through their magazine recently. It's full of the same kind of ads as the other women's magazines that Ms. supposedly abhors. You know, jewelry, deodorants, perfumes—and the articles are mainly old-fashioned victim variety stuff, an updated variation on the old "poor downtrodden women" theme.
"The 'liberated' guys they hold up as shining examples of what men should behave like are just as phony as the feminist women pretending to be so pure. They're workaholics, and they're the worst kind of arrogant—because God is on their side and unless you imitate them, you're a misguided pig. It feels like being at a church social when you watch them—at least as hypocritical, if not more so—because at least church types don't pretend to be open to discussing their beliefs. They're out front in thinking that they have all the answers.
"When what's-her-name ran for vice-president and lost, what did she do—she blamed the male establishment. God save us from female leadership! They can't stop blaming—even at that level. I thought of reminding her that this country has at least ten million more women than men and the odds were totally on her side and it was women who rejected her, and saw through her act; but I know better than to argue against that stuff with facts."
- Earth Mothers in Disguise, p. 149
- What is really meant when we talk of the need for men to make relationships a priority is that we would like to have the best of both worlds by preserving the qualities that make the young man a creative and dedicated technological person, while superimposing on that an equal competence in relationships. In fact, the psychological undertow that makes one possible, to the same degree makes the other impossible. … Achieving the ultimate in externalization and internalization at the same time is a psychological impossibility, because one exists to the degree that the other doesn't. You can't have the best of both worlds. You can only manipulate matters enough to give the temporary appearance of having the best of both worlds.
- We can send a man to the moon but we still can't handle relationships: exploring a misleading cliche, pp. 269–270
What Men Really Want (1991)
- When they talk of the world outside themselves, their different visions of the world become obvious. He sees the world as a chaotic place, because he views it from the vantage point of self-protective needs for control, separateness, and power. She sees the "dawn of a new age," a world heading toward universal love, spirituality, and peace—free of barriers and boundaries and filled with people who care for each other.
- Shared Struggles/Polarized Realities, pp. 177–178
What Men Still Don't Know About Women, Relationships, and Love (2007)
- The price for misreading and misinterpreting a woman has become extremely high; divorce battles, custody fights, poisonous interactions, accusations of abuse, incest, harassment, and even rape alongside the everyday unhappiness lead to a need to escape through self-destructive behaviors and addictions. It is "crunch time" for men today. Their personal isolation and dependency on women is greater than ever, while women's anger, withdrawal from relationships with men, and defensive sense of being victimized also are at a peak.
- Introduction, p. 1
- "I'm not sure I ever 'got it' when it comes to how to live my life in a way that was original and free," reflected Steven Salt, a retired businessman. "Of course, like most men, I always believed I had the answers and that I was not going to live my life the stupid way other men do. I was going to be unique and avoid their mistakes, but instead I'm just another male stereotype. I started off thinking that being an achiever and a 'winner' would be the key to real freedom. So all my energy went that way and I faked everything else when it came to caring about other people. Then I thought I'd marry the 'perfect' woman and be the 'perfect' dad and husband, not like the other married men. I'd be different. But no matter how I tried I was forcing it and probably fooling no one but myself. My wife finally left and I barely know who my kids really are. When we talk it's mainly 'business.' I fell into all the traps. Now that I'm in my seventies, I'm becoming just like all those guys I felt sorry for when I was younger—guys with no real friends and with no patience for anyone else's ideas or opinions. I can barely stand to talk to anyone and yet I'm still looking to fulfill myself by meeting the 'perfect' woman. I've become a macho cliché. It's taken me this long to realize that even if she existed I really wouldn't know how to be with her and make it feel good anyway."
- The Personal Journey of Masculinity: From Externalization to Disconnection to Oblivion, p. 9
Masculine process has at its foundation externalization. The young boy is focused away from his inner and personal self and into achievement, performance, competition, success, emotional control (being "cool"), autonomy (not being dependent or needy), fearlessness, action, and an ethic that only values time spent in doing. Anything else is suspect and viewed as lazy, worthless, time-wasting, or meaningless.
Externalization, or the process of being pushed outside of oneself, amplifies and eventually becomes disconnection. Personal relationships are then objectified and founded on the role another can play in his life. Relationships are based on doing and are therefore fairly readily interchangeable with anyone else who can do.
Disconnection leads men to the experience of being loners, where it's "lonely at the top," and freedom, space, and "doing one's thing," are the rationalized values. Disconnection transforms a man into someone who has everything he wanted externally, but has nothing that is bonded or connected on a personal level. He is "out of touch," so he doesn't know why he's unhappy, and may conclude that the cause of his malaise is that he needs "more." He sets out to get it, but when he gets it he feels deader and more isolated than ever.
The end stage of this journey of masculine process is personal oblivion, which can occur early in his life or may not appear full blown until he's an older man, depending on how extreme his externalized process is. At this point, personal connection becomes impossible. He doesn't know he rationalizes his personal emptiness with cynical philosophies and escapes painful awareness through non-relationships he can control by buying. In the end state of oblivion, he is beyond personal reach and can only relate in abstract, depersonalized, intellectualized ways. The only way he is "loved" is in return for providing or taking care of others.
- The Personal Journey of Masculinity: From Externalization to Disconnection to Oblivion, pp. 10–11
- Ultimately, all addictions are the same. What distinguishes one from the other is only that some are visible and socially unacceptable, whereas others fall into cultural blind spots and get applauded. The latter are the addictions society seems to need in order to keep the system and economy going.
- The Personal Journey of Masculinity: From Externalization to Disconnection to Oblivion, pp. 27–28
Rudolpho, a thrice-divorced man in his forties, put it aptly: "Relationships with women always begin on a high. When the relationship begins I'm the hero, the rescuer, and superman, all wrapped up in one package. Naturally, it's hot and romantic and the woman adores me. As the relationship progresses and negative things happen, she reacts with hurt, disappointment, or silence. The message is clear: The problem is my fault, it's my creation.
"In my twenty years of experience with various women, I can barely recall a woman who acknowledged her contribution to a problem. The words, 'I'm sorry. I screwed up,' or, 'That's my problem and I want to work on changing the way I react,' are not what I hear."
- "A Woman" Is an Abstraction, p. 51
It is generally assumed that men are damaged in their capacity for closeness and intimacy. If intimacy is defined as a loving closeness with another person, then it is usually true that the early conditioning of men to be performers and competitors in the impersonal competitive world limits their intimacy capacity. Women are assumed to have a greater capacity for intimacy than men because they express caring emotions and allow themselves to be dependent and close in relationships more easily. Yet, a closer look will provide a different perspective.
True intimacy is love and closeness based on knowledge of the inner reality and inner experience of the other. However, in romantic relationships, closeness ends or is put into crisis when men describe honestly their inner experiences to women. Women assail the relationship behavior of men and men acknowledge what they are told. Rarely is the opposite true. Men accept the reality of women more than women accept the reality of men.
The fact that a woman's priority is placed on personal needs bears no relationship to a genuine capacity for intimacy. To be loved and known, and to be fully comfortable expressing one's personal self, are two major components of intimacy. There are few men who have received that from a woman. The opposite holds true. A woman's love for a man is contingent on his participating in her romantic fantasy of what he and the relationship should be. Few men risk challenging or undermining that fantasy. Instead, they play by the rules of romance even when it feels uncomfortable, knowing that being loved by her is fragile and easily broken once he reveals his resistances and unromantic feelings.
- Why Women Are Also Incapable of Intimacy, pp. 120–121
- The major obstacle and most difficult challenge in pursuit of a genuinely loving and caring relationship is to overcome the seductive powers and the addiction to the content approach to entering, creating, and maintaining it. The elusive golden thread of understanding lies in the how, and not the what. Specifically, as gender polarization in a relationship decreases, the experience of it improves. Without that rebalancing, even the most perfect content will unravel increasingly. Once the process is balanced, the magic of having ideal content is no longer necessary. The rebalancing process which creates a relationship free of polarizing gender defenses is clearly difficult and threatening initially in the same way that giving up an addiction seems to be. Once achieved however, a relationship free of distortion, false illusions, resentment, and hopelessness truly becomes possible.
- What Men Still Don't Know About Transforming Their Relationships, pp. 194–198