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#460003 - 02/02/14 03:00 PM Women's stuff
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 123
I'm reading Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" right now for the first time. It's giving me a great deal of insight into how women who were of child bearing age in the 1950's and 1960's dealt with a huge amount of frustration at being limited to marrying, being a housewife and having kids. Apparently kids of women who bought into this ideology (like my mother) suffered more than kids whose mothers didn't. It's giving me some insight into the broader dynamic of the abuse I endured.

Have any of you read this? What did you think?

Cheers,

"GAATT"


Edited by gaatt (02/02/14 08:35 PM)
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"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#460190 - 02/05/14 04:54 PM Re: Women's stuff [Re: gaatt]
SamV Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5942
Loc: Talladega, Alabama, USA
I have not read the book, but I am familiar with physical abuse at the hands of my mother who was frustrated with her limitations and eventually took over the family from my physically abusive father. I had deep issues I was unaware of with her intimidation and fear mongering that were brought out at a retreat a few years ago. When I was able to process those fears into reason, I began to understand her struggle and even forgive her.

It is a process gaatt, I look forward to your insights on this topic.

Sam
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#460241 - 02/06/14 10:55 PM Re: Women's stuff [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 345
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: gaatt
It's giving me some insight into the broader dynamic of the abuse I endured.


This is a very interesting road to take. For a while I just figured that no one would understand how a liberated woman could be out of touch with herself enough to be doing something that was sexually destructive to her own children. Indeed this is part of what I have to elucidate to people, including my female therapist. Getting the picture of the dynamic and how it operated in one's own life seems very important to me as well. When I replay the trauma from a distance with accurate understanding, I come to know more of how it affected me.

In my case, the more I look inward the more I wonder if I took on my mother's frustrations. Over the years, some of my emotional responses to women being trapped could become out of proportion with reality and leave me feeling a little confused about where they came from. It's a kind of replaying of the traumatic bond with my mother. I find that if I now consciously make a connection between myself and what is happening in front of me, I get stronger and more grounded. Although it can be a little awkward at first to do that it also leads to being taken more seriously. Ultimately, that is what I am after because my family dynamic somehow left me feeling like I would never be taken seriously, or that they simply didn't know who I was. (I think that's also because inside I was just running from it as fast as I could.)

I want to add that before I got in touch with all of the feelings of fear and shame, I was very easily manipulated by people who were just a little more in touch with theirs, but not enough to be truly empathetic. Perhaps this was a familiar way of holding on to feelings that my mother could get trapped in but never fully share with anyone except me on an unconscious level. These feelings are very powerful. I find that I have to proceed slowly to understand them in the present.

One example of this might become clear in the following anecdote. I am generally pretty sensitive to women and a decent man, but there was a moment several months ago when I made a kind of sexually threatening glance at my kids' mom when we were hanging out together. I'm not even sure why I was doing it, except to say that I'm still coming to terms with my sexuality. Her immediate response was to reach for the kids. For me it was an illustration of how easily a dynamic between parents can turn into chaos for children.

Part of me growing now is mourning the losses from emotionally corrosive situations and celebrating my ability to survive and come to some recognition.

Looking forward to hearing more of what you discover.

FB
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Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#460332 - 02/08/14 02:23 PM Re: Women's stuff [Re: gaatt]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 123
Thanks for your thoughts guys,

I'm finding this book very interesting. Friedan seems to suggest that when a woman is prevented from expressing the full range of her capacity (self-actualization), and limited to the housewife/mother role, her frustration can be very corrosive to herself, her relationship to her husband and her kids. The solution is helping women to enter into exploring her interests in a way that is socially rewarded (usually this is involves education, careers and paid work). Friedan's piece on the effect on kids fascinates me.

She talks very briefly near the end about the "masculine mystique" being the dynamic that makes men "feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill". I'm thinking that that might involve no new women to inseminate too.

Both of these mystiques seem rooted in biological roles and an oversexualization of intimate relations between men and women. If women are limited to being brood mares and men as protective studs, then sure there will be a great deal of frustration and aggression. That dynamic fits well with the way I was raised and much of what our culture still celebrates. My father, as a military officer, had the Russians to fight. My mother was definitely limited to the housewife and mother routines. This is all about the battle of the sexes in which I was collateral damage.

Moving to a more loving connection is the challenge I'm learning about and that starts with loving myself first so that I can relate to others as a whole person rather than half of a whole. This aspect of healing interests me a great deal partly because the illness is so common.

Thanks for writing guys,

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#460389 - 02/09/14 01:58 PM Re: Women's stuff [Re: focusedbody]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 123
Originally Posted By: focusedbody

One example of this might become clear in the following anecdote. I am generally pretty sensitive to women and a decent man, but there was a moment several months ago when I made a kind of sexually threatening glance at my kids' mom when we were hanging out together. I'm not even sure why I was doing it, except to say that I'm still coming to terms with my sexuality. Her immediate response was to reach for the kids. For me it was an illustration of how easily a dynamic between parents can turn into chaos for children.

FB


Thanks Focussed for this example. It's so clear. I've never been in a relationship where children were involved so I haven't seen the dynamic that clearly. My history is more closely related to suppressing my attractions and being a "nice", "castrated" male. The only time I truly embraced the pursuer in me, I became very confused and frustrated once the woman I wanted was in my life as a sexual partner. It was very disturbing to me because the friendly quality to our connection which we had shared for many many years took a beating. I can see how a woman might lean on kids in that kind of dynamic. My ex simply leaned on another guy.

Betty Friedan's last words are: "I think the energy locked up in those obsolete masculine and feminine roles (woman as housewife/mother, man as aggressive protector/provider) is the social equivalent of the physical energy locked up in the realm of E=MC2 - the force that unleashed the holocaust of Hiroshima. I believe the locked-up sexual energies have helped to fuel , more than anyone realizes, the terrible violence erupting in the nation and the world during these past ten years (1963-1973, Vietnam war era). If I am right, the sex-role revolution will liberate these energies from the service of death and will make it really possible for men and women to “make love, not war.”

I read a book by Deepak Chopra on Love recently. He claimed that equality, sensitivity and open communication are essential to its development between people. That's a delicate path and quite rare in my experience of couples. I suppose the key as men is to embrace those aspects of ourselves that are normally outside the "masculine mystique" (nurturing ourselves and others, communication, gentleness) as well as the strength and assertion that are typically celebrated for men. It's difficult for us, because the "feminine" traits aren't generally valued in our culture for men or women even though women are normally forced to embrace them (and perhaps we were too as boys who were used by their mothers to compensate for their less than ideal relationship with men).

This book has taught me alot. It's helped me come to peace with my father in particular and better understand the complexity of my mother's situation. It feels like a letting go. Friedan's comment in the quote I mentioned above about "liberating these energies from the service of death" strikes a chord in me. I once yelled at a group while we in the middle of a cathartic healing session that they were killing me. At the time, I had no idea why. More recently, I've seen the strong suicidal impulses in me many times. Maybe that's why we are called "Survivors". We didn't succumb to the death serving violence that we were subjected to as kids.

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with me guys. This is an interesting time for me.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"


Edited by gaatt (02/09/14 02:01 PM)
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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#461137 - 02/19/14 10:35 PM Re: Women's stuff [Re: gaatt]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 345
Loc: NY
Gaatt:

Good to read this additional post and thanks for the Friedan quote.

Somewhat ironically, I think I am beginning to deal with the memories of my parents being in the position of having those energies locked inside them as they tried to relate to each other. Before reading this, I had related it to a hydrogen or nuclear bomb, just waiting to go off. I never realized how much living next to this had made me afraid of anything that might detonate it.

They were never violent with each other physically, as they were peace-loving people. Nonetheless, the strained energy between them was difficult for them to address. Slowly I am trying to grasp what that entails, as I continue to sort through the fear of it.

Your anecdote about your ex leaning on another guy sounds a lot like what I went through with one of my ex-girlfriends. At the time I thought, "Why is she doing this? Why can't she just talk to me?" Now I see that I was not presenting to her any kind of person who could be addressed in a trusting way. Like you stated, the more passionate I became, the more confused and frustrated. This is what tended to end so many of my relationships.

These days I'm trying to distinguish between passion and pain. That way I might have a chance at not getting so confused.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and discoveries.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#461344 - 02/23/14 02:33 PM Re: Women's stuff [Re: focusedbody]
gaatt Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 123
Hi Focussed,

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
Somewhat ironically, I think I am beginning to deal with the memories of my parents being in the position of having those energies locked inside them as they tried to relate to each other. Before reading this, I had related it to a hydrogen or nuclear bomb, just waiting to go off. I never realized how much living next to this had made me afraid of anything that might detonate it.

They were never violent with each other physically, as they were peace-loving people. Nonetheless, the strained energy between them was difficult for them to address. Slowly I am trying to grasp what that entails, as I continue to sort through the fear of it.


Thanks for sharing this aspect of your healing. It is so close to my own too. The only obviously violent aspect of my parents lives was the profession my father chose (military) and yet it was (and still is to a large degree) highly celebrated in our culture.

It looks like we have many things in common. It's great for me to know someone who shares my struggles. Few people seem to fully understand. Thanks for writing.

Sincerely,

"GAATT"
_________________________
"Love yourself and watch...Today, Tomorrow, Always." Buddha.

My Story: http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=468661#Post468661

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