Thought Catalog

Put Down The Häagen-Dazs And Nobody Gets Hurt: Why Women Are Losing The Battle Of The Sexes

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“Here’s to the liars and the cheaters and the cold mistreaters, to the mama’s boys who can’t take a stand,” warbled Danielle Peck in her 2006 Billboard chart-topper. “To the superficial players, the I-love-you-too-soon-sayers, if you hear me girls, raise your hand — let’s have a toast, here’s to finding a good man!” From Beyonce’s catchy “All the Single Ladies” (If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it!) to Katy Perry’s iconic earworm “Hot ‘n’ Cold” (Stuck on a roller coaster! Can’t get off this ride!), our pent-up sociosexual outrage as mistreated and much-put-upon women against the misogynistic powers-that-be is a force to be reckoned with. I defy you to scroll through your iPod playlist without stumbling upon a few such frothing-at-the-mouth gems as Taylor Swift’s “Picture to Burn” or Kellie Pickler’s “Best Days of Your Life.” (Country music in particular, it seems, has the market cornered on this brand of feminine angst; one has only to wonder if Jesus took the wheel before or after Carrie Underwood dug her key into the side of that poor schlep’s pretty little souped-up four-wheel-drive.) Musical theater would not be complete without one such man-hating showstopper in every musical. Romantic comedies would not be complete without one such charming but heartless sociopathic rat-bastard of a character. I believe that men get screwed over by women, sure, but if popular culture speaks for anything, women are getting screwed (figuratively and literally) by men in exponentially increasing numbers — and WE ARE PISSED. Chivalry is dead and men, if we are to believe our cultural conditioning, are little more than sadistic walking penises out to destroy everything in their path. They are lying, cheating heartbreakers who think with their dicks, objectify women, play mind games, send mixed signals, don’t know what they want, and refuse to commit. Just eavesdrop on any conversation on the Metro between two or more female participants and you will hear ample evidence to support this conclusion.

While there is an element of truth to such generalizations, hasty stereotypes are the hallmark of little minds; a healthy sense of balance is called for. We know the truth (to paraphrase Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird), and the truth is this: that some men lie, that some men are immoral, that some men cannot be trusted — but this is a truth that applies to the human race, not just to stupid boys and their stupid boy penises. (Okay, a loose paraphrase.)  Some, perhaps even most, men are unfeeling assholes, just as some, perhaps even most, women are manipulative bitches. We all occasionally get dumped, we all occasionally get hurt, and we all occasionally have our fragile hearts unceremoniously stomped upon, dragged through the mud, and run through the nearest paper shredder.  It’s called life.  And the best part about it is that it goes on.

Moreover, the thing about growing up is that it often necessitates unpleasant confrontations with our own stupid selves. “We are pessimistic,” writes English phenomenological existentialist (yes, that is a real thing) Colin Wilson, “because life seems like a very bad, very screwed-up film. If you ask ‘What the hell is wrong with the projector?’ and go up to the control room, you find it’s empty. You are the projectionist, and you should have been up there all the time.” In other words, finger-pointing is one of our most elemental childish reactions — blaming all our personal woes on our parents or our exes or our environment or our ecosystem, and women are the worst culprits I know, mostly preferring to weep into a vat of Häagen-Dazs instead of putting on their big-girl pants and confronting the source of their pain.  And while I like abdicating personal responsibility almost as much as I like shopping for shoes, it’s about damn time we all stopped wearing a wishbone where our backbone ought to be and quit blaming society at large, the media, the porn industry, the American public education system, the Christian right, or the lunar calendar for the fact that men treat women like crap. Men treat women like crap for one very simple reason:

Women let them.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not some antifeminist crackjob. Simone de Beauvoir is my homegirl and while I may order amaretto sours at the bar, I’ll punch you in the face if you think I can’t pound a Guinness with the best of them. I think it’s idiocy bordering on criminal in this enlightened century that we still blame rape victims for dressing provocatively and consider women who have had multiple sexual partners whores while exalting men as gods. And I am certainly not saying that men don’t need to step up, take ownership of their own behavior, and stop acting like selfish dickheads. But we as women seem to have a faulty understanding of what true feminism is. As Georgian feminist Mary Wollstonecraft once put it, it’s not about having power over men; it’s about having power over OURSELVES. No, you are not to blame for the men in your life treating you poorly, but when you consistently accept that poor treatment as the status quo without a word of protest, you categorically forfeit your right to victim status. “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing,” writes Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning: “your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” And so I challenge you to ask yourselves: how many times have you decimated several forests’ worth of Kleenex because a man used you for sex, strung you along, couldn’t make up his mind about you, dumped you for no good reason, caught you in the cross-fire of his own quest for self-actualization, or committed any number of similar offenses which should in fairness get a guy’s man-card revoked for life? How many hours on the psychotherapist’s couch have you spent blaming your drug addiction/eating disorder/clinical depression/general psychopathology on some man or other who done you wrong? How many bad relationships have you nursed far longer than their life expectancy because the one thing more unthinkable than living with him was living without him? How many broken hearts have you suffered as a completely avoidable consequence of jumping feet-first into a situation you knew from 500 yards away was a trainwreck waiting to happen?

Well, I heap well-deserved albeit politically incorrect personal castigation on you for your own stupidity. Shame on you — and on myself — and on all of us.  You’re a person, not a puppy dog; don’t leave your bullsh-t detector set to “silent.” Doesn’t return your calls? STOP CALLING HIM. Won’t commit to you? STOP SLEEPING WITH HIM. Treats you badly? BREAK UP WITH HIM. Doesn’t love you anymore? STOP WASTING YOUR TIME. Man up, delete him from Facebook, cut your losses, and move on. People as a general rule live up to exactly what you expect of them and no more, so the only way to be respected by men is to start commanding that respect. You are not the helpless love-child of Daisy Buchanan and Marilyn Monroe, so quit acting like it. Can you imagine Golda Meir or Margaret Thatcher sobbing in bed for a week obsessively checking her phone messages and drowning her sorrows in chocolate-chip cookie-dough over some stupid thing some stupid boy did? Of course not. Why? Because they had more important things to do.

So don’t put up with people who are reckless with your heart. Don’t hand over an all-access pass to your mind, your time, your emotions, and your body to anyone who abuses the privilege; it’s like crying about your house getting burgled when you keep leaving the doors unlocked. We like to think we can have it all — and we are kidding ourselves, even as we defend our delusions to the death. We scoff at men who hold the door for us, then wonder why they don’t do it anymore. We hold up heroines like Katniss in The Hunger Games to our daughters as the feminist ideal — strong, self-sufficient, in need of nothing or nobody, literally dragging her love interest around as a useless dead weight – yet can’t figure out why men won’t fight for us. Most importantly, we spent the better part of the 20th century clamoring for our right to sexual expression and free-love and now bitch about how men don’t commit when we give them everything they want free of charge. We like to fancy ourselves innocent little lambs led to the slaughter, but we are more like Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, placidly watching a monster of our own creation escape the lab and wreak havoc on humanity. We have accepted and enabled male mistreatment for years, and we are rightly hoisted with our own petard.

Ultimately, I challenge you, along with myself, to cash in your chips and stop playing the blame game. “She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her,” writes Naomi Wolf. There is nothing sexier than an honest woman; let others know you will no longer stand for their cruelty or carelessness and divest them of their power. Chase after your own dreams with a billy club and start being the best possible you you can be; the rest will fall into place. Stop coveting the cryptorchids and hold out for a hero. Real men honor their commitments, keep their promises, and love you for exactly who you are — squidgy bits and all. Wait for a man who “compels your strength, makes enormous demands on you, does not doubt your courage or your toughness, who does not believe you naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat you like a woman” (Anais Nin). Wait for a man whose world is a better place just because you’re in it. You are worth nothing less.

Stop settling for sour cream and salsa when you deserve the whole enchilada. TC mark

image – Shutterstock
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More From Thought Catalog

  • Anonymous

    <3

  • Yeh

    Though I’ve been irritated about the overkill of feminist entries recently, I really enjoyed this one.

  • Anonymous

     “And while I like abdicating personal responsibility almost as much as I like shopping for shoes, it’s about damn time we all stopped wearing a wishbone where our backbone ought to be and quit blaming society at large, the media, the porn industry, the American public education system, the Christian right, or the lunar calendar for the fact that men treat women like crap.”

    Absolutely stellar. Wonderful article. 

  • Guest

    Another gigantic load of fauxminism. Bravo, Thought Catalog.

  • Jessica Knapp

    Thank you. There are SO MANY of us who need to read/hear this. Every day.

  • http://twitter.com/iamthe0nly Jordana Bevan

    BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD -not Ghandi

    If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do. -Ghandi

    be wise my children

    • Nishant

      Gandhi. Not Ghandi. Its a difference in pronunciation and, hence, spelling. Thanks for the quote! :)

      • http://twitter.com/iamthe0nly Jordana Bevan

        damn american textbooks. thanks :)

  • staleness

    <3

  • Erin

    It’s easy to say “If your boyfriend is treating you poorly, leave him.” But the millions of women who stick around obviously prove that there’s more going on there. Just because you have a sentence in there about being against victim-blaming doesn’t mean that you’re not doing it.

    I think your biggest problem here is you mix the concepts of men actually abusing women and treating them horribly with the idea of men not calling back and other trivial things like that. Maybe women do act a bit infantile in regard to the latter. But insulting them for not knowing what to do when they’ve suffered possibly a lifetime of mental/physical abuse is not the same thing.

    Also,  nobody just accepts that someone doesn’t love them anymore just like that. If your significant other stops loving you, please, go eat some ice cream or do WHATEVER helps you to deal with that.

    • Ro

      Go eat ice cream, feel your emotions, then pick yourself up. That’s all she’s saying. I think the point of this article is just empower. That women have strength and can do things, they just need to step up. Life is full of extremely intense things and also trivial things.

      I do understand where you’re coming from though.

      • Ro

        *is just to empower.

  • emmahopee

    excellent, engaging, interesting. I find the use  of the phrase ‘man up’ especially interesting and wonder if it was intentional..

  • Anonymous

    Whoa. Paragraphs.

  • http://philolzophy.tumblr.com/ phiLOLZophy

    “on to the next one” as a feminist anthem ;)

    • http://twitter.com/awkwardette awkwardette

      I was recently jilted and I had that song on REPEAT. 

  • JEReich

    Factual error: Mary Wollstonecraft was a proto-feminist and scholar from the 18th century — so she is a Georgian scholar, not a Victorian scholar.  Someone correct ASAP!

  • D H

    “Wait for a man whose world is a better place just because you’re in it.” Seriously? How about not ‘waiting’ for a man at all? Makes you sound like you’re sitting around like Sleeping Beauty waiting for Prince Charming.

    • ATL

      I think she just means don’t waste your time with a guy who you know isn’t right for you just because he happens to be the only one around at the moment.  Like she said, “we have better things to do.”

      • D H

        Ahh okay. Fair enough, I can get behind that idea!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hazard333 Elly

    You point out an interesting dynamic: women continuing to play the victim role. Don’t do dat no more! 

  • Anonymous

    Sad that this even needs to be said. Sad the the author feels the need to be defensive about her feminist bona fides. 

    Men — except for those in the top 1% — get screwed as much as women do. Women get raped; men get killed in war. Women get their hearts broken; men get screwed in divorce court. Women are deemed sex objects; men are all deemed abusers and predators and heartless dickheads. Women want to be seen as equals, but still teach their sons to “never hit a lady” (as opposed to “never hit a human being”). Women want men who are sensitive, but allow him no room to express his own feelings (watch a man cry, then observe the look of disgust on his woman’s face). Women want men to value them as human beings, but men have been considered disposable throughout history (“women and children first”) and continue to be so (“End of Men,” by Hanna Rosen; “Are Men Necessary,” by Maureen Dowd.)If men are the ones in power, they’re also the ones disproportionately disempowered (homeless and poverty stricken). If men have committed more evil in the world, they are, by the same token, responsible for more good. No sex is better or worse than the other. Treat all people with respect, see all humans as humans, and we’ll have no need for the silly gender wars and the childish blame games.

    • AS

      I have never seen a more vulgar, ignorant, or fundamentally illogical comment leading up to your final two sentences. Your comparisons are apples and oranges- at the hands of entirely different societal mechanisms. The government sending men to war has nothing to do with women raped at the hands of entitled, power-seeking men- just to begin. You miss the point of her article entirely and embarrass yourself in doing so. Throughout history, men, who have dominated patriarchal society since the beginning of time, are suddenly considered disposable because of the cliche- rarely followed- “women and children first?” Ludicrous.

      • Anonymous

         I didn’t get that from what he was saying; it’s possible that you’re reading too much into the little points and focusing on than instead of his greater message–which is ultimately more important.

        What I got from it is that we should all be respectful of our fellow human beings.  Each gender has it’s own stigmas pushed upon it.  Women can be viewed negatively and men can be as well.  But most forget that in most cases this isn’t always about “Men do this” or “Women do that”–humans hurt.  We feel pain and we look for ways to get passed it.  As such, until we get to the point where we can understand to respect our fellow human regardless of who they are and what they do, nothing is going to change and this argument is going to keep happening.

        Ultimately, while we’re being made aware of issues with women and men, shouldn’t we be concerned and file this under: “Issues within Humanity dealing with Respect?”

      • guest

        I agree that the message in the last two sentences is a good one, but the entire post before that demonstrates exactly why this message can’t come to pass.  That Danpot can equate women being raped with men getting killed in war (forget that women also get killed in war and men also get raped) demonstrates a lack of understanding for why these problems even persist. Patriarchy is real, and most social, popular opinions were promoted by men who have factually, historically considered themselves to be more valuable than women. It is true that many women have bought into these patriarchal ideas, but lets not pretend that the tough guy image didn’t come from men. 

        Additionally, I am not sure I can possibly follow the logic of  “If men have committed more evil in the world, they are, by the same token, responsible for more good.” Like, ????? Does this make any sense? If more men are homeless than women, its because of the social policies that MEN put into place.

        That being said, I think men are as much victims of patriarchy as women are. As you pointed out, these ideas of men not being able to show their feelings without being considered sissies doesn’t help anyone. But if we want to start getting rid of these ridiculous notions of masculinity and femininity, of what men do and what women do, we have to first acknowledge where they came from and what problematic thinking promotes these ideas

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think you understood my point. Of course patriarchy is real. And of course it affects men too. And that’s partly the point. It is the same patriarchy that has oppressed women that has decided that men, not women, should be sent to war. Chalk it up to condescension of the female by considering her in need of male protection. That’s not the issue. The issue is, at the end of the day, it’s not *men* as individuals who are the bad guys. It’s the institutions (yes, patriarchy, but also modern-day socialization — even of the feminist sort) that has set up different rules for different genders. 

        The problem with many casual (read: angry, Internet-commenting) feminists is that they fall too easily into the knee-jerk conflating of patriarchy with maleness, conveniently forgetting that while patriarchy is male, not all that is male is patriarchical. And they also diminish the female role in socialization. (The “tough guy image” is arguably perpetuated by female admiration for the macho man as much as by patriarchy.)

        Re this: “If men have committed more evil in the world, they are, by the same token, responsible for more good.” Perhaps bad choice of words. But what I meant was: yes, men, historically, were the ones in power. But power is responsible for both good and bad. 
        The mayor of your town has the power, and is therefore responsible for both good and bad policies. A police office, by virtue of his power, can do *both more good and more bad* than the average citizen. So if all positions of prominence were occupied by men, then all decisions affecting the public, for good or bad, were made by men.

      • Margaret Thatcher

        The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

      • Anonymous

        “I have never seen a more vulgar, ignorant, or fundamentally illogical comment…”

        Sad that you resort to such things. The stock in trade of those emotionally attached to their positions, unable to entertain an opposing view, let alone argue effectively. 
        My point about men killed in war was that each of the sexes is vulnerable in different ways, but the commonality is that it’s an injustice imposed by society based on sex. The mechanisms hardly matter. 

        “Women and children first” hardly followed? Did you just whip that non-fact out of your ass? Look up the stats for men and women killed on the Titanic. And if by chance you want to do more extensive research, you’ll find plenty more in support of this. (Although judging by your tone, it seems like your rage would get in the way of cold and hard facts… so I wouldn’t necessary urge you to even bother.)

      • D H

        The sinking of the Titanic and Lusitania are two of the only ships that followed the “women and children first” idea. And they were 100 years ago. The sinking of the Costa Concordia in January demonstrated that in fact there was was no such ‘rule’ (as it isn’t actually a maritime law) that was followed. Proven further by the fact that of the 32 dead, one was a 5 year old girl. A huge study has just been completed on the whole thing, when I find the link I’ll post it here for you.

      • Anonymous

        “And they were 100 years ago.”

        Fair enough, DH. But it was a response to the claim that historically it was “hardly followed.” There’s plenty of evidence that men have been, and continue to be, the “disposable sex.” 
        The “women and children first” was just one such (rather snappy) example.  For more: just google “disposable sex”. There’s plenty of solid research, even if the feminist establishment wants to stigmatize those who find it.

      • D H

        Yeah I get you, I’m fine with your points just pointing out that it’s only ever been followed twice officially. In comparison with the thousands of ships that have sunk, it’s pretty minimal. I have posted the link here for you but I think it has to be approved by a moderator.

      • D H

        The sinking of the Titanic and Lusitania are two of the only ships that followed the “women and children first” idea. And they were 100 years ago. The sinking of the Costa Concordia in January demonstrated that in fact there was was no such ‘rule’ (as it isn’t actually a maritime law) that was followed. Proven further by the fact that of the 32 dead, one was a 5 year old girl. A huge study has just been completed on the whole thing, when I find the link I’ll post it here for you.

      • AS

        “If men are the ones in power, they’re also the ones disproportionately disempowered (homeless and poverty stricken)…”

        The 2010 US census shows that 16.5% of women are living in poverty while 14.1% of men are. This discrepancy between the genders only increases dramatically when you look at poverty on a global scale. To claim that men are disproportionatley disempowered is to “whip a non-fact out of your ass.”

        To downplay this devastating global phenomenon and suggest, because some men desire the ability to shove themselves into life boats before children and their mothers without fear of judgement for ignoring the “women and children first” concept, that they suffer on the same scale of women is outrageous. Women working full-time year-round in the US make 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. Until these injustices, as well as the widespread practice of sexual abuse, rape, and mutilation of women here and overseas is righted, you just cannot say “men get screwed as much as women do.” That statement belittles and laughs in the face of millions of women suffering worldwide.

        By the same token, saying men suffer because a small handful of women don’t like to see them cry, or they occasionally get bad breaks in divorce court (when surely they are not blameless if they are there to begin with), is egregiously insensitive to the real fact of women’s inequality and the progess we must make to right it.

        That being said, I whole-heartedly agree with your final two sentences that no gender is better or worse than the other and all humans should be treated with respect. I commend you for making that fundamental point. As Denze pointed out, each gender has it’s own stigmas, this is certainly true- but you need to think carefully before blatantly or inadvertently belittling real violence and suffering.

      • Anonymous

        Not gonna play Oppression Olympics here. You’re free to accept your facts as they fit your agenda. Doesn’t matter to me. I just think you’re perpetuating a (very false and harmful) divide.

        “… before blatantly or inadvertently belittling real violence and suffering.”

        Um, no. That’s what you are doing, not me. I’m not belittling any suffering. I’m saying there’s very real suffering all around. You’re the one who’s saying: “Your suffering is not as big as mine.” I left those games when I graduated kindergarten.  

      • Lotusleaf

        Men were historically considered the disposable sex not because of some feminist ideal but because, prior to man’s understanding of the mans role in the reproductive process, women appeared to spontaneously create life and were therefore valued as the sole factor in the continuation of the species.

    • Ro

      Truth.

    • matt good

      this is thought catalog not MRA Catalog

  • Anonymous

    “We hold up heroines like Katniss inThe Hunger Games to our daughters as the feminist ideal — strong, self-sufficient, in need of nothing or nobody, literally dragging her love interest around as a useless dead weight – yet can’t figure out why men won’t fight for us.”Really? I’ll admit I haven’t seen or read The Hunger Games so I might not be interpreting this correctly, but being strong and self-sufficient doesn’t make men stop “fighting for us”. And, just curious, why do we need them to anyway?

  • ABBY

    “…and women are the worst culprits I know, mostly preferring to weep into a vat of Häagen-Dazs instead of putting on their big-girl pants and confronting the source of their pain.” 
    Um, and your source for this is?  Even if it is true, isn’t it just the equivalent of men going out to a bar with their boys and getting absolutely trashed?  Worth a thought.

  • ABBY

    “…and women are the worst culprits I know, mostly preferring to weep into a vat of Häagen-Dazs instead of putting on their big-girl pants and confronting the source of their pain.” 
    Um, and your source for this is?  Even if it is true, isn’t it just the equivalent of men going out to a bar with their boys and getting absolutely trashed?  It’s human nature to sit around feeling sorry for yourself when something crappy has happened to you.  Worth a thought.

    • Rishtopher

      I get what you’re saying but, just because something is “human nature” doesn’t make it good or healthy. Plenty of bad things come from human nature, like violence, for example. 

      I think what the author meant is that people shouldn’t just resort to feeling sorry for themselves all the time. At some point, enough is enough, and you have to go and do something and (try to) move on. Maybe people just need to work on reaching that “point” sooner? That’s just my 2 cents.

      • Jessica Baumgartner

        it seems she was pointing out the fact that both men AND women indulge in feeling sorry for themselves (albeit differently…sometimes), not necessarily making an argument as to whether it is “healthy” or not

      • ABBY

        Yeah that’s what I was saying. I’m not sure I think it’s particularly healthy or not, but for sure both genders participate in the whole drowning the sorrows thing. Besides, there are definitely more unhealthy things in life.

  • Mila Jaroniec

    Besides the emphasis on gender-typed behavior (men tend to do this, women tend to do that), I really enjoyed this. Especially this line: “You are not the helpless love-child of Daisy Buchanan and Marilyn Monroe, so quit acting like it.” Nice work.

  • ATL

    “How many broken hearts have you suffered as a completely avoidable consequence of jumping feet-first into a situation you knew from 500 yards away was a trainwreck waiting to happen?”

    This was beautiful. Absolutely phenomenal. It’s time for me to stop getting angry at the men I have no business even engaging with in the first place.  Yes, they let me down, but I’m giving them the opportunity to.  I am using them as placeholders for when someone better comes along because I know they are subpar. It’s not their job to fill my void and it’s not my place to get upset and feel mistreated when they fail miserably.  Because I knew they would.

  • http://twitter.com/awkwardette awkwardette

    This is pretty much the over-intellectualized, abridged version of He’s Just Not That Into You. Solid advice, but I think it’s way more complicated than just “STOP.” 

    I also echo the statement that when something shitty happens, it’s kinda okay I feel upset about it and cry about it into some Haagan Dazs. More than okay; I’d venture into saying totally healthy. Why are we always telling women to stop crying? 

  • Margaret Thatcher

    You’re right, I did have better things to do. Also, I am a “Rules” girl. So even if I hadn’t, I’d have pretended.

    • Anonymous

      the rules are balllller

  • PeachOmelettes

    I thought this was great… finally a no-nonsense article promoting action, instead of more complaining. Great advice for anyone, really.

  • Nevermore

    Maybe this is old school (though I was in my 30s when she recorded it), but this sort of angst was wonderfully discussed in Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” (and a myriad of her other songs, but that was the BEST and still outranks those you listed above).

    As for the angst itself, it was ever thus. For men. For women. Human Nature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1466430302 Carolyn Fergus

    preach.

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