I was catching up on a pod-cast from AVfM news and listened so intently to what Fidelbogen was saying about why complaining about the relationship between men and women and specifically about hypergamy is not helping the MRM, that I missed my junction on the M11 and had a 30 mile diversion to listen to more of the programme.
It got me thinking.
I know why men complain about how hypergamy and how many are royally screwed over by women in relationships. As a woman who has had difficult relationships with women myself up until I started on my “zero tolerance for bulls-shit” approach when I was 37 years old, I have some clue just how utilitarian some women can be. I’m also partnered with a wonderful man who is getting six colours of crap kicked out of him by his crazy ex-wife and the family courts.
However, I come back to the maxim in life “chose your battles wisely”. The SO and I could complain endlessly about “fitch base” (our pet name for her), but then she would hold sway over all our relationship. So we let of a bit of steam then talk about things that matter to us. Equally, I can moan and complain about being on the receiving end of social marginalisation by cliques of women at work, or I can go out and have fun on my own terms. If you hate, you let those who wish you harm win. The best outcome is not hating, it is feeling indifference, so you can ignore them.
We need to consider what we can change and how we can act to change it, and the main thing we can do as individuals is change our own behaviour and personal script. Over on a Shrink4Men, lots of the discussion is about “how are you going to change the pattern, because you can’t change the crazy behaviour of your spouse?” While not everyone is in a relationship with crazy (thank goodness), this same applies here, when it comes to deciding what we should address in the realm of interpersonal relationships publically within the MRM.
Coming back to complaining about hypergamy. One of the hosts pointed out that women when reproducing want a stable provider and this is a valid reproductive strategy. As a “non-breeder” I’ve never had need of one, but I do occasionally wish I had greater financial security, so I do get the impulse.
Where the problem lies is not in the need for stable provision, it is the crazy expectations about how much is needed to meet these perceived needs. I often sit in amazement at the amount of stuff generated by a baby shower, knowing in my family “the new baby suitcase” is making its journey around the second generation now. This suitcase is full of little baby outfits that are quickly grown out of. Each mother replaces items that are too worn when it is due to be handed on, and it saves a vast amount of money. There is also the 1,2 and 3 year old suitcases (full of lots of jeans, dungarees and t-shirts because of the vast numbers of small boys in my family). My oldest nephew recently said of the jersey worn by his 3 year old son “Hey, that’s mine” – as he spotted the T. rex with red blood dripping from his fangs knitted on the front (my Mum had an evil sense of humour – that was her creation).
Is the average woman ready to hear and understand about hypergamy? Probably not. However some women (and some men) are increasingly concerned about the commercialisation of childhood, and this is a way into the conversation about expectations and values. Open discussions about the difference between needs and wants in a relationship needs to happen early. Overt materialism is a huge red flag in my opinion. However, perhaps a better assessment of the issue is, you both need to have similar financial goals and aspirations and be prepared to stick with the plan to achieve them together. A mate should demonstrate they are going to follow-through, and anyone whose words and actions don’t match is a risky proposition. I made a similar mistake in my own marriage, so I get how easy this is to say and hard to do.
In my opinion, the real elephant in the room in male-female relationships is about male disposability, specifically if a man loses his utility through age, illness or ill-fortune. That’s the discussion that needs to be bought into the open, because unlike hypergamy one element of changing the male disposability script is about men changing their own attitudes about their value in life.
My father’s second wife is a woman who exhibits hypergamous behaviour. She also has demonstrated she only values my father for his utility, by a living will which states pretty much that his children will have to look after him if he becomes incapacitated. My father is complicit in reinforcing his utility value, because his own living will does not have the mirror statement imposing her care once incapacitated on her children. He intends to look after her no matter what. He will do stuff for her, even when exhausted and in ill health. When he visits me, he struggles to slow down and be looked after, but then settles down and appreciates that he is given space to be free to think, dream and do things at a gentle pace. I’ve often reiterated to him that he is lovable because of who he is, not what he can do. Yet he can’t or won’t break free of the assumption he needs to do things to be loved. As my father is an autonomous adult, he has the right to make that choice, but it saddens me to see this elderly man still “chasing pussy” using a script that damages himself.
There will always be spaces like a Shrink4Men where men (and women) can deal with the interpersonal issues directly confronting them, but I think we need to be smart on the front-line messages of the MRM and exert force and effort where we can get change. Sometimes that change might be something small, or sometimes our efforts together can shift the world on its axis.