Let's Face It, Men Are $$#%$: What Women Can Do About It
By Joseph Rock, Psy.D., Barry L. Duncan, Psy.D.
Men can't commit. Men hate women. Men can't communicate. Men "don't get it." Men want to be Peter Pan. Men are from Mars.
You see it on TV talk shows, you read about it in women's magazines and self-help books, you hear it from your friends. Men are doing lots of things that make it hard for women to relate to and understand them, much less prosper in intimate relationships with them. Yet they don't seem to care. It's mostly women who read articles and self-help books, who talk about relationship problems with their friends, who seek counseling.
Even so, "asshole" is a pretty strong label to hang on someone. To a certain extent, we use the term tongue in cheek. We started out joking with each other that the direction self-help books and talk shows were taking would inevitably lead to the conclusion stated in this book's title. We were kidding.
Then we began running the idea by our female friends and clients. The response was overwhelming. Virtually all agreed men were assholes, and, for the most part, they weren't kidding. Sure, they acknowledged that not all men were bad and that even those who were had their good points. But still, there was clearly a vein of anger, resentment and frustration the statement tapped into.
Do We Have to Use the "A" Word?
Using the word "assohole" may put many people off, dissuading them from reading this book and perhaps even leading some to protest its being carried in bookstores and libraries. It is not meant to be offensive or profane. Nothing about the word or this book's orientation is in any way sacrilegious. There are no descriptions or even suggestions of any acts people would find objectionable or morally depraved.
It is vulgar, of course, to call men assholes. But that vulgarity is only dimly reflective of the behavioral and emotional damage these men perpetrate, often unwittingly, on the women with whom they get involved. We could find no better word that was both vague enough to mold into our own definition, and at the same time emotionally consistent with the anger and frustration women increasingly feel in their relationships with men. It's the only word that does justice to the kind of men that we have heard countless women describe.
The irony in this discussion is that the people least likely to be offended by our use of the word are those very men to whom it applies. Guys call each other the "A" word all the time, and even wear that appellation with pride. Treating women badly, short of frank abuse, rarely causes a man to be shunned by his peers. More often, it is overlooked or even viewed with some perverse respect -after all, real men don't take any crap from women.
What Makes Someone an Asshole?
Everyone has an opinion about what makes someone worthy of wearing the scarlet "A" (and we're not talking about "adulterer", although that will be addressed in chapter 4). Let us clarify the characteristics we refer to when we use that term:
. Insensitivity to their partners. It doesn't seem like much to ask to pay a little attention to what a woman likes and dislikes, and what makes her feel good or hurts her. These men don't.
. Selfishness. Another key to a decent relationship is the ability to put the other person's needs, wants and desires first a reasonable proportion of the time. These men lack that ability.
. Inability to take responsibility for themselves. When things go wrong between two people, both are at fault. These men either don't recognize their contributions or contend they can't help what they do. They somehow figure out a way to blame you.
. Making their partners' livers harder, not easier. One reason people get into relationships is to have someone to share things with and lighten life's burdens. These men add to those burdens in many different ways.
. Competition, not cooperation. Ideally, a relationship involves sharing and working together. These men compete, as if winning and being right are more important than getting along.
. The need to control. The best relationships occur between equals, who deal with each other out of mutual respect and division of responsibilities. These men need to call all the shots.
A disturbing number of men meet these criteria. While the way they became this way may capture your intellectual curiosity, whether or not you are with one is of more immediate importance. To give you a general idea of what you're dealing with, take the quiz that begins of the following page.
If you answer "No" to all questions, clone him. You could make a fortune. If you answer one to five questions, "Yes", you are with someone who has definite "A" tendencies. If you response with "Yes" to six to ten questions, he is a jerk, without a doubt. If you answer eleven to fifteen questions, "Yes", he is an enormous asshole, with characteristics of many of the varieties discussed in subsequent chapters. If you answer sixteen to twenty questions with "Yes", you are in hell.
IS HE OR ISN'T HE? A QUIZ
. Did you think, at first, he was too good to be true.... and it turns out he was?
. Do you find yourself doing more than your share in many areas of the relationship?
. Do you have to pry thoughts and feelings out of him?
. Does he live with his parents (or did he when you met him)?
. Are you ashamed or embarrassed to tell friends and relatives what he's really like?
. Do you defend and explain yourself to him a lot?
. Do you often feel like a child being talked to by a parent when he talks to you?
. Does he get close, pull away, get close, pull away?
. Do you wonder what you did to make him stop caring?
. Does it seem to you that he has no feelings at all (except for maybe anger?
. Does he ever tell you to quit acting like his mother?
. Does he openly flirt with other women when you're around and them tell you you're hypersensitive when you point it out?
. Do you find yourself frequently saying, "I'm not allowed"?
. Does he make you feel as if you can't do anything right?
. Does he make you feel guilty when he wants sex and you don't?
. Do you wonder, sometimes, if you're living in a fraternity house (beer, sports on TV, his hanging out with his friends)?
. Does he feel entitled to things - whether or not he's done anything to deserve them?
. Do you have trouble recognizing the man you met as the one you're with now?
. Does it feel like you have another child in the house when he's there?
. Do you believe he can't, or doesn't want to, understand when you tell him how you feel?