Continuing thoughts on violence and threats between the sexes

Picking up where I left off before segueing off into my personal story-sharing. There are bullies out here who try to intimidate people they think they can get away with pushing around, and sometimes those people are men, and to go a step further, sometimes they’re men of higher status (either themselves or their family) used to getting away with their shenanigans due to having access to money to get them out of legal trouble. But anyway, that aside, there are also men who try to be decent for the most part who can be pushed into the red if someone tries at it long and hard enough. That’s what my companion was talking about, stating it as a bit of a warning to womenfolk that they never really know who they’re dealing with until that fateful moment. He then went on to say that the damage inflicted can sometimes be enough to kill a woman, so there’s no guarantee she’ll be granted the opportunity to learn from the experience and go forward as a less antagonistic person. He spends a lot of time around other men who are also very strong from their labors, so I imagine he may have stories in mind there.

I think what he was really driving at there was how young and/or hot-tempered men can overreact or don’t know how to channel their aggression in more productive ways, so a woman incessantly antagonizing them could be poking a bear, even though the guy may typically strive to be peaceful and tries not to react against women with physical force. True. I can imagine this could prove especially challenging to younger men with less life experience and thereby fewer opportunities to figure out how to handle women (and which women are best that they personally avoid to cut down on dangerous drama — fire and ice reaction and all). Or perhaps we could be talking about men who grew up exposed to violence that messed with their heads and sends them into a state of panic when it’s relived.

This describes my ex-husband to a degree. His father had been very hard on them as kids, as well as on his mother, using Christian teachings (Primitive Baptist) to justify the abuse. My ex-husband had been the youngest of 5 kids and so grew up witnessing how harshly his elder siblings were treated. I recall that sometimes when we’d fight he’d start freaking out and even break down crying. We both came from backgrounds with lots of fighting, though he personally experienced/witnessed severe physical mistreatment that really left scars on his psyche (and probably has something to do with why he took up drinking as a teenager and drugs as an adult).

But anyway, my companion came up dealing with family hostility and alcoholism and feuding and whatnot. And he’s been in his share of physical fights with other men. Still, he’s able to control his aggravation with women and aims to leave alone women who get too crazy. I have my crazy moments, but certainly not lethal or anything on that level, and he doesn’t consider it major-major, because we both aim not to take it “below the belt,” so to speak. And we generally succeed. Why? Because we have mutual respect. Even though we get angry at one another and feud like cats and squirrels sometimes, we don’t despise one another or wish to see each other in pain. I have my issues—that’s a given—but I’ve learned to tamp it down a bit over time. Try my best anyway. Have my own anger problems to deal with. And so do plenty of us out here, male or female. That just seems to be the way life goes. I don’t know a whole lot about folks who’ve come up with everything handed to them, and those I’ve known who were that way were damn-near impossible to tolerate and relate to. Guess what I’m saying here is that drama can’t be completely avoided, not when dealing with humans, regardless of their sex. That’s just life. The best we can hope for is to meet people who are open to seeing themselves in a realistic light and actively work through their pain so as to find less unhealthy ways to deal with it. Members of both sexes are up against this reality.

As for females going too far in taking out aggression on men while not expecting the men to retaliate even to defend themselves — that’s a tough situation. The way I see it is that people are better off with those who can handle them, and not all are constituted in a way that allows them to all be compatible. If I hang around with the wrong kind of people and am repeatedly subjected to lots of unfair disrespect, I risk sliding back down and becoming a big bitch. Some folks have to cut the cord and walk away because there’s just no way (at least at that time) to deal with one another in a fair and productive way, and that’s not necessarily one person’s fault or the other’s. It is quite possible to simply be incompatible. People like to assume every failed attempt at a relationship is a sign that someone was in the wrong, but that blame game can do more harm than good in the end. Then again, some people are truly psycho and toxic and do a number on lots and lots of people, never feeling the need to stop until they are stopped. Those are the ones to look out for, and they too can be either male or female.

Have women been misinformed in thinking running to the Law to settle our disputes is a good idea? Yes, I’d say so. And I’m willing to bet plenty of them, if they’re really honest with themselves, probably regret getting the Law all up involved in their business when it wasn’t truly necessary. It’s a message that women are encouraged to heed, more and more, and I doubt cops appreciate it too much either since it’s not their job to play social worker to our relationship problems. Why is this encouraged so often today? I think that has a lot to do with the same reason CPS (Child Protective Services) have their efforts ramped and also why Crimestoppers encourages folks to snitch on their neighbors: because the Law is insinuating itself into our personal and family lives more and more. Why? Greater control. Creates a threat and undermines our social bonds. We’re foolish to play into it if we don’t have to. That is my opinion.

But let’s take the threat of Law involvement off the table for a moment and consider just female antagonism of males with the expectation that he won’t hit back or effectively defend himself at the risk of harming her. Can that turn into an abusive situation? Yes. Is that an unfair and disrespectful way to treat one’s partner? Yes. Should men start running to the Law for help more too? No. See previous paragraph. All of us need to figure out better ways to handle our romantic affairs to the best of our ability, or split up so that the drama can die down. Either way, escalating it isn’t helpful, and inviting the Law in certainly does escalate matters. Can make a criminal out of someone you care about, and for what? Because he or she made a bad move one evening? Well, there’s a time to draw boundaries and to say “Enough!” and move on, but still much of the time that doesn’t require police assistance. Violence doesn’t just start all of a sudden one day without any hint of it heading in that direction, not usually. We have the power to decide what we will and will not tolerate and from whom…best to figure it out earlier on than later, and that’s the sad thing about young relationships where people lack experience in dealing with these issues to where they haven’t firmly figured out where to set boundaries.

Boundaries are a lifelong discovery process, I’m figuring out. Sometimes we set them too rigidly, especially after a bad relationship, to where we close ourselves off to people who aren’t actually bad for us. More often we leave them too flexible to where people can continue taking advantage and keep pushing, pushing, pushing our buttons until one day we snap under the pressure. It’s tough to figure out how to navigate in this life, and so much we must learn through trial and error.

BUT, something else I’ve been thinking about lately is how different people set different boundaries. No two relationships are identical. Some men don’t particularly mind sassy, rambunctious women; others shy away immediately. Just as some men prefer to lead, other men prefer to be led, and others still prefer to negotiate on more equal footing. Goes all sorts of ways. There’s no one right way to manage a relationship — that’s entirely up to those engaging in it. And I think there’s a lot of propaganda out there teaching women to see any sign of male aggression or strong assertiveness as a threat of abuse to come. I also read where MRAs/MGTOWs pressure men about the same thing running in the other direction. Makes me wonder when we became a society full of people worrying about everybody else’s relationships. That’s, by and large, for individuals to sort out for themselves. Such a weird trend it is that people inject themselves into the affairs of others and harp on and on about how they need to protect themselves, making it sound like nearly everybody of the opposite sex is some scary threat that people need to be super careful with. Maybe that’s just a typical reaction for young folks who’ve freshly been burnt to sound the alarm to warn others, thinking that they’re doing others a favor. And maybe they’ll eventually outgrow that tendency and instead focus more on their own affairs and leave others to do the same.

It’s kinda like how people make a big to-do about some staying in unhealthy relationships where lots of fighting does occur. Well, those folks have to figure out where to draw their boundaries. As a friend, the best you can do is offer them a place to turn to if they do decide to leave eventually, but in the end people are going to do what people are going to do. If someone stays in an unsavory relationship and keeps returning to it, that winds up being on them, especially after so much time has elapsed and it’s clearly evident how it’s functioning. We like to think it’s our obligation to repeat to those people over and over and over again how they need to leave, but once they’re beyond a reasonable age, that’s on them. Some relationships are sadomasochistic in nature and each participant gets something perverse out of their dealings. Wish they wouldn’t bring kids into these sordid affairs, but otherwise, to each their own. If a person wants out, they need to let people know this and take steps in that direction instead of waiting for the world to change their circumstances on their behalf. That’s not intended to be calloused, and I recognize there are situations where serious abuse and threats break down a person’s spirit, but it’s so important that we at least figure out for ourselves what it is that we don’t want, then work toward removing ourselves from that. It can be done. In fact, it’s done all the time by lots and lots of people. There are the occasional psychos who will stalk and try to intimidate you back into staying with them, and that’s where help from friends, family and, in seriously dangerous cases, the Law can prove very valuable. But a lot tends to happen before that stage is reached, and there are options along the way. I do think it’s important that we be cognizant of the power we do possess to walk on.

All of this is intended to lay some groundwork for other matters I’d like to get into going forward. But now it’s about time to head back to work for a while.

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