19. Why Do Men Love the Crazy Bitches (and why are they nuts)?

This question pops up frequently in my social circle. Several years ago, when I spotted a book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble about the topic, of course I had to pick it up. Much to my chagrin, its author was using her gift of the pen to instruct her feminine readers in the practice of becoming said vixen…to manipulate their way into his heart and life. (As yesterday’s insurrection at the Capitol represents a super-low point for our nation’s democracy, this book marks the low tide in the realm of sexual enlightenment.)

Ok, so let’s tackle this bitch! First off, I think most of us have encountered the male fantasy aspect: she’s crazy so she must really be an unleashed freak in bed. Well, she may or she may not be. If she is, and he’s just looking for kicks, then by all means he should have a party ’til the party’s over. But he shouldn’t necessarily start dreaming of a fantasy future filled with hot sex. Once the sexual boredom arrives, he may just find himself stuck in a sexless relationship with a shrew. Lord knows I’ve seen that enough.

So why then, do many men still choose the long-term life of suffering with passive-aggressive (or outright aggressive), abusive, drama queens? And why are women behaving this way, for crying out loud?

Let’s start with the men. Apart from the freak-in-bed fantasy (and disregarding predisposing mother issues at play) I believe that the hysterical woman presents many men with with the irresistibly tempting opportunity to act as the Rock. This can offer three bonus features for those who grasp at the low-hanging fruit of half-assed solutions to the problem of life:

  1. He can live up to his father’s expectation of the Real Man whom his son is supposed to be. As such, he must be the foundation of his woman’s entire existence, to support her, protect her, defend her, and be her all-purpose mule, so that her wish is his command.
  2. In today’s world, the greater flexibility of gender roles can be confusing and unsettling, so being her Rock would help to anchor his own uncertainty in this realm. I suppose that wouldn’t be horrible for him if it didn’t cause him endless ongoing stress which, more often than not, it probably does.
  3. Being the Rock can also give the guy a fabulous excuse to avoid dealing with his own problems. This avoidance strategy prevents him from experiencing the vulnerability of having his own stuff exposed, which tends to come up if the woman has her act together more than him. This kind of exposure can feel positively emasculating to a man who isn’t solid enough in himself to face his own issues. Instead, he gets to play the shining knight who rescues the damsel in distress. Whoopie!

But these rewards have their limits. I’ve witnessed it many times. The Rock gets heavy. The sheen wears off of the knight’s armor, and ends up just being an armor for his own survival. He has absorbed too much and retreated into its dreary shell, while she carries on ranting and raving in the background, muted by his growing indifference. Pretty dismal.

What about her, though? Why are these women hysterical? How can I fit this can of worms into a nutshell?! Much of the kind of crazy I’m talking about (possessive, manipulative, demanding, emotionally volatile) is due, I think, to a culture of conflicting realities and mixed messages. It promises women they can have it all (husband, career, family, success, happiness, sexual satisfaction), they can do it all, and they’re entitled to it all as modern women, goddammit. At the same time, in the real waking world, there are still persistent inequalities in the workplace, unequal burdens at home, obstacles to the dream of success, and a whole bundle of sexual and relational misdirection.

I happen to think the sexual/relational misdirection forms the taproot of it all. This is that thing I call the Romantic Fantasy, an artifact from an old-fashioned, unrealistic, outdated patriarchal history of sexual ignorance and disempowerment. While the reality we live in morphs, the fantasy (unattainable by nature to begin with) falls further and further behind, resulting in frustration, confusion and the kind of fury that whips up total mayhem. Women who might otherwise be a force of nature, have been snared by its empty promises which are designed to keep them chasing the right kind of dreams (family, in particular, centered around Mr. Right).

Meanwhile, they’ve been swindled out of a truly empowered sexual existence by the culture’s continued resistance to allowing women true autonomy.

Women are belligerently reminded, at every turn, about the moral and social obligations linked to female anatomy. In other words, you can do anything you want, as long as it fits the model. But that old model is crap, as more and more of us are finding out, and doesn’t really fit us so well. Hence all the crazy. There’s all this fizz and froth from so many unrequited desires built on nothing but real estate in fantasyland: fed on lies and contradiction, fomenting fury, with truly no idea which way is which (not unlike the Trump-ites), without any solid ground on which to stand and get some true bearings. Looney Tunes. What else would you expect?

But crazy in a cage is futility in action. And the only way to turn that energy into power is to take on the difficult and daunting task of dismantling the cage itself. That cage is made up of childish ideas and habits formed unconsciously and it’s based on all the misguided input from the unenlightened culture of overgrown children that raised us. The burden is on us to sort it out, and until we do, nobody’s going anywhere. Not as individuals, and certainly not as a happy family, community, or society.

For all of us, this means, once again, looking straight at what we’ve got going on and confronting it head-on, whatever that looks like. There are lots of resources available, but only we can tell ourselves the truth and do the right thing based on that truth. That’s a big responsibility, with significant consequences.

For me, it’s meant a lot of casualties along the way, but also more freedom, more energy, more personal power, and more happiness. I left the man I thought I’d “marry,” breaking both of our hearts, but then went on to learn how to be more independent and find even bigger love; I became estranged from my parents and grandparents for twenty years, but this helped me to become my own person and eventually develop a mature and loving relationship with my mother; I don’t have a relationship with my sister because I’ve made myself into someone who says what needs to be said, and who knows and respects her own boundaries; I was ostracized and labeled as a “Satan worshipper” in my hometown for pursuing a rich and unconventional sexual lifestyle…. But here I am, and not only do I have no regrets, but I’m entirely grateful to myself for braving the things that terrified me the most. For telling the truth and stepping into my responsibility.

To both men and women, I’ve got to tell you, while it may be unpleasant to confront your trash, it’s exhausting to pack it around all your life. And, one thing nobody tells you is that the older you get the heavier that shit becomes, because youth and its energy passes on sooner than you think, leaving you weak and weary. Aging with vitality is for grown-ups. And you will age, even if you never grow up!

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