Saturday, May 30, 2020

On complementarity

From Twitter:

There is, of course, a corresponding instinct in men to want to protect and provide for a woman so that she can, as Rachel puts it, fall into her femininity. This is the instinct that is physically embodied in relationships when a man draws a woman toward him, inviting her to lean into him and feel supported. Or when at night in bed a man puts his arm around a woman and draws her into him, enveloping her.

It is one aspect of the relationship between men and women that can be genuinely complementary (not all aspects of relationships are). And it is a significant part of how men and women interact, as without it part of the bonding instinct is lost. It should, therefore, be defended within a culture, rather than taken for granted.

It seems to me that part of the dysfunction in modern relationships is because of interference with the provider/protector instinct in men. There is, first, the insistence in liberal societies that women be autonomous, and therefore independent, powerful and self-standing. Young men will grow up watching women kickboxing their way across TV and cinema screens. The softer qualities of women will be downplayed. Men will begin to feel that women are no longer a "complement" to their protector instincts.

Second, when a man sets out to protect and provide, there is always a risk that a woman will abuse his efforts. If a woman follows her lower nature, she might see an opportunity to exploit his willingness to work on her behalf. A lower natured woman might string him along and then at a certain time in the marriage reveal the deception. A man in this situation will lose his wife, his children, his house, and a considerable portion of his material assets and future income. Worse, he will be zeroed out existentially, as his efforts in life will have been revealed to have been chimerical. Some men never recover.

So defending complementarity between men and women, and the depth of connection that goes along with it, requires support within the culture. First, women need to balance being generally capable in life with a willingness to show their softer side to men. The image fed to men should not be the "tough warrior woman" but something more genuinely feminine. Nor is it really wise for a society to aim at women out earning men, particularly not via artificial means of quotas and so on - as this too undermines men's provider instincts.

As for the risk of exploitation, we need a better balance within family law that protects men from "divorce rape". Even more than this, it's important that men do not make it their entire life mission to protect and provide for a family. As much as a man might feel the truth of the complementary nature of his protector instinct and a woman's desire for a strong man to create a protected space for her, it is better for this to be the domestic side of a man's larger mission in life (rather than being the larger mission itself).

Women themselves don't really want a man to sacrifice his entire life for her. Women don't see relationships this way: they recognise their own sacrifices on behalf of family, but find it difficult to conceive of a man doing the same. They are attracted to men who go out and make their own way in the world rather than men who sacrifice their interests for women - to the point that it is difficult for them to register that a man might do this.

And if a man has a mission outside of his marriage, it leaves him far less exposed to deception by a lower natured woman (one who sees relationships in transactional terms and who cannot genuinely reciprocate a commitment to build a loving relationship within a marriage). If he still has his core mission, then as deep a blow as the deception might be, he will not have lost the existential ground to life as much as a man who puts everything into his role as a husband.

I'm not writing any of this to discourage men from being masculine enough to "allow a woman to fall into her femininity". It's to try to establish an understanding of how men might be encouraged to do this, rather than feeling demoralised and stepping back from this part of their nature.