|Crap at shopping
||[Nov. 3rd, 2013|11:24 pm]
I'm crap at shopping so my wife tells me, I have a pained expression on my face throughout, that makes shopping "torture", though my saving grace is that I am silent, unlike my step father, who's quarrelsome with his wife, and refuses to buy anything :) All married men are alike in this regardless of culture or generation, or so it seems.
Why do I mention this? Because on Friday I read this: Rethinking manhood Towards a more fallible father with which I sympathised to an extent, that extent being I also have a two year who likes to fight. Thereafter however we come to a parting of the ways.
Don't get me wrong, I tried to be the sensitive new man, I gave away my power, I was deferential, I cried. I did this for 7 years, it didn't work. I was not thanked for this, and the more power I tried to give away, the more my ex-wife wanted, I spoke to her about this, and she admitted that it was never enough, I could have been subservient and she would have wanted more. It stemmed in my opinion from a belief on her part that control was not only desirable, but possible, and the belief on my part that control was an illusion. I asked for a divorce.
Then, still wanting kids, but being 7 years down the road, I did what any data hungry geek would do, I went to the OK Cupid blog and look at what the stats nerds had to say about what I could get, and that was borderline chromosomal birth defects, that you get with "older" women. So I went the high risk route, of looking for a younger one. However, once you've imbibed of economics you come across lots of risk management, the heuristic biases that people are prey to, and the things that historically have worked. Table stakes.
Then I though a bit about the kind of woman I wanted, and the kind I knew best, and thus I ended up looking for a woman like my mother. (Go ahead, take the shot, I heard it before.) What I wanted was a woman of my mothers generation, only they're not making them anymore. As much as I have learned about modern women so far can be summarised thus. There are two kinds of women, the ones that are bright but brittle, and the ordinary ones that are needy and beset by self doubt. It has also been my experience that bright ones are belittled by the men they are with as it makes the men feel better if they feel superior. I wasn't happy with either choice. Thus I ended up in the former Soviet Union, and "through luck and craft" I became one of the 1% that ended up bringing a wife home.
The really strange thing about marrying a "Russian" woman is what it requires you to be a man. I don't mean the soft and gentle new man, I mean unreconstructed old man, without "bad habits" (Drinking and wife beating.) Not only that, she was born and has lived amongst men like this, the sort of man your grandfather was, this is the air she breathes. This is weird on several levels, from strange things like actually having to have an opinion, and the necessity of giving "black & white" answers when asked for advice. The carefully layered shades of meaning new men has learned to dispense, are despised. You can't be weak, you have to be the strong man, so she can feel safe enough to be a weak feminine woman. This has all kinds of strange implications, like looking at pictures of female hair styles, because "I'm doing this for you, what do you want me to look like?" In this I find the following to be of great use: Ten Virtues For The Modern Age. Especially Part one:
RESILIENCE. Keeping going even when things are looking dark; accepting that reversals are normal; remembering that human nature is, in the end, tough. Not frightening others with your fears.
But also parts 3, 6 & 10.
Being new at being a dad, and not even dad, but "Papa" I tried to be egalitarian about it at first, to fight, but to let him win. It quickly became apparent that when I let him win he just became more aggressive and more boisterous, because this is midnight in the garden of good & evil, there is no room for kind and gentle, this is about domination. Thus, if your child is the "Alpha Male" you're doing it wrong. My experience is that of you want your son to behave and know where the boundaries are, you fight and he looses. This is not the wishy washy celebration of mediocrity, this is about power, who's in charge, and what the rules are. Your son will sleep sounder at night knowing there are limits, you're stronger, and "in charge." If you have problems with this you need to learn to wrestle, and how to take a kick, slap and bite. He's going to play rough, and if your boy is anything like mine, the rougher you get the more he'll like it. This is a song as old as time, and it's not a fairy tale.
You can't show weakness, you can't be tired, you can't be fallible, you have to run him ragged and keep him on his toes, you're not dealing with new age mythos here, this is nature in the raw. He can control and sense his mothers mood as if it was second nature. With you all he's got to go on is whether when he hits you you feign injury, (or not) and pounce on him, or whether you withdraw in real pain, and start being crabby. Sure there are times when I wonder if this is not the way bullies are made, and far from teaching him to stand up for himself, I'll be trying to keep him from beating people up, but this is manhood, like it or loathe it, you have to roll with the punches and come out fighting. This is vulnerability, this is shame, this is the man in the arena, daring greatly.
So like I said, I have some sympathy, but I'm going in the other direction, my son is going to have to learn what it means to be a "Russian man" from a man who isn't Russian. YMMV.