Tag Archives: love

On “Love” Without Respect (And How Men Do It)

Can love exist without respect?One would say love can’t exist without respect. There is some logic and truth to it – true love doesn’t come without respect for a loved one. However, there is a sad reality of many people who confuse admiration with love and who can feel a deep affection for someone without truly respecting them.

Dare to say, men are the main culprits here.

Men tend to be more susceptible to this (due to different socialization and gender roles). This isn’t really surprising – it’s the way society tells them how to treat women. It goes with the perception of women as ethereal and beautiful, but ultimately strange creatures a man can never truly understand. A man builds an admiration for her beauty, her charm or maybe even her character, but this affection falls short on the respect because a woman is seen more of a beautiful object than a fully human being. This was a traditional way of viewing women and femininity.

Luckily, things are changing these days, but these feelings are still present surprisingly often. This is how you get men who will claim to love a woman but without understanding her as a person, men who want to protect and support a woman but without accepting her agency and opinions, and, ultimately, men who have deep feelings for a woman while still considering her an inferior.

It all comes from the power imbalance and unchallenged gender roles. Women, on the other hand, often internalize these opinions. This is why you still find many women who believe that a man finding them beautiful is the highest praise there is or that being admired by a man is more important than a basic human respect.

I must say I am not familiar with this feeling. I am not a type of a woman men admire or find beautiful. It sure made my self-esteem shaky as a teenager. But paradoxically (or not?), the lack of sexual attraction and admiration often led men to respect me. I don’t mean they necessarily liked me (in fact, I am not particularly liked; I’m too awkward for it). However, any dislike or animosity came from a dislike for my individual character. In other words, I was treated as fully human, for better or worse. As if lack of attraction or sexual interest made men able to see me as fully human, as if it made them respect me on a basic human level.

And yes, I could tell a difference. Fashion magazines tell you a bit of makeup and trendy clothes make a lot of difference, and they’re right. I know what is like to dress up and “prettify” yourself, and yes, it makes men see you differently. Those moments resulted in a heightened interest by men (I am usually ignored – many men ignore women they don’t find attractive), but the type of comments I’d received and the way my opinions had been received clearly showed the lack of human interest. As if being attractive somehow made me less human. This the disrespect I’m talking about.

The main point is that men (or whoever has a problem of “loving” someone without respect) should understand that a person they love is a fully human being not so much different than “their kind”. The whole idea of men and women being inherently different is particularly harmful here because it essentialises gender differences in a way that prevents people to see those of a different gender as “one of their own”. As a result, it leads to Othering and exoticism of the other gender(s). And as we all know, Othering & exoticism = no true human respect.

Not to say women are not susceptible to this. However, women as a group still don’t have equal power in the society; society is still male-oriented and catered to male needs. Men are presented as fully human all the time: they are leaders, teachers, doctors, flirts, fools, cowards, heroes and anything in between. They are still seen as a “default human”. In this sense, women are constantly aware of all the different ways men are and can be; women can’t simply forget men are fully human and they can’t forget all the variety of their behavior. Sadly, the way women are portrayed is still reduced to a few types, often defined in a relation to men: a mother, a wife, a daughter. There’s still a harmful dichotomy – the one that leads to the whole “admiration without respect”, the horrible “Madonna vs whore” dichotomy.

What is the solution? There isn’t an easy one, and it probably requires redefining gender roles from scratch. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. At the same time, I must say I do notice a bit of a change in a good direction. Still, we have a long way to go before this problem is fixed.

PS- My personal litmus test here was to never trust a guy who wouldn’t respect you if you had a one night stand with him. I suppose it’s a bit unorthodox way to go, but it worked for me.

Photo credit: francisco_osorio via photopin cc

Women and casual sex

sexNote: I am not talking about long term relationships or sex as a physical act of love. We all know it’s great, we all know expressing love physically is important in a loving relationship. But it’s not what this post is about.

The casual sex. The one night stands. Whatever you want to call it. The sex “just because”. What does it mean for women?

In my teens, when I was young & inexperienced, I had a distorted view of sex. In a way, I was always able to distinguish between sex and love, not in a way they can’t or shouldn’t go together, but in a way I know when an attraction is purely physical. And there’s nothing wrong with it per se.

The problem is, I saw sex as something more brilliant, more amazing or, if you want, more romantic than it actually was (for most of the people anyway). I thought sex was magical in a way. That it is all about the physical passion that overcomes the reason, the mind, anything. The unstoppable. That it’s about two people wanting each other so much, they would do anything to touch each other and lost within the passion, even if it means not to see each other ever again. I thought it was about the feeling – and I hope you all know what I’m talking about – the feeling of wanting a man so bad it hurts; knowing that it’s impossible not to look at him, to touch him, to be with him.

Needles to say, it doesn’t work that way. Now, I’m not talking about myself here, but about general human experience with (casual) sex. In many cases, it’s not really about the passion. It’s about boredom. It’s about scoring. It’s about getting drunk and not knowing or caring what’s going on. It’s about being a rebel, or even not having anything else to do at the moment. But mainly, it’s about the boredom. There’s nothing passionate about it.

Now, I’m one of those people who do not believe in some “principal” differences between women and men. “X are from Venus, and Y are from Mars” is crap, if you ask me. I do know there are differences, but they are mainly cultural, and, while culture is very important, I do not believe women have different (sexual) needs nor that they are biologically less promiscuous than men. In case of casual sex, I don’t think women are unable to enjoy it, nor I think all women seek love and long term relationships first.

But here’s a fact (or a general rule): women do enjoy casual sex less and it often leaves them unsatisfied on all accounts. Why is that?

In short: it’s their culture’s fault. Not matter what they might think, subconsciously, women still buy double standards and believe in the old society rules that clearly say casual sex is not for women. The worse case is for the ones who try to fight double standards and the old morality.

These women don’t involve in casual sex because of the sex itself, but because they want to make a statement or rebel against their parents, society or double standards. In these circumstances, the actual sex becomes unimportant, and the quality of it is diminished.

And there’s another dimension. There are, indeed, plenty of women who don’t believe in double standards and who don’t see anything wrong in casual sex. The problem is: they are not alone here. Which brings us to the other main point:

It’s men’s fault.

Ok, ok, before you shoot me, here’s what I mean: it’s not just female upbringing that stands on the way of women enjoying casual sex. There are also people they enjoy casual sex with: men. And men have their own upbringing. Needless to say, many of them still embrace double standards in all their “beauty”.

I’m not saying all guys are double standard loving assholes. Not consciously anyway. But at the end of the day, when it comes to casual sex, it looks like most of them don’t really get that it takes two people to play this game. Two equals. That’s why you get all those guys who disrespect women involving in one night stands. Yes, even if said women involve in one night stands with them.

Many men do not wish to see the situation as such (as my male friends like to point), and many claim they, in fact, don’t think badly of women who like casual sex. But at the end of the day, it does seem only a selected number of them are able to fully respect women who do it.

Also: boredom. Like I said, many people involve in one night stands not in passion, but out of boredom. In these circumstances, the quality of the actual sex is diminished. However, it looks like it has worse effects on women. While men hate bad and uninspired sex like anybody else, in the morning they can comfort themselves with the thought that “at least they got laid”. But women tend to feel used after a bad sex, especially if a guy showed no actual interest in their needs during the intercourse. That’s why, instead of “well, at least I had sex” she thinks “what have I done?” in the morning.

These are some of the reasons why casual sex rarely works for women. They do it to make a statement, and they do it with men who don’t respect them. As sad as this sounds, if a man doesn’t respect a women enough (not in the morning but during the actual intercourse), the sex would suck for her. Not to mention she’ll probably feel used in the morning. That’s why many women decide that “casual” sex and one night stands are not for them.