(Update: All the posts of this series have been collected into one piece, Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them.)
Yesterday, instead of writing about my third reason women stay in bad relationships (which is that it’s embarrassing to have a relationship to which you’ve been long committed go publicly down in flames), I wrote Women in Bad Relationships: Eve’s Curse Isn’t Yours. At the end of that post I said that today I’d write a bit more on that subject. So here we are!
The additional thing I wanted to say about the fact that oftentimes bad men use the love of their women as tools against their women is that the reason bad men do this is because all men, to a degree lots of women have all kinds of good reasons not to fully appreciate, want power. And men don’t want power in the way they want a great pair of shoes, or a boat someday, or that cool car with the spinning hubcaps, or whatever. Men want power with a sustained, instinctive intensity with which they want little if anything else in their lives. A man’s need for power is a low-level but constant hunger that never leaves him alone, that is never too far off his registering radar.
And men crave power so much they’ll take it in virtually any form they can get it. And they won’t give up an iota of their power that they don’t absolutely have to—and whenever they do have to surrender any of their power, they’ll harbor resentment against that offense like Packo the Wonder Elephant will remember the time Snarko the Clown teased him with a peanut he then ate himself. (Um … forgive the totally made-up metaphor. I’m in a bit of a hurry here: the beans I’m using in my soup for tonight are almost ready! And I still have to prepare the vegetables!)
Yes, we macho men crave power.
And here’s the thing about that: all men, in one way or another, feel, deep in their … well, bones … that they’re macho men. Because it’s about the testosterone—not the height, or the shoulder-spread, or … the belt notches, or whatever.
Every man, by virtue of his gonads and hormones and muscles and all that, feels … manly. And pretty much the descriptor of “manly” is Almost Desperately Craves Power.
A healthy man excercies his drive for power to the benefit of The Good.
An unhealthy man couldn’t care less about what’s good. “Good” is something outside of him—something greater than him, something beyond him. So he hates it—because what’s “good” isn’t about him. An unhealthy man seeks to exert his power in a very personal, focused, one-on-one sort of way (that’s usually done in private because he knows it makes him look weak to the rest of the world). An unhealthy man likes to see those with less power than he squirm beneath him. He gets off putting fear into the eyes of others. He likes to belittle people whom he knows will, for whatever reason, take it. He’s addicted to the little thrill he gets degrading those with less power than he; he loves to keep them guessing, keep them dancing, keep them doubting.
And one of the main things about an unhealthy man of this sort is that he can smell a woman who will succumb to him. It’s manna to him. He knows that smell like he knows … well, the smell of his own mother, usually.
God, I have a feeling I’m never going to blog about anything else. I could write about this stuff until my fingers drop off.
So. More tomorrow. (And I promise I’ll get back on track with this series.)
The point, for now, is that if you are a woman who just can’t seem to extricate yourself from a relationship with a man who is emotionally or physically abusive to you, then you’ve got to understand that what you’re doing is allowing a man who is too lazy to accrue unto himself any real power in the world an opportunity to enjoy the most attractive and terrible kind of power there is: The absolute power of one human being over another.
Do me a favor, and join my Facebook page so I can keep writing this kind of stuff, instead of … having to do other work I’d rather not. Knowing people like you matters to publishers.