Since I hadn’t directly addressed the question of Representative Anthony Weiner (though I did write a piece on May 26 about Schwarzenegger and DSK), a friend of mine asked me what I thought.
This culture really encourages self-destruction in so many ways, and Weiner fell right into the trap. Same thing happens at a lesser level, when we read about highly ranked tennis player Andy Murray losing a girlfriend through spending too much time playing video games (= addiction = not knowing how to handle his own emotions and emotional needs). (They are evidently back together, so we’ll see.)
Sex is part of the mix of these equations, so is control over one’s environment, so is control over oneself, and power in a particular portion of the world. Any attempt by another to modify or moderate behavior becomes a giant obstacle to being oneself.
So the girlfriend’s timely comment about how appointments are being missed because of video games is felt as a shackle preventing the guy from being who he is, taking away his independence. Yet, of course, the guy made the appointment.
In pretty much all of these cases, the woman partner (sex and / or otherwise) is put in charge of his emotional life, and he goes back to blocking that off, Andy Murray’s way or Rep. Weiner’s way. The relationship becomes I and It, rather than I and Thou.
Seems to me, we as women have been able to add action, leadership, achievement – formerly seen as male – to our repertoire fairly easily – less than a generation. Males have not been able to consciously add our need for connection to their repertoire. And since this is now a more and more connected world, they are beginning to fail at negotiating the world in greater numbers than ever.
Addictions, crime, imprisonment, violence are all part of the same pattern of being estranged from themselves, of being unable to own their own emotional lives and needs.
Whereas, when we as women spend hours on the computer – we’re on facebook, touching our friends and family. And when we’re at work, we’re building teams. We build emotional support into everything we do. Obviously, it worked in some ways for families when we were in charge of the emotional component. Now that we are choosing more and more not to take on that work (not marrying, choosing to live alone, choosing communities around what we are passionate about, not settling for less than true partnerships), guys are paying the price of not changing in a changing world.
This is not work we can do for them. It remains to be seen if they will learn to do it for themselves.