Renegade — Henry Miller and the Making of ‘Tropic of Cancer.’ Why do men revel in the degradation of women?
Jeannette Winterson’s review of Frederick Turner’s book on Henry Miller ends with a question that is seldom discussed in the bounds of polite society. Why do men revel in the degradation of women?
I guess you’d have to be a woman to ask it. Comedian Henny Youngman has much to say on this topic. The blues speaks to it a lot, too; the withering contempt that familiarity brings, particularly that of wives for their husbands, usually over money troubles, sometimes over other troubles.
Speaking for myself, though, since I don’t know what other men experience, my wife and I fight all the time and sometimes it gets physical. The main reason seems to be her Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She believes herself to be perfect, and right in all things. She suffers me to listen to her point of view, especially on the topic of my faults, which she will enumerate ad nauseam whenever we sit down to a meal, but if I should even suggest that she might have a fault or two of her own I am staring down the barrels of a Gatling Gun. The torrent of abusive language is intolerable. Moreover, she does this in front of our child and the child addresses me the same way when angry, and my wife adds fuel to the child’s fire, instead of telling the child it’s wrong. I worry that the child will grow up thinking such behavior is normal and mouth off to those in with authority over her. It will absolutely ruin her life and her mother cannot see it. Her attitude is that I am wrong and the child is right to point it out.
I suppose her main grudge against me is that I’ve taken to ignoring her, spending spare time alone reading and writing, rather than hearing her complaints and abuse. She had a similar problem in an earlier marriage. Soon after their first anniversary her first husband informed her they would not have any more sex because they would not have any children. I can’t imagine a young man saying such a thing to his bride, unless he had similar problems with her and was wise enough to know what a disaster it would be for a child to have such a mother. He joined a cult that preached wifely obedience to husbands and insisted she join it too.
I would add that I am gainfully employed and the sole breadwinner in the family. I do not go out with the boys to drink and all my money goes to housekeeping and savings, so she has no complaint on that account.
So, does that mean I revel in the degradation of women? No, I do not. But I can understand that some men do if their wives are anything like mine.