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men vs. women

gordian knot

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Respected friends,

I would like to hear your thoughts about one of the things I’m struggling with most right now. Therapy has brought out a lot of buried feelings I’ve had, and this is mostly a good thing.

However, I’ve identified a pretty big problem about the way I see the world. All joking aside, I am basically a man-hating feminist. I absolutely love women; I worship them and believe they are the highest life forms on the planet. On the other hand, I think men are aggressive, abusive, exploitive, brutal Neanderthals, because they are chemically wired to be that way. The only problem is, of course, I’m a man. So, this means there are aspects of myself that I really, really hate.

Interestingly enough, I’m not effeminate in most respects. People don’t look at me and say, “there’s a girly man” or “I wonder if he’s gay”. I identify as a heterosexual male outside & inside, so it’s not an issue of being transgendered or trapped in my own body. I’ve always been described as overly sensitive and sentimental by those closest to me and I have a pretty low sex drive, but I don’t think of these as exclusively (or even primarily) feminine attributes. I have some stereotypical ‘man’ qualities I'm OK with: I wear a beard, I like watching sports accompanied by a mug of beer, I enjoy reading hard science-fiction, and I hate asking for directions.

Women are amazing. I feel a mixture of worship and guilt when I talk to them and think about them. Women have traditionally been oppressed in history and are still treated as ‘less’ than men in many respects, even in our own society. Women are exploited as sex objects and told they are not valuable if they do not conform to specific standards of attractiveness. I tend to be attracted to the women my culture pushes as ‘attractive’ and I feel guilty about that. When I am talking to a girl and the thought crosses my mind, “she’s really attractive,” I immediately feel guilt because I fear I am objectifying her and not respecting her as a whole person.

I seriously want to be sensitive, concerned, and involved in women’s causes, but I fear that because I am a man, I am seen as trying to infiltrate or take charge when I just want to help. I am an interloper.

I fear and hate men in general. Men rape and kill and lord over women and compete in superficial, meaningless, aggressive ways, and have dominated history mostly because they are (on average) physically stronger than women. If you are a guy (as I am), please understand that I do not dislike or fear or intend to disrespect you specifically; I just feel so much anger and self-loathing and guilt when I see the violence and destruction men cause. I look at things like fraternity initiations and exploitive porn and sport hunting and patriarchal groups of all sorts, and I just feel like my soul is being crushed. I can’t believe I’m a part of that. And the thing is, we’re wired to be that way. It just makes me sick.

Sorry this is so long. If anyone wants to know, I can tell you more about my background in another post.



Edited by gordian knot
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Hi, I agree that women are amazing; and that history provides a good deal of evidence of unfair and unjust practices and stereotypes applied by men against women. However, it is my opinion that the perspective of gender can lead one to overlook the fact that both groups, men and women, are equally capable of behaviour that can be characterized as abusive, aggressive, exploitive, and brutal. Certainly, men and women tend to have different traits and attributes, but they also share in the human condition in the sense that an individual is able to discern the intentions of another when given enough information. This ability of ours to learn of the intentions of another without explicitly being told of them suggests that men and women also share a good deal of similarities as well. For this reason it is important to refrain from demonizing one group in favour of another.

Thus, I find it somewhat unfair, Sean, that you suggest to be something of an interloper of women's causes. There is no reason why you cannot support a cause for gender "equality" when you can understand the intentions of a cause and when you have the power to choose whether or not to lend your support. By excluding yourself from participation, you effectively deny yourself your freedom of expression and you deny your community the potential of what you have to offer.

As for being hard-wired to be a certain way, most social systems are established upon the premise that individuals are responsible for their actions. So, we are all expected to adhere to a set of standards or principles, the law being the expression of the bare minimum one must abide by. Thus, being hard-wired to behave a certain way does not matter as the burden rests with every individual of every generation to pursue and demonstrate fundamental principles to contribute to human morals and ethics.

This probably doesn't address your points directly, but these are the thoughts that come to my mind when I read your post.

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kaudio & kay_j,

Thanks so much for your replies. I'd like to clear up a couple of misconceptions I might have left with you:

1. I really see this as a problem for me to feel such a disparity towards the two genders; I'm not OK with the way I feel about men and I don't want to feel this way. I was just trying to express that my mind keeps giving my emotions reasons why I SHOULD feel this way and so I feel trapped between my feelings (scared of / threatened by many men), my thoughts (seeing a much higher incidence of violence among men, etc), and my desires (really not wanting to feel & think this way!)...

2. It's not that I don't support women's or 'equality' causes because I feel judged; it's because I'm afraid that as a man I WILL try to take over or be a leader. I grew up in a very patriarchal/complementarian family where men & women had very different roles. I find myself gravitating to the 'male = leadership' role often and it just makes me sick because I am NOT the head of any woman! So this partially has to do with me being philosophically in a very different place than my nurtured instincts from childhood.

3. I was not trying to suggest that being chemically predisposed to certain behaviors means that anyone does not have a choice about what they do; I completely agree that we can choose to fight our baser urges or capitulate to them. I'm just having a lot of difficulty right now trying to keep from being consumed by the guilt I have resulting from the heavy doses of ambivalence (love and aggression at the same time) I have swirling inside me most of the time. When I start feeling the guilt; I start feeling it for myself and also for all those who commit the oppression and exploitation I see and hear every day--which results from the same type of aggression that is inside me.

I guess, to boil it down, I feel guilty about my feelings towards women: my protective instinct towards them (which I equate to patriarchial dominance), my physical and sexual attraction to them (which I equate to objectification), and my desire to be held and mothered by them (which I equate to a lack of discipline and personal responsibility). Of course, I also feel guilty for feeling guilty, because I know I shouldn't be feeling this way... so that's a spiral trap all to itself.

I really do want to thank you for your responses. I'm really in pain in this area right now.



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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Sean,

In think Kay and Kaudio have given you excellent comments that I would urge you to think about and here is why:

There is something about your "hatred" of men that is unrealistic to the point that you may be misunderstanding the things that women do and do not like about men. Here is what I mean and I would like reactions from Kay, Kaudio and others:

While women do not want to be raped or be treated violently, and that is obvious, they do like a man who is assertive. That does not mean that a woman cannot be assertive, because she can be, should be and, in most cases is assertive, along with the man. It seems to me that in your thinking about men you may be confusing what women do and do not prefer. Men and women are different, obviously. Hard wiring does not mean that men are violent and women are not. As we all know and as Kay and Kaudio have pointed out to you, women can be and have been violent. But, women like it when their man is firm, decisive and aggressive.

I feat that you mistakenly think that a man being aggressive means that his woman cannot be. This is not true. Husband and wife are equals. Sometimes she is the first to aggressively intiate sex. Sometimes he is. He may decide upon the movie tonight or she may or they may compromise, etc. The fact is that it is human nature to like our partners to be this way. Yes, there are exceptions, and there always are. But, on the whole, women like a strong,masculine and aggressive man and the men like a woman who are strong, aggressive and feminine.

Do not condemn the features of masculinity that women like and, yes, I am convinced that this is what you are doing.

What to others think??


Edited by ASchwartz
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Hi all

Sorry Allan, I cannot agree with you? I certainly wouldn't like an aggresive man. The word aggressive spells fear in my eye's! Men take it upon their selves to dominate the women, and it shouldn't be like that? Men & women shouldn't live in fear, they should live in harmony.

A lot of women are afraid of men, regarding their strengh, attitude, domaneering way's, even the pitch of their voice is enough to frighten a women!

A lot of women in a relationship or marriage, feel like they have no choice but to put up with the evil way's that a man has on a women. Some women do not have an option but to stand back and be treated like this! That man might be the only form of family and income that the women might have?

I have been in the situation where my ex, who was a drinker, did physically rape me time and time again for sex, and if I didn't feel like sex, I was made to lie there none the less and have sex so my ex had got he'se pleasure no matter what! I wouldn't call that a relationship would you? I was frightened to leave him because I had two small boy's with me, (he was their father) and I feared for their safety more than I did for my own!

Fortunate enough I did get out of this relationship, but only when I knew my boy's was old enough to fend for their selve's. I now live with my youngest son, but you cannot begin to imagine the affect's this relationship had on me and still having on me?

I have been on my own for the past ten years. As far as I can see, I don't ever want to be in another relationship as long as I live! This will go on to haunt me for the rest of my life!

So NO Allan! I don't think women enjoy aggression at all! :mad:

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I think the disagreement paula has with Allan's post is the understanding of the word "aggressive". I agree with paula that men and women should not be forced to live in fear of physical and emotional threats; but Allan is describing a relationship where the partners see each other as equals, and both pursue productive, positive relationship goals in an aggressive manner.

I agree with Allan that there seems to be some condemnation of features of masculinity that women like; but, the main message of importance that I believe everyone has touched upon here is that these features are shared by women as well. When Sean describes the guilt he feels when he finds another woman attractive, when he feels protective of them, and when he wants to be mothered by them, this suggests that there is something wrong with these feelings and urges. But, I think Allan, Kay, and others agree that women are just as capable of these feelings and urges. Women will also find themselves attracted to men, feel protective of them, and have an urge to be "mothered" and cared for by them. Thus, my intention is for Sean to recognize that the aggression that is associated with male violence and dominance which paula describes, can also be found in women as well.

Therefore, Sean, when you find yourself feeling these urges that are often associated with guilt, perhaps you should accept these feelings as a part of what it means to be human rather than a signal that your male tendencies are overwhelming you. When you find yourself attracted to a woman you see on the street, there is nothing right or wrong with that attraction. If you feel it, then you find her attractive - this is just a part of being human. When you find yourself the leader of a project, rather than shy away from the role for fear of dominating your female colleagues, you should consider the probability that others - women included - find that you possess leadership qualities appropriate for the task at hand. The important thing is when you treat people as equals from the outset, you create the principles - the standards of behaviour - within which your aggression may act.

Edited by kaudio
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I want to thank Allan, paula and kaudio for their responses.

I think I'll try to clarify one more time... sometimes my emotions cloud my thinking so much on this issue that it is hard for me to even explain what I mean. (and it's entirely possible I mean different things at different times--when I read my first two posts I see that I contradicted myself by saying at first that i feel judged and then saying i don't feel judged--the truth is definitely both at different times.)

Allan, I'm wondering if maybe I touched a nerve with you. I took your response fairly harshly. I just want to be clear that I know my feelings in this area are a problem--they aren't working for me and they aren't helping anyone I interact with. If I offended you, I apologize. I DO NOT want people to be afraid of men or think they are evil, and intellectually I don't think that--it's just my sympathetic nervous system kicks in really early in situations (even reading about situations) with men and my emotions are in overdrive. I don't intend to condemn men in any way--I know this is MY problem and not theirs (or yours, if you felt attacked).

I really, really appreciate what you've said, Paula, and the way you've said it. It sounds like you may have some of the same emotional triggers about some people as I do--and I think your response is a great demonstration that the same words, concepts, and actions (like "aggression") can be interpreted in vastly different ways by different people. The emotions Paula is expressing here are similar to my own level of distress when I get worked up over these issues.

Kaudio, I want to especially thank you for your clarifications on your earlier post and for your responses to Allan and Paula. I am really, really trying to be more accepting of my own emotions and impulses. The phrase you used about "creating principles within which my aggression may act" is completely dead-on and frankly it scares the hell out of me. I tend to think of my internal emotions as being base and unchecked and out of control and evil and shameful. I'll try to explain...

I grew up in a very conservative (many would say 'fundamentalist') religious home. My dad was (and is) a prominent religious leader in the community. As children, my sisters and I were taught that our feelings could not be trusted and that our impulses would immediately lead us into temptation. So, any emotions or thoughts concerning sexuality, anger, negativity, disagreement, criticism, or idle curiousity had to immediately be banished or they would automatically lead me into sin (evil, wrongdoing, shame, humiliation, etc.). My whole life became an elaborate charade. I don't know if it ended up being better for me or worse for me in the long run that I became so proficient at saying, doing, performing and even thinking/feeling the 'correct' things in life.

Added to that 'moral' repression was the fact that I grew up mostly with my mom and sisters and did not have any brothers or good male friends growing up. Dad was always working long hours at church. When I went to school, I was not athletically skilled and I did not socialize easily with my peers (especially boys). I wanted desperately to fit in, but I was always the 'last one picked'--and thus I was subject to all kinds of taunts and my athletic skills were often compared to those of girls. The natural male camraderie of running 'with the pack' and playing sports was something I desired so deeply during childhood and it was a world I was constantly rejected by. So, I learned to be friends with (and open up to) girls, but never really to boys.

I have two men in my regular life now: my dad (who I'm not super-close to) and my best friend J. Other than that, I have no other male friends to speak of, and I still see the 'pack-like' behavior of certain predominantly male groups (fraternities, blue-collar work teams, church leadership, Rotary/Lions clubs, etc.) as a mixure of threatening, disappointing, rejecting (of me), superficial, and sadly tantalizing.

My therapist is female, my close family members are femaile, I'm married to a female (with no children), my lab and study partners at school are all female; I work in a largely female-dominated company (and it's not the first time I've done that), so all of my co-worker friends are women. I would much rather hear a girl talking about her problems with her boyfriend or her period or her mom than hear a guy talk about his sex life or his car or his fantasy sports team.

So, that's me. And I really am trying to gain a new perspective and change.

Thanks again for the time and friendship,


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Thanks Sean for your prompt reply!

I can't see no problem with wanting/prefering to socialise with women, and I don't see why others should? At the end of the day, it's your life and you have to do what is best/comfortable with yourself?

I can understand that at times it could prove to be a bit awkward for you! But I would do what is best for myself! Even if it means not having many friends? You will find out who your true friends are anyhow? Them that don't want to be bothered with you are not your true friends!

I understand what your saying, that it would be nice to also have friends of the same sex. But if it's not meant to be then so be it! It's their loss and not yours.

I really hope things work out for you, but if your anything like me, they never do. Never mind! Shit happen's!

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Paula, Sean, Kaudio and all,

This is an interesting and lively discussion.

Sean, in no way was I offended by anything you wrote. But, I am glad you openly stated your feelings. Only in this way can we clarify. Human communication is difficult at best, even when we are face to face. Just think, that is one thing that makes marriage so difficult. I promise you and everyone that if I felt offended or angered I would say so and we could talk it over here.

Sean, I am not concerned about your relationship with men. I agree with Paula that you should be friends with whomever you want and if you feel most comfortable with women the, by all means, be friends with women. Nothing at all wrong with that.

Sean, what I did feel concerned about, and it did not come through in my posting, (I was not clear) was your relationship with yourself. After all, you are a man and if you do not feel good about men how can you feel good about yourself? That is what I was trying to point out. In other words, the more you can accept certain male behavioral patterns, the more you can accept your own self, regardless of who you are friends with. So, I am sorry if I sounded like I was offended. Instead, I felt concerned about how you feel about you, your own self as a man.

Paula, the word "aggression" is very loaded because it has such negative connotations. I was using the word in a positive way: in that both men and women need to be and are aggressive, meaning, assertive but warm and loving. Of course, there is the negative side of aggression: being cruel, mean, abusive, etc. This is where language can get confusing. Men can be aggressive in the bad way: heartless, mean, abusive. No, women do not want that. They want men who will be firm but loving, decisive but open to discussion, sexual but in the correct way meaning, able to accept the word NO, NOt Now. And men want the same or similar things with women. Women want men who back them up and men want women who back them up. That was all I really meant. No one, and I mean NO ONE wants a bully.

What do all of you think??


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Allan, I really, REALLY appreciate your clarification. Thanks so much. Your concern for me is flattering and it makes me feel all squishy inside.

Paula, thanks again for your support. You've been so kind.

I look forward to hearing other people's thoughts. I've got so much to think about and work on right now.



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I am very grateful to everyone for being able to participate in this discussion. As Allan says, human communication is a difficult task. True exercises in freedom of expression invariably require one to share personal ideas and positions, and to wait for another to respond. But, as simple as expression may seem, it is often easier to keep quiet or to shy away from further discussion once the first response is made. Very few people are comfortable with having their personal thoughts reviewed, challenged, and maybe even modified, but it is this very process of expression that helps to define our identities, and positions on issues of human life.

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  • 2 weeks later...

hi everyone,

I just wanted to give you an update. I've spent the last two sessions with my therapist talking about this issue. I'm receiving a lot of support and insight. It doesn't surprise me that some of the really hurtful things from the past have come up (things I didn't even mention in my earlier posts) and I've been able to identify more about my underlying feelings and attitudes toward men and women.

I'm actually starting to speak spontaneously more often in my therapy sessions instead of elaborately planning everything beforehand. There's a lot of regression back to early childhood right now (not in a hypnotic sense, but in a psychoanalytic sense). Doc says I'm saying some meaningful things. Today I said, "I would rather annihilate myself than be angry with women." and that was a big step for me to admit that. Turns out my attitudes are just as unrealistic towards women as they are towards men.

If you're interested in reading more about one of the major issues I'm working through in therapy right now, check out D.W. Winnicott's paper "Ego Distortion in Terms of True and False Self" from his collection Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment. (The essay also serves as the first chapter of the book The Person Who Is Me: Contemporary Perspectives on the True and False Self, which is available through Questia--http://www.questia.com--a nifty online library.)

Please note, I am not attempting to post spam for Questia--it is a site that you pay a monthly fee for, which in turn gets you access to thousands of books, journals, articles, etc.--I have a subscription to the Psychology section, but I do not have any financial stake in anyone else joining. Your local public or university library probably has many of the same resources for free.

Thanks again for your support and kindness,


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Hey Gordian Knot ;)

Who's been the most emotionally significant men and woman in your life ?

Speaking as a moody post-feminst, I think that 'men' and 'woman' are just as 'evil' as each other but go about it in different ways. One way is no les destructive than the other, although it may be more visible and apparent.

I used to idolise woman too. I don't now. I've come to realise that there are people who are considered amazing and those considered appauling, probably becuase of an act they've performed or commited. It has nothing to do with thier gender in my opinion. There are aspects of femininity and masculinity that can either be constructive and/or appealing as well as descructive and/or revolting. But all is of value ... men and woman are symbiotic, there is no battle of the sexes. It's like saying the mitochondria is better than the nucleus. We need each other and we compliment each other.

Culture is another matter though. Because we have such a gender segregated society there is going to be a degree of divergence of the cultures of men and woman living in the same community, but because we are still connected that divergence is going to be complimentary and regulated to varying degrees. If not, then our society will collapse and it'll all be academic anyway.

After saying all this though, there are days, perhaps even the odd week where I absolutely hate woman,or men, or black men, or teens, journalists ... the list is extensive! But thats me being immature and angry. I don't take myself too seriously when I'm like that ... or maybe I should :eek:

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thanks xaq, I really appreciate your comments. I especially like the analogy about mitochondria vs. nucleus since I'm a biochem major... ;)

Your insights about femininity, masculinity and the effects of culture are great food for thought.

I definitely agree with you on a rational and intellectual level... I'm still learning emotionally. Thanks so much for contributing!

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I think he grew up in a home .. dominated by women.. and he is unsure of how to deal with women. At first I thought he may be gay.. I had a friend that soooo much wanted to not be gay.. but he was...

Women can be mean and maliputive.... I do not like MOST women. I do not hate the gender but, the women I know are mean and controlling, if I was their husband I would knock em out.... but some men like to be controlled .. just like SOME women do...


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  • 2 weeks later...


I'm new on this site, and this is my first appearance, which is going to be more revealing than I had planned on for my first time, but after reading and listening to everyone, and Allan's question "What do all of you think??" means I'm an "all" now, so here are my thoughts/experiences/opinions. This is not going to be easy, but at least all that is seen is whatever's in your image.

I think women can be just as aggressive in cruel, abusive ways as men can. I know they can because it happened to me by (the) mother as if she were a man (literally) to spare details. Please. Women rape too. And don't think "gentle" either because it's BS! Although depended on the mother mood. Just as there is patriarchal dominance there is matriarchal dominance. Eyes tend to look far away because women for the most part aren't acceptable to be seen away from the steroetypical views of what a woman/mother is. For me it left the most penetrating stain of shame that the word doesn't even do it justice, and after 30 yrs of silence I finally spoke the unspeakable (that I had only been able to draw 10 yrs ago) to my Psych. a few weeks ago.

My boundaries were wide open, or rather I had none, so I was an open target for more, which was extended family members who were male, so for me gender doesn't matter, and the motto is "Mean "people" suck!"

For Sean,

It's understandable you think and feel as you do with what you shared about your experiences-I see that you are able to have a more intimate connection with females than you are with males, and that's what's important-the level of connection that you need compared to superficiality of conversations of "cars" "fantasy sports..." 'pack like behavior" ect that was "sadly tantalizing" There are men that have the ability to go beyond superficiality-that are authentic. I hope you find that "pack."

To Paula I can so relate in reverse and forwards, and "Harmony" is the word!

To Eveyone it was nice listening to your thoughts, opinions, and learning from them.

Thanks for listening to mine,


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Guest ASchwartz

Hi FlowFreak,

Welcome to our community. We hope to hear lots more from you.

I agree with you, of course. Some women can be just as abusive as men. It is part of the human condition that some individuals seem to have a lot of anger, aggression and cruelty stored up until it comes gushing out. It seems that you experienced more than you share of that abuse.

How are your relationships with women now?

If you wish, we would like to learn more about you.


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I guess I was sorta short the other day... Was in a bad mood...

I am a woman... and I prefer men... Men to me are easy to get along with... they are not so complicated... they can take a joke... they can be mad at you .. but if you need them they are there....

Women however in my experiance... cannot take a joke and if they are mad at you about ANYTHING... forget it....

I go with the thing that MEN were put on this earth to be the Hunter , gatherer..... They are suppose to take a wife and have a family and take care of them. Now that does not mean being a bully .... but HE has to be strong... HE has to make the decisions....

I guess that is why I do not get along with very many women.... most women think that they are to be worshiped because they have something between their legs.... I do not know how many women have told me.. well I just withhold sex until I get my way.. I tell them that is stupid... because HE is going to get it somewhere....

A relationship between a man and a woman has got to be give and take....

No a Man should not abuse .. but a woman should not either.. I do not remember when this trend started .. but now a days.. women have no respect for men... and it may be because they had a bad man... I do not know... BUT ALL men are not bad and ALL women are not bad...


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Hi Allan,

Thanks for the welcome, and I'm glad to be here-The more insight the more knowledge to gain, and more wisdom to obtain all to apply somewhere in my life.

Yes we are all part of the human condition in possession of dual natures of good and bad with varying degrees. Nothing is perfect. That's a literally true statement and the only thing that is perfect. Nothing. It just so happened that the mother possessed an extreme bad she engulfed me with.

My relationships with women now depends on behaviors, which I am extremely sensitive to, and definitely guarded. I have always been more comfortable socially with men, but guarded. I do have a female friend I can sincerely trust with anything. I am very relaxed and comfortable around her. I tend to look at a woman's relationships with others in her life also, which tells me what I need to know. This friend has many long term healthy relationships, which was revealing for me to help me validate what I thought about her.

I would rather not be one on one with a woman, except over the phone because it's too intimate/uncomfortable for me. I'm ok in small groups of women where it's light-hearted and fun, but you will not see me at any "Passion Parties" nor will I be listening to, or talking "sex" or about monthly visits. I realize for women who have had normal experiences with women/mothers are comfortable with those types of conversations, and I don't perceive women who have those types of conversations in any negative way, but for me it isn't safe.

In response to your last sentence, to learn more about me is ok because that's what I'm trying to do, but I'm not only learning it's so many other words too that escape me-rework? Get my house in order? Just trying to find some descpriptive words of a deeply emotional process.

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