Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Pussy-Whipped

Cerebus #213 (December 1996)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
DAVE SIM:
(from a reply to a letter from cartoonist Seth, Aardvark Comment, Cerebus #193, April 1995)
Okay. Pussy-whipped. Now there's a can of worms for you. It's a subject very much on the minds of the women I talk with (I know it comes as an enormous shock to you, Seth, that women do, indeed, talk with me). Being pussy-whipped is a lot more the fault of men than it is of women. What a number of women have woken up to is that their boyfriends and husbands never disagree with them. Since they know that I will give my honest opinion if they ask me for it, the topic has become a recurring theme in recent years although the implicit tone accompanying it has shifted. For a vast majority of women the issue is a basic one: 'if he lets me push him around, it's his fault.' Most of them test the boundaries of what they can get away with (particularly the young ones, who are new at the game) much as they did with their fathers when they were growing up. Of course this falls into the category of 'you can get what you want and still not be very happy'. They know (most of them - some, I'll grant you, don't even suspect) when they are making unreasonable demands, intentionally slapping a guy in the face (metaphorically or in actuality). Pussy-whipped guys have basically adapted the traditional female role for their own: peace at any price, roll with the punches (metaphorically or in actuality), be understanding, be submissive, be whatever you have to be to keep the relationship intact. This does not work over any extended period of time. One of the highest accolades a woman can bestow upon a man is 'he's a real challenge'. The male world has become very unchallenging for women. Strong people admire strength and deplore weakness. The mistake that pussy-whipped men make is in thinking that strength involves 'slapping her around' or 'being macho'. that's not the kind of strength that I'm talking about; strength involves standing your ground in an argument, holding on to a contrary opinion if you believe in that opinion, setting boundaries to your own behaviour which are reasonable to you and having inviolable lines drawn in the sand of behaviour you will accept in a girlfriend or lover. One of the easiest of the glib defences of the pussy-whipped male is that 'it really doesn't make a difference to me'. Whatever makes her happy makes me happy. If this is the centrepiece of your thinking when it comes to making mutual decisions in a relationship, you have already taken the first step on the road to dissolution. If she makes all the choices, great and small, of what the two of you do or don't do, you really are little more than a housepet. If it REALLY doesn't make a difference to whether the two of you do 'a' or 'b', it's a good policy to make sure that at least half the time you are the one to make the arbitrary choice... and make it stick. If she says 'do you want to do x or y' and you say 'x' and she says 'let's do y' and you say 'whatever you want, it really doesn't matter to me', you have failed a very simple test. Someone who evinces no outward sign of having free will is an impossible person to respect. If a woman doesn't respect you, she doesn't love you. You might be a comfortable companion at that point, a whipping boy, a house pet or a surrogate son, but you are clearly not a lover in the female sense of the word. Women, whether consciously or unconsciously, are looking for a long-term scenario - 'commitment' is a camouflage for the actual goal: finding someone who remains interesting to them, who is his own person and who is aware enough to know when his psychic territory is being infiltrated or devoured. There is no greater status for women among their peers than to have a long-term relationship with a guy who - even after months or years - still has his own opinions, has his own house in order, who controls himself and stands his ground without abusing her mentally or physically. One of the commonest complaints of pussy-whipped males (or, even more deplorable, males who ASPIRE to being pussy-whipped) is that the best women pine after men who are uncaring, unfaithful and brutal. See, those guys are the longed-for 'challenge'. Implicit in this is the obvious tendency to excess. There are 'challenges' and there are 'impossibles'. Since it has become rarer and rarer for women to find men who will set any limits or boundaries on behaviour they will tolerate, who might well stand their ground and disagree even on the most cursory level, a man (as opposed to a male) is going to look pretty attractive. He passes all the tests when it comes to resisting her manipulations, and so earns her respect and interest. In the interests of achieving one of the 'impossibles' (so to speak), she becomes penis-whipped - setting no limits on the boundaries of behaviour she will tolerate.

Seth , I have no idea what your life situation is like, so I can't comment on whether I think you have been co-opted or if you are pussy-whipped. I certainly don't think that all men have been co-opted or are pussy-whipped but, from my own experience, most are. We return to percentages. From the vantage point of what I would view as pussy-whipped males, the world is moving gradually in the direction of balanced relationships between men and women where gender becomes meaningless; boy-friends with many feminine traits, girlfriends with many masculine traits; the more feminine traits a male has the better a male he is, the more masculine traits a female has the better a female she is. This philosophy enters the whirlpool at the centre where traits are no longer described as masculine or feminine - we're all just people, indistinguishable from one another and some manner of paradise beckons at the end of the road.

I think that view is full of shit.
Cerebus #213 (December 1996)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

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