Here’s an email I received from a female reader:
I’ve read your blog and find that some of what you write really resonates with me. I am curious, though, as to who you are. I hope I’m not being nosy or pushy but I’ve looked through this blog and few others of your for any information on who you are, what your credentials might be, what you do, your back ground etc…
Are you just a regular gal?
Yep, just a regular gal, what I call a Professional Nobody. Although I’m a writer, I usually work under pseudonyms, a practice I find even more imperative now that I’m talking about my own sex life.
That said, I’ve also done a lot of research on this subject, both for some projects I’ve been paid to write and because of my own experience and concerns. As a result of writing about this and related subjects in various venues, I’ve also heard from a lot of women (and a surprising number of men). I figure that makes me something of an expert in the EXPERIENCE of married female sexuality, so that I can speak somewhat authoritatively about the way it FEELS from this end of the equation.
The thing is, I have printed some of your writings to show my hubby and I know he will want to know why he should take advice from you.
Why should he pay any attention to anything I say? Not because I’m any kind of scientific guru, certainly (although I do consult with scientists). No, the only reason he should take me seriously is because YOU do.
COMMENTS ON THIS POST:
|No, the only real reason he should take me seriously is because YOU do.I assume this is a glibness error. I make them, too. There are problems with four of the words above: only, should, because and YOU.
You’re savvy, WYW, but I think this take –especially offered in conclusion — is slapdash.
Lou Quillio • 4/12/03; 8:19:03 PM
|It would help if you’d be a little less cryptic, Lou. I’m obviously not as savvy as you think I am.
Julia Grey • 4/12/03; 8:40:24 PM
|Got me. Like I said, glibness error.(Btw, I found WYW via Scott Rosenberg and identified quickly with many of your views, Julia. Your reference to [Arthur C.] Clarke [in the title of another blog] was eerily pleasant.)
No, the only real reason he should take me seriously is because YOU do.
This one landed with a thud. There isn’t only one reason for a given person to take another seriously and, if there were, it’s certainly not that a third person thinks they should.
Natch we hope that our friends and consorts value our tastes, even copy them, but I fear you’re giving the quoted female reader permission to erect a test. If he doesn’t think that her recommendation is reason enough, he fails. Does this apply to movies, too?
Or maybe their relationship tends to stall at points like these. Perhaps it’s not that he doesn’t respect her views, that he would never model his own after them, just that how they’re introduced affects their chances. Your reader telegraphs that pattern by anticipating his objection. If so, “read this because I think you should, honey” is a direct path to loggerheads. Once a “No” is out there it has to be overcome. I think the trick is to line-up potential “Yeses” in such an order that even if they don’t come immediately the “No” is never issued. Live to persuade another day.
The best way to persuade, imo, is to make a case so compellingly that it can’t be dismissed; your reader would do best to weave what she takes from WYW into her own views and bypass the credentials/credibility dodge. It’s slower, and takes more skill, but offers far better traction.
And the goods are here, at WYW. A bright light is turned on sturdy, traditional bits of cognitive dissonance, flushing them away so that a decent fellah must make the connections he might’ve been institutionally denying. Words can’t crush role assumptions, but they can oxbow around them — deny them the presumptive weight they depend on — and let erosion do the rest.
In any case, meeting phony barriers head-on rarely works, because they’re bogus and will morph. He should consider Julia’s views because she says so stands a good chance of making this point, and quickly. It’s a good way to win an argument and prove he’s intractible. But then what?
Or maybe I’m drunk. It’s so hard to tell any more.
Best, of course,
Lou Quillio • 4/13/03; 7:01:09 AM
|Hey, Lou, that’s great stuff. I didn’t understand what I said to mean that she should set up a “test” at all, or to insist that he see things her way whether or not they had any “real” validity in his mind. But now I see what you’re saying.
See, I thought that “bypassing the credentials/credibility dodge” was what I was trying to encourage with my glib phrasing. This is a very subjective subject to start with, so to my mind my credentials should have very little to do with whether or not a given expression of feelings or possibilities has meaning or worth to any given reader.
If something has meaning or worth to my husband, whether or not I like it or buy it personally, it behooves me to consider it. If he goes so far as to point something out to me in the newspaper, say, and it has something to do with crucial, subjective, interpersonal issues, I have to ask myself, why does he think this is important? That is a question we, male and female, too often neglect to ask ourselves about each other.
I agree that handing spouse a paper or a book and saying, “Here, read this” is not nearly as effective as integrating the material in that paper or book into personal expressions of the same concepts, but sometimes, especially in anxious and emotional circumstances, Someone Else’s words on paper can say what we aren’t able to say ourselves.
Perhaps even more important, putting your head down and reading something can give you time to think and consider and count to ten before you react to unpleasant or threatening ideas, instead of saying and hearing them in the sturm und drang of an angry or confrontational moment. So many women I’ve talked to say that when they attempt to talk to their husbands about these things, they start out trying to be calm and reasonable, but their husbands invariably (and, let’s face it, understandably) defend themselves and the status quo with violent outrage (“fight”).
In my experience and that of hundreds of other women I’ve talked to, our husbands’ displays of violent outrage always work to shut us up tout de suite, because it usually gives us the idea that we have only two choices: back down and steam in resentment (“flight”) or keep talking (“fight”) and lose our husbands’ Love.
So most husbands don’t have to threaten their wives with fisticuffs to enforce silence on issues they don’t want to talk about. Temper tantrums — or merely the threat of them — are unpleasant enough to most women to keep them from pushing forward with threatening conversations. And in some cases, like that of my female reader who brought up this subject, not even a threat of emotional explosion is necessary. Simply “questioning the source” is power-play enough to keep uncomfortable stuff off the field.
That’s why I say that she shouldn’t let him use such questions as a “dodge.” She is authority enough on her own feelings, even if she has to use my written words in an attempt to express them to him.
Thanks for the dialogue, Lou. You’re sharpening me up.