« Heh | Main | Another NYT Reporter Mugged By Bent Cost Curve »

February 12, 2014

That Oozing Sense of Entitlement

The Editorial Staff used to laugh every time she read that line from Glenn Reynolds. Today, he links to a story about a woman who complains that her ex-husband was a sex addict, commenting:

SO A “SEX ADDICT” IS A MAN WHO wants to keep having as much sex as when you were first married.

Actually, in the linked article a sex addict was defined as a man who demands sex once a day and tells his wife she's lucky he isn't demanding it thrice daily (or more!). A man who - if we can believe the author - simply "climbs on board" whether she's willing or not. Granted, we have only her word for this. But it's her story he's commenting upon. That's the scenario being evaluated.

Question: what kind of person seriously thinks that marriage will be exactly like courtship? Would it be reasonable for a woman to expect exactly the same number of dates, gifts, compliments, attention from her husband as the relationship matures, children arrive, and new responsibilities are added to her husband's plate?

Again, we have only this woman's word for what actually transpired during the marriage. And readers are justified in viewing tell-all articles with a certain degree of skepticism. But let's assume for a moment that she's telling the unvarnished truth here:

My ex-husband truly believed he owned my body and that I was in the wrong if I ever denied him access. When I wouldn’t give in to his advances because I was friggin’ tired from taking care of little kids, or not feeling well, or just because I didn’t feel like it right then, he would coldly turn his back on me and heave deep sighs of put-upon-ness, and I would cry myself to sleep because I just wanted to feel loved without having to have sex.

He told me that he was being respectful by only wanting it daily, because he thought three times a day or more would be a good amount, but even he realized that was a bit much to ask of a wife.

Is this reasonable behavior for an adult?

The Blog Princess is trying to imagine the spousal unit's reaction to her demanding that we sit down as a couple and have a good, long talk about our feeeeeelings (PAY ATTENTION TO ME, DAMN YOU!) once a day because durnitall! that's what he did during courtship and she's ENTITLED to her emotional fix!!!! Nothing must ever change or the whole deal's off!

Is that a reasonable interpretation of the marriage vows?

This is what happens when one starts viewing every story through the lens of identity politics. If you can't turn a story around and imagine it from the someone else's point of view, you're not looking at things straight. Marriages require compromise and consideration: the ability to understand someone else's point of view and feelings. Marriage vows are not intended to be a set of inflexible and non-negotiable demands. The Editorial Staff happen to enjoy sex greatly, but it's a team sport. Generally speaking, people don't have to be pressured into playing when the game is actually fun for them, too.

We can't think of a single activity that an adult would be justified in expecting/demanding their spouse to participate in with them three times a day. Or even, necessarily, once a day without fail 365 a year. In any event expecting your relationship not to change (at least temporarily) after you have children is just plain delusional.

Sheesh. That's not a marriage. It's a straightjacket.

Posted by Cassandra at February 12, 2014 06:39 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/4989

Comments

If you can't turn a story around and imagine it from the someone else's point of view, you're not looking at things straight.

What are the limits on this principle? Let's say we're in conflict with, say, the Taliban. We are obligated to turn things around and see things from their point of view, including the beauty and moral rightness of their particular vision of Islam, and their right to enact it in what is really their home and not ours.

OK. So... what does that obligate us to do? Just hold the thought in our minds for a moment to prove we can do it? Make some concession? How much of a concession? Or are we obligated to come off our position at all, so long as we've done the math so to speak?

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 11:33 AM

The ability to see the other side of a story doesn't mean one has to acknowledge that that side is better or always right.

I stand by my statement - if you can't see any side but your own, you're not looking at the whole picture. What you decide to do after seeing the whole picture is really a separate question.

It depends on whether one thinks informed judgments are better than uninformed ones?

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 11:41 AM

Uncontrolled backlash: Example 35,398.

I get your point, but taking her description as the unvarnished truth and restricting ones comments to that framework sounds a lot like saying that one's comments must stay within the realm of accepting MSNBC's description of Republicans.

Yes, *If* I accept that republicans are evil racists who hate the poor I *would* conclude that they are unreasonable and their policies should be opposed.

*If* I accept her description of her husband as accurate, then *of course* the husband is a jackwagon. Substitute "daily" with "weekly" or "biweekly" and a different picture emerges.

Taking that kind of discount should have been made explicit, though.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 12, 2014 12:37 PM

OK, Cass. So you don't think there's a limiting principle on the idea of trying to see the other side's point of view, with the understanding that this doesn't obligate you to anything. Fair enough. I can accept that.

But is it a fair criticism that he isn't doing this? I think YAG has a point, but let's leave it aside for our discussion. (Another point that we must leave aside, although I think it's at least as valid in terms of Reynold's argument, is that this woman-explains-her-divorce-in-terms-of-her-husband's-failures is a whole genre in mainstream journalism and literature, but man-explains-his-divorce-solely-in-terms-of-his-wife's-sexual-disfunction isn't because such pieces wouldn't get published. There is something to Reynold's claim that, if the facts had been reversed, the article that would get published is still the ex-wife's. Most likely the ex-husband wouldn't even try to write one, and if he did it would find no outlet beyond PUA sites.)

Setting all that aside, though, and assuming her description, has he not done this? Even by her account, at first their sexual desires were compatible. Later, hers waned, and he tried to talk to her about this. He explained that he wanted sex more than once a day, but that he understood she didn't, and he would settle for less as a compromise. (If the compromise seems extravagant, it's worth remembering that by her own description their desires were at first compatible.)

When that proved to be unsatisfactory to her, he dropped his demands and began to look for other outlets. She claims that is what she wanted -- only she wishes he had turned to other women instead of porn. (Now, I have trouble believing this argument, but we're assuming her description.) So perhaps he should have talked to her here and taken up a mistress, but it's not unreasonable to think that adultery is worse than masturbation and to take that step instead.

This sounds to me like a really serious problem, and one that it isn't quite right to describe as natural and normal when she speaks of her own early heat, and gradual cooling; but "addiction" and sickness when she speaks of his similar heat, which didn't happen to cool (at least not as quickly).

The traditional solution -- the orthodox one -- is to err on the side of paying the marriage debt when it is asked. There are exceptions, and days set aside for rest (quite a few of them, actually), but the Church believes that in general spouses should err on the side of making love to each other. This is true whether the man or the woman is the one who experiences greater desire; it's supposed to be a duty that one has willfully assumed, and freely chosen for ones' self.

It is an old problem, in other words, which seems to me to be rather unfairly described in language of sickness and addiction. It's one of those things married couples have to work out. Or did, before we decided that they should just divorce if one of them gets too unhappy with it (a topic about which the religious position also has much to say).

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 01:01 PM

..taking her description as the unvarnished truth and restricting ones comments to that framework sounds a lot like saying that one's comments must stay within the realm of accepting MSNBC's description of Republicans.

Well, I certainly didn't mean to suggest that no one could consider anything else but it has never made a whole lot of sense, when evaluating an author's characterization of a particular scenario, to introduce a whole lot of speculation about *other* scenarios. You judge whether her description is apt by comparing it to the scenario she puts forth. Does it fit?

Once you've done that, you can throw out a whole lot of other things she never said and comment on them. But then you're not really commenting on whether she correctly characterized the original situation anymore :p

Substitute "daily" with "weekly" or "biweekly" and a different picture emerges.

I think (I really didn't read her essay all that closely) I recall her saying they were having sex 3-4 times a week. That hardly seems unreasonable (especially for someone with small children).

What bothers me about all this is the suggestion that even if her account is accurate, the husband had a right to expect that nothing would ever change after marriage. That makes no sense to me.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 01:05 PM

..man-explains-his-divorce-solely-in-terms-of-his-wife's-sexual-disfunction isn't because such pieces wouldn't get published

That's not true, though. I've read many articles over the years about wives cheating, articles about wives being frigid, articles about sexless marriage.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 01:08 PM

...is it a fair criticism that he isn't doing this?

Well, given this, I think that's a pretty fair inference:

Why do I think that if he wanted less sex than his wife, that would be a sign of something wrong with him, too. Because in the solipsistic world of women’s media, it’s always some man’s fault.

I find this particularly amusing given how often I see men complaining online about their wives not wanting to have sex with them. It's not exactly an infrequent occurrence :p

Sorry Grim, but I don't think it's at all out of line to describe a guy who is trying to guilt his wife because she doesn't want sex 3 times a day and (according to her) just climbs onto her as having a bit of a self control problem. How does this guy get through the work day?

I don't even want to think about that one...

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 01:24 PM

That's not true, though. I've read many articles over the years about wives cheating, articles about wives being frigid, articles about sexless marriage.

I can't recall having read such an article myself, but I'm thinking of the reverse of this genre (which we've been talking about for several years -- have we treated an article like that?).

As I said in the linked article, I think it's prima facie immoral to write an article like this -- one that takes the intimate facts of your marriage, which your spouse trusted to you, and bring them into public for the purpose of shaming and embarrassing your spouse (or ex). There may be some things that can justify doing it, like actual abuse, of course. In general, though, when I see that someone has written an article like this, I assume it's evidence of low character. (And, to YAG's point, that makes it harder to take them seriously, especially if the account is one-sided in their favor.)

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 01:24 PM

I think it's prima facie immoral to write an article like this -- one that takes the intimate facts of your marriage, which your spouse trusted to you, and bring them into public for the purpose of shaming and embarrassing your spouse (or ex).

I agree with you 100%. And my post was loaded with caveats, so you need hardly make that point to me. I've already made it.

What I am questioning is the simple question of whether it is reasonable for anyone - male or female - to marry expecting that nothing will change from courtship.

That was the question I asked. It's a fair question. We can also venture off onto side issues, but the fact remains that that was the proposition put out there: that it is completely normal and reasonable to expect a fixed level of attention that never changes from courtship after you're married and have children.

Sorry, I don't think that's reasonable at all. I don't care whether we're talking about sex or any other type of interaction.

Jeez, no wonder so many couples are divorced. No one can compromise.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 01:34 PM

To answer your question, I've never linked to any of the articles I've read here because frankly they contained way too much graphic sexual material for this site. But I know I linked to at least one a while back. It was in Vanity Fair, and it was written by a man yammering on about his insatiable sex drive and how his mean-spirited poopy head of a wife was harshing his beautiful and natural desire to cheat on her every single day (and that was crushing his soul and the soul of every man he knew) and why wouldn't she just let him do whatever he wanted? The big meanie :p

For that matter, I see male bloggers writing posts about this sort of thing all the time too and every time I do, I wonder how their wives feel, reading them? It's not like I read a lot of blogs. I don't have to go looking for this stuff (in fact, I try to avoid it!).

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 01:40 PM

OK, if that's the question, no, I don't think it's reasonable to expect that nothing will ever change ever (in marriage or anything else).

A separate question might be whether it's fair to say that "wanting sex as much as you did" represents a form of sickness. We might say 'Hey, wanting it three times a day is sick,' but she agrees that (whatever their schedule was) she and he were 5 for 5 at first.

If the right way to deal with a developing incompatibility isn't to insist that nothing change, it probably also isn't to declare that your partner (who is just like you were yourself at first) is "sick" and "addicted," and initiate divorce.

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 01:43 PM

A separate question might be whether it's fair to say that "wanting sex as much as you did" represents a form of sickness. We might say 'Hey, wanting it three times a day is sick,' but she agrees that (whatever their schedule was) she and he were 5 for 5 at first.

I find it extremely unlikely that they were having sex thrice daily during courtship. So here's where we venture into whether she's believable (as I've already stipulated multiple times, someone who writes an article like this deserves considerable skepticism). And whether she's exaggerating.

And that places the scenario itself in doubt. My only point was, if we accept the scenario, is it just crazy talk to think someone who expects sex three times a day has a bit of a balance problem?

I don't think it is unreasonable, and while I view the DSM's ongoing attempt to pathologize character issues as mostly silly, I also think addiction/self control problems are well documented in the realms of gambling, the Internet, sex, alcohol, drugs, risk taking, anything that lights off pleasure centers in the brain.

If the right way to deal with a developing incompatibility isn't to insist that nothing change, it probably also isn't to declare that your partner (who is just like you were yourself at first) is "sick" and "addicted," and initiate divorce.

Again, unlike you I think it is very natural for desire to wax and wane in a long term relationship. If this article had been written about a woman who constantly demanded attention from her husband, I would think that she had a problem too.

Part of growing up is learning to stand on your own two feet and taking responsibility for your own happiness and life. If a person seriously maintains they have the right to command attention from someone else, I think that person has a problem. It's pretty well documented that many women are completely obsessed with Facebook. If that begins to cause problems in your life, it's a problem.

It may even be an addiction, if you can't get through the day without it.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 01:53 PM

To answer your question, I've never linked to any of the articles I've read here because frankly they contained way too much graphic sexual material for this site. But I know I linked to at least one a while back. It was in Vanity Fair...

Did you? I don't recall it. It may be that I had nothing to dispute in your analysis, so it didn't interest me as much as a discussion in which I have to consider and formulate an argument.

Again, unlike you I think it is very natural for desire to wax and wane in a long term relationship.

No, I think that can be normal and natural. What I objected to was painting waning desire as 'normal and natural' while a steadier desire was to be painted as 'sick.' The incompatibility can certainly develop naturally, and is common enough that there are fully ten articles in the Summa Theologica devoted to it. None of them imply that the more desirous partner (who certainly can be the woman) is sick, and I think it's an unfair characterization.

...anything that lights off pleasure centers in the brain.

OK, within limits I'll agree to that. On the other hand, I think a man could drink a beer three times a day without being sick! :) And if he were willing to compromise, out of concern for his partner, and accept only one beer a day... or perhaps just now and then, though with regret... well, at every stage we move farther from the point at which this is a concern.

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 02:07 PM

The thing is, drinking a beer three times a day doesn't involve his wife stopping whatever she's doing and helping him drink it :p

By the way, here's an example of the kind of thing I see all the time:

http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/books/n_10102/

I think maybe you big, hairy oppressors ... err... I meant, "menfolk" just aren't all that interested in articles about relationships so you don't notice them unless someone is outraged enough to bring them to your attention. And I don't see women doing that too often.

But they're actually quite common :p

This one isn't as nasty or one-sided as the HuffPo one, which reminded me of one of those idiotic Salon diaries (I was a teenaged tranny sex slave sold on EBay!) I am determined to continue not reading.

Wouldn't have read this one except for the commentary, which struck me as odd.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 02:17 PM

What I objected to was painting waning desire as 'normal and natural' while a steadier desire was to be painted as 'sick.'

Well, contra the vast sinkhole of misery that is online commentary, most women wouldn't say that a steady level of desire was "sick" either. I certainly wouldn't.

Personally, I think being terribly unhappy if you can't get through a single day without having sex 3 times is sounds like a personal problem of sorts. People have all kinds of appetites. We can control them or they can control us and make our lives miserable and unhappy.

Our choice. I would personally be very happy if my husband liked talking more than he does, but I didn't marry "me". I married "him" and I try not to make my feelings the center of our marriage :)

I really do get your point wrt writing these articles. That's why I generally don't write about them when I encounter them (having long ago made the point that people shouldn't do this to their current or ex-spouses). It's a nasty thing to do.

I just objected to what seemed to me like a rather knee-jerk defense of unreasonable behavior (as described). I think the behavior would be unreasonable whether a man or woman acted that way, and regardless of whether sex was involved. Attention junkies are just as messed up, and really people are saying they're addicted to constant attention but I don't see anyone screaming THAT'S NOT FAIR!

Anything involving sex seems to provoke that reaction, and it seems oddly selective to me when the general issue is demands on someone else's time/attention.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 02:28 PM

The thing is, drinking a beer three times a day doesn't involve his wife stopping whatever she's doing and helping him drink it.

True, but that sounds like the foundations of a very happy marriage! :)

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 02:30 PM

Heh :)

We're kind of weird. We do most things together, most days and we both seem to like it that way. So I am a big fan of spending time with your spouse.

Especially if it involves beer.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 02:32 PM

Well, Wikipedia says:

use the addiction model and define sexual addiction as a condition in which some form of sexual behaviour is employed in a pattern that is characterized at least by two key features: recurrent failure to control the behaviour and continuation of the behaviour despite harmful consequences.

I'd say the husband definitely fits the second: continuation despite harmful consequences. Losing your wife and at least some of your time with your children seems pretty harmful to me. As for the first - failure to control the behavior - the husband seems instead to have decided there is no need for him to do so, that his behavior is fine and his wife is the one with the problem. This may be a sign of the "river in Egypt" problem: he didn't fail to control the behavior because he denied there was any need to even attempt to do so.

Look, the woman should never have written the story; it is a betrayal of her husband and, I think, of her children. But Reynold's framing was dishonest. Imagine if instead of saying:

SO A “SEX ADDICT” IS A MAN WHO wants to keep having as much sex as when you were first married.

he'd said:

SO A “SEX ADDICT” IS A MAN WHO wants to have sex three times a day; thinks his wife should be grateful he only demands it once a day; has sex with her even when she's said she doesn't want to and just lies there like a blow-up doll; and when she refuses to lie there and submit, punches the pillow next to her head.

Doesn't have quite the same snark, does it? I think it's quite fair to slam the author for writing something decency prohibits. I also think it's quite fair to slam the author for using labeling to make her partner look worse and herself look better. But it's not fair to imply that there is absolutely no basis for the wife's inability to provide what her husband demands (not "wants"). And it is, as Cassandra says, Reynolds' own view of identity (gender) politics that drives the rest of his commentary.

(Yet another writer I usually appreciate who regularly loses his way in the thicket of women/feminism. I have two or three unpublished blog posts about such items from him with titles like "Balderdash", "Poppycock", and "Oh, please".)

Posted by: Elise at February 12, 2014 02:49 PM

..the husband seems instead to have decided there is no need for him to do so, that his behavior is fine and his wife is the one with the problem. This may be a sign of the "river in Egypt" problem: he didn't fail to control the behavior because he denied there was any need to even attempt to do so.

I took the "climbing on board", the sighs and sulking, and the guilt trip "you're lucky I am not demanding 3X a day or more!" exactly that way. Grim seems to have seen it as a sincere attempt to compromise.

I also thought the punching the pillow thing was pretty alarming. I'm married to a guy with a temper but he doesn't punch things near my face, and I can be pretty aggravating on those rare occasions when I lose my temper.

That said, I have to say that Reynolds was spot on with the link to the article calling Taranto a rape apologist. That was just nuts. Just didn't have time to write about it yet.

It's all this fist pumping outrage that drives me nuts. That's why I have to back away from the internet sometimes.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 03:13 PM

You know, the pillow-punching thing didn't make any impression on my consciousness at all. I have a different relationship to violence than either of you, though. I've had women actually hit me -- strangers, I mean, and generally drunken in public -- without it seeming bothersome (chiefly, indeed, amusing).

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 05:14 PM

Having someone smaller than you who's not your spouse hit you when you're standing up and having a person who is bigger and stronger than you punch the pillow right next to your face in your own bed are two very, different things.

I'm genuinely shocked that you don't see that, Grim.

I'm also shocked that you don't have a problem with a husband ignoring his wife's statement that she doesn't want sex and just proceeding to have sex with her anyway.

This has nothing to do with anyone's "relationship to violence", unless we're stipulating that women (or men, for that matter, because women do hit men) should expect violence in their marriages.

I don't really know what to say.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 05:23 PM

I'm not exaggerating when I say that an incident like either of those would be enough to make me move out. And I will have been married for 35 years in March.

If men and women look at things this differently, we really do have cause to worry.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 05:25 PM

I may have simply checked out of the piece and was just skimming it before it got to that point, because I found her to be a person of low character who was clearly intending on blaming everything on her ex-husband, and stigmatizing him as "sick." Maybe I saw it and it didn't impress itself on me; maybe I eyeskipped over it. All I know is I didn't notice it until Elise brought it up.

But I'm not afraid of my wife. If she got worked up enough during lovemaking to punch the pillow (and here we are on the very edge of my limits for what it is proper to discuss in public), I'd probably interpret it very differently, and perhaps even positively. I don't think that's because she's not bigger than me; it's got something to do with the relationships involved.

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 05:35 PM

If the piece was called:

"Why did I divorce my husband? Because he was a rapist!"

...then you'd get a very different reaction. Nobody'd object to that as a principle. Certainly not me.

If you start off with several hundred words about how wonderful sex is when you're first together, and how people should naturally expect that to cool over time (unlike my sicko husband), and really wouldn't it have been better if he'd taken a mistress?

I think, looking it over again, that at some point I just skipped to the close.

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 05:51 PM

I may have simply checked out of the piece and was just skimming it before it got to that point, because I found her to be a person of low character who was clearly intending on blaming everything on her ex-husband, and stigmatizing him as "sick." Maybe I saw it and it didn't impress itself on me; maybe I eyeskipped over it. All I know is I didn't notice it until Elise brought it up.

No worries. I'm not going to report you to the thought police :p

But I did want to make a serious point. Sometimes you guys are alarmed over things I either don't see or don't take as seriously as you do, and when that happens I do take your concerns seriously.

I think women (and particularly women with children) are wise to take any hint of violent behavior very seriously in a man they're involved with. I married a Marine - he's physical and he has a temper, but never once in all the years I've known him has there been any fear on my part that he would lose control of himself or physically abuse me. That's why I trust and respect him.

But I told him right after we got married that I'd walk away if there ever was. Not in response to anything he'd done - we were discussing another couple where there was an abuse problem and I just said, "I'd be out of there."

And I would. I have a problem with a man forcing himself on an unwilling woman, and in a marriage context I really don't think she should be expected to defend herself the way one might expect a woman to fight a stranger. Assuming her story is true (and that is an assumption), this is not acceptable behavior. Nor is it what I'd call "normal".

At least I hope it's not considered normal. That's why I wrote about this.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 06:04 PM

If she got worked up enough during lovemaking to punch the pillow...

But that's not what happened here. It was a reaction to her saying no. Different situation entirely.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 06:05 PM

I certainly don't mean to imply that rape within marriage is acceptable. If one should become so frustrated with one's wife that you have to hit something, of course, far better that it's a pillow!

I'm a physical man myself, quite comfortable with violence, but of course I want my wife to feel completely safe with me.

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 06:20 PM

For some reason, I'm very uncomfortable calling this rape and yet I'm not sure it isn't either.

Certainly, it's bullying. I would say the same about a woman who verbally berates and beats down her husband. Words can wound people deeply, and when they come from your spouse that's even worse because they're uniquely placed to hurt you where you're most vulnerable. I see this situation in that light. During sex, women are vulnerable in a way I'm not sure men always appreciate or understand (physically and emotionally).

I just don't think it's right for a man to ignore his wife's protests and basically intimidate her into having sex. If this guy really did this, it's not normal and not OK. I honestly don't know whether I can fit it into the criminal definition of rape. I don't think it belongs there.

But it's definitely grounds for leaving him. Immediately. It's a warning flag that he doesn't view you as a person and thinks he has the right to push you around.

Posted by: Cass at February 12, 2014 06:43 PM

Long ago I came to the conclusion that one of the primary causes of divorce was ... marriage. Once people married, they began to treat their partner as a property they owned, rather than treating their marriage as something they were co-owners of. Or something like that. My marriage isn't a courtship, but we ask each other about decisions, and decide together rather than announcing a decision, much more than I suspect many do.


If he'd spent more time caring for the kids, helping her with the cleaning, did some of the cooking, ... he'd have been more tired, maybe only wanting twice a day, and she'd have been less tired, and eager for twice a day.


Partnership trumps ownership.

Posted by: htom at February 12, 2014 10:21 PM

It's a warning flag that he doesn't view you as a person and thinks he has the right to push you around.

Not sure I track those things the same way. Possibly he could view you as a person -- the one he has the right to push around. That's still bad, but it's not the same as thinking you aren't a person at all. Pushing around is a kind of social relationship, after all: you can 'push around' the furniture, but not in the same way at all. There's a tacit recognition of personhood involved in bullying, and many other immoral and improper forms of conduct.

Martha Nussbaum deploys a similar criticism herself, accusing some of her opponents as being unable to see that people who disagree with them are 'centers of perception and reasoning.' But it's not in fact true there either, as one of her opponents is Kant, who rather explicitly insists upon the personhood of those he deems immoral. It wouldn't make sense to think of an object as immoral, he notes: it's just because you have access to reason and can make decisions that you're blameworthy.

This is a philosophical point, tangential to your subject, but important in its own arena.

As to being grounds to leave him, certainly; but divorce and leaving are different things. It sounds as though they were engaged in therapy, and she didn't like the answer (i.e., the therapist's diagnosis that she was depressed and should consider medication). But if she felt threatened, gaining some space is a reasonable precaution.

And insofar as it was rape, which is unclear perhaps from her account, it was certainly wrong even in the context of marriage. Even in terms of orthodoxy, which encourages yielding to the marriage debt when asked (excepting due exceptions).

Posted by: Grim at February 12, 2014 11:39 PM

heh heh heh . . .
my turn to get philosophical.

The Great misimpression of men and women upon entering marriage:

A man marries a woman thinking she will never change.

A woman marries a man believing she can change him.

They are both wrong.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at February 12, 2014 11:53 PM

That 2008 post on Prager in priceless.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at February 12, 2014 11:57 PM

If he'd spent more time caring for the kids, helping her with the cleaning, did some of the cooking, ... he'd have been more tired, maybe only wanting twice a day, and she'd have been less tired, and eager for twice a day.

I had that thought several times too. I can vividly remember how tired I was when the kids were small. Neither of them slept through the night until they were 3 (and they were 3 years apart). And we moved constantly during that time, so life was very hectic.

For 6 years, I never got a full night's sleep. For 3 of those years I was pregnant or nursing, which meant I was getting up several times a night to feed a hungry baby or climb into the recliner in our living room to sleep because I had terrible heartburn.

Twice after the boys were weaned, the Unit took me away for a weekend and our parents kept the kids. I was so tired that the first day was kind of a blur. It was hard for me to tear my mind away from the kids - wondering if they were safe, etc. The second day was better - I started to remember what it was like not to be tethered to infants and toddlers 24/7. To be a regular person whose every thought wasn't "Must watch the kids so they don't kill themselves!" "Mustn't forget to do x, y, z..." And for about a week after we returned home, I couldn't get enough of my husband. It was like being on a honeymoon, if we'd actually had a honeymoon when we got married (I don't think we ever went away together for any length of time until we'd been married well over 20 years - couldn't afford it!)

Posted by: Cassandra at February 13, 2014 08:14 AM

I've often thought that it would really help a lot of marriages if men truly understood the effect being a mother has on a woman.

Just as men have to "turn off" their gentle, tender side to succeed in a competitive world, mothers really have to turn off the selfish aspect of their personalities that is so necessary to really enjoy having sex. I can remember feeling like an appliance for many years (and this is coming from someone who loved being a stay at home wife and mom): always on, always available, always dealing with demands from little people who aren't mature enough to stand on their own. The only way I could be a good mom was to switch off entire parts of my self.

And once switched off, they were hard to turn back on. Really hard.

This is where a gentle, loving, understanding man can make all the difference in the world. And where being able to talk problems through is so important. I don't think a lot of guys understand how much we women mourn the loss of our old selves when we take on the job of raising children.

I know I did. I used to daydream about the (relatively) careless days when we were first married and the Unit was in college all the time.

I think men go through something similar with their careers when they have kids. I saw it in my husband all those years ago, and in my oldest (father of two) and now in my youngest son who has their first child on the way. He feels the weight of supporting a family in a way I don't think he did before.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 13, 2014 08:44 AM

Basically, he's an ass, and she's a bitch.

Back to your point - Glenn is a man.
Ask 100 men as to the "right" amount of sex, and more than half will respond "every day" (or more).
I read his point as "HP is claiming that 'normal' male sexual desire is abnormal". Maybe us guys are a bit sensitive about this sort of stuff, given that "all men are rapists" is a mantra to many of the same people.

Another data point:
http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20040406/frequent-ejaculation-prostate

It's not a bug, it's a feature... :-)

And thank you for the comment section. I notice that neither the original source of this- The Stir- and repost - Huff Post - have the balls to allow comments.

Posted by: bud at February 13, 2014 02:14 PM

Ask 100 men as to the "right" amount of sex, and more than half will respond "every day" (or more).

I have to wonder, though, whether by "sex" they mean "I have sex and have an orgasm" or "We have sex and it's enjoyable for both of us", which in my experience is a whole 'nother thing.

People (male and female) can have orgasms by themselves. It still seems very strange to me that anyone would expect someone else to engage in *any* joint activity unless the other person got something out of it, too.

I read his point as "HP is claiming that 'normal' male sexual desire is abnormal". Maybe us guys are a bit sensitive about this sort of stuff, given that "all men are rapists" is a mantra to many of the same people.

I definitely got that out of his comment. Had he not made it about an article where a woman was saying her husband basically didn't care whether she said no and just proceeded to have sex with her anyway, I would have reacted differently.

But given the actual content of the story (which is really all you have to go on), the reaction seemed a bit over the top.

FWIW, I don't think *wanting* sex once a day is excessive at all. In an ideal world, that probably describes my preference. It's demanding sex once a day regardless of circumstances (or the other person's preferences) that is a problem.

Posted by: Cass at February 13, 2014 06:00 PM

re: how many times a week, another data point for you:

http://www.wired.com/design/2014/02/how-to-create-good-online-dating-profile/#slide-id-411571:full

Posted by: Cass at February 13, 2014 06:04 PM

Okay, this song has been stuck in my head since I first read this post so I figure it might as well be stuck in everybody else's head too:

Johnny Cash & June Carter - Jackson


Posted by: Elise at February 13, 2014 06:28 PM

I love that song, but I have never understood what was supposed to be so wild about Jackson, TN. As far as I know, nothing much has happened there since Nathan Bedford Forrest left the place.

Posted by: Grim at February 13, 2014 06:53 PM

}}} That's not true, though. I've read many articles over the years about wives cheating, articles about wives being frigid, articles about sexless marriage.

Yeah, but what percentage of them take the GUY's point of view? S:-/

Posted by: OBloodyHell, I'll Wait... at February 13, 2014 10:08 PM

}}} For example, men who reported 21 or more ejaculations per month in their 40s

?? 21 or more? Less than one a day? LOL. Is that all? Man some guys have no sex drive at all.

It's (not) hard to (not) be an Italian... s'all I'm sayin'... :-D

Posted by: OBloodyHell, I'll Wait... at February 13, 2014 10:57 PM

Yeah, but what percentage of them take the GUY's point of view? S:-/

Well, since I'm talking about articles written by men complaining about their wives, I would say close to 100%.

Posted by: Cass at February 14, 2014 06:59 AM

I have never understood what was supposed to be so wild about Jackson, TN

Nothing. It's just the supposedly greener grass that always seems to grow only on the other side of the fence.

Posted by: Cass at February 14, 2014 07:02 AM

but I have never understood what was supposed to be so wild about Jackson, TN

I always thought he was going to Jackson, MS. I understand it's pretty wild. :+)

I got curious and it turns out it's neither. According to Wikipedia:

There has been much speculation regarding which Jackson the song is about; but, according to Wheeler, "Actually, I didn’t have a specific Jackson in mind. I just liked the sharp consonant sound, as opposed to soft-sounding words like Nashville."

Posted by: Elise at February 14, 2014 10:36 AM

I always took "Jackson" to be a metaphor for either:

1. (more literally) The big city (which is much more exciting than my provincial and oh-so-limiting marriage and offers me more variety), or

2.(metaphorically) Being single again (wife doesn't appreciate husband enough - he thinks. So he constantly threatens to "go to Jackson" - IOW, cheat on her. She is skeptical that he will be as big a hit with the single ladies as he seems to think he is).

That's why I think the song is so funny. He's blustering and she's pretty much saying, "Ummm... if you say so." :p

Posted by: Cass at February 14, 2014 11:05 AM

In all of this discussion, are we sure that the woman is truthful?

It reminds me of an Ann Landers column from decades ago. The woman wrote "My husband is always after me--several times a day--in the living room--in the basement--while I'm cooking or doing laundry--just this morning he came up to me while I was bent over the kitchen counter. Even as I write this, he is bothering me again. What am I to do?"

"P.S.--excuse the shaky handwriting!"

Ann Landers had college kids pranking her with outrageous letters. This was one of the best! :)

Posted by: frequent flyer at February 15, 2014 07:00 PM

I'm not sure why that would make a difference to a hypothetical discussion of whether the behavior presented is normal or not/acceptable or not.

I'm pretty sure it's neither normal or acceptable for husband to think he has the right to have sex with his wife every single day whether she wants to or not. And I'm pretty sure it's neither normal nor acceptable for him to ignore her if she says "no" and simply climb on top of her.

If she was lying about the whole thing, that behavior still wouldn't be acceptable. Or at least it shouldn't be.

Posted by: Cass at February 15, 2014 08:49 PM

No--it doesn't make any difference if she was lying or not--you posed an theoretical and ethical question.

It was just an attempt at levity in a serious subject--and the "Excuse the shaky handwriting" came to mind. It was one of Ann Lander's most-repeated columns.

Posted by: frequent flyer at February 16, 2014 02:35 PM

FWIW, I did laugh.

And I did appreciate the levity :)

I think the downside of comments is that you can't see someone's face (or hear the laughter in their voice). Sorry if I misunderstood!

Posted by: Organizing for Oba...err...Action at February 16, 2014 04:26 PM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)