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War of the Genders

A confrontational soapbox for rants and politically incorrect manifestos regarding feminism, chauvinism, dating and gender issues.

Location: Jerusalem, Israel

This isn't a dating site. If you wish to propose marriage or to beat me up, leave me a note.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Passionate Logic

Society has pegged logic and rational behaviour as cold, and any emotion is deemed warm. I challenge this silly notion.

This idea has been further stereotyped by Hollywood. Have you ever noticed that highly logical or pedantic thinkers are usually cast as evil characters? It's as if high IQs automatically make you bad. Science fiction movies often depict highly evolved creatures as logical but cold and malevolent.

This is probably why I always liked Star Trek's Spock. He breaks the mold. He is a 'coldly' logical creature yet is always labeled by his crew-mates as the most 'warmly human of all of us'.

It's interesting to note that scientists usually assume intelligent alien life forms will be compassionate. Can you say personal projection?

It is the person that is warm or cold; logic and emotion are mere tools.

As an exercise, try to imagine a cold but emotional person. It doesn't work does it? But why shouldn't it? Just because you are emotional that doesn't make you affectionate. One of the definitions of 'cold' is 'lacking emotion' but other definitions include 'not affectionate or friendly' and 'exhibiting no enthusiasm'.

Interestingly enough, I even found this definition in the dictionary: 'So intense as to be almost uncontrollable: cold fury.' Fascinating!

King Lear has long been one of my favorite works by Shakespeare. In it, three daughters are asked by their father and king to express their love so that the distribution of the kingdom may befit their merit:

Which of you shall we say doth love us most,
That we our largest bounty may extend
Where nature doth with merit challenge?

The first two daughters flatter and pour honey but when it comes to Cordelia's turn, she utters these unforgettable lines:

Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty
According to my bond; no more nor less.


You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
Return those duties back as are right fit,

To those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, things deteriorate quickly and in the end, the first two daughters betray and abuse their father while the banished Cordelia remains fiercely loyal and loving.

It is beyond me how anyone can assume that decisions based on emotions are inherently better. If I had a friend that expressed his friendship based solely on emotion, I would keep a safe distance.

Emotion can just as easily make you do the wrong thing or whimsically change your tune. On the other hand, logic can be compassionate where emotion fails. As such, I find emotions overrated, undependable, selfish and cold.

Shut Up

Today's definition of 'communication' has become 'monologue'. Having issues? Express yourself! Angry about something? Vocalize it so that your partner can understand your annoyance and correct it. Talk to your shrink, rant on blogs, write letters to your local representatives, complain about bad service, discuss your husband's problems with your girlfriends, share your family problems in support groups, and tell strangers on public transportation about your marriage crises.

There are several problems here. The first is that expressing yourself and 'communicating' your feelings isn't communication. Communication is bi-directional and the exchange of knowledge and stimuli demands a willing receptacle in addition to a person with vocal cords.

When you say "let's talk", are your intentions to improve matters, or to relieve your burning need to rant, share and satisfy your curiosity? Yes, of course you had good intentions, but is there anything between them and your motor-mouth?

I understand that keeping things inside may cause repression and that some issues have to be worked out. But as soon as you express a feeling, you give it validity and a life of its own. You cause a critical chain of events, you evoke feelings in the other person and you can cause irreparable damage. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words cause permanent damage. The question that must be asked before you exercise your mouth is: "Is this a world I wish to create?"

I'm not discussing the issue of how people approach and discuss a problem. I'm talking about cases where the approach is perfectly planned and executed. Some of the examples I listed in the first paragraph may even seem untouchable and harmless to most. But that's exactly the problem.

Self-expression has become a god, worshipped by the 'well-adjusted' masses, and hailed as the impeccable healer. I have quite a different name for it: selfishness.

Improving society means looking out for your own rights and freedoms, communicating means ranting, working things out means forcing your own kind of relationship, sharing means exhibitionism, opening up means obsessing over your own feelings, and expression through art is masturbating on a canvas.

As an example, let's take apologies: An apology is an attempt to correct things that have gone wrong and improve the relationship, right? A trend I've recently noticed is for people to apologize and then apply pressure on their partner to forgive them ("I said I'm sorry, why are you doing this?"). Obviously, their prime concern is merely their own guilty feelings that are causing them to lose sleep. It has nothing to do with communication and this humble contrition is anything but so.

Another problem with self-expression is the loss of power and the neglect of an even stronger god: silence. I explored and introduced this subject previously. Self-expression is more often a slut than a god.

Also related is my previous post about intercourse.

Digging elsewhere, what if your burning issues are all in your mind? What if the problem is something you alone created and communicating will only cause an argument? And even if it's a real problem, is it important? Is it worth the risk?

Do you want to enjoy your time together or do you want to iron out every kink? Restraint seems to have become a four-letter word.

Not every emotion and thought that springs from inside you is worth its weight in gold. And when I say it's worthless, I don't mean that you should keep it inside either. Throw it out and find something better. That's how things grow.

And more subtly, have you ever considered that if you hadn't expressed yourself to your friends or some stranger, your tension would have served as fuel to solve the problem in a more practical manner? Who said that relieving tension with other people is the correct outlet? Countless times, I have witnessed women who work out their marital problems with their friends, come home with an attitude, and reveal nothing to their confused husbands who were not present when their futures were being discussed so intimately. What happens next is that in her mind, the problem has been worked out and a conclusion has been reached, she has no need to discuss things further, and he is made more distant and confused. Sometimes she even scorns him for not reading her mind and understanding the conclusions she's reached and the problems at hand. At best, she does discuss it with her husband, but she is already a few steps beyond him in a fictional world she or her friends created, and is annoyed when he isn't in tune.

Are you married to your friends or to your husband?

I'm not talking about cases where everything has been tried unsuccessfully before trying third parties. And if the partner is abusive and fear is an important factor, then obviously this doesn't apply. But I find that more often than not, this is not the case.

The other basic problems here are gossip, privacy, trust, cheap exhibitionism, and related issues. These are obvious, but while I am cataloging my grievances with self-expression, I may as well be comprehensive.

Incidentally, I long ago learned to live with the fact that most girls tell their best friends intimacies. My conclusion was to never reveal things that I don't want other people to know. What I don't understand is why some girls act like they've been betrayed when their best friends relay this information to their friends. If you're going to betray trust, at least don't be hypocritical. It's disgusting.

The only logic I can see in this is that you consider your relationship problems to be your own and neatly ignore the fact that they involve another person. Do I really have to point out how selfish this is?

To conclude, stop flapping your lips and think more often. There are many reasons for silence and editors to partake in a conversation and some introversion is not going to harm you.

As an afterthought, have you mastered the art of communicating with silence?