Followup to our road trip conversation Sunday night:
lisa_bee, holmes_iv: maybe this might address why certain men don't actually interact with women as if they were people?
I didn't figure this out until I read Robert Bly's book Iron John (this was when that short-lived "men's movement" thing was starting up). I had read a lot of Bly's poetry as an undergraduate, so I read this book too. A lot of it seemed pretty silly to me, but there was one passage that struck me like a hammer to the forehead. What it said was, the Woman With the Golden Hair does not exist. What Bly meant by that was, a lot of men are looking for their anima -- the term Jung gave to the feminine side of a man's personality. But what a lot of men in a patriarchal culture do not understand is that the anima is part of them, and is not to be found in another person. This is because men in a patriarchal culture are taught precisely that they don't have an anima: that there is nothing feminine about them, or if there is, that it is a bad thing and must be suppressed. Unfortunately, what this means is that a lot of guys who are a bit of a mess (and who isn't, really?) tend to project their anima onto the women they see around them.
The reason that this hit me was that I suddenly realized what I was doing wrong: I wasn't reacting to women as if they were real people. Instead, I was reacting to them as if they were the missing part of myself.
Yes, yes, I know. It should have been bloody obvious, right? Well, it wasn't, at least not until then. And that, oddly enough, is one thing about patriarchy. It's a system of thought so ubiquitous you don't always realize you're in it. Even when you've been raised by a couple of strong and smart women, it still shapes your thinking and behavior.