I recently read an article on Matt Walsh’s blog entitled: Your husband doesn’t have to earn your respect, and it really struck me, as respect—or, more accurately, the lack thereof in our society and culture today—is an issue I’ve been contemplating for some time now.
Honestly, I haven’t read much of Matt Walsh’s work, and frankly, most of what I have read I generally disagree with (as I would any statist, particularly those who use their religious beliefs as grounds for enlisting the state to violate the rights, inhibit the liberty, and otherwise dictate the lives of others).
However, aside from his stated espousal of the “biblical notion” that a man owns, controls, or is otherwise somehow superior to his wife (“Society tells our daughters that men are boorish dolts who need to be herded like goats and lectured like school boys. Then they grow up and enter into marriage wholly unprepared and unwilling to accept the Biblical notion that “wives should submit to their husbands” because “the husband is the head of the wife.”), an abhorrent idea with which I vehemently disagree (I believe that wives—or women in general, as with all individuals, throughout all of humanity—are (gasp!) actually equal to their husbands, and equal to all other individuals as well (I know, I know…such heresy!))—I must say that, at least as far as the rampant lack of respect that is poisoning many relationships today, (and, I believe, much of society as well) goes, he’s absolutely right.
Here are some of Walsh’s more salient points:
“Men are disrespected by their wives—they’re disrespected publicly, they’re disrespected privately, they’re disrespected and then told that they have no right to be upset about it because they aren’t worthy of respect in the first place.”
“It is a fatal problem, because the one thing that is consistently withheld from men and husbands—respect—is the one thing we need the most.”
“As the respect diminishes, so too does his motivation to behave respectably. Respect is wielded like a ransom against him, and he grows more isolated and distant all the while.”
“Respect is our language. If it isn’t said with respect, we can’t hear it. This is why nagging is ineffective and self defeating. This is why statements made in sarcastic tones, or with rolling eyes, will never be received well. We have a filter in our brains, and a statement made in disrespect will be filtered out like the poison it is.”
“A man isn’t satisfied or content if he isn’t respected. If he can’t find respect where he is, he will seek it somewhere else. This can have disastrous implications for a relationship, but it applies in other areas of life as well. A man is much more likely to stay in a low paying job, a physically demanding job, a dangerous job, or a tedious job, than a job where he isn’t respected.”
These are truths, and I applaud Mr. Walsh for his effort, his candor, his willingness to say what needs to be said, regardless of the un-political-correctness of his statements, which will undoubtedly earn him an abundance of angry, knee-jerk responses from those of his readers who are incapable of critical thinking and/or rational discourse.
Walsh also shares a link to a disturbing and insulting Samsung commercial to make his point about how men are viewed and treated in today’s culture; but it doesn’t take much imagination to conjure many other examples of men depicted as mindless buffoons, unworthy of respect—Married With Children, The Simpsons…
Take a moment to watch it, if you can stand it long enough:
This is a typical example of the flagrant disrespect of men that permeates our society and culture.
And my opinion isn’t based only on my observation of the general disrespect of men by the women in their lives, and by society at large; I speak from first-hand experience—beginning with my childhood, as I watched my mother disrespect my father, as well as me and my brothers (and pretty much everyone else, too, she could certainly never be accused of discrimination)—and continuing throughout my adult life: disrespectful girlfriends, disrespectful (ex)-wive(s), even disrespectful friends, disrespectful employers.
However, as I contemplated the perceived lack of respect that I’ve received from the women in my life, my first instinct, as is typical, was that perhaps I was wrong; after all, I’m a (recovering) perfectionist, and tend to establish and try to maintain lofty standards for myself, and over the years I’ve learned that I should not—cannot—expect the same of everyone else. Hell, most the time I fail to meet them myself! Yes, I should expect myself to try—but should I expect the same from others? I’ve learned it is best not to. As my father was fond of saying: Expect nothing, and you won’t be disappointed. (I wonder if his marriage was a drviing factor in his notion of futility…)
So it stood to reason that perhaps my expectations of the women in my life were unfounded; perhaps the problem was me, not them. I’m not too proud to consider this. Besides, the predominance of disrespect of men by their women—even by society in general—seemed to reinforce this suspicion. Can millions of women be wrong? Can an entire society be wrong? It would seem doubtful; so perhaps it was just me…
In order to answer this question, I picked up a copy of The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Many years ago, while struggling with various issues and problems early on in my life, I listened to Dr. Laura’s radio program daily, and—though I didn’t agree with her political or religious views—I did find her analysis of relationships and the personal motivations inherent in the problems that plague them to be, in my opinion, spot-on; thus, I developed tremendous respect for her in that particular area. Also, simply by witnessing the veritable tsunami of praise for this particular book that flooded into her program—from both men and women—I trusted that she was also spot-on in her determination of men’s needs in relationships, and how their women can—and should—try to fulfill them.
Here’s the description of the book from her website (emphasis mine):
“In her most provocative book yet, Dr. Laura urgently reminds women that to take proper care of their husbands is to ensure themselves the happiness and satisfaction they yearn for in marriage.
Women want to be in love, get married, and live happily ever after. Yet disrespect for men and disregard for the value, feelings, and needs of husbands has fast become the standard for male-female relations in America. Those two attitudes clash in unfortunate ways to create struggle and strife in what could be a beautiful relationship.
Countless women call Dr. Laura, unhappy in their marriages and seemingly at a loss to understand the incredible power they have over their men to create the kind of home life they yearn for. Now, in The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands , Dr. Laura shows you-with real-life examples and real-life solutions—how to wield that power to attain all the sexual pleasure, intimacy, love, joy, and peace you want in your life.”
So I read the book, and, rather surprisingly, it confirmed my thoughts: the respect I desire as a man is normal, and this issue should be taken seriously and addressed by our partners (in other words, I’m not being an overly-demanding asshole!) Thus, my desire for a relationship that offers this simple yet indispensable feature is totally understandable—if not expected.
But the rampant disrespect of men is not limited simply to relationships or marriages; it extends to the workplace, the family, social events, or any environment in which men routinely find themselves and need to be able to function effectively. When a man finds himself disrespected in any of these circles, he first begins withdrawing and insulating himself, then begins avoiding them—and then, in many cases, he finally leaves them altogether.
And I believe the problem runs even deeper yet; I believe we live in a culture of disrespect; that the vast majority of our populace displays a complete lack of respect for one another, much of the time.
This is not only greatly disturbing to me now, but in retrospect, it’s been a problem for me my entire life: the neglect and abuse (disrespect) my brothers and I suffered from my parents; the disrespect dished up while enduring both public schooling and various mandated church activities; jobs I have held in which not only myself, but all employees were generally disrespected by management and/or the company—which prompted me to walk out of some of them.
In addition, I’ve suffered more than one failed marriage (I admit: I entered into bad relationships with toxic people because at the time, I thought the abuse, neglect, and lack of respect was normal; I now own up to my poor choices, and have since vastly changed my ways). And more recently, I came to the stunning realization that I’ve even been disrespecting myself my whole life! I came to see that since my parents were no longer in my life to abuse and disrespect me, I had stepped up to the plate, abusing and disrespecting myself in their absence. (This ultimately led to a self-destructive lifestyle that ended with quite the bang back in 2008).
And it’s not just happening to me; it’s prevalent within our culture. The rampant disrespect that permeates or culture is destroying relationships, destroying careers, destroying our society. It’s even negatively impacting other nations, as our “representatives” in Washington flagrantly disrespect not only the American people and domestic law, but international law and the rest of the world as well.
This needs to change. But how? How do we change an entire culture? Well, we can’t. But we can change ourselves, and we can be a positive influence on others, persuading them to change as well. With hope, and a little luck, the change will spread exponentially, and a new culture will be born.
Until then, all we can do is work on ourselves. And so that’s exactly what I decided to do.
Now, having completely rebuilt my self and my life over the past few years, I demand the respect I am due—from others, yes, but especially from myself—and strive to conduct myself accordingly. And I would like to see the same from others. We should all strive to resurrect the virtue of respect—both self-respect, and basic respect for others—within our culture.
I believe that everyone—even complete strangers—are deserving of a basic level of respect, until they prove otherwise (in which case I still remain respectful; I simply respectfully end the interaction or relationship).
And my espousal of libertarian ideology reinforces this, because libertarianism is all about respecting the beliefs, decisions, actions, and property of others, respecting their sovereignty as individuals, their authority over their own lives.
So I show respect to everyone I encounter in life; for women, in particular, I show respect by opening doors for them, by conducting myself respectfully and watching my language when I’m around them. I help them carry and load stuff into their vehicles. I deal with all people in a polite manner, whenever possible. I let people go ahead of me, in line or in traffic, even when I was there first, or it’s my turn (after all, in the grand scheme, does it really matter who was there first? No.) When I didn’t own a vehicle, and so I rode the bus daily, I always—always—cheerfully gave up my seat to a woman or elderly person who was standing because there were no seats available (and you wouldn’t believe the looks I got from others, like I was insane!)
Basic respect. Honesty. Consideration. Compassion. Politeness. Generosity. These are virtues I strive to live by, to extend to others.
And I’d like to experience this same treatment from others…but rarely do. And when I do, it’s like a Godsend. I long to live in a society and culture in which people treat each other, and their property, with the utmost respect, always. Where it’s the rule, rather than the exception.
Instead, here in the U.S., people are predominantly rude and inconsiderate to one another; mean-spirited, self-centered. Ours has truly become a “dog-eat-dog” society. Of course, this is to be expected in the statist, socialistic society and welfare state that the U.S. has become, with everyone attempting to live at the expense of everyone else, through theft via the state. When people must struggle for their own survival via theft from others—when the belief prevails that the only way someone can win is if someone else loses—of course respect goes out the window, and a sense of entitlement dominates!
A return to a culture of mutual respect would require a return to the ideals of inalienable human rights, personal liberty, and the preservation of property rights, all of which are today absent in our society. In order for these ideals to flourish, we must first garner respect for one another; each of us must respect the right of others to develop their own belief system, make their own decisions regarding their own lives, and make their own choices based on their own preferences; we must each respect the liberty of others to act according to those belief systems, decisions, choices, and preferences, as long as they do not aggress against others or their property; and we must each respect the property of others—whether it be their body, their money, their goods, or their land—as being fully owned, controlled, and utilized by them, in whatever way the deem.
These are the ideals of liberty, and a return to a culture of respect will first require a return to a libertarian, or free, society.
Until then, we will continue to struggle in a culture of disrespect, a cannibalistic society and the resulting deteriorating economy, in which living respectfully—respecting both ourselves as well as others and their property, as the default position—is indeed a difficult lifestyle to sustain. The abject arrogance, self-centeredness, and attitude of entitlement with which so many people assault one another in our society today is reprehensible, destructive, and downright sad—and yes, must be endured; but we can, and should, reject it. We need not—must not—participate.
Those of us who seek a cultural shift from one of disrespect to one of mutual respect—from a self-destructive, cannibalistic, bankrupt society to a free and prosperous society in which human rights, personal liberty, and propety rights are once again considered sacred—should, and must, forge on; try our best to live by example; strive to adhere to the Golden Rule; work diligently to—in the famous words of the great Mahatma Gandhi—be the change.
Perhaps eventually, our culture will begin to change along with us—one person at a time.
We can only hope.
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