How do I get my man to perform?

hh 286 DC Phallic images

It’s the question many women ask. We want all kinds of performance from men. In bed. On the job. In the kitchen. In private and public, we want our men acting on the world. But, too many women want the performance, but what they really want is to be the puppet master, to hold the strings.

I’m not privy to men’s secrets, so I don’t know how often men sit around wishing their women would “perform,” but I doubt it’s high on the list. The biological fact is that no performance is necessary for the whole thing to “work,” if you’re a woman. You can just lie back and enjoy it. Or not. You can stare at the ceiling, paint your nails, plan your menus, like the woman in Todd Haynes movie, Safe. Participation is usually preferred, but honestly, it isn’t necessary.

But we women want performance from men. Let’s start with the dating game. Ask me. Ask me out. Do something. Make a plan for something you want to do, some place you want to take me and then ask me. Think of the dating scene in Everlasting Sunshine of the Spotless Mind when she asks him to go with her to the Charles River and then gets him to venture out on the ice to make snow angels. She wants him to ask her on a date, to do something dangerous and then for the whole thing to become magical. That would be nice. The ask. The danger. The magic. That is the story of chivalry. The knight in shining armor. But, it doesn’t work like that. She leads. He follows. Those two sentences sadly sum up way too many of today’s relationships.

In my first marriage to a man eleven years older than me he was always “the big man in the room,” while I was “the little woman.” I had decided that I wanted to be a matriarch. So, my second husband got out of the way and let me give it a go. I didn’t like it. The weight of was too much. I like to not be pushed around, not given orders, but doing all the leading is exhausting and it means that everything that goes wrong is always your fault. I like fault to be spread around like smog in Los Angeles, creamy and gray all over the city. I don’t want to hold onto it alone.

We want men to come up with their own brilliant schemes, not simply wait for ours. I want the young men who work in our office to come up with their ideas and present them to me ready and polished and shining in the sunlight. If all the ideas are mine, it’s a lot like I’m doing all the thinking myself.

Sometimes, on a family level, this takes simply letting go, and a lot of mothers don’t want to do this because they believe that if they stop thinking for their sons, their sons will think the wrong thoughts, join the wrong religions, be attracted to the wrong gender, get the wrong jobs, marry the wrong people and inevitably have the wrong children. But, didn’t we get to do that? We got to marry the wrong people and that’s how we knew it when we married the right people. We got to do the wrong jobs. Jump off the wrong cliffs. Go on the wrong vacations. Drink the wrong number of drinks. Isn’t half the fun of life stepping out of the safe zone? Or is it looking the wrong way and stepping in front of a car?

Having sent my son to Kathmandu with the wrong girl after he graduated from high school, I’m really invested in him getting to spend time with the wrong girl, doing the wrong job and enjoying his life anyway. Maybe for a while, she was the right girl, and then she was the wrong girl.

But women, take it further than pulling the puppet strings for their sons. Why not the husband’s strings as well? Why do we want men to perform so badly? We have our own way of acting on the world. We don’t have to act through men any more. But, putting our hands around a man’s neck is like having agency in the world twice. Ties come in handy for this. You get to have your own power and their super-power too.

I remember when someone first explained faking orgasm to me. I was way too old to not understand it, maybe twenty-three? but I was naïve. Still, I didn’t get it. Why would you want to? I tried a few practice runs but I kept laughing uncontrollably. Women should laugh at the idea of making men perform. Or of pretending the performance is working. Why not just let men be themselves? What does it really take from us? Men are not a different species than we are. Anxiety and pressure are not conducive to men acting on the world in any arena. Enjoying your life is the highest form of success. And letting him enjoy his. Male performance is not an absolute. It thrives in warm wet joy.

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Published in: on August 23, 2013 at 6:26 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I always love reading your stuff Kate. This was was especially good cuz I was mentioned. Lol. Miss you tons. Take care 🙂

    • Indeed, it was about you, my dear.


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