There is a story that the great German philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche became insane when he saw a donkey being beaten by a man. On a superficial level this story sounds silly and is used by Nietzsche's detractors to make him look foolish. Yet on a deeper level it shows a problem that all men have: Most normal men, if suddenly faced with feelings that give him real distress, like seeing a animal suffer, may start to worry that he is going "soft". But someone like Nietzsche being highly intelligent, self-aware and imaginative, clearly saw the implication of this. He understood that once a man begins to empathize with others, he is at the mercy of a bottomless pit of human suffering.
Another famous philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre had the same problem because he once commented that; "the other is hell", indicating that he also had difficulty with his feeling of empathy with others. The other is not hell for a man who cares only for himself, or for a woman who cares only for others and not herself. The other can only become hell, when people begin to feel love for both themselves and others at the same time. Because the needs what you want and desire and the needs of what others want of you can be very different. This then will create inner conflict.
A man who is totally selfish and cares nothing for others can be very strong and macho. This allows great conquerors like Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte and Hitler to start wars with other countries and be unconcerned and even unaware of the suffering they inflicting on thousands or even millions of other people. In the second world war the Germans had no problem in recruiting young men to be concentration camp guards, while the allies had no problems in recruiting airmen to bomb German cities day and night, killing millions of women and children. This behavior is only possible by men who are not in contact with the feelings and suffering of others. I remember once reading about a famous pilot in the Battle of Britain. He had shot down many German planes and had been excited whenever he had done this. Yet in one instance he had shot down a German fighter and had got close to it while it was going down in flames and he could see clearly the pilot struggling to get out of the burning plane. He was then shocked to realize there were real human beings like himself in the planes he had shot down. It may sound crazy that a man who is fighting a war didn't realize that in the process he was killing other people. Yet the reason for this would be that when men start to be aware of the feelings of others they have to go into denial to continue to enjoy macho pursuits like fighting wars. Any man who enjoys watching violent films is doing exactly the same thing. He is so caught up in the excitement of the film that he is unaware of the suffering involved in the film, if it was acted out in real life.
Yet, this is something that women have to face every day. The feminine is at one with everything. In other words she empathizes with others, because being at one with others, it becomes automatic that other people's feelings become her feelings. The masculine on the other hand is individual and in its purest form the man is only aware of his own feeling and totally unaware of the feelings of others. This is why it is possible for patriarchal leaders to declare war on other countries and be unaffected by the great suffering that a war will cause.
But in recent times men have changed. Many men today are no longer able to be unaware of the feelings of others and this is causing them real problems. For instance, a women I know had what was seen on the surface as the perfect husband. Her friends called her husband a saint because he seemed to devote his whole life to making her happy. He didn't even have problems about her having affairs with other men. If it made her happy then he was happy. Yet she knew there was a real problem with the relationship.
What she discovered was that he was completely devoted to her only while she was happy and optimistic. When problems came into her life and she wasn't happy and needed comfort, then he changed completely and wouldn't respond to her. So she was forced to go to friends for help and comfort if she got upset about anything. Then later when major disasters happened in her life over the death of her father and a miscarriage, he became completely cold and uncaring. He would leave the room if she was crying, and even became angry with her because she was unhappy. For obvious reasons the relationship broke up. But his uncaring nature continued in that he didn't seem to want to have anything to do with their daughter. He resisted paying anything for her in spite of the fact he had a well paying job, and later made his daughter unwelcome when she was old enough to visit him.
So what is the problem? Why would a very caring and loving man suddenly turn into a cold and uncaring monster? The man, in learning how to empathize with others, discovered that empathy was very joyful and easy when he was empathizing with someone who was very happy. Their happiness became his happiness. But when he found that the person he was in love with was also able to be very unhappy he then had a problem. Her unhappiness immediately became his unhappiness. So his solution to this problem was to run away from her until she got over it. But when major crises came into her life which didn't allow her to get over her unhappiness quickly, he found himself having to be very cold and uncaring towards his wife to protect himself from her unhappiness. Later he was to do the same thing to his own child. He didn't want to feel his love for his child, in case the child became unhappy which would strongly affect him.
This seems to be a problem for other men. I know personally of a young woman who became convinced that her father hated her as a child because whenever she cried he would immediately become very angry and sarcastic with her. Yet in many other ways he did show he was a caring man. Again it was clear to me the father couldn't cope with his daughter when she become distressed.
What many women are discovering today is that they find men who are a real "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". These men seem to be very caring and loving and then suddenly will turn on them and become uncaring monsters. Men who begin to learn how to empathize with others will naturally only want the joyful part of empathy. Where empathy becomes a nightmare is when the person he is empathizing with becomes unhappy and has no control over the situation because it is another person's unhappiness. While she is unhappy he is going to be unhappy and so he is at the mercy of another person's feelings. Some husbands in this situation then can become very angry with their wives and children. He is telling himself; "why should I have to be unhappy because they are unhappy". This can result in many men physically attacking wives and children simply because they express unhappiness. Certainly there have been many court cases where a man has killed his own baby because the baby was crying too much. While the wife or girlfriend protest that she cannot understand it because he is normally a very kind and caring man.
Women themselves have a similar problem. It was easy in the patriarchal age for a woman to empathize with everyone else while she didn't care for herself. Now in recent years women are beginning to find they have real problems in empathy with others, when they begin to be aware of their own feelings. As with men it can be wonderful when they become aware of their own happiness as well that of others. Before they were always happy when their husbands and children were happy. Now by being aware of their own happiness, they can become even more happy and joyful. Unfortunately when things go wrong they can also be aware of their own misery.
In the past if a woman had a husband who wanted to spend all his money on drink and gambling, she might fight him for enough money to feed and cloth their children. But if she ended up with nothing it wasn't a problem for her, because the needs of her husband and children came first. But women today find that if they end up with nothing it is a real problem for them, because they are aware of their own needs as well. Many women today find themselves in a "no-win" position if they live with a irresponsible man. They are able to be strong enough to say clearly to their husbands: "No, you cannot spend all our money on drink, gambling, cars and computer games". Yet she can be still be unhappy and feel guilty about denying her husband what he wants. However if she was to give in to these feeling and give him what he wants and deny herself, she would also feel unhappy. It is no wonder that heterosexual women complain today that with men; "you can't live with them and you can't live without them".
It can get even more difficult than this: What women find wonderful about having a caring husband is that she finds she can make him happy by being happy herself. So a virtuous cycle can be created; she can feed off his happiness and he can feed off her happiness. Unfortunately the opposite can be true. If a woman lives with a caring man she might find that if she is unhappy it makes him unhappy, so she can feel guilty about being unhappy. This can then create a vicious cycle where both partners feed off each other's unhappiness, making the situation worse and worse.
For this reason many women having had a relationship with a caring man, will leave him to go back to a more selfish man. She knows that with a "strong" macho and selfish man he will not be concerned about her unhappiness. So the relationship cannot go into a vicious cycle where the unhappiness of both partners will strongly affect the other. Unfortunately what she will find is that it is impossible to change a very selfish man. If he has a behavior pattern that makes her unhappy, like spending all the money they have on himself or treating the children badly. She is totally unable to influence him in any way, because he doesn't care if what he wants to do will make others unhappy. But a man who is able to empathize with her, knows full well that if his partner is unhappy he will be unhappy. He then has a powerful reason to do all he can to make his wife or girlfriend happy.
So heterosexual women have two choices: They can have a man who is able to love and empathize with them. But they find he has real problems if they becomes unhappy. Or women stick to very selfish men, who are able to cope with women becoming unhappy, and will probably be more helpful in this situation. The downside is that there is nothing a woman can do, if he wants to behave in a way that makes her unhappy. She cannot appeal to his better nature because it is unlikely that he has one.
It would be very easy if we could give a quick and easy solution, as you see with many of these "self help" books., but real life is not like this. Women have had many lifetimes of knowing how to care for others during the patriarchal age. Today if a woman gives birth to say a mentally retarded child, it is fairly normal for that woman to devote her whole life to caring for it, even into adulthood. On the other hand it would be very unusual for a man to do this. He might help his wife look after a mentally retarded child, but he would be very unlikely to take full responsibility and back off when the going gets too tough.
So we can see that compared with women men are just beginners at learning how to empathize and care for others. They haven't been exposed to thousands if not millions of years of a powerful maternal instinct that makes women want to care for children, animals and men. Many men today may have strong desires to love and care for others. But when they have to put these feelings into practice and face the misery, unhappiness and sacrifice these feelings cause, they often back off. It certainly helps a lot if the man can also experience the joy of empathy, to experience the joy in giving a Dominant Woman pleasure and to be able to worship her as if she was a Goddess. But he has to accept the whole package; learn how to experience both the joy and misery of empathy with others.
For this reason many men today have become very frightened of empathizing with others. They do not want to be at the mercy of other people's feelings, so they practice being very hard macho men. The same time women are finding it hard to learn to love themselves while loving others. A woman who is learning to love herself finds that she is always betraying herself by putting the needs of children and men before her own. She might then choose to learn to hate men and even learn to hate children, seeing it as a way to prevent her from sacrificing herself for others.
We as a human race are standing at a cross roads. We have before us two choices; one is of a far better future than we could dream is possible for the human race. The other is a far worse future, if that is possible. In the patriarchal age we only had one half of the human race behaving totally selfishly with no regard for the feelings of others. If in the future men continue to resist empathy because they do not wish to feel the suffering of others. While at the same time women continue to learn how to love themselves by hating other people. Then it means that all men and women will be fearing and hating each other. In the patriarchal age men mostly killed each other as well as women and children in wars because they feared and hated each other. But at least it was only 50% of the population doing this. It women were to join in and learn hate and violence from men then the whole of human kind would be behaving in this insane way. In such a situation the human race would quickly become extinct.
The alternative to this is that men stop resisting their desires to empathize with others, and women do not go down the path of learning to love themselves by hating others. That is to say they stick to learning how to love themselves and love others at the same time. The positive thing about this all is that it gives human kind a far better future. The suffering caused in the patriarchal age was caused by the dominant sex, (men) being unable to care and empathize with others. With men in the future learning how to empathize, and Women not suppressing their ability to do this. It means both sexes will be motivated to create a far more loving and caring world.
First published at. -