Today I am thinking back to a time when an intimate made listed demands of me, thinking about relationships my daughters have had, and how it connects to our culture's ability to be subversive.
Sometimes my writing is very squirrel-like. These are some choice provisions I've hoarded and are now simply chewing on and connecting in my mind. This blog is perhaps a bit of hoarding this way. I tend to see the bigger picture and look at how basic structures set up dynamics of power and abuse.
In writings about intimate abuse dynamics, the focus is frequently on the dyad of abuser/victim. But, in any situation that entails abuse of power, there exists the silent crowd of witnesses and enablers to abuse. Some hide behind neutrality, others join in the scapegoating wholeheartedly. Either way, they support abuse and this is always so fascinating to me. At the end of my "squirreling" here today, you will find an Einsteinian hypocrisy. It illustrates how we cannot afford to continue contributing to our own blindness.
"THE DEMAND MAN- By Lundy Bancroft
The Demand Man is highly entitled. He expects his partner's life to revolve around meeting his needs and is angry and blaming if anything gets in the way. He becomes enraged if he isn't catered to or if he is inconvenienced in even a minor way. The partner of this man comes to feel that nothing she does is ever good enough and that it is impossible to make him happy. He criticizes her frequently, usually about things that he thinks she should have done—or done better—for him.
Is every highly demanding partner an abuser? No. There are specific elements to the Demand Man's style:
1. He has little sense of give and take. His demands for emotional support, favors, caretaking, or sexual attention are well out of proportion to his contributions; he constantly feels that you owe him, things that he has done nothing to earn.
2. He exaggerates and overvalues his own contributions. If he was generous one day back in 1997, you are probably still hearing about it today as proof of how wonderfully he treats you and how ungrateful you are. He seems to keep a mental list of any favors or kindnesses he ever does and expects each one paid back at a heavy interest rate. He thinks you owe him tremendous gratitude for meeting the ordinary responsibilities of daily life—when he does—but takes your contributions for granted.
3. When he doesn't get what he feels is his due, he punishes you for letting him down.
4. When he is generous or supportive, it's because he feels like it. When he isn't in the mood to give anything, he doesn't. He is positive or loving toward you when he feels the need to prove to himself or to others that he is a good person, or when there is something that he is about to demand in return; in other words, it's about him, not you. The longer you have been with him, the more his generous-seeming actions appear self-serving.
5. If your needs ever conflict with his, he is furious. At these times he attacks you as self-centered or, inflexible, turning reality on its head with statements such as, All you care about is yourself! He tends to work hard to convince outsiders of how selfish and ungrateful you are, speaking in a hurt voice about all the things he does for you.
At the same time, the Demand Man is likely to be furious if anything is demanded of him. Not only are you not supposed to demand any favors, you aren't even supposed to ask him to take care of his own obligations. If you ask him to clean up a mess he's left, he responds, I'm not your fucking servant. If you ask him to pay money he owes you or to work more hours to help out with the household expenses, he says, You're a typical woman, all you want from me is my money. If you complain to him of how rarely he is there for you, he'll say, You are a needy, controlling bitch. He keeps twisting things around backward in these ways, so that any effort you make to discuss your needs or his responsibilities switches abruptly to being about his needs and your responsibilities.
The Demand Man is sometimes less controlling than other abusers as long as he is getting his needs met on his terms. He may allow you to have your own friendships or support you in pursuing your own career. But the effects on you of your partner's extreme entitlement can be just as destructive as severe control.
The central attitudes driving the Demand Man are:
• It's your job to do things for me, including taking care of my responsibilities if I drop the ball on them. If I'm unhappy about any aspect of my life, whether it has to do with our relationship or not, it's your fault.
• You should not place demands on me at all. You should be grateful for whatever I choose to give.
• I am above criticism.
• I am a very loving and giving partner. You're lucky to have me."
If we take those messages and instead of making it between intimates, let's say we make it between a racist and a person of color-whatever that racist deems is the "wrong" color. The attitudes completely fit. And they set the stage for punitive behaviors, for punishment. If we take this and then apply it to our court system, where, "the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), a coalition of politicians, corporations, and legislators, has pushed for laws allowing for the growth of privately owned prisons where corporations can get rich off punishment. "http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/films/reviews/view/28290/13th
The subversion of racism through the war on drugs and the court system is appalling to me.
In family court, often the exploitation is by a richer party and men are put on "welfare" by not being punished or by punishing the real victim, financially or by taking away their rights. Family courts believe and enable Demand Men.
And, I can't wrap my head around Einstein, who was articulate, but who many say took many of his best ideas from his brilliant first wife. He gave her this list of demands:
- You will make sure:
- that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
- that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
- that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
- You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, You will forego:
- my sitting at home with you;
- my going out or travelling with you.
- You will obey the following points in your relations with me:
- you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
- you will stop talking to me if I request it;
- you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.
- You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." -Einstein
Clearly in making this list of demands of his wife, Einstein knew intimately what it was like to have forgotten the gift, and create his own intimate "society that honors the servant." In his list, he was trying to make the intuitive a servant of the rational and logical. We can all take a cue from Einstein's lack of congruence and his narcissistic injury to decriminalize each other and learn how to be human together.