The Invisible Man
By Rod Van Mechelen
1991 Bellevue, Wash. - A question for women: How would you feel if men generally ignored you? How would you feel if every time you smiled and said "hello" to a man, he would look at you -- if he looked at you -- with disdain?
At work, the men there deal with you on a friendly but professionally distant basis. If you try to get to know them socially, they laugh, tell you you're funny, or report you for sexual harassment. How would you feel? Sexually invisible? Welcome to the world of men, where only the princes have the power of visibility: "The prince is the only one who can awaken the princess." (Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, Susan Brownmiller, p 344)
In the common male-reality, it's a woman's world: Like Patrick Swayze in the movie Ghost, most men feel like sexual-ghosts, able to see the world and one another, but otherwise unseen. Warren Farrell calls this the "invisible curtain." (Farrell: Why Men Are the Way They Are, Berkley edition/September 1988, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., p 272) A perceptual barrier both women and men create:
This dilemma is no one's fault; we are all innocently born into a system in motion. It is also everyone's fault, because men continue to cater to beautiful women, so women continue to buy the cosmetics and diet formulas; women continue to choose from among successful men, so men continue to compete to be within the range of female binoculars. -- Farrell: Why Men Are the Way They Are, Berkley edition/September 1988, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., pp 103 - 104
The few virile or successful ghosts sparkle like stars. Women see and recognize them as men. But for most, a singular alienation common among men, because women see few men as sexual beings. Sexual objectification may seem common and therefore vulgar to many women, but because few men are objectified sexually, most hunger for it. Not to be used like a dildo or a vibrator, but as an object of affection, nurturing, and sex play. Blaming the victim, however, pop-feminists berate men for this need: "(M)en need women's love, since they cannot get this quality of emotionality from most other men." (Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 41)
Adding insult to injury
There are many reasons why this is true, and the early training we receive to fight over women is one. Women in general, and young women in particular, treat men who do not fight over them as "just friends." Nurturing men are particularly vulnerable to this. Perhaps because linguistically, they sound like women.
Deborah Tannen characterizes the way women talk as "rapport-talk," and men's communication style as "report-talk." In other words, women converse to connect while men talk to tell. While these categories are probably valid, an exhaustive study would likely reveal the number of women and men who use one style or the other is roughly the same. Most of us ignore this because almost everything men do is seen in terms of power, and almost everything women do is seen in terms of powerlessness. (See the chapter on Power.)
Women and men can say the same words, use the same inflections, tone of voice, and facial expressions all the same, but observers will see men expressing power, and women, powerlessness. But seeing and hearing are not the same. We process and experience audio and visual information differently. Thus, while visual cues cause most to discern differences in power, verbal data can carry very different messages, with very different results.
Linguistically, a man who "rapport talks" sounds like a woman. Consequently, many women may experience him as a woman, and treat him almost like other women -- like "just friends." This explains why there are millions of rapport-talking men who can't get "laid" to save their lives.
Many women add insult to this injury by complaining to "just-friend" men about their awful relationships with (report-talking) "jerks." Most women may deny they do this, and pop-feminists may scoff, but most men know it's true: treat women nice, live a celibate life. And the more successful a woman is in her career-life, the worse it gets:
Women, whether rich or poor, prefer high-status males. In fact, the more money a woman makes, the more she values the financial and professional status of a potential mate. As women's power and status rise, their "sexual taste become more, rather than less, discriminatory." -- Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates, by Mary Batten, p 81
Women just don't get this. That is, young women just don't get it. It is a cruel irony that by the time they reach their fifties, most women are sexually invisible, too.
Rod Van Mechelen