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Proving that Men or Women are No Damn Good

Vigilance and Revenge

excerpt from The New Intimacy by Judith Sherven, Ph.D. and James Sniechowski, Ph.D.
Part of a book review Copyright © 1997 by Bert H. Hoff

Judith Sherven, Ph.D. and James Sniechowski, Ph.D., The New Intimacy: Discovering the Magic at the Heart of Your Differences(Deerfield Beach, FL: Toxic Communications, Inc., 1997). Order on-line

The book explores a number of scenarios, as to how relationships can "go wrong." Here is one example:


Judith and Jim
Judith and Jim

Book cover
The New Intimacy
by Judith Sherven
James Sniechowski
Order on-line

This allegiance/resistance pattern [allegiance to old patterns, resistance to change] is all about hurt and rage thatís been squashed down and stuffed away. If you are spinning in this whirlwind, you have little awareness of this self-loathing and hatred of life that is the source of your discontent. One clear sign is the need to show how useless, pointless and horrible the other gender is. Men are condemned as liars and cheats. Women are lumped together as manipulative and greedy. Those who are committed to this view simmer with a fury that "the whole damned lot of them isnít worth squat." And in the middle of their fury theyíre absolutely certain about their innocence and theyíre the ones who have been victimized. What they are not being honest about is the origin and the extent of the pain.

Constant vigilance followed by revenge is the resistance duo that covers an underlying sense of loss and insignificance. Even though they gloat when they "discover" some flaw or weakness in their partner, their pleasure is short-lived because their insignificance tells them, "Itís the others who really have the power."

Example: Anita attended Judithís womenís seminar in Michigan where Anita talked about her experience with Russ, a 39-year-old pharmaceutical salesman. She met Russ through a friend. He was late for their first date but had called to let her know. When they came back to her place, he asked her to spend the night and she accepted.

The next morning she was on the phone, telling a friend, "Even though the sex was spectacular, this guyís a cretin. He never even apologized for being late." When her friend asked if she would go out with him again, Anita shot back, "Why not? Can you show me anybody better?"

Allegiance: Anita came from a military family that moved every couple of years. Her mother, an angry alcoholic, believed in strict discipline. Although her mother had achieved the rank of lieutenant-colonel, she ranted about the hopeless sexism and incompetence" in the military. Anitaís father didnít have the will to resist, so he just went along. From infancy on, Anita could never do anything to please her mother.

Russ had described his father as "uncontrollably aggressive." His father prided himself on not letting anything stand in his way. And he didnít. Not his wife. Not his only child. Not even himself. One afternoon he slumped over from a mass heart attack and was dead in minutes. Russ was 11.

Anitaís self-loathing and sense of failure was so painful she didnít dare admit it. Rather than try to heal the damage, she made everyone else feel it, especially men. She felt the need to avenge the wrongs she perceived had been done to women. Her world of illusion kept her safely away from the truth of how she had been abused by her mother. Russ, on the other hand, seemed to welcome any challenge. He told Anita her toughness was just a front, just another barrier to get through. In telling her story Anita realized that Russ behaved just like his father.

Resolution: The didnít last long together. Her fury and his unceasing competitiveness were too much. They resolved their entanglement by splitting up. Even so, the still confessed to being very attracted to one another. Anita described Russ as "just the kid of man I love to hate." Russ thrived on the challenge of "getting through to her." They savored the dangerous intimacy of adversaries.

What about you? Do you know these feelings? Are you committed to proving just how lousy the other gender is? Do you find yourself routinely putting down all women or all men?

Both genders are emotionally, psychologically and spiritual involved. If you feel bitterness and contempt for the other gender, itís more likely an expression of your own misplaced powerlessness, hurt and rage. What caused you to depend on blaming the other gender? Explore your past. Youíre sure to find the reason...

In The New Intimacy Judith and Jim then proceed to raise some points to think about if you can identify with this pattern. What do you think? Do you know people in your life who fit this pattern?

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