Disrespect Between the Sexes…Who Cares?

Sunday, Nov. 7th 2010 11:35 PM

I recently attended a friend’s birthday party. While I was there a guy that I used to date showed up (the birthday-girl is a mutual friend of both of ours) with someone that he is currently dating. His date was not the issue. The issue was that he left her in the car. I discovered this while chatting with him during the party. He was only at the party for about 20 minutes, but I was compelled to tell him how disrespectful he was being to the young lady that he left in the car. I not only told him, but I opened the floor to my friends who were also in attendance to tell him about himself. They promptly did. Why do some guys act so disrespectfully towards the woman that they are either involved with or dating?

– Dee

From your description, I gather that you genuinely thought you were doing a service for both your former interest and his new one, by “telling him about himself,” and taking up the cause of the woman in the car. I can appreciate your interest in her well-being. However, the characterization of someone else as being “disrespectful” without knowing all of the relevant, critical information can also be considered disrespectful.

A sense of righteous indignation is a powerful tool. Without this trait, we would not fight injustice. However, often we confuse this noble trait with actually being “right.” When we attempt to correct a friend or loved one by using our righteousness to “tell it like it is,” we cross a line and may find ourselves bullying someone into a corner as we execute our ideological superiority.

Righteousness can have the effect of restricting us to our own perspective, and blinding us to others. We can also fool ourselves into thinking we are protecting or supporting someone else, when, in fact, we are underestimating or exploiting the person we profess to protect. In other words, we may be acting out of a subconscious need to be needed, for that “victim” to need us to save him or her.

There are a few things that you left out of your question, so I feel safe in assuming that you did not know the answers:

A.  Why did the woman remain in the car?

1.  Did she want to?

2.  Did he want her to?

You assume your ex-interest wanted his new lady to remain in the car, yet there are no factual details to indicate this. Why would you assume that it was his suggestion/decision for her to do so? Why would you eliminate the possibility that it was her desire to remain in the car instead of going inside? There are many people (men and women) who simply prefer to sit out opportunities for meeting and interacting with new people. Especially if their partner is ok with it.

For what it is worth, I have found that sometimes the greatest answer lies in the source of the question. Your protective response and question about why so many men disrespect women suggests more about your painful history than about the woman in the car and the man who left her there. Perhaps you have been treated disrespectfully by men, and wished another woman had stood up for you. Your question indicates that something in your history has left you vulnerable.

If someone mentioned to me (male or female) that his date was in the car while he came in to a party for 20 minutes, I would have a hard time going any further into the conversation than to simply note that the partner in the car was certainly welcome to come inside if he or she wished to do so. Past providing that level of clarity, the “who,” “what,” and “why” of the situation would be meaningless to me. After all, I feel comfortable assuming both of them are grown, responsible and fully equipped to make decisions about who goes where for themselves. And that’s the key. Assuming we know what’s best for others, particularly another adult, robs the other person of his or her own experience and solution-finding. It does you no good either. Assuming, instead, that the people we care about are powerful and capable of taking care and standing up for themselves actually empowers them. Not only does it empower them, it frees you of their burden(s).

I suggest that you release the assumption that you know what is best for other adults. And after doing so, you may find that you no longer wonder why some men treat women so disrespectfully because you may find yourself preoccupied with questions about your own motives and treatments. You are not alone though. I’ll be working on the same thing.

“To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear.”

Byron Katie

Keep rising,

Frank Love

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How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

9 Comments on “Disrespect Between the Sexes…Who Cares?”

  1. Anne McBride Says:

    It happens because women allow it to happen. She chose to stay in the car. Funny, I posted something similar to this to my facebook page this morning and a women came on and blasted me. She said I was mean and hateful, etc etc. I finally had to delete her. She was a bully in school and is a bully as an adult. I think she must get treated with disrespect from men all the time and lashes out at other women because of it. We as women need to stand up and say NO MORE. I/m happy you addressed in front of everyone. I would have gone a step further and gone to the car to get her. She needed to hear the conversation addressing his poor behavior. By the way, shows like “Two and Half Men” and “How I Met Your Mother” may be funny but they reinforce this behavior. Ever watch undercover boss? Wow the lack of women CEO’s and inequality shown to the co workers is astounding. The up and coming generation has the freatest disrepect for each other and date violence is at an all time high. We need to wake up America.

  2. Chacha Says:

    Ouch. This one hit too close to home. When I read this I was reminded of a conversation on my way out of the door this evening. I’m afraid I was disrespectful. I hope an apology will be accepted.

    I am certainly guilty of using the weapon of “right” in ways that doesn’t foster positive growth in relationships. Hopefully I’m learning and growing beyond that.

  3. Olivia Says:

    Hhmmm, Frank as much as I love your talk. I probably would have engaged in a follow up email with the woman. Clarifying the situation i.e. “I discovered this while chatting with him during the party.”

    We don’t know what that “chat” illuminated. I would argue that the woman probably knows the man a little better than you given her history with him.

    Your jump in conclusion, (righteousness) is a guess at best and knowing the circumstances better could have possibly saved you writing the blog post. (Though righteousness makes for good reading). As it stands we won’t ever know whether the Ex was acting like a dick or not… But your inference is that the woman was.

    Having said that obviously there are better ways of dealing with perceived disrespect than by “opening up the floor”.

  4. Melissa Says:

    Given what was described it was too many unknowns to assume the worse of the man or his actions. It seems as if he kept some sort of agreement with the person in the car since he came in and left in the 20 minutes he said. We are a fickle beings at times as I know I’ve experienced feeling ANTI-SOCIAL – it would be hard to claim (on this one) that woman’s rights needed to be defended. Depending on who she may have been in his life – her seat in the car may have been perfectly appropriate.

  5. Mace Says:

    Frank. Spot on. The fact that people assume that their behavior is equivalent to others in the same situation is a cause of so many inter-personal problems. The woman in the car is not a child.

  6. Ria Says:

    Frank, this was great reading. However, I don’t completely agree with your assessment. There are far too many unknowns in this as you mention, but you make some very dramatic conclusions about the writer. As a previous commenter mentioned, this woman has dated this man so I imagine she has some idea of his character. In addition if they were attending the function of a mutual friends I would assume the other guests have some idea of his character as well. So when the opportunity came to admonish him for leaving his date in the car not many others would have taken the opportunity. I personally find it unproductive to just jump to the assumption that the woman is imposing her past hurt and frustration with men on this guy and his nameless date. That stereotype is thrown around far too often…Maybe the guy was being a jerk, maybe the woman overreacted, maybe the date is anti social. We really don’t know but it seems as though you were doing the exact same thing you accused the writer of doing.

    But great blog, I will definitely check it out again soon.

  7. Aba Tyus Says:

    So true. While respect towards both women and men is always important–respect for self is what matters most. I believe people get too caught up in what x, y or z person said/did when they should place greater emphasis on their own power and how they view/value/treat themselves. The more you embrace an unconditional and true love of self the less relevant everything else becomes. This is not to say that you somehow become invincible or incapable of being hurt by the actions/deeds of others, after all we are still human, it merely places these acts in perspective and places them upon a foundation that is rooted in self love and respect. Marcus Garvey had a quote that went something like without confidence you are twice defeated in life–but with belief in self you’ve won the race even before it’s started. The same concept applies here–If you aren’t giving yourself the love and respect that you demand from everyone else–it won’t take someone else disrespecting you for you to feel slighted or victimized because you see yourself in a certain light regardless. In other words it begins and ends within you.

    Great post big brother!!

  8. Misti Burmeister Says:

    Outstanding! Said in a nuget, “Release judgments of others and concentrate on your own growth.” Thank you for your continued inspiration, Frank!

  9. Massander Says:

    “Assuming we know what’s best for others, particularly another adult, robs the other person of his or her own experience and solution-finding.” – words to live by, by Frank Love.

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