Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My friend’s sister (who I guess is now my friend as well) is trying to launch her career as an author. She posted a question about her male character, who is a cruel narcissistic evil as…well, he’s just not a nice guy. So, she posted a question, how does one hurt a man, truly and deeply.
In my usual snarky manner, I posted a tongue-in-cheek comment, “get him married.” I didn’t mean it; truthfully, I’m still a true romantic. I believe in love, and I believe that one should treat their partner as a partner. I believe in treating your partner with little surprises, respect, and showing her, every day, how you love her. But, as I thought about it more deeply, I came to realize that I am a man, and my wife did hurt me. Truly and deeply.
But this isn’t about that. I’ve written about that often enough that by now my readers know how she had hurt me, and that I still suffer from the wounds left behind. I don’t want this blog to be a recipe book on how to hurt a man, but maybe it will help somebody if they understand how a man works.
I guess it’s possible that my author friend had physical pain in mind. Yes, you can think of many mean, nasty, slow, painful things to do that would hurt, well, anybody. And everybody can imagine that targeting specifically genitals is the most sensitive and painful thing you could target on a man. But, it’s not just physically.
See, targeting a man’s penis is targeting a key component of his identity. That’s the true pain. By removing his genitals, you remove what he identifies as the key to his identity as a man. And that is how you hurt a man.
Men are very much who they identify as. I’m not sure if this is somehow genetically inherited, or if it’s how society has raised us, but if you hurt a man’s identity, well, frankly, you truly hurt the man.
Ask a person in our society who they are, and they’re most likely going to tell you what they do for a job. My name is Richard Bleil, and I’m a chemistry professor. My name is almost secondary; what I do is who I see myself as. I was hurt deeply this way. I gave up (voluntarily, like a fool) my identity as a professor, but then was denied my identity as director of a forensic lab, and dean. Suddenly, I found myself adrift, without focus, uncertain of even who I was, or where I was going. And it cut me. Deeply.
I’m not sure that this identity is as important to women as it is to men. If you think of our society in this light, there are certain conventions that suddenly seem to make a little more sense. Is it possible that women are more likely to take the man’s name on marriage, rather than hyphenating or, even more rarely him taking hers, because self-identity is more important to men for some reason?
A man’s independence is critical to him, but again, I’m not sure if this is hereditary or societal. What’s more, it’s important for a man’s psyche to be able to take care of his family. A lot of men’s self-image focuses on being the “bread winner” in the family. It’s seen when men lose self-confidence if their partner suddenly makes more money than he does. I suppose that this could be evolutionary as well. When expecting, the females of mammals are vulnerable; slow, easily singled out, which is why it is so common for the males of mammal species to become protective of their pregnant partner. It’s also reasonable that women, who feed the infant, take on a more protective role as the male of the species goes out to hunt to bring sustenance back. Yes, we are evolved, we should be beyond this (and hopefully we are) so men take a more active role in raising the children and women can be more active out of the home, but the roots of the male role may well run deep.
Yes, I’ve been hurt with this as well. My readers know I’ve lost my home, and my car. This hurts, deeply. And it’s not just the loss. I have great friends who even now are letting me live with them, giving me a home, and helping me to eat and get around, but the emotional pain runs deep.
I suppose, in short, it’s pride. I don’t know if women can be hit as deeply with their pride as men; I cannot speak as a woman since I am not one. But if you want to hurt a man, really, truly, deeply…target his pride.