Not Another Spur(r)ious Claim!

// 22 January 2009

Ah, good old Dr Pam Spurr. She’s only gone and done it again, hasn’t she! Espoused a fresh pile of garbage masquerading as “relationship advice,” presumably designed to help us forlorn and frankly misguided women treat our men textbook right. Lucky us. This week she ponders the female capacity to ruin a new romance, asking “what is it with women who seem to have a self-destruct button fitted from the moment they start having relationships?” So, what is it exactly? Because I’m lost.

Spurr’s supposed friend Kate seems to be a bit of an erratic one, putting her “nice, mild-mannered man whom she supposedly loves” through an emotional mill just to “keep him on his toes.” Kate’s not chilled. Oh no. Instead she has an “overwhelming urge to get stroppy on occasion,” in order to “test his commitment” and “make sure he really cares.” Spurr explains that:

In reality it’s a perverse way to prove that you’re wanted but I find that lots of women press the self-destruct button to get this confirmation at some level – his anger, his pleading, his hurt – from their partner…Of course it’s liable to backfire, and the person she hopes will ride with her behaviour decides that it’s not worth all the hassle after all. Where does it come from? Usually from complicated feelings of wanting desperately to be loved but feeling unworthy of it. The person gets almost angry that her partner seems to love her. “Love me? Well, let’s just test that,” the thinking goes. Meanwhile, the partner is thinking that he’d do anything for a simple life, with a loving relationship in which no one reaches for that dreaded button.

Presumably Kate’s a fictional character, because if not Spurr’s a disloyal friend as well as a sweeping generalist always eager to villify women and present us as emotionally impaired. However, working on the premise that Kate is almost certainly Spurr’s imaginary creation makes her suppositions worse, since she has quite clearly presented men in the form of Kate’s hen-pecked partner as victims of woman’s inherent “desperate” longing to be loved.

Oh, Dr Spurr, forgive us, for we know not what we do…either that or consider giving up the day job. This behaviour is neither exclusive to, nor representative of all, women. To suggest otherwise bolsters stereotypes of the “needy” puppy-bitch-like little lady, wagging her tail while chewing her masters slippers and pissing on the rug until she gets the attention she deserves. Not on.

Comments From You

Leigh // Posted 22 January 2009 at 6:40 pm

If she didn’t describe the problem as specifically female she’d have a good point…

Vanessa // Posted 22 January 2009 at 10:18 pm

It’s frustrating that she patronises us, idealising the other half and what they naturally ‘put up with’.

You can’t imagine articles being written about men and how they might be less than perfect in this climate, without sexism/ misandry claims.

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 23 January 2009 at 12:24 am

It sounds to me like another manifestation of the “gatekeeper” view of female sexuality, in which patriarchal society teaches women that it is their job to make a man prove he is worthy of being granted access to her sex (and that she has no business enjoying sex herself). The flipside of this, of course, is that it is men who place women in this position of having to put hurdles in the way of successfully winning the prize at the end. A woman who is too easily satisfied is “cheap”, etc. – so there’s always the risk that if she doesn’t create these hoops to jump through then he will see her as having less value, and walk away.

emma // Posted 23 January 2009 at 10:59 am

A woman who is too easily satisfied is “cheap”, etc. – so there’s always the risk that if she doesn’t create these hoops to jump through then he will see her as having less value and walk away”

That would be a tragedy eh? Missing out on the chance to have a relationship with a sexist man…….

Anne Onne // Posted 23 January 2009 at 11:59 am

@ SnowdropExplodes: Yeah, I thought that too when I read this post. I was like ‘ as if most men REALLY want a woman to be honest about her desires!’ The first thing many men and women would tell such a woman would be that she’s too easy, that she has no ‘mystery’ (apparently very important to have mystery. I dunno why…), that she is too blunt, that she doesn’t smile enough, because no matter how nice and straightforward a person is, they will have bad days,and they will get mad at their partner, because they are human,and so is their partner (no matter how good-intentioned said partner is).

I’d say anyone exactly like the article describes should probably not be in a relationship. If someone is so childish as to actively harass a partner constantly for the hell of it, then they need to work on being better able to interact with people on an intimate level.

But, (and it’s a bit but!) I don’t think most women are like this, and I think this is actually a dig at women who have the gall to get mad at their partners once in a while. Because society teaches us that a man not doing his share of housework whilst going on about how motherhood/keeping house is easy, or expecting his partner to look good whilst denigrating her for spending so much time and money on it, is the norm. We women get told that we’re being unreasonable if we complain that male partners don’t help out or do their fair share, or that they have no idea how to look after their own kids, or that they expect women to look like supermodels, or if they have a wandering eye, or always expect sex no matter how tired women are ( or whether they enthusiastically want it!). We’re not supposed to complain at all, apparently. I’m reading a lot of this kind of woman blame from the article, because the implication is that women just get really mad or upset for no reason, just for the hell of testing men out, and that we do this because we have some sort of irrational ”overwhelming urge to get stroppy on occasion” rather than,you know, a bad day or some valid reason to be angry. Nope, we’re all just doing it for attention.

And the article assumes, just like all dating advice does,that only women are responsible for relationship problems (men are simple, innocent things that just want to live in peace with their favourite posession!) and that if something’s wrong, it must be our fault as women for not working hard enough, or being all irrational.

Sure, there are men and women who are insecure and mess with people’s heads. There are lots of irrational people out there, and certainly many who have issues they need to deal with. All of us have insecurities to varying extents, and relationships are about working around them, trying to become better at being with someone and to be a more centred person yourself. But this article isn’t exploring the nuances of how both partners’ insecurities and conditioning affects a relationship. It’s a simple case of ‘It’s HER fault. Every time.’ The problem isn’t pointing out that someone may act that way, it’s assuming that it’s inherently female to be irrational,and that this behaviour is some sort of plague on women, who are destroying perfect relationships with lovely men with their anger. Yes, it can happen, but so can the reverse.

Maia // Posted 23 January 2009 at 1:18 pm

Excellent post, Abby.

I wish there was a button I could reach for to make Dr Pam disappear off the face of the planet.

Lisa // Posted 23 January 2009 at 4:51 pm

Yes – a more interesting piece of research would be fear of commitment for both genders . End of story.

Men sabotage relationships by withdrawing, ‘negligently’ having sex with other women (e.g. ‘deliberately’ leaving text msgs from other women on mobile etc.), becoming more and more passive and ultimately manipulating an ending where they are seen as the innocent abandoned one !

Anna // Posted 23 January 2009 at 5:40 pm

Spurr would be absolutely spot-on about the behaviour described within if she was talking about my boyfriend.

Emma // Posted 26 January 2009 at 11:26 pm

I agree with Leigh: both genders are capable of this.

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