Dr Laura: Ch 2

Either chapter two is a lot better than chapter one, or I’m acclimating to the water quickly. There’s even some advice in here that’s decent. Chapter 2 is about “Stupid courtship”.

On of the harder things I’ve been learning about recently is resiliency, the quality of being able to bounce back from hard times. People who are resilient cannot have their center of strength located outside themselves; you can lean on friends and family when you have problems, but only until the problem is the friends or family dying or leaving you or just not being around. During those times, you have to be able to trust that you can get through it, that you’ve been through hard times before and will be able to get through this one. That all is not lost.

Dr Laura seems to be approaching this concept in one of her sections of chapter 2:

How do we get through rough times? By believing in ourselves enough and occupying ourselves enough, developing ourselves enough, so that we can tolerate the discomfort between now and our next triumph. As I’ve said, there really is no gain without pain — emotionally as well as aerobically. Why not ride the loneliness through and come out a stronger person as the result of it?

Likewise, she almost touches on why we don’t teach women to be resilient as girls:

None of us, thank heaven, is Cinderella — who happens to be the greatest example ever of a women waiting for some man to come along and fix it for her. IT’s sad that we women grow up believing in these fairy tales

Notice, however, how she stops short of highlighting a systemic problem, preferring to blame women for having been taken in by the society and culture around them rather than the culture for sending the wrong messages to girls.

Her point, during this chapter, is that the second thing women do to mess up their lives is get attached to the wrong guy, preferring to be with a man who treats them badly than to be alone. It has massive overlap with the previous chapter:

Men are here to share our lives, not to be our lives

including the overgeneralization of one or two incidents to every woman ever that is basically going to be a theme for this book:

Kristin was lucky that she’d had to confront the issue of dependence on males at twenty-two instead of forty-seven

One of the things I wanted to do with this particular series is to share stories of my own life, to contrast with the messages Dr Laura is spreading about everyone with ovaries. But on this topic, I really don’t have a lot to say. I’ve been with my husband since I was about 17, and I honestly don’t count high school dating as indicative of my values since I was still going through hormonal changes and learning who I was. I think it’s unfair to judge an adult by who they were in high school. But then, when you’re using stories of people who got engaged at 19 as part of your thesis on why all women are awful, maybe I’m setting the bar too high.

My first boyfriend was a dream come true. I’d been worried, as I’d never dated in middle school, that I was unloveable. I was fat, after all, and I was loud and boisterous and violent; what if men never found me attractive? When he asked me out, I was on cloud nine. It didn’t matter then if I liked him back, though he was quite attractive thankfully. I was just so pleased that someone wanted to be with me.

He invited me over to his place after school while his parents were away, and we shared our first kiss on his couch while watching The Matrix. A few minutes later, while I was still riding the high from having kissed someone, he gave me my first French kiss, and I got the impression he’d be okay with more if I was. It was awkward leaving after the film; he had the whole trilogy, but I convinced him it’d be better to do three dates rather than a marathon, and I had to get home, and so on. After that, whenever we were together, he was eager to get his tongue in my mouth.

I broke up with him when I realized I was finding excuses not to go hang out with him rather than eagerly looking forward to our dates.

Now, I’m gender-nonconforming to say the least. I’ve never been a girly-girl, and maybe that’s why I’m not the kind of garbage person that calls into Dr Laura’s show. Or maybe, just maybe, you can’t base generalizations about whole genders based on people who call in to an advice show where the host is known to berate them for making bad choices:

If you’re inclined to discount my point of view as full of assumptions, as a personal agenda or bias, I understand. After all, it’s unsettling to consider the possibility that most female thrusting toward men and relationships is not because women are making sensible choices. Rather, it’s a case of women being driven to attach to men for identity, affirmation, approval, purpose, safety, and security — values that can really only come from within ourselves. When the inevitable disappointment happens, such women complain bitterly that their men have failed them because they don’t’ sustain them just the way they want.

According to her, it’s nearly impossible for a girl of 15 to break it off with a boy because she decides she’s unhappy. Rather, I should have done everything in my power to force him to stay. Instead of being an early fumble toward understanding what I want in a relationship, she’d say my desire to be with a guy, any guy, was indicative of a deep pathological need to receive validation from an outside source. As it happens, I did need external validation… because everywhere I looked, I found people willing to tear down my appearance, but few indications that it was okay to be the weight I was. I developed an eating disorder within a few years.

At times, Dr Laura here treats women’s desire for relationships like an addiction. She offers advice I’ve seen elsewhere, on self-harm recovery websites: make a list of things you can do to find validation other than picking up the phone and calling a boy, and then when you’re tempted to drunk-text your ex about why you should get back together, instead do one of those things.

But at other times, her misogyny is only outdone by her hatred of feminism. She has a section entitled “men can feel like objects too” where she clearly is relating individual stories of men being used as a living teddy bear to the cultural phenomenon of women’s bodies being used to sell products as though they were equal. While I’m sure it feels shitty to be treated like a teddy bear, the sheer scale differences alone should be enough to consider them different subjects altogether… unless you, like Dr Laura, believe all women act like the case studies she digs up from her radio show.

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2 Responses to Dr Laura: Ch 2

  1. Firedrake says:

    Still trying for a “how does the core of this make sense” reading, but it’s getting harder. Maybe she feels that fixing the systemic problems isn’t something that’s possible in the short term, so one might as well try to live within them? (But then at least one might as well name and recognise them…)

  2. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for February 23rd, 2018 | The Slacktiverse

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