The butterflies, or unpeeling the politics of love Part I.

Men lie about everything. Or in other words, they do the most atrocious and disgusting things to us, and call it something else, for instance they call it love.

When I was really young I always wondered what it meant to “be in love”. It was painted everywhere as the “must” thing to experience for a woman, the thing you had to experience to be fulfilled. It was always depicted as some super special state that struck you like lightening and transcended you and changed the way you behaved. Quite frightening when you think of it. I never “fell” in love with anybody when I was young, and was always wondering whether I was normal or not. I’d tell people in a moany way, “i’ve never fallen in love”, and they would say to me “ah, you’ll see, it’ll come one day when you’re not expecting it”. It felt exactly the same way when people explained to me what god and faith was and apparently I was supposed be transcended by this super feeling during the rituals in mass or something, except that I never felt anything and it all was completely artificial and deadening at best, having to pretend, and feeling guilty about pretending, just like coupledom.

I remember a boy approaching me when I was 9 or so and he wanted to “go out with me”. We were supposed to hold hands and it felt utterly odd and fake (what was the difference between “being with him” and “not being with him”? The blandness and unnaturalness of it was pretty mortifying), I didn’t feel anything except unconformable about having to hold hands just to show the world that I belonged to him, which I didn’t like because I thought it was wrong to belong to someone, but I also felt guilty for not feeling that special love state that I was meant to feel, I thought it meant I was heartless.

Anyway, a few rapes / PIV / abusive relationships later, as I was still adolescent, I “fell in love”, or so I thought. All I knew was that it was very intense, so I assumed THAT must be love! FINALLY!!

now, what exactly was it that I felt? My responses to first being “seduced” (chased) and kissed (physically invaded and held captive) by a man – and him wanting to see me again – included:

  • blank in the mind

  • not knowing what to say or do

  • my heart racing

  • sweating

  • obsessive, invasive thoughts about him to the extent that it would prevent me from concentrating on other things or experiencing other things fully

  • spending hours or a long time preparing what I would say to him before i’d see him
  • nervousness
  • insomnia
  • those so-called “butterflies” in the stomach, that is, stomach tensions
  • blushing

  • checking myself in the mirror and controlling my body appearance more obsessively than I would normally do, and being more afraid than usual of being ugly, not intelligent enough, or whatever

  • Desperate waiting of signs of contact from his part. An email, a text, a phone call… checking my phone and emails obsessively and my heart dropping when nothing would come.
  • A painful feeling of loss, separation, emptiness (that is, feeling empty, non-existent without his presence) and even of being ripped apart inside the chest. A sensation that would intensify in his absence or if he would be sadistically cold or distant, or after PIV or physical invasion.
  • A constant state of scorching melancholia, varying in intensity. It is a state in which you are trapped between a perceived nothingness out there and the horror of your own solitude / emptyness in there (or what you are made to believe is solitude of the soul) so i’d drift melancholically outside of my body, begging silently to hook myself onto him (or someone else).

  • Finding beautiful things in the man where there weren’t any.

Yeah. Nothing in here is love. It’s just terror of being abandoned, and terror full stop. Or what we call trauma-bonding. Yet everywhere these very normal responses to harm, neglect and captivity by men are described as love, even when the woman (say in a “romantic” novel) DIES from this supposed love. And this isn’t just projection, in every case the abuse and threat by men in relationships is real, because PIV, because men are our oppressors and captors and we fear them, because the compulsory physical invasion that men define as sex, the real neglect, lies and manipulation, etc.

Needless to say, this first experience was extremely painful. The guy was something like 13 years older than me, I was still a minor, and my “love” to him would be all the more strong that he was very fleeting, would contact me only every now and then when he needed to fuck (rape) me. I was too grateful for him paying any attention to me to be even aware of his abusive behaviour, or understand what it meant. I was confused that he only wanted to see me sporadically, instead of starting a relationship, which is the way in which this love is supposed to be expressed. If he liked me enough to “desire” me, why didn’t he want a relationship? Not knowing whether he “loved” me or not made me constantly anxious. The emotional distance, neglect and constant waiting for him made the pain acute.

Fast forward a year, I finally realised that he’d used me and had no respect for me. I decided to give up on hoping that he’d “fall in love” (= get into the promised relationship). The instant i’d done that, I felt such an amazing sense of freedom. It felt like all the weight of the world had suddenly disappeared!! I wasn’t tied, bonded to him anymore. I was independent. I didn’t have to live my entire life according to him, waiting and yearning for him. The illusions suddenly fell apart and I saw him as some useless guy. I told myself: never again will I be so naïve with a man! I was unlucky I thought, and I should just have picked a better man, and been more careful.

The problem was, that over the next five or six years, this pattern kept repeating and repeating and repeating itself. Every man I trauma-bonded to either was only interested in using me for PIV (rape) or had no interest in me at all. I thought something was wrong with me, maybe I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, boobed enough, outward going enough, mature, seductive, whatever. I couldn’t get it what it was that I lacked. I didn’t understand why I accumulated so many failures. Why did they never stay? Why was I so unlucky in “love”? Alternatively, I wouldn’t trauma-bond but then i’d be fully aware that I didn’t want the PIV and physical invasion (when I wasn’t so much aware of it with the others, because of the trauma-bonding) and it would be even more humiliating. I was still too grateful for the attention though to ward them off, so it would be painfully disgusting and i’d hate myself for what I perceived was self-betrayal.

When I was “attracted” they didn’t want, but when I didn’t want, they wanted. It didn’t make sense.

I did see there was a pattern and tried things to avoid being in such pain. I decided I would stop having PIV with men I didn’t know well or hadn’t started an official relationship with. The aim was to hold off PIV with men who were “attracted” to me until I had gotten to know them and knew they wouldn’t use / abuse me just for PIV, and would want a serious, committed and equal relationship, based on mutual discovery, friendship, etc. At least if I “fell in love” with them, they wouldn’t have fucked me, I thought. Well guess what, all that happened was that I continued to trauma-bond to men, except that after them “being attracted” to me (inviting me for drinks, or whatever) they would just lose interest in me because they couldn’t get out of me what they wanted, and they’d find another woman that was more compliant sooner or later. That was painful too. And it didn’t stop some men to rape me anyway.

Because all this was still so confusing and painful, I would think about it a lot, and ask a lot of questions to others, to see what were other’s experiences. The things that I began to figure out, bit by bit, were:

  1. That the intensity of the trauma-bond could wither away after some time of knowing the man as a friend or acquaintance.
  2. That the “love” in question had nothing to do with the men’s individual character or the fact that I appreciated them for what they were, but all to do with what they represented to me – usually a figure of authority, being much older than me, or having a higher status. It would actually prevent me from seeing them for what they were (lying rapey shitbags). The more distant or cold they were, whether or not they had decided to physically invade me, the more painful the “love” (trauma-bonding) would be.
  3. Also, I acknowledged to myself that this “love” feeling was too intense to bear and never led me anywhere except desolation. It wasn’t natural and was a sign that the relationship was unhealthy. I assumed that there must be a problem in the way I loved, that if it were really love it couldn’t possibly be so painful and alienating. So I started to seek out why this happened to me and to break the pattern in some way. I began to pay close attention to how it worked and what it did to me.
  4. I decided to stop seeking to be in a “love relationship” with a man until I had sorted myself out, and also to seek men with whom I could be equal in age and status to prevent trauma-bonding. I told myself “your’e not going out with a man until you know you can “love” without being in pain.” If I were going to feel love, it would have to be a feeling of calm and serenity, of wholeness and happiness, and there should be absolutely no fear, dread of loss, anxiety or anything like that towards the man, otherwise it would mean that it wasn’t love but trauma-bonding or S/M and I should stay away from the guy, or wait until it withered away to make an informed decision. Seduction in itself was wrong, artificial and alienating, because it was treating me like something to be owned so if I was to have a physical relationship with a man, it would have to be after some time of friendship and closeness, and come “naturally”.
  5. Soon after, I observed that constantly and secretly hoping for a love relationship to happen wherever I would go was painful in an of itself because I would always end up with a feeling of loneliness, dissatisfaction, like something special wasn’t happening – in a state of expectation of something external happening to me rather than self-centredness. It construed myself as inherently alone and empty, as being only a half of a person in the need of being filled by a man (or another person). As inherently lacking and not whole. As if I couldn’t bear being with myself, I had to disappear in a man / coupledom to “exist” – this is extremely woman-hating and annihilating of self. Waiting to depend on him and wait for him to receive love, and of course it would never come. I finally saw the utter reversal and lie of all this shite. I realised I had to give up the very desire to be in a relationship so not to feel constantly alienated. I remember very well making this decision and felt such a sense of freedom and happiness to be with myself after that. It felt like a reconciliation.

From then on things unfolded pretty fast. This is when feminism seriously kicked in, when I realised PIV, sexualised physical invasion of women and control of our reproductive organs were how men oppressed and harmed us. That PIV was inherently harmful, humiliating and that we weren’t meant to be penetrated. And where I understood the general structure of male violence and patriarchy. My whole world blew apart.

Well, guess what, all of a sudden men weren’t interested in me at all. Because I’d always stay away from any kind of “seduction” before I’d get to know the guy well, they’d simply steer off from me very soon, before I could even get to know them in fact. Har har. This was an eye-opener. It made me see that men weren’t interested in equal relationships at all with women. None of them. There were no “nice guys” or exceptions. They weren’t interested in me, not even as friends, because they couldn’t make out of me what they wanted. All they wanted was to be able to use me as a PIV-socket and as their property, because that was my function as a woman in male land, and if I didn’t fulfil that function, I was of no interest to them.

And after setting some final rules for interacting with men, to protect myself from their disgusting women-hatred (complete openness to feminism, not the slightest hint of misogyny, capable of conversing about it without the slightest defensiveness or making me feel awkward in any way), men just disappeared from my life. Not one ever fit to the criteria, even though my rules weren’t very radical and were individualistic.

I saw that however much individual effort I’d put in a relation with a man, even without PIV or outside of “seduction”, it would always be unequal with them, because they are our oppressors and captors, and they feed off our energy and us trying to change them. There would never be complete protection from trauma-bonding to them, or fear of their violence, or from being prevented to go the end of my thoughts. It didn’t matter what they did individually to be nice or not, it’s what they are and represent as a male class. Even to this day if a man is kind to me or just smiles I can still feel this “attraction” and gratefulness that I’d feel before and tried to get rid of, which simply means that men are still our captors and there’s no way we can completely get away from stockholm syndrome so long as they hold us captive. Which is precisely why I know I have to stay away from them as much as I can.

So yes, the end of peeling down men’s lies about love and coupledom was the beginning of separatism from men, and the beginning of radical feminism!

10 Responses to “The butterflies, or unpeeling the politics of love Part I.”

  1. 1 delphyne May 9, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    How wonderful to have a new radical feminist blog to read!

    I’m so glad you’re writing about love of men and what it actually means for women. I wasted so many years of my life – my formative years – worrying about having a man, being loved by a man, wanting to love men and be with them, all the time ignoring my real feelings about what I was experiencing, feelings which were never good, were always uncomfortable and painful, but which sadly were never enough to get me to reassess what it was I thought I wanted. It didn’t help of course that there was almost nothing else on offer especially for anyone not actively looking for it. For me it actually took radical feminism before I could get away from men, although probably I’d had one foot out the door for some time before coming to it. The loss and the waste are enormous though, and they are difficult to address and come to terms with.

    I think it’s amazing that you were able to come to your own conclusions about reality and relationships, just by paying attention to yourself and your reactions and ignoring what was coming from outside. To me it shows it’s possible for each woman to lead ourselves to our own liberation, if only we can find a way to trust ourselves above all else.

  2. 2 witchwind May 12, 2013 at 6:09 am

    Thanks for this comment. i do think all women know this deep down, but we’re made to fear we’re wrong and inadequate for finding it wrong, and there’s rarely anything out there to confirm this knowledge / intuituon.

    Also, what gets us stuck for so long with men is their lie that being physically invaded by them and submitting to PIV is the only way we can get intimacy, tenderness and closeness. How many women out there just want cuddles and touching and deep talk with their partner when all he’s thinking about is to use us as PIV socket? or finally give in to awful and alienating PIV and other horrible male dick-practices in the hope that they will get a bit of tenderness and intimacy out of it? We never get what we want but we keep trying and trying and trying, thinking there’s something still we might not have understood, a clue we missed, a mistake we made. What a waste of time indeed.

  3. 3 FCM May 14, 2013 at 12:01 am

    i feel what delphyne is feeling — so happy to have another radfem blog to read! yay! i appreciate this so much.

    so much to respond to here. the part about it feeling fake, like you were doing it wrong, similarly to what you were “supposed” to be feeling in church is SPOT ON in my experience. its exactly the same. faith-based (not reality based) and faking your way through it, feeling that you are inadequate or flawed rather than the whole set up being inadequate and flawed, nonexistent really, theres literally nothing there. and at some point settling for this disappointingly diminutive experience — bc of what youve been told to expect, and promised. rather than anything thats actually real, or any of your needs being met. it feels very weird for awhile, but the really terrible thing is that you get used to it! you stop thinking theres something missing and just accept that this is all there is, even though its nothing like what you’d hoped. therapists (the-rapists) even call this “getting real” and accepting your partners humanity and the end of the fairy tale, as if you were stupid and naive to expect more — but the man never accepts our humanity at all. he has acquired his slave and that was the whole point for him. he moves on to the next acquisition, and you are stuck washing his shorts for eternity. and thats just one tiny part of all of this — the expectations and the settling. it doesnt even touch the trauma bonding, abuse, dependency, isolation, pregnancy scares and all the rest of it. there is so much material here, seriously. looking forward to the additional parts!

    happy blogging! 😀

  4. 4 witchwind May 14, 2013 at 11:38 am

    You explain the “disappointingly diminutive experience” of it very well too.
    And the reason this male model works so well or that we always end up sinking into it despite our initial repulsion is that nothing, nowhere and nobody ever confirms that we are right about it. It’s the total and complete absence of anything that might say “yes, you’re right about what you feel, this system is complete bullshit”. This says something about how terrorised all women are for most of us never to meet, read, listen or see a woman in our childhood who can explain this to us. Since we’re trained from age zero to distrust our responses to violence and to listen only to what adults say, we quickly distrust our own responses to the reality and try to dismiss them. We don’t see any other option and the alternative (setting ourselves against the world) is too extreme and painful to bear given that we already suffer from neglect, isolation or abuse, and more isolation is just intolerable. We also know that our words and speech count for nothing, and that we won’t be believed or taken seriously, because nobody listens to us. “If everybody and everywhere says the exact opposite of what I feel and know, then I must be wrong.”

    it doesnt even touch the trauma bonding, abuse, dependency, isolation, pregnancy scares and all the rest of it. there is so much material here.”

    What’s interesting is that these responses to relationships with men (including the “love” which is nothing else but trauma-bonding, as you can only either trauma-bond to men or run away from them / be disgusted and angered by them – these are the only responses we can have towards our captors) are present on the whole spectrum of violence and abuse within these relationships, from the apparently most “benign” to the worst: being in a relationship, to sexualised physical invasion (kissing) to PIV, to pregnancy scares, to psychological torture, to physical and sexual torture. Whatever level of abuse it is they do, there’s one thing we do know deep down is that it’s fake. There’s always something we have to pretend to keep the relationship going (pretend pleasure mostly).

  5. 5 witchwind May 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

    It’s also interesting that men too pretend to “love” women, especially at the beginning to lure them into captivity, but this doesn’t affect them at all as they don’t need and ache for intimacy the way we do, and they know it’s something they use to forward their interest, and that it’s part of the game. They know it’s a tool amongst many others to get what they want from women, they’re not alienated by it at all. Just like we’d use a screwdriver to unscrew a knob. Also, men never fake pleasure or excitement to PIV. They are genuinely excited by it. This model is what they want, it suits them perfectly as you say.

    Them pretending “love” (or saying “I love you”, or washing the dishes and cleaning) might not suit them to the extent that they would rather not put any effort at all in submitting the woman to their will, and this is a price they’re willing to pay to have access to women.

  6. 6 Sargasso Sea May 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    A hearty third on there being another radfem blog to read and spiral with 🙂

    Everything you say here completely resonates with me and my journey to be apart from men. For me though it took a life-threatening pregnancy to finally accept (and act upon) what I guess I’d always known deep down…

    Yes, girls especially need to know that it’s right and natural to trust their themselves.

  7. 7 Sargasso Sea May 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Whoopsie – that’s just “trust themselves.”!

  8. 8 witchwind May 14, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    that’s awful, i’m sorry to hear that he almost killed you.

    a lesbian friend of mine called and she said she was feeling tormented. I asked why, and she replied that she had just met a woman, and was anxious about it, because she needed a promise of commitment and not having it made her tormented. I said that if she felt angst, it couldn’t be love, it was angst, and it’s a sign that it was bad for her, that she should get out of it because it wasn’t healthy. She found it interesting and had never thought of it before! In this case it’s with a woman but it’s exactly the same male lie that being tormented equals love, or that angst can be included in the male-promised “love/relationship package”. Men pressure us into their ownership-relationship model even when it’s not with men.

    If you meet someone you like, and it goes well, its supposed to feel nice, and calm, and serene. No fear, dread of loss or non-commitment.

  1. 1 The butterflies, or unpeeling the politics of love Part I. by Witchwind | | Féministes radicalesFéministes radicales Trackback on August 13, 2013 at 4:24 pm
  2. 2 Grooming / pimping into heterosexuality, by Witchwind | | Féministes radicalesFéministes radicales Trackback on September 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Comments are currently closed.

past musings


Join 425 other followers

%d bloggers like this: