Power and Love (the whole site in one page, for printing)
- author: Thomas A. Newman
- email: please use the form at the bottom of each page on
- web site: Power and
- version 2.1, March 17, 2000
- Power and Love, version 2: introduction
- Power and Love is about love (sexuality), power
(responsibility and authority) and the role of power in
- the chapters
- 1. love: psychological sexuality - masculinity and
- 2. power: power and psychological sexuality
- 3. power and love: power in sexual relationships
- 4. the masculine-feminine model: a relationship based
on the differences between men and women
- 5. the effects of society's prejudice against
- 6. power and love and you
- I recommend that you read this web site in order, using the
'next' button on each page, the first time you read it.
sexuality: complementarity and attraction
- Sexuality is about two complementary beings doing
together what each could not do alone.
- Sexuality is about the mutual attraction between the
masculine and the feminine.
biological sex versus psychological sex: the basic
- The differences between the two participants in biological
sexuality have to do with matter - eggs and sperm. A
biologically masculine person makes sperm; a biologically
feminine person makes eggs.
- The differences between the two participants in
psychological sexuality have to do with personality traits -
psychological masculinity and psychological femininity.
- biological sexuality
- A biologically male person and a biologically female
person are both needed in order to reach the goal of
biological sexuality: making a baby.
- psychological sexuality
- A psychologically masculine person and a
psychologically feminine person are both needed in order to
reach the goal of psychological sexuality: making a love
- psychological sexuality defined
- Psychological sexuality is about the personality traits
that distinguish most men from most women. For example,
women are often more intuitive than men. Men often are
better at spatial relations than women.
- For some more examples of these traits see the
- Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John
- You Just Don't Understand by Deborah Tannen
- Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences
Between Men and Women by Deborah Blum
- masculinity and femininity
- examples of feminine traits
- accepting, receptive
- ability to successfully carry on several activities
- examples of masculine traits
- good with spatial relations
- special definitions of 'man' and 'woman'
- This web site focuses on psychological sexuality.
- From now on in this web site I will use special
definitions for the terms 'man' and 'woman.'
- A 'man' is a psychologically masculine person. He can
be either biologically feminine or masculine.
- A 'woman' is a psychologically feminine person. She can
be either biologically masculine or femininity.
power: personal power versus power over
- personal power:
- comes from within
- is characterized by
- belief in oneself
- power over another:
- is either given by, or must be taken from, the
- means responsibility with the ability and the authority
to carry out the responsibility
- The two kinds of power are independent of each other:
- a person who has given a lot of power over
himself/herself to another may have a lot or very little
- a person who holds a lot of power over another person
may have a lot or very little personal power. For example,
a good mother may have a lot of personal power. A bully, on
the other hand, has very little personal power, and uses
the power over others - which he has stolen from them - to
try to get personal power. (It doesn't work, of course; you
can't get personal power from another.)
- power, as the term will be used here from now on:
power must include all three: responsibility, authority and
- responsibility without authority is ineffective
- If you give me the responsibility of taking care of
your puppy for an afternoon, but don't give me the
authority to control where he may go, he may wander into
traffic and be maimed or killed. I will not be able to
carry out my responsibility.
- authority without responsibility is dangerous
- If you give me the authority to control where the puppy
will go, but don't let me know that you want me to take
sole responsibility for him, I may fail to use my
authority, thinking others have taken responsibility for
him. The result may be that I do not use my authority and
the puppy may wander into traffic.
- responsibility and authority without ability leads to
- If you give me the responsibility of taking care of
your puppy, and the authority I need to carry it out, but I
am not able to carry it out, your puppy will not be cared
- I - and all the other citizens of my town - have implicitly
given the local police power over traffic in my town. This
means that I have given them the responsibility of trying to
cut down the number of traffic accidents and the authority to
carry out that responsibility, by enforcing the city's traffic
abuse of power
- Power is morally neutral. There is nothing inherently wrong
with one person having power over another. A mother must hold
power over her toddler in order to keep him from harming
himself or others. In order for my dentist to work on my teeth
I must give her certain limited power over me - the power to do
what she thinks is necessary in order for me to have healthy
- We can use the power others have given us to help them or
to hurt them. Some parents, for example, abuse the enormous
power their children have given them.
societal attitudes towards power
- Power has acquired a bad name in the west, probably as a
result of our preoccupation - since the 1960s - with abusers
and their victims. We forget that power is neither good nor
bad. It's like water: it can be used to help someone - in
bathing them, for instance - or hurt them - in drowning them,
power aspects of masculinity: the masculine power style
- men are most comfortable in situations where the power
structure and its laws are clear
- men among men
- Competition is a trait of a masculine personality.
- A man competes in order to gain control.
- the strongest (most dominant) person leads
- the leader makes all the important
- Men need to establish the pecking order before they can
begin working together.
- Men are most comfortable in groups that have rules,
because, without rules, the most aggressive person, rather
than the best leader, will gain control of the group.
- men among women
- Men appreciate knowing whether a biological female
wants to be treated like a man or like a woman.
power aspects of femininity - the feminine power style
- women among women
- cooperation, consensus, equal responsibility,
- Cooperation is a feminine trait. When a woman
co-operates she is submitting to the will of the other
person in the expectation that the other person will
take her needs and wants into consideration. When women
co-operate with each other they are submitting to the
combined will of the two people in the relationship
(which includes her, of course, so she has a say in the
- consensus decision-making
- each person takes equal responsibility for making
sure that everything is shared equally, that each
person gets what she wants or, when that is not
possible, that no-one gets more of what she wanted than
- Women, in my experience, are capable of working in a
group of women without ever having to figure out a pecking
- Women would rather do without rules, and tend to work
with each other to circumvent them.
- women among men
- In most workplaces, a woman's femininity works against
her, because the business world operates by masculine
principles: competition constrained by rules.
why I don't like the terms 'domination' and 'submission'
- they are too associated with BDSM
- BDSM sees itself as as a subculture; what I am
describing in these pages was the norm until the 1970s
- for more of my views on BDSM, see the
pro-fem guide to the BDSM community
- they are too easily confused with abuse
- domination implies the taking of power by force, rather
than the giving of power
societal attitudes towards the power aspects of psychological
- What is society's attitude towards masculinity?
- What is society's attitude towards femininity?
- societal attitudes towards masculinity
- society equates masculinity with brutishness, unbridled
- societal attitudes towards the power aspects of
- Western societies see femininity as weakness or
- Femininity is a personality trait, not a character
defect or sickness.
men, women, power and love
- aspects unique to love relationships
- A person's behavior in a sexual relationship tends to
be quite different than his/her behavior in other kinds of
- Sexual relationships are very different than other
- Sexual relationships bring out a person's psychological
sexuality. There are parts of a man's or a woman's
personality that are seen only when they are in a sexual
- men, women, power and love
- Women and men in love relationships have complementary
power traits. These traits are a very large part of what
attracts women to men and men to women.
- Love relationships bring out the power aspects of a
man's masculinity and a woman's femininity.
- A woman wants her man to take responsibility for her. A
man can best show his love for a woman by accepting this
- A man wants to take responsibility for his woman. A
woman can best show her love for a man by giving him this
the modern model for sexual relationships: equal power
- Since the 1970s the politically correct arrangement of
power in a marriage has been equal power sharing (sometimes
known as 'domestic partnership): power must be shared equally
between the two 'partners'. I.e. all decisions must be made by
both people. Neither 'partner' has ultimate authority. Men and
women are seen as interchangeable. Their sexuality is
modern model engenders power struggles
- The modern model engenders power struggles because there is
no clear leader. The couple has not chosen a tie-breaker or
decided on any other way to handle deadlocks. The masculine
parts of the 'partners' are in a competition which often
continues without a clear winner until one of the partners
withdraws from the relationship.
men withdraw and/or become abusive
- Trying to live by the modern model frustrates a man. He
feels disrespected. His masculinity is not valued and, since he
is not as good at power-sharing and co-operation as his woman,
he feels inadequate. His self-esteem suffers. He withdraws
and/or become abusive.
- When the man withdraws the woman must pick up each
responsibility he lets drop. She resents him for putting her in
this position. He reacts to her resentment - and nagging - by
- the man becomes passive-aggressive (or abusive) and the
woman becomes shrewish, bitchy
the modern model de-sexualizes the love relationship
- The modern model de-sexualizes the love relationship by
requiring one or both participants to repress their
psychological sexuality. If the couple tries to make decisions
the way two women make decisions, the man's masculinity will
become a problem; he must become good at voluntary co-operation
and at sharing power. If the couple tries to make decisions as
two men might, the woman's femininity will get her nowhere; she
must become competitive and aggressive and learn how to win in
a man's world.
- Another name for the modern model is the unisex model.
the masculine-feminine model: a relationship based on the
differences between men and women
- The masculine-feminine model, unlike the modern model, is
based on the differences between men and women - specifically,
the power aspects of masculinity and femininity. It recognizes
the difference between what a man want from a woman and what a
woman wants from a man.
- The masculine-feminine model relationship is similar to the
relationship between a male dominant and a female submissive in
a D/s (dominant-submissive) relationship.
- the man
- The man makes it possible for the woman to express her
femininity by taking responsibility for her
- The man
- makes the major decisions, after consulting with
- provides the basic necessities - food, clothing,
shelter, etc - for his family
- creates a structure - rules, routines, etc. - for
- protects her from the 'masculine domain' (the
- protects his family from the dangers outside the
home (including con artists)
- the woman
- the woman makes it possible for the man to express his
masculinity by giving him the authority to carry out his
responsibility for her
the effects of society's prejudice against femininity
- societal attitudes towards the masculine-feminine
- Society assumes that in a relationship based on the
- the woman is being taken advantage of
- the man is a 'control freak', if not abusive
- the woman is weak or mentally ill
- In short, society confuses relationships based on the
masculine-feminine model with abusive relationships.
- effects on children
- children grow up without fathers
- effects on men
- men are allowed to be irresponsible
- they flee the family
- children grow up without fathers
- effects on women of society's prejudice against
- femininity is considered a weakness
- femininity is considered a sickness
- see the diagnosis Dependent Personality Disorder in
the DSM (the book mental health professionals use to
categorize people for insurance purposes)
- battered women are misunderstood and mistreated
- professionals who work with battered women tell
- their femininity is a problem
- they need to change their taste in men
- feminine women are not given the respect due them
power and love and you
- what can I do to promote greater understanding of power
- what can I do to promote greater respect for
- where do people who are interested in alternatives to the
modern model go to meet and support each other?
- where do I go to read more about these issues?
power and love groups
- religious groups
- secular groups
- BDSM groups
- Many feminine women whose religion does not
advocate traditional marriage are becoming interested
in the BDSM community because it is the only community
they know aboutthat deals with power issues in intimate
pro-fem guide to BDSM is an attempt to help women
understand what BDSM is and is not.
- non-BDSM groups
- People who do not belong to a religion that
advocates traditional marriage and who are not
interested in BDSM need a support system: social groups
and support groups in their town, in particular.
- At the moment, there is no such support. pro-fem
would like to help build support systems for them.
- advocacy groups