Power and Love (the whole site in one page, for printing)

  • about this document
  • author: Thomas A. Newman
  • email: please use the form at the bottom of each page on powerandlove.com
  • web site: Power and Love
  • 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 sexuality.
  • the chapters
    • 1. love: psychological sexuality - masculinity and femininity
    • 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 femininity
    • 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

  • complementarity
    • Sexuality is about two complementary beings doing together what each could not do alone.
  • attraction
    • Sexuality is about the mutual attraction between the masculine and the feminine.

biological sex versus psychological sex: the basic difference

  • 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 relationship.

psychological sexuality

  • 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 following books:
      • Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray
      • 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
      • soft
      • nurturing
      • intuitive
      • accepting, receptive
      • private
      • empathetic
      • ability to successfully carry on several activities simultaneously
      • cooperative
    • examples of masculine traits
      • stoic
      • analytical
      • public
      • good with spatial relations
      • competitive
  • 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
      • self-confidence
      • belief in oneself
      • self-esteem
  • power over another:
    • is either given by, or must be taken from, the other
    • 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 personal power
    • 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:
    • refers to 'power over'

power must include all three: responsibility, authority and ability

  • 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 neglect
    • 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 for.
  • 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 laws.

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 teeth.
  • 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, for instance.

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 decisions
    • 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, rules
      • 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 decision-making process.)
      • 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 anyone else
    • Women, in my experience, are capable of working in a group of women without ever having to figure out a pecking order.
    • 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
  • 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 sexuality

  • What is society's attitude towards masculinity?
  • What is society's attitude towards femininity?
  • societal attitudes towards masculinity
    • society equates masculinity with brutishness, unbridled instincts.
  • societal attitudes towards the power aspects of femininity
    • Western societies see femininity as weakness or sickness
    • 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 relationships.
    • Sexual relationships are very different than other relationships.
    • 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 relationship.
  • 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 responsibility.
    • A man wants to take responsibility for his woman. A woman can best show her love for a man by giving him this responsibility.

the modern model for sexual relationships: equal power sharing

  • 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 devalued.

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 withdrawing further.
  • 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 his woman
      • provides the basic necessities - food, clothing, shelter, etc - for his family
      • creates a structure - rules, routines, etc. - for his family
      • protects her from the 'masculine domain' (the business world)
      • 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 model
    • Society assumes that in a relationship based on the masculine-feminine model
      • 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
    • 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 them that
        • 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 issues?
  • what can I do to promote greater respect for femininity?
  • 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 relationships.
      • The 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