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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Mixed Signals

 

I pay attention to a number of dating-related podcasts and YouTube channels, because I’m curious about emerging perspectives on courtship. Listening to some traditional conservative (tradcon) women express views which are antithetical to the feminist ideology that dominated the scene when I last dated, I’ve been surprised to discover what some women advocate.

 

There appears to be an emerging class of women, though not representative of all adult-aged females, who outright state that they want men to provide and protect in intimate partner relationships. This isn’t any novel revelation; as these two elements were predominate during my upbringing.

 

However, I’ve recently heard some tradcon women express that aside from provision and protection, they desire to be dominated (to have a commanding influence on or exercising control over) or subjugated (making someone or something subordinate to) by men. My, how things have changed in the past decade!

 

A handful of these individuals have even discussed repealing the 19th Amendment, perhaps as a means to demonstrate subjection to men. However, admittedly, the latter category seems to be a niche cohort of tradcon women.

 

Discussing my observation with a tradcon female friend, I was surprised to learn about her perspective. In fact, her explanation of what she perceived most women actually want was something about which I voiced skepticism.

 

This individual stated that she believed women may advocate equal treatment or egalitarian romantic relationships, though deep down they apparently desired to be led by men. Not the first time I’d heard this proposal, I wasn’t astonished at that point.

 

She then said something to the effect of, “I know, with me, I have a thousand things going through my mind all the time. It’s difficult to make a decision.” Again, this wasn’t a revelation to me, because many memes have anecdotally supported the notion that females are indecisive.

 

She continued, “Things are worse when I’m hungry or hormonal, or when I’m tired or emotional – which is often.” Bewilderment hadn’t set in by this point, because the same could be stated about pretty much any male of female experiencing these circumstances.

 

She continued, “So, I think women really want a man who will be a calming presence in our lives. We really want someone who will make a decision.” My friend’s expressed desire wasn’t shocking to me.

 

Nevertheless, she then stated, “We may not like what he decides, but it’s one less thing swirling around in our minds. Women can’t really make decision, so men should make decisions for us both. That comes with peace.”

 

Okay, that’s where I was surprised. I could explain why this was the case in a straightforward manner, yet I want to use logic and reason in the form of a syllogism to illustrate a point:

 

Logical form –

 

Constructive dilemma: If p, then q; and if r, then s; but either p or r; therefore, either q or s.

 

Example –

 

If women are indecisive, then women want men who will make decisions; and if men make the decisions women won’t or can’t make, then women will have made a decision about not making decisions by giving men the authority to make decisions for them.

 

But either women are indecisive or men make the decisions women won’t or can’t make.

 

Therefore, either women want men who will make decisions or women will have made a decision about not making decisions by giving men the authority to make decisions for them.

 

This irrational proposal sends a mixed signal—a showing of thoughts or beliefs that are very different from one another. Essentially, the tradcon woman with whom I spoke made the decision that men should make decisions for her, because she’s decided that this is the best decision for her, because she’s supposedly incapable of making decisions.

 

This proposal is so absurd that I find it humorous. In fact, it reminds me of a performance from Raising Arizona (1987) that I found funny as a child. For context, the setting takes place when two inept criminals rob a bank. The scene unfolds thusly:

 

Robber 1 with a shotgun in his hands: All right, ya hayseeds, it’s a stickup! Everybody, freeze. Everybody, down on the ground.

 

Older gentleman with his hands in the air: Well, which is it, young feller? You want I should freeze or get down on the ground? Mean to say, if’n I freeze, I can’t rightly drop. And if’n I drop, I’m a-gonna be in motion. You see?

 

Robber 1, realizing the irrationality of his mixed signal: Shut up!

 

Older gentleman, presumably not wanting to be shot: Well, okay, then.

 

It didn’t take a particularly high level of rational thinking to untangle the illogical and unreasonable commands of the robber. Likewise, one doesn’t need to use a complex syllogism illustrated herein to detangle the irrationality of the tradcon woman’s position herein (though I did it anyway).

 

Proposing that men should make decisions for women – presumably because women are incapable of making their own decisions – is an effective example of how women can make their own decisions. Proposing otherwise is absurd.

 

In my mind, I hear the hook of Gillie Da Kid’s track “Get Down on da Ground,” which sampled the Raising Arizona scene, and repeatedly says, “Get-get-get down on the ground!” Well, which is it, young missy, should or shouldn’t you make your own decisions?

 

When practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I listen closely for irrational beliefs so that I may dispute these self-disturbing attitudes. Regarding the tradcon woman in question, there’s nothing inherently unhelpful with expressing a desire.

 

Importantly, it depends on whether or not my friend was describing or prescribing something. For instance, if the tradcon woman were to state, “I want pancakes,” she would be expressing or describing what simply is.

 

However, if she were to state, “I ought to have pancakes; otherwise, this day will be awful,” my friend would be demanding or prescribing what she believes ought to be. The difference between description and prescription of this sort relates to the is-ought problem proposed by philosopher David Hume.

 

In essence, Hume proposed that one cannot derive an ought from an is. From an REBT perspective, when prescribing what ought to be when faced with what simply is, one will likely experience self-disturbance.

 

Therefore, saying, “Men should make decisions for us both” – given that what is the case relates to the tradcon woman being able to make her own decisions – may serve as an irrational belief worth disputing. The main difference between a description (expressed desire) and prescription (inflexible demand) is how the proposal affects an individual.

 

For example, an unmet flexible desire may result in the consequence of tolerable disappointment. If one doesn’t receive pancakes or is left to decide matters for oneself, and an adaptive belief is used, the person can shrug off the event and carry on about one’s business.

 

However, if an unproductive demand isn’t met, one may self-disturb into an unpleasant emotive or behavioral state. Not acquiring pancakes or winding up in a romantic relationship with an indecisive man, and believing this is an awful state of affairs, the person may become anxious and begin to self-soothe my biting one’s fingernails.

 

The mixed signal expressed by the tradcon woman depicted herein serves as an irrational prescription for how men ought to behave – with the added element of awfulizing, rather than a description about how she would like for them to behave. Notably, she expressed inability while effectively demonstrating ability.

 

Because I know this individual on a personal level, she and I could laugh about her contradictory sentiment and my voiced skepticism. Nevertheless, I hear “Get-get-get down on the ground!” within my mind when encountering similar mixed signals elsewhere in life.

 

Once we understand how the mind works – namely, that we upset ourselves with unhelpful beliefs which are sometimes of a mixed-signal variety – we can do something to resolve the unpleasant consequences experienced as a result of these sometimes absurd notions.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


Photo credit, property of 20th Century Fox, fair use

 

References:

 

Anon8420928. (2015, October 6). (Raising Arizona dude) Well, which is it, young feller? You want I should freeze or get down on the ground? Mean to say, If’n I freeze, I can’t rightly drop. And if’n I drop, I’m a-gonna be in motion [Image]. Boing Boing. Retrieved from https://bbs.boingboing.net/t/gif-bank-for-the-bbs/66050?page=15

BlankTV. (2008, January 11). Gillie Da Kid – “Get Down on da Ground” [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/iQYz6d-Bbpg?si=gix34NSrxx3I9PvB

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Prahins, R. J. (2021, September 3). Raising Arizona: “You want I should freeze or get down on the ground?” [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/RCYtC1p6xbo?si=fCKIC1VXU-qD8dlE

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