There is always sector specific language; terms we hear in the course of doing our stuff, which we understand. But the conversation on the dynamics of power and control, of domestic violence, has now become mainstream.
Educators, sporting groups, filmmakers, songwriters and wordsmiths are looking for way to engage and deliver a meaningful messages, and calls to action; all are powerful and important ways to describe or display concepts that “our’ language is describing.
One of those terms I hear referred to a lot, is entitlement. It’s a clunky type of word, but effectively descriptive of a cluster of behaviors that is corrosive of equality.
Of all the definitions for the word entitlement the one that best describes its corrosive effect is “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment”. Ironically, it fits nicely with the description of narcissistic personality disorder “unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance of a request”.
Now that is certainly a position that has great appeal in one’s fantasy world. But, in the real world, the one where we are generally attempting to have relationships that are at least somewhat close and caring, to act out “inherently deserving”, simply cannot end well.
If we strip away all the emotional benefits of being in a family, it could then simply become the means meeting of our physical needs. By coming together in a group, we can mobilize greater gathering potential; we can scoop more stuff into our nest and create greater protection from the ups and downs of life. Pretty sensible, one would say. But anyone that has tried to do anything with a group knows that there needs to be much negotiation, in order to align the collective aims.
Each group member joins with certain valued traits but for some they can begin to manifest difficult and detrimental behaviors once the visions are established and the expectation of work begins. They can appear to be negotiating; appear receptive to the collective’s vision, making lots of promises to work as a team. This can translate to meaning; “I need to change my tactics so I don’t get caught so often”. Perhaps they become more convert; perhaps they start to splinter the group; perhaps they isolate the weakest and start to blame them for the way things are going. Whatever the strategies, the goal for some is the same: “It’s not my problem”.
“I need to change my tactics so I don’t get caught so often”
Let’s transpose that onto an intimate relationship. Girl meets boy; well presented on a social media site and they get together. Boy continues to present the best of all his attributes, while appearing really attentive (which is code for “studying the subject”).
Things progress and the quirky little bits that make him so unique are accommodated cause that is what girls do, right. He continues to be really observant and asks those questions that should signal intimacy, connection and care but can end up sounding a bit like interrogation.
And for her, he is more selective in what he gives away.
Perhaps falling back to that old, but still very enduing, trait of “being stoic, secretive, eluding to a troubled past and giving little real emotion away”.
It’s just the way he is!
Then it just gets a bit too much “his way” and she pushes back. He concedes, but she doesn’t feel like that’s a win. It’s not a negotiated new condition; it’s more like conceded ground. It’s tense, but livable.
She pushes again, because now it’s starting to irritate her; the rigid gender roles; the “jokes” that hurt, but are quickly withdrawn; the bedroom tensions; the comments on appearance; the continual micro regulation of what is “proper femininity”! (Not my quote)
This tension pushes at the sickening pit in her stomach; she’s listening for sounds she previously ignored and before the explosion there is an intuitive sense it’s coming.
So she is not THAT surprised, as the spit flies out of his mouth contorted with rage.
“I’m entitled to some respect here! I’m working my ass off for this family and all I’m getting in return, is your bullshit!”
And there it is; the belief that “I am inherently deserving of privileges and special treatment, reinforced with the loudest, most frightening face possible.
How often do women express their surprise for the intensity of the rage that accompanies that first explosion? That first full exposure of the deepest value and most contorted belief; “I am entitled”.
Hard to go back from there. Hard to negotiate with that potential of anger, sitting there in the room. Verbal violence has changed everything.
Some women accommodate that behavior and that’s their business and some men see it, own it and do something about it and never do it again.
But entitled, violent men most often just change their tactics, the intensity, the frequency and the type, in order to continue to get their special needs met. From where I sit, those needs rarely reduce; they do not morph into shared visions and encompass equality.
It remains the same agenda, the same expectations, the same demands; “I am entitled to more than you, and too bad if you don’t like it. I know you so well now. I know what you love and value and cherish. I know what you fear and hate and loathe and I know how I can inflict maximum pain and fear, without every raising a finger again. So shut the f#*k up and do what I want, and do it NOW!”
“Love you babe!”
Mark is the Mensline Manager for DVConnect.
*This article is published with permission from Mark’s Finding Voice Series.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence in any capacity you should reach out for support.
In an emergency dial 000