The Origin and End of Male/Female Conflict
by Mark Dillof
Copyright © 2000
The failure of romance always leaves us with the same question — “What went wrong?” Rarely does our questioning penetrate beneath the surface. We settle for superficial explanations such as, involvement with the wrong person, failure to appreciate a lost love, or unfortunate circumstances which got in the way. This is not to say that the above explanations are not relatively true. But Awakening with the Enemy penetrates beneath the surface to explore the more fundamental reason for love’s failure. We discover that the pursuit of romantic love is intrinsically a contradictory effort. The polar opposites — male and female — cannot be unified. We are on a mission impossible.
Paradoxical though it may seem, the realization of the contradictory nature of romantic love does not culminate in existentialist despair. On the contrary, the shipwreck of original romantic hopes leads to a new level of male/female union. Beyond “sleeping together,” there is “waking-up together.” That is why the book is entitled Awakening with the Enemy. We can awaken together to a new level of consciousness and to a new level of intimacy.
What we are saying is far different from the problem-solving approach to happiness endemic to self-help books and radio psychologists. That approach attempts to patch together what is irreparably torn. They seek to keep the fundamental assumptions about relationships intact. But many readers, exhausted by what they already suspect is hopeless, will find this book a welcome relief.
The Baby and Her Big Daddy
The baby has inspired many a popular song as in, “Be My Little Baby,” Baby Doll,” “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby,” and “Baby, Baby, I’m Stuck on You.” The adult, by virtue of having chosen a direction in life, has narrowed the sphere of his possibilities. His life has taken on definition, determination, and limit. The baby, by contrast, appears to be unformed, unactualized, and undetermined. Appearing to lack an identity, the baby symbolizes the infinite, the possibility of becoming anything. The baby is not under the sway of the socially imposed and self-imposed moral laws and psychological constraints that would limit its actions. Nor is the baby’s carefree spontaneity checked by the questions, doubts, and responsibilities that emerge from self-consciousness. The baby is pure potentiality, immediate, spontaneous, free. The woman who is the “psychological baby” appears to her adoring partner as an image of the infinite.
Why does a young man seek the baby? The time comes when a boy must grow up. His youthful drifting can be tolerated only so long. He will no longer be allowed to be a baby, but must become a responsible adult. He could shun responsibility, even turn to the bottle or drugs, which is the path of degeneration, but for most men, the consequences of degeneration are worse than having to work.
For many people, work offers little in the way of meaning, for it usually lacks a transpersonal or sacred dimension. Few people relate to work as a “calling.” Work is experienced as finitude and limit. At this point, the man, now burdened by responsibility and no longer allowed to be a baby himself, may seek relation with a baby. The opposite can happen as well; he may remain a baby himself and seek a woman who will be the responsible one. We shall consider this relationship in the section called, “Big Mama and Her Son,” in the next chapter
The young man who has had to grow up and lose the baby dimension himself projects the baby dimension onto the young girl, who appears to him to be in need of direction. Although she is quite capable at age nineteen of getting around on her own, he holds her hand as they go for a walk to make sure that she does not stroll off into the street. He seeks to guide her in every way.
It is the great promise of erotic attraction that what is lost in oneself can be regained in another. Now possessing the baby dimension through a relationship with a psychological baby, the young man feels strong enough to get a job, to endure the finitizing work world.
Blondie, from the long running comic strip, is an example of a baby. Her husband, Dagwood, has entered the world of work and is ill-treated by his boss, Mr. Smithers. Blondie does not make Dagwood’s life any easier. She squanders the money that Dagwood makes, on new hats, coats, and dresses. Lucy from the old television show, I Love Lucy, is also an example. In each episode her patient husband, Ricky Ricardo, had to deal with some new predicament into which Lucy had plunged them.
Ricky maintains his infinite dimension through his relationship with the baby, Lucy. The irony is that the answer to his finitude, the baby, has introduced more finitude into his life. He must work overtime to support himself, Lucy and their son, Little Ricky. His attempt to find the infinite in the baby has only compounded his difficulties.