I am a woman born 1949 and my quest is to find a mindmate
to grow old together as a mutually devoted couple
in a relationship based upon the
egalitarian rational commitment paradigm
bonded by intrinsic commitment
as each other's safe haven and secure basis.

The purpose of this blog is to enable the right man
to recognize us as reciprocal mindmates and
to encourage him to contact me:

The entries directly concerning,
who could be my mindmate,
are mainly at the beginning.
If this is your predominant interest,
I suggest to read this blog in the same order
as it was written, following the numbers.

I am German, therefore my English is sometimes faulty.

Maybe you have stumbled upon this blog not as a potential match.
Please wait a short moment before zapping.

Do you know anybody, who could be my mindmate?
Your neighbour, brother, uncle, cousin, colleague, friend?
If so, please tell him to look at this blog.
While you have no reason to do this for me,
a stranger, maybe you can make someone happy, for whom you care.

Do you have your own webpage or blog,
which someone like my mindmate to be found probably reads?
If so, please mention my quest and add a link to this blog.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

223. Dominance and Transgression

Dominance and Transgression

In the entries 19 and 82 I mentioned, that forgiving needs to be earned, in entry 152 I explained, how grudges because of unearned forgiving are disruptive, and entry 128 was about the importance of taking responsibility for transgressions.  

When one person causes material, physical or emotional harm to another, they need to restore harmony, which requires some or all of these steps:
  • restitution and amends of the damage
  • justice by an agreement on the evaluation of the harm and why it has happened
  • prevention of a repetition

1.   Disasters and accidents
When both parties involved agree on having the same basic values, then a harmful event often can be considered as a mishap or a disaster.   
  • When the harm is done by accident, inadvertence, oversight, blunder, carelessness, then restitution is enough.  
  • When the harming person is ignorant or unaware of his actions being harming, but being a caring and responsible person, then in addition to the restitution, prevention is required.  He needs to learn, what behaviors are harming, so he can avoid them in the future.
2.  One-level-transgressions
When both agree on having the same values and they agree on the judgement of what is right or wrong, and the transgressor knows, that he is doing something harmful, which he rather would or should not do, then it is a one-level-transgression.  He can be under stress, in a situation of conflicting requirements, he can be too weak to have self-control or be intoxicated 
He already has his independent own insight, that he has done harm, he feels guilt, contrition, remorse. His initiative to make amends and and his need to earn to be forgiven creates justice for the transgressee.  As he already is motivated not to repeat the transgression, there is no further need of prevention.

3. Two-level-transgressions
When the transgressee is harmed by a behavior, that she perceives as not correct, unethical, outrageous and defective according to her own value system, then from her perspective it is a transgression, but in the perspective of the transgressor it is not.   At the moment of committing the transgression, the transgressor believes to have reasons justifying or sufficiently excusing his behavior at least in his own eyes, if not in those of others except the transgressee herself.   He either disagrees with her value system or he feels not obliged to adhere to it.    The transgressor either knows or has the opportunity to know, that the transgressee experiences his behavior as harm.

This is a two-level-transgression.   One level is the actual harmful act, which has a direct impact upon the transgressee.  The other level is the attitude triggering, enabling, justifying this act.   The disrespect, disregard and devaluation expressed by this attitude is the indirect harm.   The harmful act can be observed, the indirect emotional harm is hidden from all, who do not share the transgressee's value system and evaluation.

The transgressor can be motivated by different psychological mechanism and attitudes:
  • He is selfish or feels entitled to his harmful action as collateral damage to fulfilling his needs.
  • He knows, what the transgressee considers as morally correct behavior, what obligations other consider him to have or what harms the transgressee.    Behaving in accordance with this knowledge would be a sacrifice for him, that costs effort, self-control and consideration.  He disrespects the transgressee, he attributes her as having little value, not worth any sacrifice.   He believes, that the transgressee does not deserve any better treatment than his defective harmful behavior.     
  • He avoids by wilful ignorance and denial to gain awareness of the impact of his actions upon the transgressee.
  • He acts in defiance and malice.  

An example of a one-level-transgression is someone yelling an angry 'shut up' to another person.   If he is under stress trying to concentrate on something important, but respects the other as an equal, this can be regulated with a simple apology.   Because they both agree, that this act was impolite and should be avoided.
But if a man disrespects a woman, whom he does not bother to ever listen to, then this outburst as a repettion of a frequent event is a two-level-transgression and not a case for a simple apology.   The outburst itself is a trifle, but his general disrespect and disregard of not taking her for serious is causing serious harm.   Justice and prevention would require, that he changes his attitude and learns to listen to her, to respect her and to take her for serious.  

Wikipedia gives a very good overview over the definition of relational transgressions:
"Relational transgressions occur when people violate implicit or explicit relational rules. These transgressions include a wide variety of behaviors. Scholars tend to delineate relational transgressions into three categories or approaches. The first approach focuses on the aspect of certain behaviors as a violation of relational norms and rules. The second approach focuses on the interpretive consequences of certain behaviors, particularly the degree to which they hurt the victim, imply disregard for the victim, and imply disregard for the relationship. The third and final approach focuses more specifically on behaviors that constitute infidelity (a common form of relational transgression) "
When a man dominates an egalitarian woman, in her experience all behavior expressing domination is a two-level-transgression, therefore domination itself is a transgression.

Example 1 in entry 215 demonstrates this, when the man changes the scheduled departure for a trip in favor of a visiting friend without first consulting the woman.   

Seen by itself, postponing the departure by two days is a trifle, it can hardly be called harm.   The man, who feels entitled to do what he wants, has no clue, that this is an act representing a very fundamental transgression in his attitude to the woman.    
  • He does not value her as a partner, whom he respects enough to consult and share decisions with.   His friend is more important than the woman.   He has more consideration for the needs and wishes of his friend than for the woman.   
  • He is selfish, because he chooses the benefits, which he expects for himself from complying immediately and without hesitation with his friend's wishes.  He values these benefits as more important than any consideration for the woman.   
  • He commits a breach of trust and obligations.   The woman has entered physical intimacy under the condition of creating a bond of commitment including the obligation of sharing decisions, of being equal partners and of being reciprocally the most important person.  

The result is a very difficult situation.   The man believes to have done a trifle of little importance, while the woman feels excruciating emotional pain because of being humiliated, devalued, disrespected, betrayed in her trust.  
She wants to be able to forgive him and to repair the damage to the relationship.   She needs justice and prevention as a condition to forgive him, but he has no insight in the necessity to earn forgiveness for what he perceives as a trifle.  
The real conflict here is not the postponed trip.   The real conflict is that he feels as entitled to dominate as she feels entitled to be valued, appreciated and treated as an equal partner. 
He takes his entitlement to dominate so much for granted, that his changing of the plans was an automatic, spontaneous reaction without hesitation.   Consulting her just did not occur to him. 
She wants justice and prevention, and to her this means to hear from him the expression of a radical change in his attitude.   She needs his sincere statement, that she is more important than his friend, that he owes her to share decisions with her and to consult her about everything, that concerns her.   
But he is unable to do this, as it is the contrary of what he feels and believes to be right. There is no justice or prevention for her, unless he would give up his entire dominance.  

Here he is caught in a vicious circle.   Only by valuing her very much would he be motivated to make any sacrifice for her including the one of giving up his dominance.   But this dominance includes precise this lack of valuing her.   So he would have to give up the dominance first to value her enough to be motivated to make a sacrifice for her.  

This example has a continuation.    In the man's value system, the dominated woman's duty is obedience, reverence and absolute loyalty to whatever he does.    No matter, how outrageously he had treated her, in his expectation, she was to make the friend welcome.   But in need of a valve for her outrage, the woman tells the friend the truth, making him feel uncomfortable as the trigger of a conflict and as not really welcome.    In the man's perception, this is a serious transgression.    In his perception of justice, she would have to earn his forgiving by her acknowledging his right to dominate and to impose his decisions upon her.   Prevention in his understanding means, that in the future she would not resist his dominance anymore.  

Thus, they both have a grudge, and they both can neither forgive nor earn the other's forgiving, because their different perceptions and definitions of justice are mutually exclusive.   There is no common justice between a man feeling entitled to dominate and a woman feeling entitled to be treated as an equal.    
Justice for her means, that he needs to adjust his esteem of her by raising it up to the level of her self-esteem.   Justice for him means, that she should lower her self-esteem down to the level of his low esteem for her. 

 Domination is Abomination!