There is a universally pre-conceived idea of what “the ideal husband” is. As long as he remains a docile, controlled schmuck – who never questions anything, works like a drone, quietly pays for everything and never pesters his queen for sex – he’s doing his job. The more stupid he is, the better. We see this play out in a seemingly endless stream of TV commercials, films, sitcoms and general social attitudes.
The Simpsons. American Dad. The King of Queens. The Office. Everybody Loves Raymond…. where the wife is always perfect, etherial and she can do no wrong, and the husband is a bumbling, apologetic, neutered little house pet.
“Everybody loves”… a dumb dad.
The 1999 film “American Beauty”(Kevin Spacey) opens with exactly that sedated family man who isn’t quite sure how or when he lost his vitality… but throughout his character development, he finds his own stream of consciousness and wakes up, realizing: “it’s never too late to get it back”.
Rediscovering his confidence, he changes the game that is pitted against him, rewrites the script as he sees fit, and claims 100% ownership of how things will be from now on by laying ground rules and outlining HIS terms. They are no longer negotiable. For he has had enough.
You’ve seen it many times before. The female reaction to witnessing this transformation is completely predictable and ranges anywhere from total surprise and disbelief…. to outright, full-blown rage. For he is now uncontrollable, unpredictable, challenging and dominant. The 4 core “alpha” qualities which women (on the surface) hate, but secretly admire, desire and respect – while refusing to admit it.
She is now scared, because her ability to control is gone…. but mostly because a free/thinking mind is dangerous and an enormous threat to her feminine/feminist power. There isn’t even a need to attack it directly. All that’s required for it to crumble, is zero willingness to subscribe to it.
When she realizes she can no longer control him, she masks it with rage and shaming language, desperately slinging accusations of being lame and pathetic, mocking and belittling him in front of their daughter. All in an effort to put him back in the role she needs him to play: her little servant who will continue to support her without question, as she cheats on him with man of higher social and economic status. At this point in the film, she is 100% in the wrong, but postures and pretends she is right. When called out on her crap, she withers. All too familiar.
By all current legal and social definitions, this type of behavior might be classified as “abuse”. Throwing a plate of asparagus at the wall would be called “violent”. But he didn’t hurt anyone. It’s his house. His plate. And his asparagus. And now, he is driven to the point of not giving a damn what the consequences are – because he will now sit down, and enjoy this meal in peace.