Bojan Ramadanovic
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First of all - it is possible I will thread on some toes with this one - so if it is your toes I am threading on, please accept my most sincere apologies, I have no intention to insult, just to point to a social phenomenon that I think is dangerous as much as it is disturbing.

Every now and again, reading the forums on the remainder of this fine site I run into posts of guys being happy that their wife/fiance allowed them to buy a particular game or to spend a certain amount of money on boardgames. Now, I understand that some of these folks must be speaking allegorically but it seems a case that at least in the number of instances they seem to be literally asking for the permission from their partner to spend money.

Now, everyone has the right to arrange their domestic circumstances whichever way they see fit, but what worries me is that I see this as a part of the broader trend towards infantilization of men in north america.

Perhaps most flagrant demonstration of this trend is seen in "light" or "family" movies and TV programs where great bulk of "normal" men under 65 are fat troglodytes with the social intelligence of a five year old and life skills that may extend as far as tying their own shoes. While generally sympathetic characters, these oafs are utterly dependant on their extremely capable (and often very good looking) wives.

Message that these programs send - and message that appears widely accepted in its less exaggerated form - is that men are big children, possibly smart and endearing in their own way but lacking self discipline, practical sense and competence in dealing with real life. Therefore, it is a duty of their wife to control them in their dealings with the world, and in particular to control their spending (and also their social life insofar as possible). Money is to be deposited into the "family account" which is to be controlled by the female of the household from which a man-child is to be given carefully measured allowance at her discretion.

Now to me, this sort of arrangement seems as inimical to basic human dignity as the infantilization of women that was taking place in first half of 20th century.

I am first to agree that when someone has a family, they have to be sure to exercise self-discipline with their discretionary spending over and above what they would do if they lived on their own; but exercising self discipline is exactly opposite from surrendering to the discipline imposed by another.

If either partner lacks the sort of self-discipline needed to respect family finances ahead of their momentary wants then the couple has to deal with that by helping that person grow and not by treating them as a child.

So my question to fellow RSPers is - am I reading too much into this or is this sort of trend actually present ? Also, to our esteemed female posters here - would you be able to respect your partner if they were in a habit of asking you for your permission for their discretionary spending and also would you find it demeaning if you had to ask for equivalent sort of permissions from your boyfriends/husbands ?

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Gerald Rüscher
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I (partly) agree with you. I think one key phrase here is indeed "self-discipline", another one which is tightly connected to the first one is "know your limits". A marriage/relationship/whatever should work without one partner constantly asking the other one for permission to do something. This applies to buying games (or other stuff) as well as certain other areas such as when to go out and with whom. This is, however, not a matter of black and white (allow all or allow nothing). Let me give some examples:

When I buy games or other stuff I never ask my wife for *permission*. And in many cases I do not even tell her beforehand that I plan to buy something, especially when the game is rather cheap (insert your own defintion of "cheap" here). However, if I plan to buy something more expensive (>200 Euros) I *always* tell her about it and in these cases I'm also open for *discussion*. Self-discipline when buying things does not always work automatically and sometimes you need a reminder on how much money you've already spent this month. One may argue that a discussion is almost the same as asking for permission but it's not because at the very end I can always overrule her and buy the stuff regardless of what she says. However, I will not probably do this if she strongly objects for a good reason.

Same holds true when going out for the evening. I do not ask my wife for permission when I go out with my friends but I always tell her that I will and check if she also has plans for that evening, In that case we need to settle who stays at home and looks after our kids. Again this is a matter of limits: going out once or twice a week *must* be possible (even without asking). Going out 4 or more evenings is not ok.

Funny enough I have quite often witnessed that some women have a rather split personality when it comes to how a man should be. Many friends of my wife are married and some of them are rather dominant in their marriage. But strangely enough I sometimes hear these women say that they don't like men who let themselves being bossed around So what's the plan here? Show your man who's the boss and then complain that he's not manly enough? I don't get it.

Bottom line I think that a man should respect his wife and that he should coordinate his activities with hers. But if all else fails he should be able to do whatever he thinks is right regardless of what she says. On the other hand, if a woman thinks that her man is a guy who notoriously makes poor decisions she is free to leave him (which she should do IMHO).


Edit: I just noticed that I'm not an American man but you can trust me that this discussion also applies to West-European men (not so sure about East-Europe though)

Edit2&3: Darn those typos
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Tobias Strobe
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I'm married, and I buy what I want, but I sure do know some pussy-whipped dudes who wouldn't buy a soda without wifey's permission. It's a pretty sad state of affairs, and not too pleasant for the wife either, as she ends up bearing the responsibility if he fucks up.
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First I think many of the guys slightly exaggerate for effect when they talk about this issue here. Which is fine I exaggerate other things for effect when I am trying to be silly or funny rather than dead on serious.

However as to the real issue... I have mixed emotions about it.

One of the major reasons I didn't marry a former boyfriend was that after dating for a few years it was obvious that I would need to be a wife like that and I didn't want to be in that kind of relationship. Not long after we started dating when he wanted us to get serious I told him pretty bluntly that he had a lot of gifts and promise but I wasn't willing to consider marriage until I saw what kind of man he was going to grow into. Because even though he was 29 it was obvious he still had a lot of growing up to do.

A few years later he admitted he had always resented my telling him that. But in the years we dated the boy showed over and over again he couldn't manage money in addition to other immature areas. Every 4-6 months he would bounce a check, get nailed with fees and need to get money from me to stop the vicious cycle that started. He wouldn't budget routine maintenance for his car so when breakdowns occurred it was always a crisis. And since I made twice as much money as he did I ended up paying for a lot of our dates (which I was ok with) ... and yet it often became an issue because he insisted I waste money (which I was not ok with) the way he did or he would be upset. For example... for him a movie wasn't worth seeing if we didn't go in the evening (full price times) do the popcorn, candy and large drinks... all bought at the movie concession stand. If I even wanted to bring the raisinettes in my purse to save money he objected because that was embarrassing in his mind. Only really really poor people did stuff like that. My thought were that this was part of why he was actually poor.

So if I married a guy like that... you bet your ass there would be some serious budgets put in place and I would expect him to consult with me before breaking them. However part of that budget would include separate personal "accounts" for us both to keep our own spending money which we didn't need to account to each other for.

But since that is one of the reasons (not the only one) didn't marry him... obviously I don't want to be in a relationship where that kind of micromanaging of each other on any issue is needed. I desire a partnership - not to be dominated nor to dominate, in any area of life. And money fights are always some of the worst to deal with. So I am especially leery of seriously dating somebody who cannot handle his money well.



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I agree with you. Completely. Like most of these issues, it's impossible to say if this is something that I've become more personally sensitive towards or if there is an actual social trend here.

Here in Massachusetts, which must have one of the most educated female populations on the planet, there seems to be the belief among many women that men are inherently lousy in decision-making. I can't begin to tell you how many men I know who are completely infantilized by their wives, and end up having to make a case for having any autonomy at all. This kind of asymmetry in power should never exist in what is purported to be a loving relationship. The addition of children seems to accelerate this state of affairs.

And although you'll need to believe what I'm about to say, I'm not exactly a raging member of the patriarchy, and if the roles were switched I'd be just as disturbed. I really, really hate seeing the loss of anyone's personal autonomy, especially in what ought to be a situation with a lot of take-and-give.
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Lol, I just bought 2 boardgames without my wife's permission. She was happy I bought them too. But I do ask permission before I go gaming with my friends. With 2 kids, that comes with the territory. I don't know what the big deal is. I usually ask her before I buy things, mainly because I want her opinion.
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bramadan wrote:
Message that these programs send - and message that appears widely accepted in its less exaggerated form - is that men are big children, possibly smart and endearing in their own way but lacking self discipline, practical sense and competence in dealing with real life.

The first rule of cohabitation: the less you appear to know how to do, the less you will actually have to do.

Do not fuck this up for the rest of us.
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bramadan wrote:
So my question to fellow RSPers is - am I reading too much into this or is this sort of trend actually present ?



I think that any time you you look to popular culture to determine what the hell's going on, you're reading too much into it.
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Along with kuhrusty's note, I'll add the concept of "Never do a bad job good."

I think Gerald summed up what my wife and I mean when we ask each other if it's ok to get something. Not "May I have permission?" more "Do we have the money in the budget to cover this right now?"
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JoshBot wrote:
Here in Massachusetts, which must have one of the most educated female populations on the planet, there seems to be the belief among many women that men are inherently lousy in decision-making. I can't begin to tell you how many men I know who are completely infantilized by their wives.

Well said.

I was once at a family gathering where the family members came from all over the country. Next day when the gathering was over everyone prepared to drive home. Waiting for my folks, I overheard one wife saying "Ok, please remember to go to the restroom! We want to start right now". At first I thought she was talking to her kids but when I entered the room I saw that she was actually talking to her husband surprise A 36 year old guy with a full time job in a leading position being reminded by his wife to go to potty. Believe me, I'm not making this up. The sad part about this is that I'm pretty sure that boys with weak fathers will probably become weak or insecure men themselves. Lucky enough, this couple has only girls as kids.
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Lynette
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DarthXaos wrote:
These men have been betaized and are probably being cheated on by these wives as well, because the wives have lost respect for them.


Not true. Women tend to cheat when they are neglected and don't feel they are valued and/or desired anymore. So a "beta" who is attentive will still have a faithful wife. A "beta" who is resentful about being dominated by his wife and who stops doting on her emotionally is more likely to get cheated on. But those are the exact same conditions for "Alphas" to get cheated on as well.

Women need "emotional connection" from relationships. If they are getting it they tend to be faithful sexually. If they are not they are more likely to stray.
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I don't know about this. It seems to me we are on a board game site that is majority male. Any time you are in a shared-responsibility relationship with someone else (male or female) it is natural to check with the significant other when making discretionary purchases (in this case boardgames) which can have a negative impact on the other higher priority financial responsibility items in the household. So, there is going to a higher rate of males on this site making jokes about buying boardgames with their wife's permission. I'm sure if we went to a site with a majority female presence they would be complaining about having to consult with their SO about purchasing stuff related to that site.

More telling I think, is the tendency for some people to see having a relationship with someone, and all the resultant shared responsibility involved (especially with children), to think that is an infringement on their freedom and free-choice. When you are single, you make choices based on loss-gain ratio's all the time. Do you purchase Space Hulk or do you put gas in the car? If you choose gas, are you less free? If you are sharing your life with someone or someones, you have to include them in the loss-gain decision. It's part of being in a partnership.

I think there is a lot more joking around about spousal permission than there is actual overbearing spouses requiring approval on every discretionary penny. Not saying that there aren't exceptions, as there is probably a tendency for irresponsible spenders to end up with responsible spenders just for survival sake, with the responsible spender taking over the financial decisions, it's just that I don't think the data is there (especially with the very specialized data set on BGG) to make a claim about males vs females.
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My wife and I have four accounts:

Joint account for checking.
Joint account for savings.
My checking account.
Her checking account.

Each month we put money into the first one to cover our bills. Then we put about 15% of our income into the joint savings. Then for what is left over, we split between our two personal accounts. We both spend freely out of those on whatever we want -- no real questions asked.

So I bought Space Hulk. She can buy all the shoes/purses/skirts/whatnots that she wants. Not only is there an advantage of neither one of us feeling like we are "asking permission" to use money, but we can also take each other out on dates, etc. with our own "walking around money" and it means something still because we budgeted it out of our own discretionary funds.

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Bojan... I couldn't agree with you more. No really. Sure, some guys buy what they want and BGG proves that. But BGG also proves there are plenty of wimps out there as well. But let's not restrict it to American male gamers. The rest of the world has it's share of wimpy men also.

Coincidentally, I wrote a blog post about exactly this problem almost 4 years ago on the old "Gone Gaming" blog. It was the only blog I wrote, out of about 50, that didn't get any negative comments.
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Lynette
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SpaceGhost wrote:
My wife and I have four accounts:

Joint account for checking.
Joint account for savings.
My checking account.
Her checking account.

Each month we put money into the first one to cover our bills. Then we put about 15% of our income into the joint savings. Then for what is left over, we split between our two personal accounts. We both spend freely out of those on whatever we want -- no real questions asked.

So I bought Space Hulk. She can buy all the shoes/purses/skirts/whatnots that she wants. Not only is there an advantage of neither one of us feeling like we are "asking permission" to use money, but we can also take each other out on dates, etc. with our own "walking around money" and it means something still because we budgeted it out of our own discretionary funds.



Yep this is a great system. I always figured if I ever get married I would want to do something like it.

My disabled mother lives with me and I have a part of my paycheck auto deposited into 2 "personal" accounts for us as well. That way we both have spending money every month that I don't need to try and budget item by item. $300 for me, $500 for her. (mine is lower because ultimately all the other money is really in my control as well... but it is what I use for bills, daily life and saving for bigger long term things) At lot of this gets used for movies, eating out, lattes and other small stuff. But we also buy bigger just for ourselves kind of things from it as well. I buy games and go to Cons with a lot of mine. She does other stuff with hers.


I remember that my grandparents had a similar system even though only my grandfather worked outside the home. They put most of his check into a joint account that the made decisions about together but they also both had monthly allowances that they could spend and/or save as they chose without question.
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The trend in the media and entertainment of dumb husbands/dads has been around for awhile. I remember my father complaining about how they always portrayed fathers as imbeciles (commercials, movies, TV shows).

I don't like seeing this anymore than seeing older movies where women were simply eye candy and treated as such.

I also noticed some severe cases here on BGG posted by males of seeking their SO's permission to buy games and/or profuse gratitude to their spouse for allowing them to buy this game or x number of games. Many times it bothers me as I feel sorry for the guy (if it is true) that he has to beg and plead to spend some money.

However.........relationships are tricky and personal. I think a couple needs to decide how they best want to decide about money matters and utilize a system that feels comfortable to both. After all, discretionary dollars are just that, discretionary, and perhaps a decision between saving and spending needs to be made by one or both in the relationship as it impacts them equally.

Interesting discussion.

(I am female)

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When I worked for Wells Fargo for six years, I saw so many couples fight over money. The couples who did not fight over money used one of two systems:
1. One spouse was in charge of all the money
2. Each spouse had separate discretionary spending accounts and managed their own finances.

If a couple isn't using one of these systems then there will be a lot of fighting going on and the bank will make tons of income off of overdraft fees.
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Jorge Montero
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Asking for permission is the wrong way to look at it, but so is 'I'll buy anything I want, because I am the man, ooga booga!'

Any significant purchase in my house requires a conversation beforehand, in which 99.5% of the time we just say OK. Anything under that is not an issue. The fact that we at least stop and think is the main reason that we have a very large savings rate, while friends of mine with similar family income would be in trouble if anyone lost their job for 2 months: We make sure we don't throw money away in the mid-range purchases. 4 frivolous $150 purchases every month become a lot of money really quick.
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Here's a littl something:
http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

not the article I was looking for, but interesting nonetheless. Busy busy grading, so no time for this AWESOME topic. When I finish grading I will find the article I'm looking for. Also see Susan Faludi's Stiffed (now a bit dated) and Sommers' "The War Against Boys"

These off the top of my head. Yeah this is a legitimate issue -- one that shouldn't be taken lightly, as innocuous as it seems.

More later (hopefully -- must get back to grading)

oh and fwiw, we clear almost all our purchases with each other, sometimes even expensive groceries. Don't even know why -- in 14 years, we've never had a fight about money, not one, now laudry is an entirely different story, probably the worst fight of our lives have been ignighted over laundry -- ha ha -- please G, don't be mad 'bout me airing our "dirty laundry" kiss.
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gruescher wrote:

I was once at a family gathering where the family members came from all over the country. Next day when the gathering was over everyone prepared to drive home. Waiting for my folks, I overheard one wife saying "Ok, please remember to go to the restroom! We want to start right now". At first I thought she was talking to her kids but when I entered the room I saw that she was actually talking to her husband surprise A 36 year old guy with a full time job in a leading position being reminded by his wife to go to potty. Believe me, I'm not making this up. The sad part about this is that I'm pretty sure that boys with weak fathers will probably become weak or insecure men themselves. Lucky enough, this couple has only girls as kids.


Actually, that scenario sounds a little familiar to me, and I'm not an infantile man (and my ex-paratrooper/drill-instructor father was anything but weak!). It's just that I happen to be married to a wife who's a rational-minded problem solver (read: efficiency nut).

Me, I'd be partway home and have to stop someplace to use the restroom, and it wouldn't be any big deal; I wouldn't think twice about it. But to her, that would be unthinkable; she'd demand to know why I hadn't planned that big event or taken care of it ahead of time.

So, she nags me about little things which mean a lot to her--things that mean nothing to me, and which I'd never bother to think about.

It's the same when it comes to buying games. To me, a game is a minor purchase that I might make on the spur of the moment. To her, it's something that has to be budgeted for. So, she's the one who brings it up, if we talk about it at all. But if it becomes a pattern--where I'm buying games and throwing off her budget too often--then we have to come to some kind of agreement. And to keep the peace, I usually just agree that money is more important than games, and I'll refrain from buying (at least until the urge strikes again).

You have to choose your battles. Some things just aren't worth arguing over--and in those cases, "Yes, dear" is often the simplest and best way to maintain some harmony.
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You should hear the begging when my wife asks for a new pair of shoes. Two way street people, two way street.
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bramadan wrote:
Message that these programs send - and message that appears widely accepted in its less exaggerated form - is that men are big children, possibly smart and endearing in their own way but lacking self discipline, practical sense and competence in dealing with real life. Therefore, it is a duty of their wife to control them in their dealings with the world, and in particular to control their spending (and also their social life insofar as possible). Money is to be deposited into the "family account" which is to be controlled by the female of the household from which a man-child is to be given carefully measured allowance at her discretion.


That's better than the way tweener shows portray ALL adults, stupid, crazy and immature, while the brains an matrity are the pervue of the kids alone.
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Wait, are you saying that television panders to the target audience?
The devil, you say!

rcbevco wrote:
bramadan wrote:
Message that these programs send - and message that appears widely accepted in its less exaggerated form - is that men are big children, possibly smart and endearing in their own way but lacking self discipline, practical sense and competence in dealing with real life. Therefore, it is a duty of their wife to control them in their dealings with the world, and in particular to control their spending (and also their social life insofar as possible). Money is to be deposited into the "family account" which is to be controlled by the female of the household from which a man-child is to be given carefully measured allowance at her discretion.


That's better than the way tweener shows portray ALL adults, stupid, crazy and immature, while the brains an matrity are the pervue of the kids alone.
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We never have fights about laundry. I volunteer to do it and that's enough to make sure that my wife gets it done. laugh

Our only disagreements is that I would use the kids more as slave labor. On the rare occasions when she is out of town, I fold and put away no more laundry than I usually do. devil
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qzhdad wrote:


Our only disagreements is that I would use the kids more as slave labor.


Huh? Is there something else they're good for?
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