I read the original story. What’s fascinating to me about it all is massive amount of guilt and shame that the author feels, as well as the complete lack of happiness, fulfillment, or even power, that having a “slave” brought for the “owners.”
As I see it, everyone in his story is a “slave” in some way. Especially the men. They just serve different masters. I have been making the argument for some time that the modern male is a “slave” in that he has few real choices in life, and the fruits of his work are not his, but generally the property of others.
- The original “owner” of this “slave” is “Lieutenant Tom.” He is a military man who has lost is wife and must take care of his daughter on his own. HE takes in “lola” and provides her with food, shelter etc in exchange for domestic services. But these are services that HE MUST ALSO PROVIDE HIS DAUGHTER FOR FREE. He is clearly miserable, has very little control over his own destiny, and ultimately blows his own brains out. He spends much of his life before his suicide simply providing for others, often risking his life to do so.
- The second generation of men to have this “slave” are also miserable. Father “took a second job cleaning trailers, and a third as a debt collector. Mom got work as a technician in a couple of medical labs. We barely saw the.” They work extremely long hours, provide for everyone in their households, and are generally seen as responsible for everything that happens in the family.
- When the men leave, they lose their kids, their home, etc. They have to cut themselves out of the entire family situation. They receive no return compensation from their family for turning over their wealth. Had the wife divorced these men, at least half their savings, plus a large portion of their future earnings, would be hers, and she would take their kids.
- The writer is the third generation of men to “own” this “slave.” He, too, feels mostly obligation and shame. He puts massive amounts of effort into trying to make women happy, and spends lots of time and money doing so. He expects nothing in return — it’s his duty to ensure their happiness, and if they are not happy, he feels shame, guilt and failure.
My question is, if men aren’t slaves, what do they get out of these relationships? The only reason a man stays with a woman he doesn’t want to be with is because he’s going to lose his home, his kids, and his savings if he doesn’t. So he slaves on, working and supporting everyone, terrified of losing everything.
How is that different from slavery? As Alex Tizon so often observes about his “slave” named Lola “She could leave anytime she wanted. She just had nowhere else to go.”