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Fear of Commitment

  • Grace Elisabeth Lavery

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What does it mean to commit? And why are men stereotypically afraid to do it? At some point in the last, say, sixty years, commitment-phobia displaced sexual neurosis as the acceptable euphemism through which men could talk about (or at least be talked about as though they talked about) the obsessive fear of castration that, from Ovid to Freud, took as its sign the phallophagic vagina. Thus, in one of the key contemporary representations of male commitment-phobia, the relationship between Chandler and Janice on Friends, our sympathetic horror derives not from Chandler's having been encompassed by Janice's body but by her postcoital laugh. To surrender, by surrendering to the feminizing procedure of commitment, one's contempt for women; to put oneself in the position where one had no choice but to put up with such a laugh—worse, perhaps, to feel compelled to excuse such a laugh among one's friends: such would be the anxious hypothesis of a heterosexual body magnetized toward feminization, but just as strongly defended from it.

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References

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Fear of Commitment

  • Grace Elisabeth Lavery

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