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The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

Kameenian Korner: How to Defuse Weaponized Incompetence

Photo edited by Liz Kameen, photos from Canva.
Photo edited by Liz Kameen, photos from Canva.

If there is one thing that I wanted to bring up before the end of International Women’s Month, it is the apocalypse of man-babies that aren’t looking for a girlfriend – they want a second mother. 

Ever since I learned the term weaponized incompetence, I have seen it unevenly applied to women – and unfortunately, I fear they enable the behavior more than correct it. So, what is weaponized incompetence? Exactly what it sounds like: someone manipulatively weaponizing incompetence, even if they know how to do something. 

The thought process behind these actions is that if your partner asks you to do something and you purposely do a bad enough job, they won’t ask you to do it again. The kicker of this mindset is that it is NOT an actual incompetence or inability to do something—it is a purposeful resistance to doing something. 

Imagine you ask your boyfriend to make dinner for you since you have cooked for him every day for weeks, and then he heats you up a microwave mac and cheese container. Despite feeding him handmade pasta, steak, and sauteed vegetables handmade meals, he acts shocked when you come home and complain. You never ask him to cook for you again. Or, you ask him to cook dinner, and he immediately says, “But I don’t know how, and you do it so much better than me, anyway.” 

Now, weaponized incompetence is unfortunately evident in much more than heterosexual dynamics and is even visible in professional and familial dynamics – but this is a relationship column, so I’m only focusing on the first point here. 

Why is this so bad in relationships? Well, for starters, it creates an unequal burden of physical labor on one partner. This unequal distribution of tasks will lead to resentment and conflict, no matter what. One partner cannot bear the weight of the entire relationship or household, and if they do, it won’t be long before they buckle. 

Solving this epidemic is easier said than done, though. Talking to your partner about this can feel almost offensive, and there are not many ways to say, “Are you faking being stupid?” in a nice way—but it needs to be done. Being genuine about specific actions, like: “Why did you continue to tell that girl about our relationship problems when I specifically told you that it made me feel uncomfortable?” or “When you keep doing the same actions despite me telling you how that makes me feel, it makes me feel like I’m not valued,” can possibly provide some better outcomes. 

And, be sure to have a transparent conversation with your partner. There are some situations, especially this young in life, where before college, they may never have had to do laundry themselves (especially men). You don’t want to accuse your partner of doing something malicious if they genuinely are incapable – but I personally feel like it’s obvious when someone is weaponizing their incompetence.

Communication should always be the first step, but it’s usually not the last. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Tell your partner that you aren’t comfortable bearing this much pressure on your own, and hold them accountable if they say they will change. If they don’t make any changes, don’t let up if you feel the relationship is worth anything – if you immediately drop it, they’ll know that technique works and will continue to make empty promises that will never happen. Don’t lower your standards for someone who will continue to dim your expectations.

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    E. EricksonMar 29, 2024 at 4:28 pm

    This article contains a lot of much needed information. Even though many of us think “well isn’t this obvious?,”unfortunately it is not obvious to many people. This is valuable information and good information to have early in life.