Posts Tagged ‘Gender roles’
Linda is a lesbian. She would tell you she prefers women, because she hates men. Several years ago, she said to me, “How can you not hate men? They’re such predators.”
Perhaps I was too busy enjoying the fun of being man-prey, to have thought of men as predators. In my experience, men were protectors, providers and heroes. Like a fish seeing a sparkly lure, I found their attractiveness irresistible. This made it easy for me to be ensnared by The Beloved Soul Mate. Alas, I am now the feminist nightmare–having been used as a vehicle for reproduction, a sexual plaything, and held hostage in the home, despite untapped career potential.
What kind of trickery caused me to believe men were amazing? There must have been a male conspiracy to brainwash me. My father and brothers were obviously in on it, because they had successfully convinced me men were strong, brave, kind, funny, generous, and self-sacrificing. I am probably suffering from Stockholm syndrome, because I have grown fond of my captor and my captivity. I live comfortably, and my needs are met. There have been times I felt I wasn’t treated as well as I should have been, but all that changed last week, when I discovered the book.
How could I have known the book held the power to change me??? The book made me feel ashamed and repentant. I didn’t realize, my faith in men had been diluted by the gospel of feminism. I’d come to accept that men are largely motivated by sex, and sometimes boorish, but I still held on to some romantic notions. Before the book, I was convinced I understood men, and was as fond of them as any female on the planet. I never dreamed I, like Linda, could be indicted as an accomplice in the crime of man-hating. Fortunately, the book, opened my eyes. The book, Why Men Are the Way They Are, which was written by Warren Farrell, a former feminist, made me realize it is men who are often powerless in our society.
Feminism propagated the idea of men as oppressors. We are supposed to believe that without feminism, we’d all be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. We were convinced men had all the power. They had power over our bodies, impregnating us with children, whether we wanted them or not. We were to believe men controlled industry and business, leaving women at economic disadvantage. We were told to we’d been devalued by men, because they saw us as little more than sex objects.
For decades, women fought for the right to choose between home and career, the right to choose whether or not to give birth, the right to compete for jobs and be fairly compensated for them. It was all about fairness and equality–unless one considers how women’s choices increased, but men’s didn’t.
Men are blamed for carelessly fathering children, but women get away with setting pregnancy traps. A woman on The Pill is somehow deemed more reliable than a man with a condom, despite an improbable number of men becoming fathers after having slept with women who said they were on The Pill. No matter who is responsible, men are expected to support the child.
During conception, half the genetic matter comes from each partner, but after conception, men are expected to supply the majority of the support, in return for the smallest part in decision making. The mother decides whether or not to have the child, she decides whether or not to disclose the paternity of the child, she decides whether or not the father has access to the child. She can marry the father, divorce the father, and still expect child support. A man may have slept with a willing woman, but if she should become pregnant, he becomes powerless.
For years feminists have bristled against the traditional marriage vows, which employed the phrase “love, honor and obey”, but written between the lines, is an order for men to love honor & support. Men are still expected to be the primary breadwinner. We do not think less of women who choose to stay home while men support them, but men who stay home, while women support them are seen as freeloaders or losers.
Feminism would convince us marriage is an oppressive, opportunity-limiting situation for women, ignoring how limiting marriage is to men. It is perfectly acceptable for women to reject traditional roles, but men are still defined by them. Despite economic opportunities now available, women still favor men who can provide them the greatest security–in other words, the best earners.
This sets up a no-win situation for men, who often choose between time spent at home with family, to win admiration; or time spent at work, lest he fail as provider. As a result men are often seen as vacant or inattentive by the woman who is depending on his income. While her husband is out doing what he thinks is expected, if a woman misses the affection of the husband who is largely absent, she is easily enticed by the attention of other men. Is it any wonder men die younger than women?
Author Warren Farrell says just as men objectify women as sex objects, women objectify men as “success-objects”. Is it any more sexist for men to pass over women who aren’t attractive, than it is for women to disqualify men who can’t provide them the level of security they desire? Farrell suggests that if the male fantasy is sex and more of it, the female fantasy is stuff & more of it–or as he says “better homes & gardens”.
I once was blind, but now I see. The book changed me. Reading Why Men Are the Way They Are, I was surprised and saddened to consider society’s contempt for men. We should be glad boys are taught early to keep their feelings inside, and not to pick fights with girls, or we’d have seen a revolt by now. Every chapter gave me more reasons to admire men and made me wonder why I’d never heard of this book. Perhaps the book, like men, fell victim to political correctness, as it exposes how feminist notions have put us at odds with men, making men vulnerable, distrustful and afraid of commitment. (Unless you, like Linda, hate men; this is not a good thing.)
Deb’s Note: This post doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the ideas put forth in “Why Men Are the Way They Are”. There was so much in it, even though I’ve just read it, I plan to reread it soon. I would recommend this book to every man and woman. Women will understand man and appreciate them more, men will appreciate feeling understood. Below are links to some good interviews with the author, but I wholeheartedly recommend this book and can’t wait to read his other titles, including “The Myth of Male Power”.
Less than a century ago, women in The United States hadn’t yet been granted the right to vote. Though it was allowed in some states, it wasn’t until 1920, when the constitution was amended, that women were guaranteed this right. Without the ability to voice their viewpoints via the voting booth, perhaps our country would be different today. I shudder to think of the improbable possibilities for laws [bad] men might have tried to pass. Would there be a Barefoot & Pregnant mandate? A Mall Prohibition Act? Failure to Chill Beer ordinance? Tax deductions for men who wished to claim both their wife and mistress as dependents?
Fortunately, women have made amazing strides and this country is one of the better places in the world to be female. Despite this, women still struggle, because there are some things even progress can’t change. It is possible to update our wardrobes, refurbish our furniture, restore old cars, or remodel old homes, but men are always AS-IS.
Which is why, while most of us like having a man in our lives, finding one that doesn’t make us crazy or worse, can be near impossible. Lest people mistake this for a diatribe from a man-hater, I wish to assure readers that I am a BIG fan of men. Women are almost always more and better company, but I still find the company of men irresistible. I especially like them, because they are different than women, but the more manly they are, the stronger the urge to change them. It’s like this:
I want a man who works hard enough to sweat, but I’d prefer not smell the sweat.
I want a man who knows how to use a gun if he needs to, but dislike men who need to remind others they know how to use a gun.
I want a man who can and will fight, but not a man who wants to fight.
I want a man who shows skill in the bedroom, but I’d be really turned on, if he were as eager to show off his kitchen skills.
I would like it if my man looked like one of those attractive gay models, but if I were to find out he was gay, I doubt I’d still find him attractive.
Men think women are hard to please, but it’s actually quite simple. We want manly men, who are sensitive, soft, gentle, and sweet, like women.
Women like me, have succeeded in confusing men. Are they supposed to be he-men or metrosexuals? Are they supposed to open doors for us, or just leave us a key? It’s all about balance, as we struggle to eliminate the confusion over who wears the pants and who wears the panties.
Blame feminism, because as women gained more equality in the workplace, they sought more at home. Women were changing, and in the process they were inadvertently changing men. This made me wonder if more powerful women, meant less powerful men. Was the Great American male becoming an endangered species, teetering on extinction after having been emasculated by well-meaning feminists? Had The Great American man become as frail as the California Coastal Sand Gnat, struggling to survive in the face of environmental change?
Women would love it if men were more like girlfriends, sharing their enthusiasm for things like cashmere and Italian shoes. If we had our way, men would learn to enjoy long meandering conversations and realize the joy of shopping, but while there have always been women who wanted men who were as easily controlled as children, the majority of us still want a man with a nicely defined backbone. There are men who enjoy shopping or grooming as much as women, but most men are simply not interested, because despite everything, they are still men.
Nevertheless, the metrosexual is often exhibited as evidence that men are becoming feminized. I’m not buying it. It’s just the latest incarnation of “The Sharp Dressed Man.” It’s not like men don’t care about their image, but image is different things to different men. For some image is grooming, for others it may be a car, a fat paycheck or a perfectly manicured lawn. The term metrosexual may be new, but his type is not. A hundred years ago, a man who embraced fashion and a refined lifestyle, would have been called a dandy.
Some argue that feminism has diminished our respect or the strength of American men. Many point to the examples of television fathers–like the difference between Ozzie Nelson and Ozzie Osbourne as evidence, that our view of men has been diminished. The media often portrays men as bumbling incompetents, relying on women to guide them, but this is nothing new. Literature is full of hapless henpecked husbands. Even during The Golden Age of Radio and early television men were often the brunt of jokes. It makes for good comedy, and men are surprisingly good sports about jokes made at their expense. Make fun of a woman, and you’ll likely regret it, but men are easy targets.
Because in the war between the sexes, there is no cease-fire. Women will fight for every hill, to make sure that their wisdom, competence and superior taste in almost everything is acknowledged, but men will easily surrender or declare victory, if they get respect, appreciation and regular demonstrations of affection–AKA sex.
Feminism changed sex and the economy of sex, because it enabled women to move between supply side and demand side. Women now had demands and were controlling the supply through a kind of rationing and price-fixing. As the supply began to change, men sought new suppliers, and there were always more suppliers. Promiscuity became common and porn became mainstream. Wives no longer held the monopoly on sex, and men were suddenly contenting themselves with the kind of cheap, easy, readily available women they’d previously disdained. The one woman one man ideal was outmoded, as men began sharing their pulp princesses with countless other men, and women found themselves competing with mens’ make-believe mistresses.
It simplified things for men, as they no longer needed to please a woman emotionally or sexually just to get a little, but it was hardly the brave new world. Pleasure-seeking and erotica have always existed, and it isn’t as if internet porn destroyed the sexual utopia that existed before feminism. Marriage took some hits, and intimate sex between people who loved each other fell victim to friendly fire, making some wonder if sex within marriage or would soon be obsolete. Doubtful, as long is there is one person alive who remembers that the solo, is nothing compared to the duet.
Men still need women, and women still need men. Feminism changed our world, but it has yet to change men into women or women into men. The war between the sexes continues, because some things never change, even in the face of progress.
At the bank, a woman walked past me. Correction, a man walked past me, wait, no I think it was a woman. On closer inspection, I’m no longer sure. It was one of those moments, when my brain was scrambling to process the input it was receiving. The visual input was so confusing, that my brain and I could not decipher it.
This individual was dressed in rugged jeans and a tunic-length sweater, coiffed with a modernized Mohawk, grown long and swooping over one side of a shaved head, providing one of those come hither curls which seductively obscures one eye. The body was lithe and feminine, the face whiskered, his or her fine leather handbag? man purse? was the epitome of good taste rendered from top-grain leather.
I wasn’t sure if I was seeing a woman who was embracing manhood, or a man who had turned his back on it. He or she seemed to be hovering in the nether-land between the gender they were born and the one they preferred. Gender stuff isn’t always so confusing, but even among those who have settled comfortably into a traditional role, it sometimes is. For most of my life, the roles of the sexes have been evolving.. The movement to expand opportunities for women, has caused the roles of both genders to become more elastic. Women are now able to compete with men in most every field, and men are no longer diminished by choosing careers once held only by women.
Only a few decades ago, home was the “proper” place for women and difficult situations had to wait until father came home. Back then jobs that were dangerous, outdoors or dirty were mostly considered to be “men’s work” and self-respecting chauvinists would sooner change jobs than work for a woman.
Feminism was about redefining women, but in the process, it also served to redefine the role of males. As women become more used to calling the shots in the workplace, they wanted more control at home. The traditional roles of men and women were becoming more alike. In an effort to equalize apples and oranges, apples were required to develop thicker skins and more fiber, while experiments were conducted to see if oranges could be turned into applesauce.
That’s my take, but in fact, there are currently some who wish to eliminate gender classification completely. They suggest gender is too limiting, because we all possess a combination of male and female traits, with some leaning more heavily one way or the other. That makes sense, after there are all kinds of women and men. According to this reasoning, we all fall somewhere on a broad continuum between male and female. I’d probably be classified as a female with male traits–or what we used to we used to call “tomboy” because somewhere between girls who live to crochet tea cozies and female bounty hunters are plenty of feminine women who aren’t intimidated by auto-mechanics or power tools.
Another popular notion that it is our society, not our biology which causes us to be masculinized or feminized. I read recently of two families who have refused to disclose their child’s gender, so that the children could be self-defining. Another group says more gender classifications are needed because male and female are too limiting. Ironically, these labels make no allowances for the transgendered, because it is assumed they will choose one of the two existing labels.
In the ongoing war between the sexes, it’s impossible to know who is winning. Sun Tzu’s art of war suggests we must know our enemy, but is the enemy still the enemy when they begin switching sides? The next edition of de blog will be devoted to the current condition of the endangered American male. Stay tuned.
I am a feminist, but I am not a feminist. I am all for the edification and promotion of all things female, but not a proponent of modern-day feminism. I think that makes me a sexist.
I am old enough to remember the days before feminism–the dark ages when men were Neanderthals dragging gals to their dens by the hair . . . except it wasn’t really like that. Just like now, men were doing their best in spite of the man-traits to get along with us gals despite our gal-traits. For most men, it was an enduring frustration.
Then as now, men found women to be an endless source of mystery [confusion] and power [frustration]. When the power and mystery of women became too much for men they usually threw up their hands and threw in their towels. Men find women endlessly fascinating, but equally exhausting.
The fundamental problem is that little girls are different from little boys. Ergo, women are different from men. If you have made this observation and give voice to this observation, you will be labeled a sexist. It is politically incorrect to be a sexist, but I am one AND I miss the days when there were others like me, who weren’t closeted by political correctness.
Back in the days of rampant sexism, the roles of men & women were clearly, but narrowly defined. With WWII and the advent of birth control, the roles of both sexes began to be retooled. It might have worked out better if men and women had been able to agree on the needed changes. However as any sexist worth their gender stereotypes knows, men & women often see things differently.
The things men thought should define The New Woman offended the existing model of woman. (Another thing any good sexist knows, offending a woman is the same as hurting a woman.) Since men make sport of playfully hurting each other, they don’t understand why women don’t show more sportsmanship being playfully hurt.
So, as the women reacted to the slings and arrows of outrageous man-traits, the guys remained confused. All the things they knew about women became hazy. It was no longer admirable to assume a woman wanted a protector or caretaker. It was no longer valiant to be doing most of the work in the workplace. It was no longer okay to admire the things they liked best about women–like nice legs & such.
In the age before feminism, women rarely carried anything heavier than a four-year-old, groceries, or baskets of laundry. It wasn’t necessary to ask girlfriends for visual assessment of one’s backside, because it was a given that men would let us know if our backsides looked good. There was never a question about who would pay for dinner or drinks. The oppression was awful. Call me a masochist, but I miss it!
In those dark ages, doors were always opened for us–except the metaphorical doors through which women wanted to pass. Opening the door at a restaurant was no substitute for opening the door to the boardroom. Men failed to acknowledge that we had more to offer than the things on which they focused–like great legs. They also failed to realize that a four-year-old is heavier, than the things any decent man would offer to carry for a woman.
Needless to say, the retooling of woman was fraught with confusion. The problem was the retooling was too narrow. Women knew new models were needed. Men didn’t see the need–they just wanted to fix the old one.
What they didn’t get is that women, like Barbies, come in many incarnations. On the femininity continuum, women are scattered end to end–from the prim & proper “Traditional Wife & Mother” at one end, to the ready-to-take-on any guy “Gal” at the other. Men didn’t know how to deal with the less familiar incarnations of women, which frustrated women. This was especially true when the men failed to realize that the traditional ‘Wife & Mother” could also be the “Can-do “Gal”.
The new roles were confusing & subject to change–because women & men are different. Men love to compete & vanquish competitors. Women prefer productive partnerships & cooperative agreements. Men like battles to be clearly resolved like a game of king of the hill. Women desire assistance taking the hill.
I love being a woman–but it works better for me when male and female roles aren’t too blurry. Fortunately, despite all of the politically correct enlightenment about our roles, women are still women and men are still men.
Just as women come in various types, so do men. Most women are smart enough and strong enough to realize this and deal with it. When it isn’t so, it should be.
Viewed in terms of simple economics, women are in the power position. We may not have the key to executive washroom, but we have the keys to more important things. For one thing we have what they want . . It’s basic economics, baby–supply and demand. Not only that, but we are the life-bearers. We have the power to keep them from seeing the next generation. In that regard we are a superpower. They might be better at some stuff, but they can’t make it without us.
This is why, feminism confuses me. Near as I can tell, we aren’t powerless. Women may not be as strong as some men, but near as I can tell, we are certainly as smart or smarter than many of them.
I’m smart enough to know I like it when a man offers to carry my luggage. I’m also smart enough to know men don’t wish to carry my emotional baggage. I’m not offended when a man calls me “Honey” or tells me I’ve got great gams. I’m not afraid to compete in the workplace or anywhere else. I know my limitations, but I also know my capabilities. I’m pretty sure I can hold my own against most men in most situations–when I can’t, I’m not afraid to call on a man for back-up.
I am woman. I am sexist. You don’t have to listen to me roar, but like most women, I like it when you listen.