February 16, 2008

On Marriage and Gender Roles

There was an interesting discussion going on over at Fumare that I posted some responses too. I copied my responses and pasted them here because I have been meaning to write about this subject for awhile but have a hard time articulating exactly what I think. The articles linked there got the writing juices flowing so to speak. Here is a link to the article that inspired the Fumare post. And here is another article that someone posted a link to in the comments.

"Well here is another female perspective. I first have to say the article made me very sad indeed. I have to agree with Anyonymous and Columcille above. Women do have to wake up and realize that this idea of a perfect fantasy man who will ride in, sweep her off her feet, and spend the rest of his life trying only to serve her and make her happy is completely absurd. We are all flawed creatures. I don't like how the author talks about marriage as "settling". I think people should simply have a more realistic, understanding, charitable view of their fellow human beings and especially of the opposite sex. Women today seem so selfish and concerned with finding a "perfect" man. There is no such thing. As Anonymous said above:

"I'm so glad to see that someone is finally realizing that women need to be told that they DO have to make a choice to marry and not keep waiting forever. It's not really "settling" per-se, but it is a wakeup call to realize that we DO have to make choices. And if our dream man is impossible, then we are really choosing to remain single."

If a woman is self centered and unrealistic about what a relationship with the opposite sex really should be then she truly is choosing to remain single, even if she doesn't realize it. Another problem women have these days is how negatively men are represented in main stream culture. We are brainwashed from an early age that men are chauvanistic (sp?), immature, weak, and perverse. Mainstream culture says: if a man wants to marry a woman who will stay home and raise his children he is both chauvanistic and possibly perverse, maybe even immature because he needs someone to take care of him. Heck, lets throw in weak as well since he obviously couldn't stand to be married to a woman who is more successful than him, he must be trying to make himself look stronger by marrying someone passive. HOW RIDICULOUS!! And that is only a mild example of how badly men are maligned in today's culture!
Once upon a time I was a feminist, I thought I would go to college, grad school, maybe get married and then someday think about having children. I have been lucky enough to have been shown the light, so to speak. I married my true love and guess what? He isn't perfect. He is, however, the man of my dreams. How can anyone call that settling?

In response to Yikes! above I would venture to put forth the idea that women are at least in part, if not mostly, the reason men today don't "man up" anymore as she (i am assuming Yikes! is a she) put it. The sexual revolution supposedly gave women the power to "enjoy" casual sex as simply another form of entertainment and personal pleasure. So we have women who are no longer discerning with whom they copulate with and do not value their chastity. Think about the effect this has has on men. Why buy the cow indeed! It used to be that men were manly because they had to be to get a mate, they needed to be respectful, responsible, and generally upright sorts. There was more of a dance of courtship between the sexes. Now it seems to go something like this: "I think he's cute and he seems really nice, I wonder if the third date is too early to sleep with him... maybe I should wait till the 4th or 5th." Once she does, having no deeper meaning than a handshake and no build up of anticipation and true feeling, the relationship sooner or later ends and both parties are more injured and empty from the encounter.
I am not suggesting that men are driven solely by their desire for sex in life, many men are driven to do great and not so great things in life by many other factors. However, when it comes to the opposite sex isn't it often the physical attraction to a person that stimulates the formation of a romantic relationship? Why is that a bad thing? I am sure everyone has had a friend of the opposite sex that never became a romantic interest simply because the physical attraction was not there. I think God made us that way for a reason, there is nothing wrong with sexual attraction bringing two people together. The problem is when sex is not taken as seriously as it is intended to be. Women used to have more power when they assumed traditional roles because of their attraction for men. I also would venture to say because they were more mild, modest, and feminine (at least in appearance) they inspired a desire in men to provide for and protect them. Keeping some things a secret only makes them more tantalizing. Men want to feel like MEN, they want to be needed and feel strong. Women today do not inspire this sentiment in the opposite sex for the most part. Their dress is far from modest and their behaviors are often aggressive and uncultured. If you don't believe me take a look at Hollywood. Compare a female actor's appearance and mannerisms from, say, the 1940's or 50's with the female celebrities of today. Which girl is a true man going to want to marry? The sweet and modest girl next door, or the girl who dresses a few notches away from a common prostitute and eschews any behaviors that might give the impression of softness or femininity? Maybe that is a bit extreme and most women fall somewhere in between those two contrasts. Because women treat themselves so crudely, men no longer have to be manly to attract a woman. It will be enough that he is simply good-looking enough to go to bed with. Why should he put in any extra work to become responsible or mature? Now I know there are still men out there who are responsible and mature (I married one ) and lucky is the girl who lands one of these! I also think that there are many men out there who want to be that man but have never been given the opportunity. These are the men that simply need a little nudging and care from a woman who is not afraid to be a womanly.

The article Yikes! linked supports my point here. I have to agree with Yikes! when she (again assuming) she says that too many women focus on their careers. I think it is a little more involved than this though. It brings to mind the adage that "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." Women, it seems, actually bought into this. They try and achieve a career, family, hobbies, and a fulfilled life all by themselves. The men in their lives are seen as incidental, providing only physical pleasure, comfort, and a warm body to stave off loneliness.

"symptoms of backlash, a masculinity crisis. Men feel threatened by female empowerment, these thinkers argue, and in their anxiety, they cling to outdated roles."

(An excerpt from the article) I don't think men are threatened by empowered women, to say so is misleading. I think men sense the true attitudes of modern women, that they are really only an accessory to a woman who already "has it all" or is striving for this type of life. And if all he is is an accessory, why would we expect him to "man up" or grow up? Who wants to be some high powered, workaholic, oversexed woman's sidekick? Any volunteers? It reminds me of the Queen of heart's husband in Alice in wonderland. If I were a man I would choose to be a boy forever rather than be sentenced to that kind of existence.

Now, for anyone who does not know me, I am a working woman and I currently happen to be supporting us so that my husband can finish law school. I am not saying that every woman who goes to work fits into the category described above. I just think too many women lose sight (or maybe never had it to begin with ) of things that are really important in life. Marriage is about work and sacrifice and compromise. Love too of course, love above all else makes it possible. Our ideal plan would be for me to stay home and my husband to work but that simply isn't possible right now. So I work and when I am not working I do the best I can to be a supportive wife. I don't always do it perfectly or even well but we have an understanding about where we are in life right now and what each of us is capable of. The important thing is that we both strive to cultivate our marriage, we respect each other and try to keep the other person's best interests in mind. Anyway, this post might need some editing but I wanted to get it all down so that I would actually POST it and not just mull it over and over till it faded away into some dimly lit corner of my brain. :)

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