Flutterby™! : gender roles

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gender roles

2008-06-17 15:54:24.077786+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

During one of the recent Flutterby discussions on gender roles, a regular here forwarded me How I Became A Mensch, in which the male author praises his return to more traditional gender roles. In the process he both lambastes the Maoist tendencies of some early feminists, and describes how at 50, he finally figured out the issues that led to the sort of relationship that worked for him:

A woman surrenders her power, in trust. This is how a woman expresses her love: by trusting. In this way, women actually empower men. If a man betrays this trust, he loses his power.

In return for her power, a woman gets what she really wants: a man's power expressed as his intense, undivided love.

Except, of course, this isn't just for him, this is his proscription for all men and women. It doesn't take much searching to find pretty strong counter-examples, like the tale of this woman.

This has been sitting in my tab list next to How To Be A Feminist Boyfriend, a similarly proscriptive and stereotypical rant from the other side of the fence, and one which leads me to want to write a "how to be a feminist girlfriend" which includes tasks like "change your own damned oil/lightbulbs/...".

In short, in both cases my response was that though there's a veneer on both that looks like truth, and though I'm the last person to deny people the option of consensual dominant or submissive relationship choices, I believe that both are falling into the trap of the "local minimum". It's easier to buy into the existing cultural stereotypes, and to treat your partner solely as an expression of that stereotype, than to build the sorts of relationships that we'd actually thrive on.

Then, with the snarky tag Next Up, Researches Suggest Water May Run Downhill, Figleaf linked to this New York Times article, "Same Sex Couples Offer Insight Into Gender And Marriage":

"Heterosexual married women live with a lot of anger about having to do the tasks not only in the house but in the relationship," said Esther D. Rothblum, a professor of women's studies at San Diego State University. "That's very different than what same-sex couples and heterosexual men live with."

Other studies show that what couples argue about is far less important than how they argue. The egalitarian nature of same-sex relationships appears to spill over into how those couples resolve conflict.

Which would suggest that people tend to get along much better when they can view each other as... well... people, rather than, say, "a rudderless boat" (that needs a man as a rudder).

Having said that, evidence continues to accumulate that some gender reactions are innate (Via), but that doesn't mean that we have to treat those reactions as inferior or superior, just as potential traits of the individual to whom we are relating.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-17 18:37:09.545736+00 by: ebradway

At the time, she was happy to fly for the perks alone: She was dating the plane's pilot, and along the way she got to log lots of hours flying the larger (multi-engine) plane, which she needed in order to advance to the next level of pilot rating.

I'm not sure exactly what to make of this, but she basically used the fact that she was dating the pilot to make a significant advance in her career. Logging hours in multi-engine jets costs serious money.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-06-17 19:43:27.030807+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think we all use our relationships to better ourselves, or at least we do if our relationships are working for us. Nothing against her for that.