Damn.

Damn.

So in our continuing chronicles of the communication gap between the genders and trying to close such gap, I have made the magnamonious step of asking two of my esteemed female colleagues to give their take on a pressing issue, and boy did they ever deliver! Enjoy and comment!

Today’s Rat Race: Competing with More Than Just the Boss’ Son
D. M. Hill & C. A. Peyton

When you’re as social as we are, you hear things.  One of the arguments we hear the most is that us women are making it hard for men out on the dating scene.  We want you to know, that while we may not agree with that particular assertion, we do understand.  We get it, fellas.  You’re trying to get your career on track. You’ve busted your tail to get some fancy degree to help you get that shiny gig that’s sure to bring all the girls to the yard.  But what you don’t talk about a lot, is that you can’t shake the feeling that while you’ve been working so hard to establish a foundation to attract the woman you’d like to call wife and mother to your children, your effort and achievement don’t match up.  You’ve invested a lot into a formula that is not paying the expected dividends in a timely fashion.  You have the degrees, now where’s the $120k+ gig?  Worse, your female counterparts are surviving and (in many cases) winning the race up the corporate ladder (granted, she’ll likely hit the glass ceiling soon, and you’ll be in pole position again).

Running the rat race is perfectly normal and to be expected, but running it against your potential significant other is a ball game that our parents didn’t have to play.  It may not be that literally you are competing against your future Miss (though maybe you are), but rather that Monday through Friday you are competing against the same women you’re trying to love up on in the club on Saturday (not that you’ll meet your wife while grinding from behind in the club, but if you do, hey…no judgment here).  A little healthy competition never hurt anyone, but it becomes problematic when the tension of the rat race, or the feeling of losing it, more specifically, spills over into men’s friendships and relationships with women.

Men work hard much of their adult life just to have the opportunity to get a look from a young woman they’d be interested in courting, and yet without the achievements he wants that will provide the stability she desires (which are one in the same: career and money), he doesn’t stand a chance in the dating race, either!  *Cue the resentment and anger.*  It seems reasonable that a young man may resent a young woman who has such archaic gender roles in mind for the living room while enjoying a very modern life in the boardroom.  It’s the whole idea that the very ladies men are busting it for are beating them at their own game while still demanding pseudo-traditional courting standards.  Talk about making the cake and eating it too!

I mean damn, if I’m clockin’ 60+ hours a week to keep up with her, and she’s makin’ that shit look easy, I’d be pissed too if on top of all of that, she expected me to pay for her steak and lobster, will settle for no less than 2 carats, and wants the option on keeping her last name.  But keep in mind that with guys scoffing at traditional courting while still desiring domestic gender roles, yet not committing to their lady, women have decided to go forth and build their kingdom solo.  Our pride in being self-reliant is directly related to not having a willing partner to build with (before anyone starts hollering about a man shortage, let’s save it for later – mainly because we’re of the belief that it just doesn’t exist).  Women have adapted and learned not to ‘rely’ on men as providers, but what we make-up for in mortgages, cars, and Tiffany’s crap we miss in emotional support – and that cuts both ways across the gender line.

We realize the knee jerk reaction to reading this may be to point the finger across the way to the nearest male or female but neither would be the wiser.  Instead, we’re imploring you to take a moment and let this blog entry marinate, to respond thoughtfully, and to let go of your handy gender scripts of “she should pay if she makes the same amount” or “women always want to cherry-pick which parts of traditionalism they adhere to” or “men lack empathy” or “men, never listen” or well…you get the idea.

Instead, of continuing to do what hasn’t worked, relying on your gender scripts, let’s all unplug and be still periodically.  Logoff Twitter, shut down the iPhone and Blackberry Messenger and men, think about why you may be resentful and angry with women and the unintended backlash that accompanies it.  The snide remarks about gold diggers, independent women and a whole host of other passive aggressive behavior aimed at taking women down a notch is part of the backlash we experience.  And while we try to act tough, as though your words don’t hurt us, the quiet reality is — they do.  They hurt us a lot, but expressing the hurt makes us “emotional” and “irrational” so instead, we just try to hurt you back.  The common denominator for us single folks is that we’re all on the same team here; searching for our better half.  Even friendly fire still leaves a wound, so watch where you point that gun.  Better yet, talk to someone – your boy, your homegirl, or your therapist (intentional plug).  In the end, introspection and understanding may be the only things that disarm both genders and allow us to heal each other.

Comments
  1. Chuck says:

    Great post. This response is irrespectively not a backlash of any of the reflections or deliberations highlighted in this post, but more of a thought, opinion, and view of a single black, educated male. I think the views and understanding of african american social behavior has been changed and embedded in this idea of soci-economic and professional totem poles. Who’s beating who in the rat race, who’s clocking more hours, and how that translates into whether a guy is going to holla at a chick or not because he thinks she might be out of his league or whether a woman is going to give the guy any attention because she feels like he’s up to her level or checks off pts on her checklist. But to be honest in hindsight, it has nothing to do with where you are on this totem pole, what really matters is how geniune the person is when you met, where-ever you meet, and after communicating with each other finding out if you guys are compatible. Once you break down that young woman with archaic gender roles and that i-bust-my-ass-for-these-2-degrees-so-whats-up-guys it all goes back to effective communication and genuine interest. So, its not about pointing fingers on whos right and/or whos wrong, but more about making your own rules to game while willing to understand others.

    Chuckcity

  2. 05girl says:

    key point to me>> But keep in mind that with guys scoffing at traditional courting while still desiring domestic gender roles, ** yet not committing to their lady**, women have decided to go forth and build their kingdom solo.

    Women, do you ever feel competitive/tension with a man in the way that the authors say men feel competitive with us? I guess I’m thinking the tension doesn’t only come from the man’s side….
    >>A little healthy competition never hurt anyone, but it becomes problematic when the tension of the rat race, or the feeling of losing it, more specifically, spills over into men’s friendships and relationships with women.
    Men work hard much of their adult life just to have the opportunity to get a look from a young woman they’d be interested in courting, and yet without the achievements he wants that will provide the stability she desires (which are one in the same: career and money), he doesn’t stand a chance in the dating race, either! >>

  3. Stank-0 says:

    I thank Jeebus (be he white or brown) every single day that my gf wants a companion and ultimately a partnership. Takes all the competition out of that part of it. We compete in other ways…b/c we are both hyper competitive people.

    There’s more to it than just men and women. We are workin just as hard and bring home less than our parents did a generation ago.

  4. Anna says:

    This is possibly the best post on relationships I have read on the internet. The impact of gender equality in the workplace on our relationships is serious. The only way I can really see moving forward with my mate is as a partner – you can woo me with fancy dinners and gifts during the courtship phase, but once we make the decision to be in a long term relationship I start thinking about how the money for that fancy dinner could go into the “down payment on a house” fund.

    It takes 2 in to make a thing go right…

  5. *Shrugs*

    Ultimately the communication issue seems to be people not being honest about what they want.

    What does a “partnership” mean?

    Archaic Gender Roles?

    Which ones are archaic?

    The ones that expect women to cook, clean and take care of the kids?

    The ones where a man should be able to provide for his family?

    If you’re a man and don’t feel like you should have to pay for dates or participate in other traditional aspects of courtship…then u need to say that and not be so passive aggressive about it as a lot of men tend to be.

    If you’re a woman who expects a man to be more traditional then you need to say that and not be so passive aggressive about it and stop expecting every man to automatically be of the traditional stripe.

    The women’s movement combined with the civil right’s movement left the genders (and races) displaced. The old norms don’t necessarily apply and we haven’t done a good job of establishing new ones.

    I personally beleive it’s up to each individual to articulate what they want and expect in a relationship…and then find people who share the same view…but all the passive aggressiveness needs to stop.

    It doesn’t help anyone and makes for more problems and unhappy people.

  6. 05girl says:

    Also… this was the best pic ever on the site.

  7. Jozen says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how young black, college-educated men and women rack their brain over such issues. It’s a worthy dialogue, but damn, I wonder if people in the ‘hood ever talk about such things. I don’t think they do. I think they just roll with the punches.

  8. Daydreamer says:

    Let me first acknowledge the point taken about meeting at The Club. AGREED! I’m 96% against it…..

    Anyway, call me naive but I’ve never felt direct competition with any man to succeed. I’ve always respected black men in their corporate roles and the game they play to stay ahead and on top. When I meet an educated, successful black man, I listen to how he can potenially compliment my success, goals and life over all. I assume if men see my expression of who I am, where I want to be and why, as competition then yes they’d probably be intimidated. But honestly, traditional gender roles don’t even present an opportunity for competition. Men provide and protect. If they stick to that notion rather than who’s taking their place, as your post suggest, they may find a mate a lot Easier. Not one woman I know seeks success to ‘beat a man’; well except Hillary R. Clinton but she’s the exception. Lol

  9. AfroDiva says:

    I don’t compete period. It make my life so much easier. I acknowledge that people do similar things that I do, but even so, there is still no need to compete. Competition implies scarcity and/or lack and I believe in abundance.

    However, its not about me and I think most people are really competitive. With that in mind, I really enjoyed this post. I propose that men and women starting thinking about being a team vs. competitors. If you and your honey are both in the “rat race,” working together as an alliance you will win BIG!

    When I think partnership I think if he wins, I win and I would like my honey to feel the same about me. Do not compete with your honey, take ownership of their success as your own!

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