Posts Tagged ‘gender roles’

So if you follow me on twitter (I don’t recommend it, I’m banal and highly annoying), you might have seen me going back and forth with a number of other twitterers about gender, male privilege, and some other highfalooting concepts with which I’m sorely underqualified to deal with. I’m a very tactile person. I deal best with what I can touch, taste, smell, and feel. I like the feel of boobies, the sound of a Hemi exhaust, and the taste of bacon. The conceptual and theoretical, I sometimes have a hard time dealing with because I don’t necessarily see how it relates to the real world. That said, there are people far better than me at explaining the theoretical, especially in terms of race and gender politics. I present:

Saida

SisterToldja

R. L’Heureux Lewis: Who wrote this treatise for the existence of Black Male Privilege

Here’s Brother Lewis speaking at Morehouse’s Founder’s Day Symposium:

If you’ve been an unfortunate witness to my sloppy back and forths with the above folks, you’ll know I carry a certain amount of skepticism about the concept of “Black Male Privilege.” I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. I just haven’t necessarily been sold on the idea that there’s something particularly special about Male Privilege as it relates to Black men.

What’s more interesting, I think, is how we address these concepts in reality, and in particular, in relationships. What a lot of my intellectual friends have suggested is a pathway towards making men and women more equal. Reducing the negative effect of male privilege and patriarchy on women, so that they have greater opportunity, safety, and stature.

I fully support this. But one of the things that I think will make an interesting sideshow to this is the fact that:

women still want a man that’s more powerful than she is!

Even a couple of the women I’ve mentioned above have had conversations with me saying that they either want or expect either an Alpha Male, or for a man to contribute financially to a relationship on a higher level than she is. If that’s the case, isn’t that a huge disincentive for men to give up what privilege they have from a socioeconomic perspective? After all, if women typically want a man that has more power/money/status than they do, why would men want to dismantle the power structure that provides them with these traits? I ask this as a means to discussion, not to prejudge an argument. Seriusly, I really think this needs to be talked about. I find it especially interesting that even very feminist women who rail against patriarchy are often themselves still somewhat tied to gender roles in their personal lives. I was watching Millionaire Matchmaker the other day (which probably deserves its own slice of the gender/socioeconomics discussion as men who have some kind of male privilege basically get to pick and choose from throngs of young, attractive women) and saw this:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Ain’t it wild to see women pushing for what many consider to be antiquted gender roles which clearly label the man as the stronger, protective party and the woman as the person to be taken care of while the man argues against it? I mean, think about that for a minute. Who’s right? And where does buddy’s hesitance to engage in chivalry come from? Is it a legitimate attempt to treat women as equals as opposed to being patronizing, or is it just laziness and narcissism? And is Patty right? If gender roles HAVE worked for millions of years, what happens when those gender roles change? How do both men and women adapt successfully to these changing roles? Or is that impossible?

As women and men: how do you deal with these sometimes conflicting issues? Discuss.

So if you stopped by yesterday, you saw a pretty heated debate both here and on the Twitter (I like adding the word “the” in front of stuff for no reason) about Morehouse’s new dress code. In summary, some supported it, some didn’t, but pretty much all the disagreement was centered around whether or not men should be allowed to wear women’s clothes on Morehouse’s campus. No one even touched the issue of sunglasses or gold grills or sagging pants or hoodies inside, so I’m going to have to infer that everyone’s fine with banning these things. After all, these are accoutrements of the underclass, and no one wants to be associated with poor blacks. It’s fine to judge and look down upon people socio-economically, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon a gay person’s right to wear the new Louboutins (sp).

But what about a straight person’s right to do the same? Aisha1908 on Twitter made the point that dressing in women’s clothes and being gay aren’t necessarily synonymous. There are straight dudes who wear women’s clothes:

Do I have a problem with the above gentlemen’s choice of haberdashery? Nope. Do I respect the right of a private institution to say, “naw, folk, you ain’t fina come to class like that.” Yup. But we’ve already hashed out that discussion.

The question that lingers in my mind is just this: Is there any room for gender roles left in our society? Am I, and the people who agree with me, a bunch of out of touch dinosaurs hellbent on maintaining a heteronormative society by brutally squashing people’s right to express themselves?

Whooo! Fuck womens rights! Yeah!

Whooo! Fuck women's rights! Yeah!

If you were wondering, from Wikipedia:

Heteronormativity is a term for a set of lifestyle norms which indicate or imply that (1.) people fall into only one of two distinct and complementary sexes (male and female) with each having certain natural roles in life, and that (2.) heterosexuality is the only normal sexual orientation, thus making sexual and marital relations appropriate only between members of the opposite sex. Consequently, a heteronormative view is one that promotes alignment of biological sex, gender identity, and gender roles to the gender binary.[1]

Those who identify and criticize heteronormativity say that it distorts discourse by stigmatizing and marginalizing some forms of sexuality and gender, and makes certain types of self-expression more difficult when that expression violates the norm.[1] Non-heterosexual and gender-variant people who transgress heteronormativity include homosexual, bisexual, asexual, intersex, and transgender people in addition to people who are married to or form pair-bonds with more than one partner such as polygamists or polyamorists.[citation needed]

By the above definition, I’m technically not completely Heteronormative in the sense that I don’t believe that straight relationships are the only valid relationships. I know enough gay folk to know that, well, they’re gay. You can’t pray it away, suppress it, destroy it, or treat it with medicine if you wanted to. I know at least one transgendered person. And for me to say that they CAN’T or Shouldn’t be with another person of the same sex would be ludicrous to me. You’re an adult, that’s your call.

But what about the gender role part of that equation? And let’s assume we’re talking strictly about straight people, since obviously the gender roles in non-straight relationships are going to be much more complicated. Since we’re saying it’s ok for gay people to throw off the yoke of societally acceptable gender roles, should straight people be allowed to do the same? Should they want to?

Let’s look at a couple constructs in dating. The homette Kimmy Frye did a blog a while back about a “Turnaround Party” in New York. Her take:

Hmm. let’s review the key points:

  • Ladies pay a stiff cover.
  • Ladies are encouraged to buy the man drinks.
  • Men’s turn to relax.

Ummm – No thanks, i’ll pass.

I have zero interest in meeting a man who thinks this is an awesome idea. That would give him a totally false perception of who I am.  Set all kinds of the wrong standards. I’m all about playing the role of a woman and my man being, well, a man, in all the most traditional ways.

OK, she’s not a fan. Let’s see what the commenters had to say:

2 Responses to “Turnaround Party?”

  1. where they do that at? @trgriff said this on August 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm
  2. I love that @trgriff commented…when I saw your “um no thanks Ill pass and I have zero interest in any man who thinks thats an awesome idea,’ I died laughing. Of course we will pass…not for me! xoxo missbridge said this on August 25, 2009 at 5:10 am

From another enlightened-esque woman, Blackie Collins:
I like men. Let me rephrase that: I like manly men. I do not like skinny jeans wearing, Zac Efron hair flipping, weird, non-prescription glasses sporting, take longer than me to get ready men. Nothing makes me feel more butch than feeling like I’m the guy in our union. And nothing makes me feel more feminine, than being with a man who is just that: a man. There’s something about broad shoulders, a nice suit or regular fitting jeans, maybe some crisp Tims, a few tattoos, those nice cuts along the abs…ok, you get it. If you’re the kind of guy who waxes his eyebrows, you’re out.

Let’s be honest, if you’re too busy at your waxing appointment, you won’t be around to protect me (and maybe you should be protecting Steve instead). I need to feel protected. I need for you to be the dominating animal in our pack. I need to know that if something goes down, you’re on it, or at least we’re in this together. Even my gays can remember they’re men when shit pops off (have you seen those guys fight!), so I know you can do it too, punchanella, punchanella.*

Jackies real life boyfriend, Earl

Jackie's real life boyfriend, Earl

Guess that vastly unscientific poll of women says no, this does not rock. But why not? I mean, over the last 30-40 years, we’ve seen a dramatic crumbling of “gender roles.” Women now have the right to equal pay (whether or not that’s fully realized), economic equality to buy what they want and start businesses, be CEO, run for President, run for Vice President, and all kinds of other stuff that I think most people agree is a good thing. I’ve had women bosses before, most of whom were just as if not more competent than male bosses I’ve had.

But let’s look at what else has happened over the past 30-40 years. Divorce rates have shot through the roof, something like 70% of black kids are now born into single parent households, black men trail black women in huge numbers in college and graduate school admittance and achievement. Are the two linked? NO idea. I’m not a sociologist, and don’t pretend to be.

But it does occur to me that if we’re going to throw out some facets of gender roles, why not throw them all out? Here are some things that would happen:

1. Men would no longer exclusively approach women. As equals, women would now also have to approach men.

2. Men would not pay for first dates. you have a job, we’d split the cost.

3. Men would no longer walk on the outside, open doors, or pull out chairs. These would be seen as an insulting infringement on a woman’s independence.

4. Men would no longer help build bookshelves, move furniture, or mow women’s grass, nor change their oil. This would be patronizing and assume women are too weak or mechanically ill-inclined to do things themselves.

5. Forget about Alimony. Leave with what you came with.

6. Men would have the option of being house husbands. It would be insulting to assume that women are somehow naturally better child-rearers than men.

7. Women should no longer expect any show of chivalry, sacrifice, or romance by men to garner their affection.

8. Engagement rings would no longer be purchased by men to propose to women. When the parties agree to enter a marriage, they would exchange watches.

9. Women would no longer be expected to be good cooks or have any household skills. Attempting to seduce a man with cooking skills would be looked down upon as an archaic celebration of oppressive gender roles.

10. Fathers will no longer tell their sons ridiculous things like “Boy, take the trash out!” or “Don’t you let your mother carry those groceries in here by herself” because these would suggest that the woman is incapable of doing manual labor and feeds into the stereotype that men should do “man’s work” or help “weak” women.

So is this a better construct than the current state of heteronormativity that so many people feel is so bad and so oppressive? Would you prefer to enjoy a freedom from gender roles, or would you just laugh if a man expected you to pick him up and pay for his meal? Discuss:

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.