Continuing from yesterday…

Kakou Korakos
I certainly agree with you that women are often societally trained to be too passive. Myself, I believe the answer is to quit training them to do that, rather than just nudging "nice guys" to be more assertive. I also agree that being the major decision-maker in a relationship is ultimately both exhausting and enervating — it's not a role I think either gender should have to consistently assume.

I'm fascinated that you initially chose the word 'passive' for women who do not pursue, but 'narcissistic' for yourself. Is this because you find the latter a more active descriptor? Hm… considering you're quite willing to "pursue," so to speak, in your work life, I would guess you're quite capable of doing so in your personal life as well — so it would appear to be your conscious choice not to. Makes sense to me; from what I've seen, we all have a myriad of different "faces" for different aspects of our lives. Also from what I've seen, that's a problem only when we allow one of our faces or masks to somehow stifle or damage us.

So do you consider yourself more… I don't know what phrase to use so I don't cause offense when I'm trying to explicate intense curiosity — um, more self-centered? More disinterested in working that hard? More desiring the ego-boo of pursuit?

As far as the culture "hiding" or discounting non-traditional gender roles, that's actually characteristic of all cultures. Societies promote and validate that which they approve of, and either ignore, mock, or attack that which doesn't fulfill social expectations. You can see this not only in gender roles and the definition of "family," but also woven throughout just about every strong social structure: religion and politics leap immediately to mind. As an actual example, it always amuses me to see TV shows that suggest the "Father Knows Best" white two-parent middle class family with one dominant bread-winning father and one subordinate full-time homemaker mother with 2.3 kids was the standard in the 1950's in the US. However, if you check the actual statistics of the time, that kind of family was the minority.

I find it a sign of societal health that we're finally starting to slowly recognize the huge variety of family types possible and/or already in existence. Even better, I believe, is that we're also slowly discarding these stifling, tired old gender roles of "passive subordinate woman" and "active dominant man." From what I can see, it's when a social rubric no longer works for the majority of the members of a society that it starts being changed — regardless of how jumbled up things may seem in the in-between times when a new rubric has not yet taken its place. This new set of social expectations is created very slowly, true, but it is happening, despite alarmists squawking about the end of civilization and other such nonsense. I understand change is scary, but for heavens' sake — stagnating to death is far worse, in my book!

Thank you for your long and thought-provoking comment re new possibilities for personal and individual choice in social roles, rather than rigidly simple gender-based ones. I find your commentary on "no 'nice' in gender roles" rather well put, and I quite agree re things working best when we ignore the assigned gender roles. I think that's one of the reasons I find brains, rather than simply looks, such a turn-on.

Heh. If I end up writing a Firestarter article on the absurdities inherent in virginity and monogamy, or postulating an idealized form of family, I'll remember to tap you for thoughts! I do love exploring social possibilities like that. :)

Thank you for your comments! Let's see, taking your queries one at a time: I think we start counteracting the problem by teaching everyone confidence and self-respect. As Kakou Korakos noted in one of his comments, a lack of gender roles means people can start acting more like individuals, doing what feels right for them personally.

Regarding finding a single "right" person, I admit I have rather broad views on what loving relationships are. Frankly, I think we're realizing more and more that strict monogamy (or even the serial monogamy we practice in the US now) is both unnatural, and likely aberrant for our species.

Argh, you want that damned study! ;) I am sorry, Hastka; I would gladly give you the link, but in the years since I wrote the article the original link I had went dead. Yes, I've learned my lesson — I try to keep archived copies of stuff I've linked to now. I've searched for it on the web since, and not been able to find it, unfortunately. The closest I've come is this link explicating the author's ideas on Feminine Beauty. Please note: a) this site is not safe for work! and b) I do not agree with this man's rather racist, homophobic, and misogynistic conclusions! However, at a quick perusal he does run through some of the comparisons between female models and some "masculine" physical traits. I'm sorry; that's the best I can give you right now.

ROFL at your entire comment, culminating with "blossoms from a seed of emo into an immense bouquet of angst." Thank you so much! I love your turn of phrase, and I quite agree: social expectations are agonizingly, astonishingly unrealistic. ;)


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