Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Exposing "myths" of gender inequality and infantilizing

It is the "frail" woman syndrome that requires re-thinking, especially by men who continue to harbour this stereotype, and all that goes with it. And it is long past time that women disclaimed such protection, from men, from organizations and especially from those whose real "axe" is to destroy men whom they consider have "taken advantage" of women.
There is a cultural phenomenon known as "the sisterhood" in which and by which women find protection from those they consider "dangerous," "threatening," "intimidating," "abusive" and "violent". Clearly, there are women who are, this minute, being abused by their male partners, whether in a formal marriage or a common law union. And that abuse must stop! Yet, that abuse often results from a power-differential in the male-female relationship, not the physical kind, but one that can be characterized by intellectual, verbal, emotional, psychological and assertiveness criteria. On all of those counts, women generally score much higher than men, especially the last one, assertiveness.
Men are commonly considered "blow-hards," or "macho," or "alpha" and yet, is it not past time for the world to recognize such attitudes and behaviours as manifestations of insecurity? Silence, often considered abuse by some women, is more likely retreating or cocooning by the male, who really doesn't know how to act or to respond to whatever he is being confronted with/by...in his female partner. (There is no attempt here to excuse inappropriate or abusive behaviour, insults, name-calling, threats or intimidation, by either male or female in an adult, consensual and mutual relationship!)
However, women have a need for, a desire for and sometimes an obsession for control, given their own insecurities, and men who wish to participate in a mutual, equal and reciprocal relationship are likely to "give in" to such a strong motive, or to withdraw. Men, too many women believe, are irresponsible, irrational, unpredictable, and immature and therefore as a stereotype, need "parenting" or significant refining and reigning in, in order not to be an embarrassment. Often the difference between the two genders takes the form of the difference between "micro" and "macro" managing...the female using the former and the male using the latter. There is no generalization that can be applied here, as in male = macro and female = micro....sometimes, in fact, it is the inverse of this model.
Neither micro nor macro is "the right" approach; in fact both are essential. It is the equation that brings both into a working relationship, when both parties can see the advantages and the need for one approach or the other, or some simultaneous combination. However, there is a myth running around that "micro" is more responsible, because it depends on the accurate and detailed focus on the fine print, where the "devil lives"...
Often, however, by over-concentration on the micro, the bigger picture is completely missed to the disadvantage of all parties.
Men, at least too many from my experience and observation, are not, have not and likely will not assert their point of view in relationships as often or as confidently as their female partners, and consequently are failing those relationships, while continuing, in most cases, to provide adequately for their fiscal support. Arguing with a female partner is by conventional wisdom, a "no-win" proposition. Put another way, "a happy wife means a happy relationship" and so, to continue to aphorism, "make her happy, doing whatever it takes," and count on being happy in the relationship. Women have learned how to negotiate through political, social, cultural and power thickets since they were in grade school. Most men have not learned those lessons, at least as extensively as their female partners. And women have different ways of using verbal language, body language, facial expressions, and attire to convey nuanced messages, with many more arrows in their "social arrow quivver"...some will call that statement "sexist"; however, re-read it, think about what it is saying and I believe you will see that it is merely based on evidence. Nuanced communication is clearly not the forte of most males in adult relationships with women. In fact, we are a bumbling, stumbling and somewhat inarticulate gender, when it comes to nuanced and emotional and intimate communication. Some of us have even tried to learn the language of our own emotions, as part of our discovery of what it means to be a human being, although, as most males will testify, "women do it much better than we ever will." (That observation, too, will be classified by some as sexist, only this time it will be against men. Re-read it, and consider what it says before jumping to the sexist charge.)
Take that to the level of an organization with the advent of feminism. The argument that men have, for centuries, conspired to keep women "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen," may have had some relevance in the past in some cultures; it has no currency in the modern world. However, in order to "make up for the perceived mistakes of men who came before our generation, men of the late twentieth century have been expected to make right a situation they did not cause, cannot claim responsibility for, and do not have the tools or the inclination to correct. Even if they did, they would have to accept the premise that the perceived inequality between men and women is, was and will always be the result of the error(s) of men's ways, and that therefore, men are supposed to "make it right."
Resentment against men, by strident feminists, has resulted in too many "protect women" rules, regulations, training programs, and punishments of too many men, who, at least in too many cases, have been the unsuspecting, sometimes innocent victims of female jealousy, insecurity, revenge and certainly female conspiracy against some abusive man, long ago encountered, but now the anger is projected onto the current target. If women seek equality, true equality, then they have to act like equal adults, and it is their responsibility to find out what that looks like.
It does not look like targetting the male as the "dominant" one or the abuser whenever a man and woman enter a relationship of mutual consent. It also does not look like refusing to admit full responsibility for choosing the relationship freely and without force, or undue influence or persuasion, and then, if and when the relationship "goes south" claiming victimhood, as clearly too many women have done, with the support and sanction of both the sisterhood and the frightened and gullible men whose spine has permanently departed, leaving them the pawns of the women seeking retribution, justice and revenge.
It also does not look like fawning over males onto whom they have projected their ideal man, in order to get the attention of those males, and then, when the male has made a commitment, finding out that they never intended the relationship to be permanent in the first place, and exiting without so much as a healthy closing.
Men, traditionally, have been pursuers, hunters of a life partner. However, that stereotype is also being blown out of the water. Females have claimed equality as pursuers, and have overcome unsuspecting males in many situations, only to be unwilling or unable to accept a termination of a relationship, if and when the male discovers its basis is not one of long-term sustainability and equality. Their response, too often, has been, revenge, without acknowledging their adult consent to the relationship in the first place.
And, when there is a perceived "power imbalance," for example in the military or a quasi-military organization where hierarchy prevails, and where the male is a superior officer to the female, then the existing "zero tolerance" policy while in force, contributes to the imbalance in gender relations. A man and a woman will be subject to varying emotions and emotional connections in all situations, professional and private. And no rule that claims to "control" those emotions or the implications of their being "uncontrollable" can be justified, even given the neurotic perceived need of the organization to separate personal and professional lives.
We cannot justify the separation of humans from nature, anymore than we can justify the separation of man from woman. And to attempt to seal such separations in hierarchical structures only demonstrates our fear that without those separations and the punishments that "warn" and deter others, we would devolve into chaos. The truth is just the opposite. If we were to adopt a more honest, less frightened and less neurotic position, based on the acceptance of the full truth of our humanity, including our sexuality, our emotional lives, our biology and our innate hard-wiring to be part of a healthy social network, we would not be hiding so much of ourselves from one another, from God and from exposure to the light of day. We would not find the emergence of untimely relationships, as currently judged from the perspective of "social convention" based on the exposure of our "evil natures" so frightening. And, as a consequence, we would not be spending wasted time punishing individuals whose emotions do not "fit" with the expected and sanctioned behaviour.
Tomorrow, that "misfit" could be anyone of us, and who is to say that "not fitting" is either unethical or immoral, given a full understanding and acceptance of what it means to be a human being.
And the church, as a quasi-military structure, must bear most of the responsibility for attempting to create and then to sustain the divide(s). The church is an institution not of love and forgiveness but of "control," "domination," "infantilising," and "seeking and finding evil" as if to provide controls for the human "savage" that we would otherwise be, if we did not have its parenting. Similarly, military segregation of ranks, of private and professional lives, while undergirded by volumes of both case law and courts martial, is not congruent with the full truth of who we are and who we will remain.
We are engaged in a compulsive pursuit of both lies and denials, as we expose what is clearly an important part of our human nature, only restricted by men in skirts who have never, in too many cases, come face to face with their own sexuality, fearing that it may lead them away from God.
How preposterous!
What kind of God would set us here, driven as we are, both men and women, by our sexuality, and our gender differences, and our affinity for each other, only to find such pursuit evil, and punishable by excommunication if expressed at times and in places not sanctioned by the church "fathers?"
And the feminist postulate that women are "inferior" unsupportable by the evidence, only further complicates the attempts by both healthy men and women to enter, to grow and to evolve into healthy mature, if fragile mutual, respectful life relationships.

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