ef·fem·i·nate : (1) (of a man or boy) having traits, tastes, habits, etc., traditionally considered feminine, as softness or delicacy
I start this week’s blog in complete defense of the caveman. Some friends and I tooled down to the Golden Nugget on Freemont Street about a month or so ago to take-in a viewing of “Defending the Caveman,” starring Kevin Burke. After my wicked case of the giggles underwent mojito-enhancement, I spent a solid hour of the hour and ten minute show with a smile on my face (it’s no wonder why this show was the longest running one-man show on Broadway). After much nudging among the three of us and several days to let it all stew, I find great comfort in the fact that as a species, we’ve been seeking answers to the same questions — essentially since the dawn of time.
Granted, we’ve moved from spears and buffalo to semi-automatics and Ferraris, but our diabolical dilemma remains the same.
Why are men and women so goddamn different?
I don’t want to look at a guy with bigger tits than mine, and there’s a whole fetish originating in Brazil built on the he-she “hybrid” models. I’ve read that men are from Mars and women are from Venus and that men go “into their cave” and women want to “talk about things.” Today’s blog ponders the possibility that there’s a huge gender fender-bender on the main thoroughfare of our Western society, and it’s a 17-car pileup that isn’t going to resolve itself anytime soon.
The shift of societal focus from an agrarian model to an urban one has had undeniable impact on the role that gender plays within our culture. Whereas men were traditionally in the breadwinner role and women adopted that of the homemaker, there is a significant shift in focus that I feel (KNOW) has blurred the gender lines.
Women, and beautifully so, are assuming higher corporate positions and have enjoyed the benefits of “career life” consistently for the past 30 years in the Western world. But what does this mean for the men of our society? Specifically, how much of a blow to the ego is it to be displaced in the financial hierarchy the relationship dynamic?
I fucking HATE so-called “affirmative action” programs and feel that they have not only outlived their usefulness, but also contributed to a greater acceptance of lower standards across the board. I find it to be amazing that from a corporate human resources standpoint, we have been conditioned to accept that in some cases, less is more simply based on the determination of gender or racial origin.
Back to displacement now …
Here’s what I really think about what the modernizations of our society have done to our gender roles, for good and for bad:
I would consider that it’s a tremendous blow to men to be displaced from the role of “hunter,” and quietly moved over time to what the male psyche would consider to be a role of lesser import. The thrill of the hunt, the tracking of prey, the camaraderie that inevitably develops between fellow hunters — it’s inherently manly, and as a woman, I find the scent of it all to be fiercely intoxicating. So why is it that Cosmopolitan and Jane magazines are pitching me Lysol to get rid of that pesky “man odor?” Somewhere along the way, we sent the message that men shouldn’t be men and our Western society underwent a “pansying” of the male. I think it’s left men confused between who they feel they are and what society has told them they should be.
It’s much the same for women, I think. With best-selling book titles such as:
“Why Men Love Bitches”
“Why Men Marry Bitches”
“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office”
“The Corporate Dominatrix: Six Roles to Play to Get Your Way at Work”
…are women really being encouraged to maintain their femininity? There are very specific things about the male and female psyches respectively that provide the incredible potential for a beautiful and symbiotic relationship experience, but there is one thing I’m almost certain of:
We’ve said to hell with the differences and tried to become the other.
Women are waiting longer to marry, and generally speaking, have become very self-sufficient as individuals. I can fix shit around my house (time consuming), install a ceiling fan (expertly), have my car serviced (highly inconvenient), kill bugs (gross), and balance my bank account (annoying yet necessary). I don’t need a man for any of that, yet it is likely that, as a woman, I’ll be able to tell you how I FELT about doing each of those things.
However, two marriages and a broken engagement later, I’m wondering if I have — through my own self-sufficiency — rendered my partners obsolete.
The OCD in me has driven me to a successful career in the sales field, where one excels solely because of either dumb luck or vehement determination (in my case, I acknowledge that it’s certainly a function of both). I’m 34 years-old, have no children, and quite honestly, don’t need anyone to help me get about the functions of daily life. But … yeah — it’d be nice to have someone. But perhaps what’s happened in my past, and for other men and women in our microwave/drive-through/grocery delivery society as well, is that we haven’t made room for anyone else in our lives, and that’s a primary source for our discontent.
On the watercolor painted by the universe depicting the stark naked differences between Adam and Eve, a thunderstorm broke out and caused His fig leaves to run into Her hip bone, and we got all fucked-up from there. Somewhere along the way, I think women felt they had to grow a pair and men were told to give-up theirs. In pursuit of what’s important to us, have we individually become so self-contained that we are unwilling and unable to allow the entrance into our lives our compliment …
… the ying to our yang?
… the peanut butter for our jelly?
… the embodiment of all that we were not designed to be, yet by design — still NEED?
I wasn’t designed to be a man. At birth, I got this extra “wo” and along with that comes a litany of remarkable things. It all makes me wonder why I’ve been so insistent on being the star of my own fucking one-woman show all these years.
At age 34 and 7 months, I’m learning several things about myself that I’ve either repressed for shitload of years or am discovering for the first time (and really enjoying the process):
- It’s OK to ask for help with something (even though I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself)
- Underneath this sailor-mouthed, no bullshit, business suit-wearing exterior, I’m a girly-girl. I like dresses, pink ice cream, flowers, cooking, hosting, and grocery shopping. There. I said it. I like grocery shopping.
- There is something truly beautiful about watching a man in his element, where he is solving/creating/fixing/moving/rearranging/planning/capturing/etc. And I think there may be moments where men look at women the same way.
- That I have to be willing to make room for someone else in my life. While this may not be an immediate process, I know that for me, it’s allowing myself the time to see where someone fits and enjoy the process along the way. Otherwise, all I’m really doing is asking someone to come along for the ride, and that kinda sucks.
There’s so much more that I’m learning about myself, but I do think that where society has led us has created more of a Pandora’s Box than ever before. By opening-up that box and letting fly the dogs of war, I’m realizing that there are (for certain) ways to embrace my femininity yet remain a strong presence — physically and spiritually. For men as well, there are ways to appease your “inner hunter” yet acknowledge the contributions of the “gathering” nature of womankind. You can go shopping without feeling like a pussy and it’s OK to have feelings that make you a better partner on some days than others. And for both men and women, it’s OK to take that “you” time, to be yourselves … alone … just go.
Maybe it’s time that we pull over to the shoulder and ask for directions along the gender highway as opposed to following some of these traffic patterns that got us into this fender-bender in the first place. Hey lady—yeah, you in the Tahari suit. Cross your legs while sitting at the boardroom table and put on some mascara. And you — yeah you. Guy pushing the cart of groceries for his wife with the forlorn look on his face. What are you doing here? You HATE grocery shopping. Go home and watch the race on ESPN!
Men will be men and women will be women (and thank god for that, as only Toyota should make hybrids). Why are we so hell-bent on trying to be something we’re not in a world that is exactly as it is? For the love of all that is available at the adult bookstore, I think it’s fabulous that single men have no food in their fridge, and you can bet your sweet ass that if I’ve forgotten my razor, I’m gonna use his on my legs.
I’m a girl. It’s what I do.
Additional reading for those interested on the premises from which I’ve formed my opinions/drawn my conclusions/launched my rant can view the following links:
Impact of Gender Roles on Men
With More Equity, More Sweat
The Evolution of Sex Roles
Gender Roles and Technological Progress