T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 28780
posted 07-18-2008 09:48 AM
Last night the guy I'm seeing said something that both repulsed me and morbidly fascinated me. AFter I got home from hanging out at his house, he texted me and asked me if he "was a good guy to me." I told him yes because even though we're not in a committed relationship he's communicative, patient, understanding, funny, and I honestly enjoy being around him. For some reason, he kept saying he did *not* believe he treated me well, so I asked him why he felt that way.
He said that he didn't believe he treated me as well as he could because he doesn't take me out a lot (and pay for everything on those outings), open doors, buy me flowers, etc etc. I tried to tell him that none of that stuff really matters to me but he wouldn't hear it. I think he was feeling down on himself for other various reasons that night and this might have been funnelling some negativity in as well, but his final word on the subject surprised me. He said a "real man" would do all those things, and he either just doesn't think about it, doesn't have the funds, or doesn't have the time, simple as that. He works everyday, nine hours a day, and I'm content to go and be lazy at his house at eleven at night because that's what works right now. But the "real man" phrase is what caught my attention. First off, I like breaking "gender rules." I was raised so strictly that honestly, it's something I enjoy seeing myself as well as other people express themselves freely with breaking or bending gender stereotypes. And according to the undertones this guy was suggesting with this phrase, I don't want to date a Real Man. If I were dating Real Man, I would never pay for anything, never open a door, never pull out a chair, and never put on a coat. But I would also probably never initiate sexual activities, talk about or shoulder some of the responsibility of birth control and safer sex, etc. On the flip side, if I were dating Real Man, would that force me to be Real Girl? The passive, quiet, mutable creature who hides her menstrual products, pretends to enjoy a certain sexual activity when she doesn't, doesn't initiate sex, etc.? In short, the term "real man," when used that way, makes me want to vomit. To me, real *people* are people who have fiber and soul, who stick to what they believe and find important, who are loyal and helpful friends, who don't take advantage or use people, etc. I hope this rant made sense. This is all stuff I think I'm going to need to communicate to this guy and I just hope he sees that I'm not in this potential relationship to be babied. Even though his chilvary was kind of touching, it's not a dynamic I always find healthy or enjoyable for both people. I want some equal give and take with all the gender stereotypes thrown out the window.
Member # 3
posted 07-18-2008 11:30 AM
Fallchild, that's one of the more articulate expressions of this dichotomy I've read, and I often spend hours with my face buried in gender studies. Posts like this make me so happy: they give credence to the way-too-many arguments I have to have with some adults and some young people about why we so badly need to hear what all of you have to say.
By all means, I think there can be a lot of mileage in you expressing what you did here: that his definition of "real man," not only diminishes him, by proxy, it also diminishes you. You telling him that side of the story may help him feel a whole lot better. Sometimes, it takes folks some time to shed off ideas about gender like this they were (probably) raised with. It's a process. He may want to be exactly who he is, but may be struggling with how to define his masculinity outside of it. Sounds to me like there's a lot of room here for a pretty awesome conversation. Obviously, after you have it, you can figure out if you two are still a good fit -- after all, if he's going to be working towards an ideal for him that is in no way ideal for you, that's a big problem. But who knows: that may not be the case.
Member # 28780
posted 07-18-2008 11:33 PM
Thanks for your feedback Heather
Usually when I go off on tangents like this people look at me like I have tiny tentacles sprouting off my face, but luckily the people I'm closest to are getting used to it. Or they just nod politely haha. I'm just glad all my blather made sense to someone. I think it's the idea of putting an amount of worth on people that really irritates me, but especially when traditional gender "roles" are brought in is when I get really frustrated. To some people, I may not appear feminine "enough" because of the way I speak, because I'm opinionated and outspoken, because of the way I dress, because I had a paper route when I was a kid, because I play video games, because all of my friends are guys, etc. This guy I'm seeing is putting a number, a quantity, on his masculinity. And what's sad is that he's not doing it according to standards he's set for himself or his own ideas of masculinity. Rather, he's trying to force himself to fit into the convenient Real Man "box" that society, his upbringing, whatever, has given him. There is one BIG thing going on in his life that really makes me hesitate about getting into a relationship with this guy, but we're working on that. We are, however, slowly figuring out how we navigate relationship dynamics, communication, etc. I feel like we have been really healthy about it so far, which to me is a great sign. At this point, I feel like I've successfully changed some stereotypes he held about girls, which makes me happy. I'm the first queer girl he's ever dated, which has been interesting, and I just get the feeling that the way I think about things is really different from how some of his past girlfriends have thought, or the dynamic with issues like this is different. I hope that doesn't sound conceited or anything, but I keep surprising him lol.
Member # 39053
posted 07-20-2008 03:09 AM
Sounds like a pretty interesting relationship you've got going on. Bravo for pushing the boundaries!
Member # 35273
posted 07-20-2008 09:17 AM
Fallchild , I completely agree with you. I hate gender stereotypes and how society defines a 'real' man or a 'real' woman.
Society defines masculinity as anything that isn't feminine.The worst thing a man can be is feminine . Just look at the way we insult men - girl, pussy , big girl's blouse etc... being female is seen as a bad and shameful thing. Whats interesting to me is that people very rarely take women's feelings into account. In dating shows and women's magazines they always enforce traditional gender roles and tell women that if they are too 'controling' or 'bossy' they will emasculte a man or won't even attract one in the first place. You constantly read that men feel thraetened by women in power or by having a partner who earns more, the sugested solution of course is always that the woman sacrifice her career , let him take the lead and make the decisions. Nobody ever considers that women might just feel like crap being a ''passive, quiet, mutable creature who hides her menstrual products, pretends to enjoy a certain sexual activity when she doesn't and doesn't initiate sex'' as you put it. I don't think its healthy in a relationship for either party to be the 'boss' , 'wear the pants' and makes all the decisions wheter financial or sexual or whatever. I can't imagine how insignificant that would make the other person feel. It sounds very idealistic but relationships should be 50/50 , give and take and be about sharing your lives not about the man fitting a woman into his world as so often happens. I think it's a shame that more young people don't see how damaging these stereotypes are and break them in their own relationships. Then again they are so deeply engrained that parents raise chilren differently depending on their sex (wrong!!) and it saddens me that with lesbian couples people always ask who the man is? Of course by 'the man' they mean the one who is in charge. Similarly with gay couples people joke about who will wear the dress and who will wear the tux.(sigh) Because this is a sex ed site I will add that gender stereotypes can have serious sexual consequences too. Girls won't carry condoms because girls are not meant to like sex and if they are seen with a condom then someone might think they enjoy sex and are ''easy''. Many girls won't initiate sex or take control of their own sexuality and as a result they do things that they might otherwise be uncomfortable with just to please their partner and with guys they often feel pressure to have sex before they are ready or with someone they are not attracted to just to prove their masculinity.
Member # 29269
posted 07-25-2008 07:07 PM
Of course, the flip side of this is that if I, as a man, get a chair for a guy who walks over, nothing is thought of it. But if I were to similarly get one for a girl, all of a sudden I'm being chivalrous, or gentlemanly or whatever. This can happen even with a group of people you just met that day, who know nothing as to my sexual orientation (straight but curious, but that's not the point).
The fact is, I'm just the kind of person who gets chairs for people, because it's polite and welcoming. I've been raised to be quite old-fashioned, I guess. And it especially ticks me off when people who dislike chivalry for what it implies (as they're entitled to) assume that's what I'm doing (that is, based off of a single action, or even when that one action is the first interaction I've had with that person). Moreover, if in a relationship scenario, I hold doors open, get chairs, buy flowers (which I do), that in turn doesn't mean I'm expecting that woman to feel she has to hide her menstrual products and so on. I'd be mortified if that turned out to be the case. Hell, I'd do all these things the same if it was a guy I was dating.
Member # 35273
posted 07-29-2008 07:00 PM
Patrick , I see where you're coming from. I dislike 'chivalry' for many reasons and I agree with you that opening doors etc.. is manners not chivalry. I am a woman and would never slam a door in someone's face.
If I'm on a date and he holds the door open I'm fine with that but I will say that it can get to the point that I can't do anything for myself and begin to feel awkward. He comes around to pull out my chair and rushes to get to a door first to open it for me. That's not cool at all.
Member # 3
posted 07-29-2008 07:26 PM
This stiff also has to do with the place it is coming from.
Fallchild is making pretty clear that this is about ideas about what is and is not "real" masculinity. Someone holding the door open for you because they hold doors open for everyone, as broadwaybound mentions, isn't the same as someone holding the door open for you because "that's what men do." It also isn't the same as feeling your masculinity has been called into question or disputed when someone opens their own door, wants to split the bill, pull out their own chair, etc. When those gestures come from a place of defining masculinity by what you do for women -- and only women -- and they must accept you need to do to feel you're both in the proper gender roles, it's not about manners, and as a woman, you'll often find that out at least once when you meet someone who earnestly becomes ANGRY with you, or into this weird powerplay, when you do the same things for them or want to do for yourself. To reiterate: manners or courtesy and chivalry are very different things. If I stand up on the bus to give my seat to someone older or with a disability, because I perceive they need to sit more than I do, it's one thing. If I do it because I need to feel better about myself, or because doing so asserts a certain role or status or gender role or status, that's something else.
Member # 29887
posted 08-02-2008 03:07 AM
Personally, I like chivalry when it's a sign of respect. However, it's demeaning when it's used to create a power play and convince the girl that she "owes" the guy sex or something.
My boyfriend and I have discussed this in depth and we both believe that many aspects of traditional gender roles in male-female relationships can become a distraction from finding true meaning in the relationship. I think that getting caught up in the confusion of gender roles makes it harder to just focus on each other's own unique needs, wants, talents, and attributes. My boyfriend and I have developed a simple maxim: take care of each other. Whoever gets to the door first opens it (which sometimes results in a race ), we split the bill or chip in extra if one of us is low on cash, and we take turns driving to save both of us gas. As soon as we decided to forget about artificial constructs of what's "masculine" or "feminine", it's been much easier to just enjoy each other for who we are and have a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
Member # 3
posted 08-02-2008 02:12 PM
Just to make clear -- and I think we've discussed this in another thread on chivalry -- chivalry, by most definition and history, is gendered and based in traditional gender roles (because women are considered weaker, and thus, in need of care). In other words, it is expressly about male behavior (knight's behavior, most accurately) towards women. The alternate definition is actually about behavior on the battlefield. It is not the same as courtesy. Rather, courtesy was PART of most definitions of chivalry. If in need of further refining, while I think the Wiki on Chivalry is a bit of a skeleton, this bit is pretty helpful: quote: When examining medieval literature, chivalry can be classified into three basic but overlapping areas: 1. Duties to countrymen and fellow Christians: this contains virtues such as mercy, courage, valor, fairness, protection of the weak and the poor, and in the servant-hood of the knight to his lord. This also brings with it the idea of being willing to give one’s life for another’s; whether he would be giving his life for a poor man or his lord. 2. Duties to God: this would contain being faithful to God, protecting the innocent, being faithful to the church, being the champion of good against evil, being generous and obeying God above the feudal lord. 3. Duties to women: this is probably the most familiar aspect of chivalry. This would contain what is often called courtly love, the idea that the knight is to serve a lady, and after her all other ladies. Most especially in this category is a general gentleness and graciousness to all women. These three areas obviously overlap quite frequently in chivalry, and are often indistinguishable. Different weight given to different areas produced different strands of chivalry: 1. warrior chivalry, in which a knight's chief duty is to his lord, as exemplified by Sir Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle 2. religious chivalry, in which a knight's chief duty is to protect the innocent and serve God, as exemplified by Sir Galahad or Sir Percival in the Grail legends. 3. courtly love chivalry, in which a knight's chief duty is to his own lady, and after her, all ladies, as exemplified by Sir Lancelot in his love for Queen Guinevere or Sir Tristan in his for Iseult The maxim you're bringing up, belle -- which I agree, is fantastic and pretty much says all anyone needs to know -- would actually not have really been within the codes of chivalry, because chivalry really is just about men and men/knights as more able or honorable than anyone else.
But I do feel like all of this is a bit of a departure from what fallchild was talking about, which was about masculinity issues, so let's try and keep on topic for her, okay? [ 08-02-2008, 02:14 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]