I’m reading a book that was written back in the mid 1960’s.  Due to the context in which it was written it’s gotten me thinking about the evolution of gender roles in the United States.  So much has changed since it was written.  This is an odd one for me, I’ll tell you right off the bat.  Maybe it shouldn’t be but it is.  And I know no matter how eloquently I illustrate my views on the matter, I will undoubtedly be misinterpreted as saying and meaning something I’m not.  But I suppose when has that ever stopped me before. 

Seeing the stark contrast of how women were viewed in the 60’s as compared to how they’re viewed today is really quite remarkable.  And maybe I should be all “Go women go!  Burn that bra bitch!” but I’m not. 

Reading about how things were causes me to feel torn in several directions.  Part of me makes note of the way the men in the book shush women from speaking their mind and it enrages me to the point of an elevated heart rate.  Then again I read further and see the way the same man goes on to treat her later and I find it nothing shy of inspiring.  Women were revered back then.  The lines of how to treat a lady were clear.  Sure she may have been seen as incapable of fending for herself – not only not true but decidedly not good.  However, there was something intentional about the way men looked after women.  You didn’t just hold the door for her.  You humbled yourself to see to any of her other needs while you were at it.  And this wasn’t just a one way street.  Women did the same for men but came at it from a different direction.  Both made it a point to see to each other’s needs without having to be asked to do so.  And this is not because they couldn’t do it themselves.  But speaking as a female, there are certain things that I just never want to have to do.  This is where things get murky and I don’t quite know where I stand, especially without pissing people off or being gravely misunderstood.  But I know that there are parts of this attitude that I do agree with.  And frankly I adhere strongly to them.  Namely, I do not think a woman should have to take out trash.  Ever.  Can I take out trash?  Of course I can.  And do I?  All the time.  But I shouldn’t have to.  A man should do that as my hands should not have to get near that because I’m a lady and trash smells like a Petri dish.

I was raised by a very strong yet very lady-like woman.  She taught me and my sisters that there is absolutely nothing we cannot learn and/or accomplish if we so desire.  Growing up I watched her take apart VCR’s to repair them, purchase power tools to install window treatments and get dirty in her garden.  And at no point in time did she stop behaving like a lady.  Maybe it’s because she’s a southern woman, I dunno.  But I remember this clearly.  She was both strong and gentle, simultaneously.    And I watched her male suitors be incredibly persistent in their pursuit of her, though she remained aloof and seemingly unaware of how intent they were.  Maybe she noticed, maybe she just didn’t care.  It was probably a good bit of both.  But this is who raised me - by herself.  So I grew up seeing and hearing nothing but the unending capabilities of females.  We really can do anything a man can do.  But frankly I don’t want to.  And they don’t want to squeeze a child out of their birth canal either, so it all works out. 

And true, today the lines of gender responsibilities are blurred.  Women work while men stay home to raise the children.  Daddy and daddy adopt kids and play picnic with their lesbian cousins.  It all works out.  And as long as everyone is happy and the weight of responsibility is dispersed evenly then I say so be it. 

But with all this 21st century gender equality, I feel we as both males and females have lost something fundamental to who we are as people and what makes us a wonderful species.  You don’t have to agree with me.  You don’t have to even read this.  And really, this isn’t banter.  So, if you disagree, go write about it on your own blog.  This is the way I see it.  It does not have to be how you see it.  That said, a week doesn’t go by that I don’t feel the twinge of both pain and disgust by how we’ve evolved as a people.  All it takes is a couple of rides on public transportation.  It never fails.  I find myself standing in a herd of females, all of us trying to keep our poise while balancing in the aisles of the bus while the driver takes corners like Mario Andretti.  This in and of itself would be nothing to make note of.  What I find issue with is when everyone that is standing is female while men occupy seat after seat.  Each one fiddling with their electronic gadgets, as if to pretend they didn’t notice us standing in front of them, doing all we can to precariously hold onto a bar that was made for people at least a foot taller than us, someone more, say, the height of a man. 

But this is the society we live in.  We burned our bras and this is what we got.  Well frankly I don’t want it.  Let me be clear: I don’t want your pity nor do I want your misogynistic attitude.  What I do want is for you to get up off that seat and put all that testosterone you have coursing through your body to good use.  And no, it’s not because I want your seat.  I actually don’t want to take your seat from you.  You’re likely no less tired than I am.  But I want you to be a gentleman and offer it to us as females because you are a man that has excess strength to spare.  You see when you do this men, the non-verbal speaks volumes. 

Sometimes I just want to tell men, “You were made with balls for a reason.  Stop asking for permission and just be a man about it.”  And no I don’t mean in mere romantic sentiment.  I’m referring to day in day out encounters.  You’re a man.  It’s okay to act like one.  And I don’t want to see you flinch and pause as we decide which of us will be the one to do some undesirable task or carry a heavy load.  As the longer you contemplate whether or not you’re going to man up, the more I question your masculinity.  Let me let you in on a little secret, heterosexual females love strong men.  It’s a fact.  Sure you’ve got the women that had some sort of traumatic home life and now they have a need to dominate all men forever.  They exist, I know they do.  But I’m not talking to or about them.  And yes, I know I’m making broad sweeping over generalizations here.  Need I remind you this is my blog and I can do that. 

But I have to say that men are not entirely to blame for their emotional castration.  We as females had a huge part to play in it.  We basically walked up to them and in one fail swoop tried to correct all that’s been wrong with gender inequality for thousands and thousands of years.  Because do not misunderstand me, a lot was wrong and still is.  The movement of feminism accomplished a lot of things both good and bad.  And ultimately I’m very grateful for it.  But I’ve found that it’s given women the platform to publically emasculate men, which should never, ever happen.  Did I say ever?  I meant it.  We can’t expect men to be men then rip their pride from them.  It doesn’t work that way.  That being said, it’s also given men the excuse to be lazy and apathetic claiming they merely want to give us “strong women” equal opportunity to exercise our strength.  How noble of you.  Why don’t you roll up your skinny jeans, go hop on your fixed gear and see if you can find some modern girl to swap instagram photos with while you sip lattes at a cafe.  Now, wouldn’t that be lovely.

There has got to be a balance between what was and what I see.  I picture my mother in the book I’m reading.  A man reaches over and puts a finger over her lips to silence her ideas.  I smile when I picture this because I can only imagine my mother’s articulate, pointed reaction.  She’d never stand for it.  Though don’t doubt she’d not lose her cool or behave unladylike.  She’d simply make her point and then be about her business.  Then I picture all the ways the book illustrates the men in the 60’s with their chivalry and intentionality towards women and I think ya know, “I want that too.”  I want the freedom to speak my mind as what I have to say matters.  All the while I want you to hold the door for me and ask me if I need anything.  And I promise you I will return the favor and then some.  As that’s how this works.  One side gives and the other receives only to give it right back.  But as long as we’re screaming balls to the wall and boasting about the power of estrogen, I fear none of this will occur as it should.  And that would be such a sad evolution for us all.





 

 



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