On the battle of the sexes.


On the battle of the sexes.

Hey folks,

I haven’t read all of these posts, but I thought I’d offer both my view and a male friend’s view on the article. We’ve been posting about it here.

Here’s what my friend Tom wrote:

I think it is a great article. It is uselessly inflammatory, but if you get past the rhetoric, there’s some very good information in there for somebody who wants to get married to a bright, ambitious woman. I’m talking, of course, about the empirical studies that were shown. That information is good to know and understand, not because it means women shouldn’t work if you want a happy marriage, but that there are challenges to being married that you shouldn’t ignore, gloss over, or disparage. Instead, you should use that information to come up with creative solutions with anybody you plan to marry, including addressing the critiques that Libby and everybody else stated. By all accounts, marriage is work, and communication and cooperation is important, but knowledge is power. Seems to me that there is a solution for the couple that works to find one.

I’m all in favor of changing the world. If we expect half the population to stay home because of a criteria as arbitrary as gender, then society shortchanges itself of half of its talent pool for no good reason. But in shaking the paradigm, new challenges arise and society needs to work through them. That happens by people making choices, living their lives, and sharing their successes and failures with others.

08-24-2006 10:10 AM


Re: On the battle of the sexes.

My response:

REALLY good point, Tom. And rebutting the article by attacking the scientific studies presented may not be the best way to go about attacking the author’s position. If you ignore the writer’s position about what the solution to the problem of higher divorce rates among career women is, then a more meaningful discussion could take place.

And really, I’m not totally shocked that there would be higher divorce rates and all the things that go along with relationship deterioration (cheating, etc) among women who are extremely smart, capable, and successful. Career women’s working lives are just as complicated and busy as men’s and thus, with two complicated, busy, intelligent people in a relationship instead of just one, the relationship itself get well, more complicated and perhaps frought with difficulties that weren’t there when everyone knew his and her “place”. It’s not good to ignore the new challenges that arise from a relationship of equals – but the solution is certainly to be aware of those challenges, and grow so you can meet them, NOT a return to what is familiar simply because it’s easier.

In this new era of sexual equality, there has to be a period of adjustment in which men have to reconceive themselves and their relationship to women. Essentially, in the battle of the sexes, men have had to essentially lose a lot of ground. Previously, they were the ones with most of the power and money and privilege in society, and now they have had to cede some of that to women. Generally people don’t like to see their importance, their power and their expectations for their lives diminished. People don’t like to have to change.

There is a lot of adjusting that has to happen before women can truly be equal in society, and much of the battle now is purely social. And still much of the compromise has to be made by men. Women expect more from men now I think than they used to – perhaps because expect more from themselves and society expects more from women at large, so women similarly expect more from a mate.

And I do hate to say it, but lots of men simply don’t live up to those expectations. That’s not to say that they can’t – but they have to change in order to do so.

Particularly in earlier generations (I’m 27), which is probably where the bulk of this data is coming from, men are still stuck in old ways of thinking and women are struggling to be free of those old ways. So marital discontent seems almost necessary, really. The numbers will probably change over time. At the time my mom was interviewing for jobs to be a lawyer, she was still being asked by prospective employers whether she had plans to have a family or not, which these days is unacceptable because it is discriminatory.

With every new generation of young people who want to get married, the divorce rate, I think, will change, because men are changing (and women are too, of course!) Social conventions are changing. My mom and I have often had discussions about “how men are” because my mom is fond of making very sweeping generalizations about men, which I have found to be not true among the men of my generation.

I think it takes time for social change to really happen – and this change in the gender relations between men and women in our society is huge.

People’s sensibilities and expectations move at a much slower pace.

But that being said – I want them to continue to move, so every call to send the women back to the kitchen because hey, that’s way easier for men to deal with and makes THEM happier, that really really really pisses me off.

08-24-2006 10:22 AM


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