Battle of the Sexes

One of many things  I like about Becky is she loves men as they are.  She’s not out to change us.  She lacks a grand plan to improve and civilize us.  And in my limited experience of folks, Becky’s love and acceptance of men as men is rare enough to be remarkable, although it’s not entirely unprecedented.

I believe men and women are more alike than different.  For every difference between the sexes, there are a thousand similarities.  But even with all those similarities, most women I’ve known have declined to accept men as they are, and most men I’ve known have declined to accept women as they are.  It seems our species has a hankering to recreate everyone — and maybe everything — in our own image, rather than leave differences be differences.  So Becky’s attitude of simple love and acceptance for the men in her life sticks out.

I’m usually reminded of her when I read the comments on a post I wrote sometime ago, Why do Men Look at Teen Nudity.  There are now about 200 comments on that post, and a lot of them are quite heartfelt and earnest.  But many — from both men and women — seem to betray a lack of understanding, and even a lack of acceptance, of the other sex.

I’m surprised by how people have handled the discovery that their boyfriends or spouses are attracted to younger women.  Several women described themselves as devastated by that discovery.  Yet, before I read their comments, I would have thought it was no big deal.

Some years ago, I was intensely in love with my second wife.  I could not have found words that expressed how much I loved her.   At my job, however, I worked with young women, several of whom I found attractive.  I certainly didn’t notice my attraction to them in any way diminished my love for my wife.  So, in my understanding, there’s little or no contradiction between loving one person and being attracted to other people.  Hence, I was surprised to read h0w devastated so many commentators were simply to learn their boyfriends or spouses had been attracted to other women.

I don’t mean to imply here that the women who felt that way wrong to feel that way.   Rather, I just think it’s a difference between men and women.  You either accept that difference or you try to change it.  But if you try to change it, you might be fighting an uphill battle against female nature.   Perhaps.

I don’t really know what to make of these differences between men and women.  To the extent they are real — and not mere imaginings or exaggerations — I suppose we should try to accept them.  But is that realistic?  Is there not an inherent conflict between men and women on some of these issues?  Must one side win and the other lose?  Or is there room for some compromise here?

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8 thoughts on “Battle of the Sexes

  1. there is nothing wrong in getting attracted to members of opposite sex. rather it is inherent trait in all human beings. Only thing is it should not effect one’s marital relation or other commitments.
    atleast I dont have any issues with my husband and his various attractions and light flirting. I think it adds spice to life. But not sure How my husband will take it if I get attracted to some one.
    Most important thing is man and woman are different , physcially ofcourse but there is differenc in their thoughts, their psyche, their ability to deal with and face problems and other issues of life. and we should accept it gracefully and learn to live with it

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  2. Going in to a relationship with intent of “improving” someone, or loving the “man he could be” instead of the man he is (and this works the other way, too, not to be sexist), is a recipe for disaster. Heck, looking at one’s self as something flawed or in need of improving is a recipe for disaster. We can’t help but do it, of course, but it’s always a self-fulling prophecy. It’s the judgment that makes the sin – both psychologically and grammatically.

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  3. My wife, after almost 44 years of marriage, still tells me:”You can have your aperitive anywhere you wish, the meal you eat at home.”
    We have both held fast to that practice because it applies to both.

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  4. All true. Somehow, I feel like this is one of those indications that humans were not intelligently designed. (BTW, I’m not saying that humans aren’t intelligent, I just mean they aren’t optimized.)

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  5. In truth this is a topic I don’t understand.
    It seems to me that when someone is attracted to another it hardly ever encompasses the idea of accepting who they are… the fact that they too are a fallible human being is lost beneath the fantasy of them. See also ‘American beauty’ for instance… and yet somehow, sometimes, love blossoms when the ‘reality’ of another is accepted.
    Attraction and love are not necessarily incommensurable (and ideally attraction is surely be complementary to love) yet it seems to me that they are often distinct.

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  6. I don’t know.Getting attracted to ,say,a co-worker is but natural.Frankly,in such case age does not matter.IU also believe that men or women must not try and change either…they are excellent creations of God as they are.

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  7. Physical attraction, emotional connection, love, in love – these are all different experiences. They can overlap, but they don’t necessarily overlap with the same person as the “object.” They may – and then that’s terrific – but it may not last. That’s when a foundation of respect, friendship, shared values, shared history and love keep people together and enjoying each other – sexually as well as in other ways.

    Physical attraction to men and women we see on the street, online, at the local grocery, in the workplace? I can’t imagine NOT experiencing a bit of that spark. It’s the natural chemistry between men and women. And women feel it, too. Perhaps some women are just more willing to admit it.

    I don’t see the problem here.

    Attracted to YOUNG men or women? That’s recognizing the beauty of (relative) innocence, taut skin, supple muscles, graceful movement. Again – seems pretty natural. Attracted to teens or pre-teens? That seems like a different issue to me, far more gray, and far momre complex. Certainly not one I have the expertise to address. But that’s one I’d worry about – in a mature man or woman.

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  8. I agree that there are more similarities between men and women than there are differences. Sometimes I think that the differences in the way the world TREATS men and women, rather than the actual differences in OURSELVES are to blame for breakdowns in understanding. As an analogy, I will never understand what it is like to grow up black in America. I can certainly sympathize and try to understand. But I will never really know the impact it has on someone to grow up and go to school where almost everyone around you is white. Learning in school about slavery – learning that the founders of the country I live in, and the ancestors of the people around me kept my ancestors as slaves. Seeing everyone from Santa Claus to Jesus portrayed as white. Hearing news stories on a regular basis about cop brutality against blacks and hate crimes resulting in the lives of blacks. Seeing women on an elevator clutch their bags tighter when I get on. Wondering if people think I’ve been hired on merit or because of my race, etc.etc. So there may be times when an African-American person has an emotional response to an incident or to a turn of phrase that to whites seems irrational. But it would probably be because a white person doesn’t understand the subtle, underlying racism it implies. Or they are not able to see the world as a young black man might perceive it.

    In the same way, I don’t think a man can ever really understand what it is like to grow up as a woman in this world (and vice-versa). Now, I am being a bit dramatic to make a point here, but try to imagine it from a woman’s eyes. From the time you are a little girl, you are surrounded by images of what beauty is supposed to be. Barbie, Cinderella, and other female characters are unrealistic in their proportions. And it is the pretty girls who are good and who get the prince. You hear “How pretty you are” or “What a pretty dress!”, though no one seems to focus on your brother’s appearance. As a family you watch the Miss America pageant every year and talk about who’s prettier than who and watch as a young woman is crowned and rewarded seemingly for being beautiful and carrying herself well. When the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue comes out, there is media hoopla when the cover model is announced and the guys around you (including Dad and brother) flip through it at the kitchen table, looking at close up photos of women in sexually suggestive positions wearing painted-on suits. A feminist makes a complaint about the magazine and she is ridiculed and made into a “Grinch” character on Saturday Night Live. You drive around town everyday and see several billboards and signs on the back of cabs with photos of sexy women advertising the many “gentleman’s” clubs. You walk into any gas station and see a row of magazines behind the clerk covered in plastic with lewd photos of women on them. You see commercials everywhere – TV, internet, magazines – advertising “age-defying” products for women. It’s common place to go to the movies and see a leading man is in his late 40’s while his love interest is in her 20’s. Those leading men by the way can have pock marks on their skin. Meanwhile, when HDTV comes out, internet sites and celebrity gossip shows talk about which female celebrities “don’t hold up” in HD because you can see the lines on her head or the pores on her skin. Images of scantily clad women are used to sell everything from beer to perfume. You go to the lingerie store and have trouble finding things in small sizes and the clerk tells you that due to the popularity of implants, most of what they sell is now size D. Breast implant surgery is on the rise, despite the fact that it is high risk with a very high complication rate and no real documentation of the affects it has on the long-term health of a woman. Meanwhile, on the news, you hear stories everyday of men leaving their wives and children for younger women. You hear countless stories of women being raped and killed by men. There are stories that remind us of the institutionalized violence and oppression of women (Crimes against young women and girls within the FLDS cults, 30 million infants and children missing due to infanticide in China, little girls raped by men and then abandoned by their families because they are “dirty” in the Middle East, A man can kidnap a girl in Africa and is then able to take her for his wife if he pays her father, atrocities committed by the Taliban against women, etc,etc,etc,) yet there doesn’t seem to be a strong international voice against it. The USA and other westerners still do business with these countries.

    So as a woman you are inundated with these kinds of messages. Your value is directly related to your physical beauty. It is important for a woman to have large breasts. You need to be younger. You need to be prettier. You are a sexual commodity for men. Men cannot be expected to control their desires. Men are entitled to enjoy younger women. You are weaker so be careful – a man could kill you. A woman’s life is not as valuable as a man’s. You are powerless. These messages are subtle, and most women (and men for that matter) have learned to completely tune them out most of the time. But they are there. All of your life. Over time they have an affect on you. So when a woman’s boss at work calls her “honey” instead of by her name….or if she catches her husband watching teen porn….the man may be surprised (understandably) by her seemingly irrational emotional response. But in the context of the world as a woman sees it, I can understand it. She may feel her world crashing down around her. A situation like this may be a heartbreaking reminder of the reality of the world she lives in and validate her own insecurities. Insecurities which may be the result of how the world treats women as opposed to simply being part of female nature, if that makes any sense? Or maybe a combination of the two?

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