I am a child of the late 70’s. Watching my extremely traditional (child of the 40’s) mother get walked on routinely by my father hammered home the point being made by pop culture in those years: The only way a woman gets respect is to behave like a man. I took this to mean that I was to be aggressive, sexually frivolous, and earn as much money as possible. Being vulnerable was the ultimate faux pas.
On the other hand, while I despised the fact that my Mom didn’t seem to get a vote in our home (our world revolved around my father and his word was ultimate), she was and is an amazing human being with the most remarkable capacity for love I have ever known. She made me (and so many others who have been blessed to know her) feel incredibly valued and loved. At the age of nine, I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior (in a very sexist church) and began reading scripture on my own as a teenager. All of this added another confusing layer to my understanding of who I would be expected to be once I reached adulthood. In my 30’s I finally got this all straightened out, but during my adolescence, it certainly contributed to my brewing hostility toward “traditional” gender roles.
There are now more women than men enrolled in college, and women are increasingly becoming the primary wage earners in the family. We have been taught to be strong, and to demand what we want. Yet there is a powerful undertow we are trained to ignore that desires a relationship where we can be vulnerable and feel protected.
At the same time, men were taught that to be loved, they must be docile, “good little boys” who wait for mommy to fight the battles and solve the problems. This goes against their biological drive, as well. A boy in today’s public school system can be expelled for defending himself from a bully. He learns that he is not to fight back. After suffering the initial humiliation of getting beaten up, he is taught to wait for his mommy to “follow proper procedure” with the authorities.
The complaint I hear most from men about single women is that we are hard and controlling. The complaint I hear most from single women regarding eligible bachelors is that they are weak and passive. Culture pressures us to override the best of our gender’s natural inclinations in order to embrace the very worst exhibited in the opposite sex. It is madness, and it is creating misery in the singles community.
Many men complain that women only want “bad boys,” when the truth is that we want men who take the lead, and are confident and assertive. Yet these are exactly the traits they were raised to think were bad and would result in them being punished. When they behaved in a confident, chivalrous way around masculine women, they were scolded. If they met a woman who interested them, they were hesitant to take the lead and pursue her for fear of being accused of harassment.
Women often think that men only want “bad girls” when the truth is that when a man is looking for a wife, he wants a woman who is (sexually) extremely cautious. Yet everywhere we look, we see that the women who get the most attention are those who dress and behave in a sexually provocative way. When we took a stand for sexual purity, the objects of our affection usually vanished. If we’re going to being single for any length of time, we’d better be pretty capable of protecting and providing for ourselves.
So much of our behavior is driven by our perceptions of what the opposite sex expects of us, yet our perceptions are far off the mark. Yes, there are women who want passive men over whom they can rule, though she may say that she wants him to be her “partner.” Yes, there are men trawling for consistent hook-up sex who have no interest in anything more, though they will probably lie about their intentions. If we cave in to the pressure of these skewed beliefs, then we will only see that which we expect to find. When we make the decision to exhibit the very best natural attributes our genders have to offer and refuse to settle for any less in the opposite sex, we will begin to see more of that as well.
When we behave honorably, we can be honest with ourselves and others about our true desires. When we make the commitment to serve God and our higher natures, we will find greater satisfaction in our romantic relationships.
I’ll be writing more about what this looks like in the real world in blogs to come.
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