Culture has always fascinated me – especially ours. Particularly the gender roles we have defined between men and woman and the subsequent expectations that come with them. Specifically in our western culture, the role of woman has been a very touchy subject. Everyone wants to be valued and anything that questions a person’s value is hurtful – especially if that “thing” is something he or she cannot change such as race or gender. This makes me a teeny bit nervous to talk about this subject, and though I am expecting some pushback, know that this post isn’t about gender at all.
In studying industrial/organizational psychology, I have been conditioned to do a few things:
- Question every statistic and study that is ever published ever,
- discriminate and define ambiguous social rules and core motivations,
- and question basically everything from a different perspective and context.
In this case, I believe much of how men are expected to treat women has stemmed from a movement to not satisfy a woman’s desire to be seen as equal among men, but to be equally respected – which can get complicated because one’s personal view of respect is quite subjective.
I also believe much of how women are expected to treat men… well… doesn’t really exist. Did you catch that? Even the phrase “how women are expected to treat men” by itself may have caused a few of you to raise an eyebrow. And what do I mean it doesn’t exist? Well, Google the phrase. Actually, let’s do it together.
Google isn’t really a valid tool to use in defining our culture, but it does offer some insight. Google ranks its results according to a number of factors, but the first 10 search results largely reflect sites that are relevant to the search term and are the most frequently clicked on. Search results are also based a little on geography, so results may differ from place to place. Here are my first 10 results after searching “how women are expected to treat men” in Rexburg, Idaho, logged out of my account, and on an “incognito” tab to insure search history and browsing history didn’t factor in:
- How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who ..
- 4 Ways to Treat a Woman – wikiHow
- What Men Want in a Relationship « Power to Change
- Ways that Males and Females are Treated Differently
- Elizabethan Women – Queen Elizabeth I
- Why do women expect men to treat them like queens? – Yaho…
- Study: Men Want Women to Chip In on Dates, but Are Afraid …
- The Curse of Beauty And Good Looks In A Woman
- Women quotes – ThinkExist.com
- Treating Men Like Four-Year-Olds | The Current Conscience
See what I mean?
I’m starting to see how our culture has established that it is a very positive characteristic for a male to expect nothing of his female counterpart. Therefore, finding lists of “10 ways you know you’ve found a good woman” are a little more difficult to find because a good man would throw that list away and love the woman for who she is.
But remember, this post is not about finding fault with one gender or the other.
On the other hand, it appears women are not as encouraged to be that way for men. It is somewhat humorous to me to think about what would happen if gender-specific social norms were switched slightly. For example, if a wife walked in on a relaxing husband and asked, “Sweetie, it’s a little messy in here and I’m super busy. Would you vacuum please?” The husband would be labelled “chivalrous” if he were to drop what he was doing, or not doing, to attend to his wife’s request.
Now… God be with the man that walks in and says, “Hey sweetie! It’s a little messy in here and I’m super busy. Would you vacuum please?” How dare that man! Busy!? You don’t even know busy you lazy sack of stale dog food! It bewilders me why people like you are allowed to vote.
Kind of interesting huh? In fact, let’s do another little activity. What if we took one of those “10 ways you know you’ve found a good man” lists and flipped it:
- A real woman values more than just your looks.
- A real woman will never be intimidated by your motivation.
- A real woman will have more interests than just you.
- A real woman will give you answers.
- A real woman is direct.
- A real woman will trust you.
- A real woman is cool, calm, and collected.
- A real woman will show you respect.
- A real woman will put effort into your relationship.
- A real woman will make you want to be the best version of yourself, without changing who you really are.
Do these expectations feel a little high? Do we want to tag an “unless” at the end of every one? Are the words in this list or even the words I’m writing right now rubbing you the wrong way a little?
If I were you, I might be thinking, “But Braden, statistically, aren’t men the ones who fall short in a relationship? Aren’t they mainly responsible for the relationship not working out? I hold men to these expectations because I want to be in a successful relationship.”
But remember, this post is not about finding fault with one gender or the other. Hang in there, I’ll get to it.
Now, statistics carry a lot of weight and validity to them and can be very persuasive. There is an overwhelming, statistically supported consensus that woman are the majority of victims in abusive relationships, receive less pay than males, are hired in job positions that are considered to be of lesser value, and are somewhat viewed to be the inferior gender. However, sometimes we fail to look at the context and consider all the factors of these statistics. For example, I can create a different story looking at statics like these from a different point of view:
- About two in five of all victims of domestic violence are men, contradicting the widespread impression that it is almost always women…
- Data from Home Office statistical bulletins and the British Crime Survey show that men made up about 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2004-05 and 2008-09, the last year for which figures are available. In 2006-07 men made up 43.4% of all those who had suffered partner abuse in the previous year, which rose to 45.5% in 2007-08.
- Campaigners claim that men are often treated as “second-class victims” and that many police forces and councils do not take them seriously. “Male victims are almost invisible to the authorities such as the police, who rarely can be prevailed upon to take the man’s side,” said John Mays of Parity. “Their plight is largely overlooked by the media, in official reports and in government policy, for example in the provision of refuge places – 7,500 for females in England and Wales but only 60 for men.”
- The pay gap that has been described as “unexplainable” has been decreasing since the 1980’s. At least some of the remaining pay gap is surely tied to the gender division of labor in the home, both directly through its effect on women’s labor force attachment and indirectly through its impact on the strength of statistical discrimination against women. Women still retain primary responsibility for housework and child care in most American families. However, this pattern has been changing as families respond to rising labor market opportunities for women that increase the opportunity cost of such arrangements.
- A 2000 page paper published in American Law and Economics Review by Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen reported data from several studies across the United States spanning more than 100 years (1867 to 1995) regarding the percentage of instances where the woman had filed for divorce. Based on the collected data, it was calculated that women had initiated the divorce in 68.9% of all cases. This means for every 10 divorces, seven were initiated by women, and three were initiated by men. In only one of 25 separate datasets were men the greater initiators of divorce.
But remember, this post is not about finding fault with one gender or the other.
The point is, statistics can be manipulated in a way to validate whatever point we are trying to make. There are an infinite number of variables to consider with every statistic. For example, what are the reasons for divorce in that last statistic? Why? Because when people realize that among the top reasons for divorce we’ll find infidelity and abuse, those divorces seem a bit more justifiable. Women do, in fact, fall into the majority of these victims. However, among the other eight of the top ten reasons for divorce you will find something like:
- Lack of communication
- Feeling constrained
- Expectations from each other
- Your spouse doesn’t understand / fulfill your needs and desires
- Quick change in lifestyle
- Religious and cultural differences
Most of these reasons for divorce are pretty subjective and very changeable. Perhaps, relationships struggle between either the man or the woman because they’ve unconsciously set unrealistic expectations for one another in any of the above categories and find themselves unhappy when they aren’t met. So what if we all changed our expectations? Why don’t we change our expectations? I think change here requires a shift in lifestyle causing that person to give up a few hopes therefore leaving one feeling vulnerable – and no one really likes that. So, we don’t change our expectations.
We don’t. WE don’t. Both of us. Both genders. This post, on the surface, focuses on making men look like the good guys, but that was done to simply see things from a different perspective.
The fact is, it doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter which gender is more inadequate. It doesn’t matter which gender cheats more, abuses their spouse more, or mismanages their money more. What matters is that infidelity, abuse, and mismanaging finances ruins relationships. Period. We shouldn’t treat women with respect just because she is a woman, we should treat her with respect because she is a person. We can neither justify domestic abuse from a woman because the man wasn’t meeting her innate need for constant security and affirmation any more than we can justify a rape victim because of the way she was dressed – and men just have a bigger sex drive. These unjustifiable behaviors are just bad!
For me, there really isn’t any such thing as sexism. It’s all about the golden rule:
“Treat others how you want to be treated.”