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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Reflections on Equality, Dating and Sexual Politics

I had a whole other topic in mind for my blog today, but something else caught my attention so I'm going with it. A little over a week ago we had a show on The Kovacs Perspective about sex and dating. I wasn't sure if I was going to like what the second guest had to say, because I had been to his website and seen women being portrayed in a somewhat sexist manner. I wasn't able to watch the show right away, because we had an issue with one of the broadcasting and recording programs. Apparently it aired properly on YouTube, however, so the show wasn't lost thankfully.

+Steve Kovacs, the host of the show, sent me a warning that I might be ticked off when I watched the show, so I was all prepared to get riled up. Well, when I did finally watch it, I really wasn't. You see, I agreed with 99.9% of what the second guest had to say about men & women and dating. I'm a feminist, and to me that means I believe in equality between men and women. I don't believe in the superiority of women. I think men and women are equally intelligent and equally capable in almost everything. Women on average are physically smaller, and because they tend to have less testosterone they do not normally develop large muscles. It's that simple. Some women do, but they are an exception.

However, when it comes to pretty much everything that's necessary in the world, women hold their own. There are only a few jobs that women are less physically capable of doing, and none that women are less mentally capable of doing. Men are not capable of giving birth, either, and that's not sexism - it's a simple fact of nature.

What this guest had to say about dating, that I've been trying to say for many years, had more to do with equality than misogyny, even though he mentioned that people might say he was misogynistic. He wasn't. He appears to come across that way, but what he said really wasn't. Basically he said men shouldn't be offering to buy women a drink at a club, etc. He's right. Here's this man who has worked hard for his money, just like everyone else. Here's this woman who has done nothing but show up & look pretty. To me that's patriarchy right there. She gets what she wants from a man for looking beautiful? Puh-lease.

Women want equal rights. They should already have them. Women are equal to men. We aren't men, and we'll never be the same as men, but we are equal and just as valuable. I don't think the gender stereotypes can apply anyway, since I'm nothing like people think women are anyway, but we'll just stick with the generalities for now.

Well, having equal rights means having equal responsibilities. That means not expecting a man to pay for things. Expensive jewelry, dates, cars, houses, you name it. If you want those things as a women, go out and buy them with your own money. If you want a job with equal pay, you're just as capable of spending that pay on the things you want. Yes, there's such as thing as getting romantic gifts from someone who loves you, but that's a two-way street people! I've bought jewelry and flowers for men. I give compliments. I pick up little "Just thinking of you" gifts when I have a man in my life. I've been like this as long as I can remember. Granted, I've always been very opinionated and outspoken about those opinions, so maybe that's not surprising.

I don't consider myself to be anything but normal-looking, and seeing as I'm nearly 42 years old now, I'm getting to the aged normal-looking category. Do I care? Not so much. In fact, it will be a relief when I no longer have to worry about getting honked at and being looked at for my face and body rather than my brain and personality. Yes, it's nice to feel attractive, but it isn't nice to feel hunted. I only care about one person finding me attractive, which would be the person I want to be with. No, I don't care if I find myself attractive. That just seems stupid to me. Why would I want to be attracted to myself? It might lead to far too much alone-time, and not enough time getting things done!

Attraction is necessary in any relationship, but it isn't necessary on the street, out in public, to have people drooling over you. Hell, that's kind of the last thing I want. For some women that's actually downright scary. I'm okay with my past and the abuse I went through as a child, but there are many women out there who have yet to get a handle on things that might have happened to them. Catcalls and horns are the last things they want to hear. Anyone who has been raped will know exactly what I'm talking about. Many people who have been abused will actually unconsciously gain weight to ward off the attraction of others. They're that afraid of it! Overeating isn't always about filling a void. Sometimes it's a shield.

So, when I say I want equality, I really mean it. I have no problem with men opening doors if they feel it's necessary for their own peace of mind, but it's not something I expect from them because they're men. I open doors for people, too. I don't consider it a gender issue, I consider it a consideration-for-others issue. When it comes to the dating scene there may be a little role-play involved there, too, which is fine as long as both parties are into it. It's nice sometimes to just feel feminine and/or masculine, depending on the gender you associate with personally. I actually do feel like a woman, whatever my hobbies might be. Just because I know how to tear down an engine doesn't mean I'm a man. Using my brain for something other than domestic pursuits doesn't mean I wish I had a penis. Not by a long shot.

The fact is, everyone is different, and everyone is an individual with different wants and needs, but there is no reason why men should be worshiping women in order to get their attention. Women do not belong on pedestals. They're just people. Men aren't the boss, either. One thing I'll say about that, though, is that I don't like weak men. I don't mean their muscles, either. People might think that because I've got a strong personality I'd like a man I can walk on, when the exact opposite is true. I don't tolerate disrespect in any fashion, and I wouldn't respect a man who did either. I don't like bullies, of course, but that's not something that shows strength. The opposite is true. Bullying someone shows your internal weakness.

Real men, strong men, don't allow themselves to be walked on, but they have nothing to prove either. They're comfortable with who they are, and don't need everyone to agree with them. Being comfortable and confident in our own skin is something that is very attractive. The colour of someone's hair has very little to do with it. Nor does the size of a woman's breasts or a man's penis. Self-knowledge goes a long way toward attraction, because it increases self-confidence. Actually giving a damn about who the other person is also helps. Being willing to get to know them and understand them, as well as remembering the things that they've told you. Knowing that someone cares enough to really listen is a big deal.

What bothers me endlessly about pick-up lines and catcalls has to do with superficiality. When a man honks at me, or wants to buy me a drink, it's because he sees a package. It's like a wrapped gift. Something he has yet to open, but the packaging looks so good he assumes it's something more than an empty box. It doesn't occur to him that the ribbons and bows could be hiding a steaming pile of offal. This tells me a great deal about the man in question. He's either stupid, or he doesn't care. There are plenty of gorgeous packages out there, disguising meth addicts and murderers. That's the extreme, of course, but it doesn't negate the idea. It isn't much worse to open up the package and find out you're with someone who is unfaithful or doesn't have enough brain cells in her head for her thoughts to do anything more than echo in an empty skull.

A man will never pick up a worthy woman by honking at her. No woman with any self-worth would respond to it in a positive way. Buying a woman a drink in a bar is less of a crap-shoot, but still isn't very effective for sorting to wheat from the chaff. If a man is looking for a real woman, one who does not define herself by her looks, and who knows her own self-worth, there are much better ways. Talking is the only way to figure out who a person is at first, but later you need to see what their actions are. Talking only goes so far. People can say things all they want to, but you never learn about a person's true character until they've been tested by the varying circumstance of life.

Looking across a crowded bar, with music pulsing so loudly you can't hear the person talking next to you, your instincts and inhibition dulled by alcohol, I have to wonder how anyone thinks they can make a rational decision about meeting potential partners. You're lucky if you find out what the person's name is! You don't know if they like cats, or if they're allergic to shellfish. Maybe the peanuts in the bowl on the bar will send them into anaphylactic shock. Can she live with your dog drooling on her while she tries to sleep? What about your habit of leaving your socks in the living room? Can you live with his mother coming over to visit every week and complaining about your domestic skills?

Sure, those kinds of things take time, which is why real love isn't instant. Real attraction isn't either. Purely superficial physical attraction might be, but once you truly get to know someone that attraction can disappear completely based on their personality. If you find yourself attached to someone who whines about everything all the time, their eyes stop looking like limpid pools of moonlight, and start looking like the endless pool of tears you know you're going to drown in one day. If you find yourself with a jealous and insecure man, those loving arms he squeezes you with start to feel suffocating and more than a little scary.

So, let's get real about the dating world. Take your time, get to know people, treat yourself with respect, and treat others with respect. Don't allow anyone to use you. And that means everything from buying a woman a drink to being treated like arm candy. You aren't there to make anyone else happy. You should already be a happy person before you subject another person to your life. You should expect the other person to already be happy. Something else our guest mentioned on the show had to do with that very factor. It's not a man's job to make a woman happy, and he also said it wasn't a woman's job to make a man happy either. If I've learned anything in life, it's that it's not actually possible to make anyone else happy. If their cup is empty, it's going to remain that way until they fill it up themselves.