5/20/11

It's a Gender Thing...or not

I had the beginnings of this blog entry all written out--in my head. The problem was that I was driving and it made transcribing very difficult. Actually, kind of impossible. So now I just have to rant and hope it comes out okay.

I was having a discussion with someone (female, woman) and she was, like so many others, complaining about her husband. I didn't mind that; we all have issues to get off our chests. (Her main issue was she would ask her husband to do something and he'd say he'd get to it and then wouldn't, or wouldn't when she wanted it done.) But then she kept saying "men always," "what is it with men," "men are so" and so forth. And it bothered me. A lot. Probably more than it should have.

But why do we have to take what one person (in this case, husband) is doing, and blame an entire group on it? Okay, what she was describing is similar to behaviors my father exhibits, but my friend B doesn't act like that, and while my brother B may, I'm pretty sure he doesn't do it to the same extent. In fact, I would probably do it more than both B's, just because I don't like doing things when people tell me to. I need a broad deadline and I'll get it done before then, but not NOW. I need to work under my own schedule.

Does that make me more of a man than them? No, of course not. Because being a man isn't (strictly) a set of behaviors. Behaviors, like so many other things, are individual traits that cross over groups. And I'm sick of people putting all groups together as one, especially with negative traits. If you're going to do it, use the phrase "why are some men so.." etc.

Women would be pissy if a man said "women are so defenseless and weak," wouldn't they? Well, then, women should offer men the same respect. I know there are double standards all over the place; it doesn't mean I have to put up with it.

People are individuals, let's treat them that way.

(And in case you were wondering, I told the person I was talking to that no, the behavior she was describing was in fact her husband's behavior and not that of all men. I think she got the point.)

4 comments:

  1. The "all men do X" meme is, as a male, annoying, but its worse than that: it's destructive, both to the specific relationship and to relationships in general.

    As you point out, human beings have certain characteristic behaviors. Assigning all of one type to a certain set (outside of those that arise from general physical differences) is the same as stereotyping any race.

    But complaining about it is the worst. Look for the branch in your eye before noticing the splinter in mine, and all that. But it also breeds this men v. women attitude that is not only not productive, but actually counterproductive. I'm generally against complaining about your spouse like this in general: first, I think its a pretty strong indicator that you are just angry and unhappy in general, but second, you have to be careful not to denigrate your spouse too much or you damage that trust. And even if the spouse doesn't find out, you can do irreperable harm to the image in your head. These things should be worked out spouse-to-spouse, not spouse-to-friend.

    The communication that is going on spouse-to-friend should be going on spouse-to-spouse, but isn't. Often because the complaining spouse sees the other (generally male) as having some inherently *male* defect that is irreparable. Outside of a penis, that's almost never true.

    If you married someone you don't like, you generally only have yourself to blame. Either he/she was an idiot before and you married him (and the behavior here didn't pop up post-marriage, most likely), or he became an idiot and you allowed it. I say allowed it, becuase if you work at your relationship, people won't just ignore your wishes, and if they do, they were an idiot from go.

    Of course, if you poison the well, the spouse probably has very little reason to not be an idiot.

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  2. You may some good points, and I think if she says something like that again, I may gently point out that she should be having this discussion with her husband, not me.

    Part of it is that she's a complainer in general and has a kind of negative view on things (not that she's a debbie downer or anything).

    A lot of people mostly complain about things as way of conversation. Why do we do that?

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  3. It's so very easy to A) find things to complain about B) find common ground on most of those items.

    Example: It's easy to complain about the price of gas or your spouse's behavior; it's harder to discuss ideas because it requires thinking.

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  4. Now I want to see if I can go a whole day without complaining.

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