Sunday, April 11, 2010

Men and Women: Imperfect Together

Men and women: imperfect together. That might be the tag line on Jeffrey Zaslow's recent article on male friendship: "Friendship for Guys, (No Tears!)." Happily, Zaslow writes of male friendship without any male bashing. And without any female bashing either. Link here.

It doesn't happen every day, so it's worth noting that Zaslow compares the unique characteristics of male friendship with the unique characteristics of female friendship and concludes that they are distinctly different. And he does not believe that there is anything wrong with that. He does not count among those who believe that male friendship should be the norm for women or that female friendship should the norm for men.

Zaslow is simple, direct, cogent, and to the point. Briefly put, he recognizes gender differences as something other than a social construct.

As you might guess, a number of feminist scolds objected strenuously to the notion that men and women are not both really women. Lauren Bans was offended to learn that gender was not a social construct. How could that be when Hollywood has been making Bromance movies? Doesn't it matter that we can watch films where men are so evolved that their conversations seem to have come right out of Sex and the City? Link here.

I always find it mildly amusing to hear feminists talk about evolved relationships. Either they don't know or they don't want to know that evolution, as a theory, strictly differentiates male and female behavior? They would do well to read Donald Symons' book: The Evolution of Human Sexuality, for a good exposition about the science of gender difference.

As reported by Zaslow, the current research shows that guy friends do things together: they hunt, they fish, they play poker, they go to ball games. While engaging these guy activities they do NOT share their feelings, reveal details about their intimate experiences, or gossip about their families or relationships.

The essence of male friendship lies in fact-based impersonal conversation, about matters that are usually in the public realm.

Guys share experiences in the real world, the world of work, sports, and politics. They respect the privacy of the home and personal relationships.

To the therapy culture, this means that they are repressed and have not had enough therapy. From the feminist perspective, it means that they are not really people.

When feminists like Lauren Bans presume to suggest the right and wrong way for men to relate to men she is, dare I say, overstepping her mandate. Inadvertently, she is revealing her wish to control male behavior even when the men in question are outside of her sphere of influence.

One must mention here that that just because a man does not sit around with his guy friends talking about his vulnerability does not mean that he never shows his softer side. It may be that he reserves it for his wife.

While it may be unnatural for men, in a group, to show vulnerability, it is also natural to accommodate gender differences. Given that men and women were not made to get along with each other as they get along with members of the same gender, any relationship between members of the two genders will require mutual and reciprocal accommodation of difference.

Men are required to share more of their feelings with their wives than they would with their guy friends. And they will not expect their wives to be satisfied with just doing things together.

Women should accept that men are not as forthcoming as their women friends. Most women know that they will, when dealing with men, need to participate in occasional activities that are unaccompanied by any enlightening conversation.

A good relationship requires this level of reciprocity. It will feel natural for each party to accommodate the other if the effort is reciprocated. But it will also, as everyone who has had a successful long term relationship with a member of the opposite gender, require something that feels like work.

This research also implies that a married man and a married woman must maintain same-sex friendships. A man should not expect his wife to function as a fishing buddy or a hunting companion. He should not expect her to be as involved in a discussion of his fantasy baseball team as his male friends are.

By the same token a woman should not expect a man to act like one of her girlfriends. He should accommodate her by expressing emotion and acting vulnerable around her, but every woman should know that there are limits to this behavior.

What does it mean if a woman meets a man who is perfectly comfortable sharing his emotions, who is sweet and sensitive, and who makes her feel like she is with one of her girlfriends? Simply put, it means that he is putting on an act. He wants her to lower her guard so that he can take advantage of her. I would say that he is probably not a great long term relationship prospect.

And what if a man meets a woman who acts just like one of the guys. Who does not express much emotion, does not reveal personal information, but is perfectly happy passing the time fishing, watching basketball, and playing poker. He might think that it is he has just landed in Paradise, and that this woman, contrary to his expectation, will never demand that he show his softer side.

Again, he should be on his guard. She may have found a way to get through to him. She may have found a way to break down his defenses. But, unnatural behavior usually involves some level of deception. Forewarned is forearmed.

1 comment:

Olde New England said...

I am one of those rare woman who “…does not express much emotion, does not reveal personal information, but is perfectly happy passing the time fishing, watching basketball, and playing poker.” Except that I don’t like to play cards, and instead like to work on cars and boats, hang around in the woods, shoot, hike, collect rocks, and cuss. There is no deception involved. When I’m not around my man, or my men friends, I do the same things. My house is remarkably free of makeup, high heels, women’s magazines, chocolates, diet books, and PMS medication. Regarding the latter, I haven’t fallen for the PMS scam. I know it’s just an act by which women sanction their behaving like immature, selfish, emotional bitches 2-3 weeks out of each month.
“How did you get like this???” you might ask. I was privileged in that my father was the major influence on my life. He did whatever he could to interpose himself between me and my evil mother. He taught me many important things: how to run and jump, how to catch, throw, and hit a baseball, how to shoot and dribble a basketball. He taught me his Air Force isometric exercises when my mother was trying to turn me into a sickly, scrawny little shadow. He taught me math, and self defense. He taught me to value myself, and told me “Before people will like you, you have to like yourself.” I thank my lucky stars when I realize how his influence helped form me into a whole person instead of one of the shallow, selfish, feminatzi clones which populate the distaff side of life in the USA.