In which I almost create a manifesto

I received a lot of dating advice in response to my post on Wednesday. I appreciate the feedback, I do, and I know it was all very well-intentioned. But, I’d just like to point out that I didn’t need advice so much as want to inspire a discussion on a double standard.

Smart men are praised.

Smart women are feared. (Here is a really extreme example.)

I associated this phenomena with a personal dating anecdote because that’s where I experienced the double standard the most, in the dating world. But that was not, apparently, the thing to introduce if I wanted to start an actual discussion, versus soliciting a flood of well-meaning advice. It’s my own fault.

So, allow me to put it bluntly: Why do you suppose society trains us to believe that smart women are bitchy and un-feminine, even while we are in the midst of a huge gender equality movement?

Why are we getting the message of “equality of intellect” out to the women, but somehow leave the men behind?

Why do we keep putting the onus on the smart women to adapt to a world where femininity is measured in the height of our heels, instead of asking society to evolve and accommodate more varied standards of the feminine? (Or the masculine, for that matter? Shout-out to the manly men that wear pink! Excuse the cliché.)

Have any of you experienced this sort of bias? Or, perhaps, the reverse?

I suppose my confusion and irritation stem from being an avid science fiction and fantasy reader since before I formed a concept of what was “socially acceptable.”

I mean, sure, there are plenty of sci-fi/fantasy books and movies that follow the prince-and-distressed-damsel standard, but there are just as many—if not more—that exemplify equality of intellect, and often, fighting prowess. Books where male characters are amazed by and respect their female counterparts for their specialties, regardless of whether it’s as an expert sword fighter, formidable scholar or an accomplished baker. Books where the reverse is also true, and women don’t bat an eye when a man takes on more traditionally feminine roles.

Books where women who have astounding intellects are praised just as highly as the men. Where smarts are feared or prized equally in both genders.

My own parents exemplify this dynamic of respect. Hell, I write those characters in my own stories. I’m really not sure why the rest of the world is taking so long to catch up.

I know in my heart (I know because some of you read this blog) that there are men out there who feel the same way.

So, thank you for the dating advice, but I will continue to reject your reality and substitute my own–since mine is the one we should be striving for in the first place.

Remember, boys and girls, the only way the world will change is if you start to change it. Don’t accept something you feel is wrong, or misguided. Speak up. Stand up.

Fight.

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2 thoughts on “In which I almost create a manifesto

  1. I believe that we are moving in the direction of having a relationship be and the society norm to be gender-neutral. I was actually shocked as some of the statistics (and not so much at other areas that I suck at doing) in a Wall Street Journal article about Man vs. Woman roles/responsibilities in the household. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323401904578157500316162398.html)

    I think that society as a whole is still placing men and women into stereotypical roles. If you look at a lot of the sitcom’s on TV today (King of Queen’s; Everybody loves Raymond; Home Improvement; Rules of Engagement; etc.) the man is stupid, slow to respond and complains all the time about his wife. He almost has to tip-toe around everything he does and every episode is a challenge to find some resolution for some minor infraction. Now, the woman in these sitcoms are usually successful, intelligent, strong, opinionated women who really come off as ‘bitchy’ or ‘nagging’ because of what they want from the husband. If we take a step back from all of this and there are better communication channels built between both parties there wouldn’t be these sorts of ‘episodes’. Just watch any of the Everybody Loves Raymond episode designs and he is always on the defensive, trying to protect some minor decision or item he did without consultation.

    I have faith that our generation is losing these gender based roles in relationships and households. But until it stops being presented to us as ‘entertainment value’ then people will continue to believe that this is the way people are and should be interpreted. If you run into one of these people you can know they are close minded and very myopic on this subject. Eventually this may be bred our of us, but unfortunately it’s only been a short 50-70 years since gender roles started to split and opportunities started presenting themselves for women more. That’s really only one generation from the change and look how far we’ve come. Not too shabby, but there is still a long road to travel until we obtain true equality for all.

  2. Excellent point.

    That trend is probably why I really despise the shows you just mentioned, with the exception of Home Improvement–I think that was decent at presenting the humor in the lack of communication between genders, and presenting the message of how to resolve that lack. We are in your debt, Mr. Wilson.

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