April 11, 2011
No need for neediness on June 15, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I hope you can give me some help or at least some insight into a man’s brain. I am a 30 -year-old woman and I am fairly independent, believing in standing on my own two feet most of the time and having strong relationships based on intellect and feeling. What I keep finding is that the strong (strong inside and out), intelligent men who seem at first to be my equal are only interested in me for either “just friends” and/or sex. They don’t want a woman their equal, they want a woman who is meek and dependent, who NEEDS them all the time — almost as if the woman needed them in order to live. I do realize that people do need each other from time to time, but I am not the needy/clingy type. I have had men actually say to me, “Well, you don’t need me,” in a sad matter-of-fact tone of voice, and then dismiss me as a girlfriend altogether! What am I supposed to do, beg and say, “Oh no, I really really do need you! Please don’t go!?” I want men to realize that a woman will stay with them NO ONLY because she needs him, but because she likes him and wants to stay. So my question is, how do you show a man that you do need him but in a healthy give and take way? I don’t want to have to become a needy, clingy woman who seems to need a man 24/7 just to get a boyfriend.
— Puzzled Near the Pacific
BG’s response after the jump…
January 18, 2011
Writing at Salon.com, BG’s alterego talks to many brave women to find out. Of course, they shouldn’t have to be so “brave” in order to speak up, but what they speak about — the persistent stigma of STIs, especially for women, despite their breathtaking near-ubiquity — is exactly what otherwise keeps them quiet. (When one woman named Michele worked up the gumption to disclose to a potential partner, he said: “You seem like a very classy girl — I would never have imagined you having that.” Translation: “You slut.” And he was one of the polite ones.)
But! As it turns out, the vast majority of people interviewed in the story — even the expert doctor — wound up finding (a) community among others online, and/or (b) a happy relationship (with someone “sero-negative,” even). In other words, there is life — sex life, love life, LIFE life — after/with an STI. The morals:
1. Get yourself tested. And educated.
2. Use condoms.
3. Manners, people! You don’t know anything about how or why anyone got anything. Don’t judge. Don’t even snicker. You might even have something yourself and not know it. (See #1.)
Tags: Adina Nack
, gender roles
, safe sex
, safer sex
January 11, 2011
You know that recent story about how “Women’s Tears Say ‘Not Tonight, Dear’?” Over at the Ms. blog, J Goodrich (Echidne of the Snakes) takes the boneheaded sexist headlines and media “analyses” of a recent Israel study and basically kicks them so hard they cry.
In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, the Weizmann Institute of Science researchers collected emotional tears from female volunteers by showing them sad movies. Then they had male test subjects sniff the actual tears and fake tears comprised of saline.
A whiff of the real deal caused testosterone levels in the men to drop significantly. They found pictures of women less sexually attractive. When the men were sent into brain scanners, and shown a sad film, the men who were exposed to the fake tears didn’t show much lower activity in a region associated with sexual desire, but the activity in the same region was greatly reduced in men who breathed real tears.
The brain scans, the big yawn over alluring pictures and the drop in the he-man hormone led the scientists to conclude that “women’s emotional tears contain a chemosignal that reduces sexual arousal in men.”
Bottom line, ladies? If you’re looking for arousal, don’t turn on the waterworks.
Basically, as she summarizes, most of the reporting on the study, rather than actually REPORTING ON THE STUDY, invokes a colorful array of half-baked stereotypes: tears as “weapon in the battle of the sexes” that women deploy on demand, men as morons who are deterred from their search for sex only by ladyweeping.
Goodrich: “Let’s take a step backwards and look at the actual study and its possible meanings:
For practical reasons, Sobel and his colleagues have studied only women’s tears. But they suspect that men’s tears, and possibly children’s, also contain chemical signals and are eager to find out what messages they may convey.
That snippet suggests a completely different interpretation of the study findings. They may not ultimately be about the effects of women’s tears on men’s hormone and arousal levels but about the effects of human tears on other human’s hormones and emotions. This is not hidden in all the popularizations but it certainly has been pushed behind that “sex sells” curtain, and you have to work down the articles to find it. /snip/
Here are my further conjectures: It seems like a very useful and common-sense conclusion that another person’s tears will reduce your sexual arousal. Something tear-worthy is happening and perhaps it’s an important survival cue to pay attention to.
I’ve got one word to say about the state of journalism and gender stereotyping: *Sob.*
January 19, 2010
More on marriage: You know how some folks get all, “Ooh, ooh, that will UPSET THE BALANCE OF THE UNIVERSE!” when they hear, stop the presses, that she earns more than he does? Well, welcome to planet topsy-turvy, because more and more, that’s becoming the norm.
But that’s not all. From NPR today:
The joke used to be that some women went to college to get their M.R.S. — that is, a husband. In sheer economic terms, marriage was long the best way for a woman to get ahead. But a study by the Pew Research Center finds that there’s been a role reversal when it comes to men, women and the economics of marriage. [Emphasis added by fascinated superhero.]
The study compares marriages in 2007 with those in 1970, when few wives worked — and it’s no wonder why. Until 1964, a woman could legally be fired when she got married. Even a woman with a college degree likely made less than a man with a high-school diploma.
“When you think about it from a guy’s perspective, marriage wasn’t such a great deal,” says Richard Fry of the Pew Research Center. “It raised a household size, but it didn’t bring in a lot more income.”
Four decades later, it’s men who are reaping rewards from a stroll down the aisle. Many more women are now working, and in a greater variety of jobs. Add to that the decline of gender discrimination, and women’s median wages have risen sharply in recent decades* even as men’s have remained stagnant or fallen.
On top of this — for the first time ever among those age 44 and younger —- more women than men have college degrees.
The Pew study also finds that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to be married. It didn’t used to be that way.
It’s all turned the marriage market on its head.
“We found that increasingly, women are more likely to marry husbands who have lower education levels than they do, and lower income levels than they do,” says D’Vera Cohn of the Pew Research Center. From 1970 to 2007, husbands whose wives earned more than they did jumped from 4 percent to 22 percent.
/snip/ “I think [the notion that men “should” earn more] is really an example of an outdated idea,” says Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage. Coontz says that in a 1967 poll, two-thirds of women said they’d consider marrying a man they did not love if he had good earnings potential.
“Now, women have a completely different point of view,” Coontz says. “They say overwhelmingly — 87 percent — that it’s more important to have a man who can communicate well, who can be intimate and who will share the housework than to have someone who makes more money than you do.”
The numbers might be there, but the man-earn-money culture isn’t yet.
“The tension really surrounds this notion of, ‘I’m the man, so I should be providing,’ ” says Steven Holmes, a freelance photographer in Northern California. He makes far less than his wife, a business adviser for IBM, and often finds himself holding back in discussions about spending money.
“Because I have this guilt that I feel like I am not an equal partner,” Holmes says, “I will let her make the decision, even though I might have had a different opinion.”
While some still wonder how anyone (especially perhaps a feminist) could still, um, buy into such an outmoded patriarchal model in which women are basically property, well, look how — measurably — far we’ve come. But on an individual-couple level, it’s fascinating to me that what seems to persist is this pay-to-play notion that one’s say in the relationship is weighted by income. Tell me, readers: to what degree has this been your experience? And, bonus question, how much does it annoy you that even NPR calls higher-earning women Sugar Mamas?
* Of course, women still make only 77 cents to a man’s dollar and are more likely to take time off from or cut back on work to take care of children.
August 21, 2009
Flirting with disaster on February 23, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Why is it okay for dudes to flirt with all kinds of gals but when a gal does it they think we’re hooches?
Oh, because there’s been this idea since the dawn of history that there’s not enough room in Western Civilization, in the Garden of Eden, or wherever, for both men and women to have sexual experience and power. Because, in a broad psychological/biological sense, it’s a little nerve-wracking to have no real way of knowing if you’re the dad. Because the more sown your oats, the more alpha your malehood. Because … oh, Breakup Girl could go on for hours. Those are just a few of the many reasons why it’s “okay.”
But it is NOT OKAY.
And gals: you are SO not off the hook. Yeah, you complain about guys who are “players,” but you still hook up with them. You also call your sistahs hooches, sluts and hos — when what you really mean is “Damn, I wanted him!” or “I hope I look cool in front of the guys when I agree with them.” You are not helping.
Homework for everyone: Read Promiscuities by Naomi Wolf. Not a flawless book, but it’ll (a) answer your question, (b) make you feel bad about what you should feel bad about, and (c) make you not feel bad about what you shouldn’t feel bad about.
July 30, 2008
Courtney E. Martin had an interesting piece at The American Prospect the other day about the ways in which the legalization — here and there (but not there) — of gay marriage and has prompted her to reevaluate her own aversion to the tying of the knot. As a feminist wary of wedlock myself, I can’t help but nod along with her argument that historically, marriage is both heterosexist and just plain sexist. At the same time, it’s hard for a straight gal to condemn an institution that once considered women property at the same time that her gay friends are happily flocking to California to make their love public, official, and legit in the eyes of the very law that heretofore shut them out.