Expectations

Comments

12 comments posted
Great response, thank you for

Great response, thank you for the link! I absolutely agree about the pivotal importance of welcoming being an object of desire (hence the use of my phrase "every once in a while".)

It is remarkable how many nerves this discussion touches....

Hugo's picture
Posted by Hugo (not verified) on 17 February 2005 - 4:41pm
It's an interesting topic

...but not something that seems to stimulate much response here. I guess we flappy birds have to be happy with the odd comment and trackback.

But then I'm not big on the "war of the sexes." I see the problems with our culture and our legal system, and don't see much value in trying to hold all men individually responsible for collective trends and individual pathologies. The dialog itself helps effect change.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 17 February 2005 - 6:52pm
It absolutely blows me away t

It absolutely blows me away that, in this century, anyone of any gender should think that men must approach women, and that's that. A system that puts one gender in total control and also makes that gender repeatedly vulnerable is an ugly system.

But even the adolescent girls I meet who telephone boys all night long say they "can't" ask them out. Grown women say they "can't" ask men out (though most of them seem to be quite comfortable initiating all kinds of things once they are in a relationship).

Poor pathetic Gwyneth Paltrow said she didn't understand "forward" women who ask men out. As long as a contemporary woman is saying things like that, let alone thinking them, the status quo gets a big smack of approval. If you are a woman, you get to be "forward," at the least, and maybe--if you are lucky--a slut.

Diane's picture
Posted by Diane (not verified) on 17 February 2005 - 9:00pm
Confusion--who said you had t

Confusion--who said you had to approach and ask out strangers? Why are you dating in "the jungle," anyway, when a cad or a psycho can look innocent long enough to ask you out his own self?

I really think your first thought--that you like being wooed, you like the romance of man pursuing woman--is the true one, and the other stuff is mostly justification. If that's what you like, then that's what you like, but the logic baffles me. Isn't it just as true that I, a woman, wouldn't value a man much if he had to pursue me (as you say men do when women chase them)? Is there no romance in a woman wooing a man?

mythago's picture
Posted by mythago (not verified) on 17 February 2005 - 9:28pm
So many questions

I'll try to do them justice.

who said you had to approach and ask out strangers?

Well, maybe I'm mistaking the conversation, but my understanding is that we're talking about someone "breaking the ice" so to speak. If you don't know someone, then he's a stranger, right?

Why are you dating in "the jungle," anyway, when a cad or a psycho can look innocent long enough to ask you out his own self?

Perhaps the jungle is an awkward metaphor. But it's the reality I face. Working freelance these days, I don't have an office environment, and having recently moved, I'm not exactly hooked in with a social network. I tried the online personals thing, and did end up in a relationship with someone for a while. But given how that worked out, I can't say I was finding any more success than before.

I really think your first thought--that you like being wooed, you like the romance of man pursuing woman--is the true one, and the other stuff is mostly justification.

Okay....um....thank you?

Isn't it just as true that I, a woman, wouldn't value a man much if he had to pursue me (as you say men do when women chase them)?

I guess we really aren't communicating, for it sounds like you're sort of reframing that old vaudevillian joke retold by Woody Allen, "I would want to join a club that would have me as a member." Why would I value a man less for wanting me? I don't get it. Maybe that's why I don't get a lot of men, either. But yet it exists: men who only value what they at least initially cannot have; men who need the chase. It's a cliche in pop culture, you know, the guy who never notices the girl right there. Why? Because she's available. The whole "Rules" thing really is a kind of reaction to this reality, and while they may seem stodgy or "old fashioned" (we stand at the end of history, doncha know?), they strike me as pretty pragmatic when it comes to dealing with many men.

I long for the exception, the guy with wit and charm and beauty, who appreciates and values me without placing me on a pedestal or in a box, and all that. But I don't expect to find him by hitting on guys at TGI Fridays.

Is there no romance in a woman wooing a man?

Of course there is. But as I tried to say in the post, I feel the cultural and social baggage is deployed to discourage that kind of thing. And the way society works, if you woo him, and then he gets carried away, well, you asked for it, didn't you? He might even feel completely innocent, because you said yes before you said no.

Then again, it's different if you know him, isn't it? If he's a semi-known quantity, someone who can be trusted, then that changes the whole paradigm, doesn't it? Cute guy whom I've never seen at the bookstore -- I would not approach. Cute guy at the bookstore, who works at my office and used to go out with Denise in accounting and does rock climbing and pastel painting in his spare time -- I would not hesitate to initiate something.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 17 February 2005 - 11:33pm
It ought to be easy...

but it isn't. I have a lot of friends in their Late 20's through late 30's who are beautiful, bright, and accomplished women. They don't expect a man to pay for them or to defer to them in any way and in general, they are treated very shabbily by the men they meet. When a woman first shows interest in a guy, she puts herself at his mercy in a way and the men in this culture just aren't up to it yet. I've seen this pattern repeated over and over - they use the woman for whatever they want, whether it's sex, companionship, money, prestige, a place to live, a ride somewhere, alittle ego boost, whatever, then they throw it back in her face when she makes any demand in the relationship. I've actually heard men accuse some of these girls of "emotional rape" - and frankly, any guy who dares to use that phrase to a woman who cares about him out to be killed out right. Yes, I'm exaggerating. sort of.

Watching my friends go through such bullshit makes me glad I live in the middle of nowhere with no men anywhere. I'm not up to it any more. There's a despicable generation of single men out there, and before the men start whining about my criticisms, they should look around at the way their friends treat women. I guarantee, they'll know a guy who's done this, and that they haven't read him the riot act for making the rest of them look bad. If there's a nice guy out there, he needs to start leaning on the others not to act like jerks.

Morgaine-ism© #8

"A Woman's Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy is Sacred and Absolute."

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann on 18 February 2005 - 2:23am
A guy's perspective

Hi all, I've come here from Hugo's blog. A few comments:

mediagirl said:

[quote]Why would I value a man less for wanting me? I don't get it.[/quote]

Why would I value a woman less for wanting me? I don't get it either.

[quote]But yet it exists: men who only value what they at least initially cannot have; men who need the chase. It's a cliche in pop culture, you know, the guy who never notices the girl right there. Why? Because she's available.[/quote]

Usually, the reason why a guy doesn't notice a girl is because he isn't attracted to her. Nevertheless, I don't deny that some men seek a "challenge." Yet guys without large amounts of good looks, social skills, and charisma may find it challenging enough to end up a girl even if she doesn't play "hard to get."

Both sexes have members that are into "challenge" and "conquest," and members who can't stand them. I think people in general often want a relationship with partner who is higher quality (in looks, social status, or interpersonal skills) than they are. And naturally, someone with higher "market value" is going to be more challenging to get. Hence, if someone isn't a challenge, then he or she must somehow be a lower quality mate, right? Probably sometimes. On the other hand, in the rare occassions where people sometimes a kind of instant rapport and can obviously tell that they like each other a lot, they might find playing games unecessary and counterproductive.

[quote]But as I tried to say in the post, I feel the cultural and social baggage is deployed to discourage that kind of thing. And the way society works, if you woo him, and then he gets carried away, well, you asked for it, didn't you? He might even feel completely innocent, because you said yes before you said no.[/quote]

On the other hand, if you are doing the initiating (especially physically), you might be able to control the pace more easily because it puts you in the driver's seat. If a guy could tell that a woman was interested enough in him that sex would probably happen at some point, then he might feel less of a pressing need to turn (or pressure) any given encounter into sex. I am not certain the risk of date rape makes sense as a reason that women should not initiate things, considering that it is a risk no matter what.

Aegis's picture
Posted by Aegis (not verified) on 23 February 2005 - 6:55pm
Thanks for the response
I think people in general often want a relationship with partner who is higher quality (in looks, social status, or interpersonal skills) than they are. And naturally, someone with higher "market value" is going to be more challenging to get. Hence, if someone isn't a challenge, then he or she must somehow be a lower quality mate, right?

I think that's a great way to put it, Aegis. It goes along with what they've known in marketing for ages -- the biggest mistake is people charging too little for their product or service. Their potential customers take that as a hint and dismiss the product or service as inferior. In It's a Wonderful Life, for example, Violet practically throws herself at men ... and her value to George, as perceived by us, is diminished. Consider, though, how we see Mary -- though she's not at all hard to get, by not pursuing George, we (and he) consider her more worthy.

On the other hand, if you are doing the initiating (especially physically), you might be able to control the pace more easily because it puts you in the driver's seat.

I think I might disagree with you here. In the singles culture I've experienced, just looking at a man twice (or even once) can be seen as an invitation. If I were to march over to him, engage him in conversation, and then walk away, it could (and would by many) be seen as the equivalent of staring at him, and he could (and would by many) be seen as justified in aggressive pursuit.

Of course, none of these prescriptive things apply all, or even most, of the time. It's kind of silly to try to come up with universal precepts. Just the fact that the women who've posted on this subject have views and experiences ranging from one extreme to the other I think tells us that we have a much more diverse culture than anyone wants to admit.

When it comes down to it, though, I think our entire culture is rather screwed up when it comes to mature relationships. I find divorce rates of over 50% to be rather dispiriting -- not because divorce is "too easy," as the women-are-chattel cave men would have us believe -- but that soul-mate partnerships seem to be so unreliable in the complex world we find ourselves today. Maybe it's the fetishizing of youth culture that now enjoys several decades of "tradition" that creates unrealistic expectations and leads people to marry for the wrong reasons. Maybe it's that our culture is so hung up on sex that Viagra gets Medicare funding but birth control does not. I don't know. But it's a darn shame that these days, for so many people, love doesn't seem to last.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 23 February 2005 - 8:08pm
I don't feel guilt for not ap

I don't feel guilt for not approaching cute-guy-in-bookshop or tall-bloke-in-bar. I feel some guilt, and regret, for not acting on attraction towards men I already knew because I was waiting for some sign from them, some approach on their part that would make it easier.

This has been on my mind a bit lately, perhaps because of the season. I'm fed-up with waiting. I've done it too often, and without results. It feels timid, and passive, and wrong, and I don't like that it's an easy pattern to fall into. I would like very much to break that pattern, and I intend to do so next time I see it.

I've never understood initiating contact with strangers for romantic purposes, though. I mean, most of my friends have been met through some intermediary experience. Work, classes, events, or introduction via other friends and family. I've struck up conversations with fellow travellers on extended bus trips, but I think the greyhound counts as a shared experience. And that experience provides a starting point.

But man-on-street is a complete unknown. Perhaps I shouldn't need that illusion of security, but I do. I'm not going to be approaching strange men anytime soon.

Sundre's picture
Posted by Sundre on 18 February 2005 - 11:53am
dangerous strangers?

For starters, living in europe I'm not really familiar with the american dating thing. Besides, my boyfriends were usually friends first, and I don't really see a problem in 'making the first move', except for that it's scary because he might say no, thank you.

At first I found the argument that there are so many lunatics around that you don't want to encourage kind of convinving, if you're really talking about strangers - if it's someone you met via a friend, it's a different story already, to my mind. But after thinking it over, I don't really see how the dangerous stranger becomes less dangerous when he asks you out rather than when you ask him. Or does he need to go to great lenghts to show you how he's a nice normal bloke and no psychopath first, - I can't really imagine how that works, because you don't want to really respond to him until you know he's OK.

Anyway, the only realy difference I can think of, is that when something ugly happens, he can and probably will say something like 'well, you looked at me like that, and said that you liked me' or whaterver, and that people around you may think it is your own fault for asking out some stranger.

justtrying's picture
Posted by justtrying (not verified) on 20 February 2005 - 4:18pm
That is it

And the thing is, he is likely to believe it. Koby Bryant's defense last summer was pretty typical: "But she came up to my room. What else could she expect?"

The difference that comes from approaching someone is that you are inviting the contact, and that makes it much more difficult to break if he gloms on.

I wonder at your claim that Europe is free of male privilege. I've had several friends tell me that, for example, Greece and Italy are not countries a woman wants to travel without escort. And I would hardly single out those countries as anything more that simply notorious for macho behavior. My experience is that most men are pretty blind to it all. They hold no malice in their own hearts, and therefore cannot imagine how privilege may manifest, or how daunting it can be for a woman to have to deal with on a daily basis.

If I've taken your comment wrong, please let me know. I'm dashing this off quickly in the midst of a spam attack.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 20 February 2005 - 4:34pm
"I wonder at your claim that

"I wonder at your claim that Europe is free of male privilege."

O no, I didn't mean to claim that....

I guess I thought a lot and wrote down a little. :-) So now I'll write down way too much, probably. What I meant was:

- I think there are differences in the 'dating culture' between america and different countries in europe. This can well make these kinds of decisions, who approaches who, different too.

(And within europe there differences too, of course. I think it is in France where you hardly can have a social life without a boy-/girlfriend, and in Italy I saw young people going out either in same-sex groups, or in couples. Where I live, in Holland, people may go on a one-on-one date, which doesn't always mean they 're looking for romance, or in a mixed -singles, couples, men, women- group of friends.) But I'm not really sure what your 'dating culture' is, and how it may affect this question.

- Further, in my life and within my circle of friends, who makes the first move is determined more by character than by gender, I think. But I cannot think of a friend who started a relationship with a real stranger. So maybe that's why.

Another thing is, I'm sure not everyone feels or acts like this. My mother said that it's better to have a man who loves you more than you love him, than the other way around. And as a corrolary, you should be the one who is asked.

justtrying's picture
Posted by justtrying (not verified) on 21 February 2005 - 4:12am