Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Equality My Ass

People say we're in a post-feminist society and men and women are generally equal. Yeah? Bullshit. If we're so goddamn equal, why has almost every man I've dated so far assumed an authoritarian role in the relationship, making the rules and setting the terms of the relationship and leaving little to no room for disagreement or compromise?

Now I understand that everyone has the right to want what they want, and that they should date someone who wants the same things. But a relationship needs to be based on compromise, not just one person saying "this is how we're going to do things" and the woman saying "okay, I'll do whatever you say."

Boyfriend #2 cheated on me, and rather than let me learn to forgive and trust him on my own time, eventually he decided I was taking too long and it was either give him my full trust again or the relationship was over. He also told me I couldn't talk to certain people, but refused to stop hanging out with the girl he cheated on me with knowing it made me uncomfortable as fuck.

I don't think I asked him to do anything, let alone demanded it of him.

Boyfriend #3 was very concerned with my appearance. I needed to get rid of my acne, and wear makeup around his friends and family. He also wanted me to dress more goth/punk and listen to "better" bands. What demands did I make regarding his appearance? None.

Boyfriend #4 was frustrated when I stopped having sex with him because it hurt too much. He kept nagging me to "get better" so we could start having sex again. Keep in mind, this was in the wake of a sexual assault, which he knew about, but he still expected sex.

Boyfriend #5 insisted on spending lots of time one-on-one with a girl he used to like, and planned to spend an entire week alone with his ex-girlfriend. He knew this upset me, but continued to do it anyway. He dumped me because that stuff made me uncomfortable.

Boyfriend #7 said he would dump me if I cut myself ever again, demanded I go to therapy, and also got very upset when I told one person about our relationship, which he never explicitly said he wanted to keep quiet. He was the only one who got to choose who could know about us.

Current boyfriend says I have to cut all my exes out of my life, including the ones I'm currently on good terms with and aren't causing any problems. I'm also not allowed to attend meetings for one of the clubs I'm in because, according to him, the people in the club are bad for me. If he was just giving advice, that would be one thing, but on those two issues, he's given veiled threats that he will stop seeing me if I don't do what he suggests. According to him, I'm too dramatic and emotional, I need to change, and he's going to help change me. Because clearly, I'm not capable of running my life by myself.*

*it doesn't matter if a guy has good intentions or not, a boyfriend is a partner, not a second father.

So that's six boyfriends, out of the eight I've dated, who have set rules for the relationship without any room for compromise. And this is not an isolated pattern. I'm sure many women have heard, from many different guys in their life "if you want to keep seeing me, you have to . . ." or "if you want this relationship to work, I need you to . . ." OR "if you keep doing X (or don't do X) I'm going to break up with you." And I'm sure most men are taken aback by any resistance.

Women are told, save for a few extreme circumstances where an ultimatum is necessary according to some people, not to make such demands, and not to ask for what we want. Don't directly try to compromise or have a say in what's going on. No, instead most relationship advice for women is to use subtle, often manipulative tactics to get a guy to change his mind or do what you want him to do. Otherwise, give in or accept the consequences.

I'm not saying that men do this maliciously, or even intentionally. Men and women are just socialized - through advice columns, peer observation, and media exposure - to approach dating, sex, relationships, and even marriage differently. Men are told to resist commitment, women are told to crave it and do whatever it takes to get and retain a relationship. Men are told to be in charge and tell women what they want, women are told to be more subtle and manipulative - which really doesn't help our cause, of course men are going to hate women when women are under the impression that the only way they can get what they want is to drop hints and withhold sex.

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