Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sexism is Romantic?

The main defense I've heard regarding gender roles in relationships between men and women is that they're "romantic." It's romantic to have a guy pay for everything and take care of the girl, it's romantic to have a guy ask your father to marry you, it's romantic for a guy to be over-protective, it's romantic to save your virginity for your wedding night. Yes, it's totally romantic to be treated like property and regarded as being incapable of taking care of yourself.

I have to wonder, we've supposedly come a long way in abolishing traditional gender roles and making strides towards gender equality, yet so many young men and women still believe that adhering to gender roles equates to true romance. Why is this?

No really, I haven't been able to examine this enough to come up with a solid conclusion. It's still a mystery to me why romantic ideals are preventing so many youths from embracing gender equality.

Perhaps it was on purpose. Since the rise Second Wave Feminism, gender roles were repackaged as romance, in a nice, Disney pink box, and sold to youths looking to embrace modernity. This way, it would be acceptable to like your right to vote and work, but at the same time were okay with gender roles in the realm of dating because they were romantic. And what girl can argue with romanticism?

Even the guys I know still adhere to chivalry because girls swoon over it, and because they're still being sold the idea that it's the best way to treat a woman.

Call me an unromantic crazy person, but I don't exactly feel loved when the guy treats me like I'm incapable of opening my own door, paying for dinner, or running my life, and I certainly wouldn't feel respected if a guy treats me like I belong to my dad and need to be "given" to my husband at the altar. My autonomy is important to me, and if any guy undermines it, I'm more insulted than wooed.

I have to wonder, if ideals of romanticism are so deeply ingrained in our society that we're still accepting them despite otherwise feminist leanings, how possible would it be to transform those socially constructed ideals to be more in step with modern gender equality?

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