Here, Dissent & Debate Are Encouraged
Yesterday I was observing Carolinagate. Carolina Courtland is a very funny blogger, also very insightful. She gives relationship advice, but not the mushy ‘how the world should be‘ advice that doesn’t actually work. She talks about the world and how men and women interact in real terms. She talks about male expectations as they really are. She also talks about female expectations as they really are. She also notes how some feminists get it wrong by proposing that those expectations are the same. Gender imposes a complex variety of natural-born and social circumstances. I had relationships with (a number of) girls/women for years and with (a much higher number of) men for more years. The interactions and expectations were entirely and invariably different. In the heterosexual relationships my partners expected me to conform to the traditional male stereotype. I was to be the protector, the driver, the bill payer, the one who killed the spider, changed the flat tire, made the reservations, ordered at the restaurant; If the car broke down I was the one dealing with the mechanic- and the list goes on. Fascinatingly this happened in a post-feminist world. That meant I was also expected to be sensitive, to talk about feelings, to listen to them talk about feelings endlessly. To help in the kitchen. To not roll over and turn on the television after sex. To not just get up and make myself a sandwich after sex. To enjoy her friends’ company. To be friends with the guys that went out with her friends.
During my hetero engagement, expectations weren’t just clear, they were laid out for me. Procuring (and paying for) the home was my responsibility. Decorating it was hers. Meanwhile I was also told we lived in a modern world so ‘why should the bride’s family pay all the wedding expenses’. When I met the guy who went on to become my first boyfriend, it was like being set free from a lifetime of captivity. What? Shared bills? No long silences where I have to spend hours guessing what I did or said wrong? I can say someone is attractive and you won’t spend days sulking? You’ll kill a spider yourself and you won’t screech while doing it? Sweeping generalizations aside, there are concrete differences in men and women. Sex is treated very differently by men and women. So are so many other things including the roles that are imposed on men and women. Pretending it isn’t so is just that, pretending. And this is where we get back to Stephen Fry’s quote on offence. Carolina Courtland does a funny crazy-cat-lady scale. She scores women whose online dating profiles are so finical they’ll probably end up with crazy-cat-lady status. One such person posted a satirical profile (she says) on her blog and Carolina awarded her four litter boxes on the crazy-cat-lady scale. Terrible offence was taken. All sorts of accusations were made with an implicit message that people have some sort of right to not be offended. Ridiculous. There is no such right, no such rule, no such anything. Carolina can say what she wants, Charlie Hebdo can print Mohammed cartoons, I can promote Jesus the Musical. My new sparring partner RoughSeasOnTheMed can accuse me of using misogynistic language and I can call her a tree-hugging vegan and we can both survive (and even enjoy each other). Albeit, she’s British and on this side of the Atlantic we’re not so easily offended. My message is: If you don’t want people disagreeing with you or evaluating the information you choose to make public, making said information public isn’t the best way to achieve it.
I hope no retraction is made by Carolina; But if it is, I hope it comes in the spirit of Voltaire:
“They say I must retract. Very willingly. I will declare that Pascal is always right. That if St. Luke and St. Mark contradict one another, it is only another proof of the truth of religion to those who know how to understand such things; and that another lovely proof of religion is that it is unintelligible…”