Monday, March 19, 2007

Toxicity And Gender

Priya's comment on my blog post Toxic Wife got me thinking. She wrote :

.. God knows few men are protective of their wives these days, with women being pressured to be all and do all. Let's not lose those few :)

As women get into formerly male dominated careers, earn more than their spouses and balance career and motherhood with what appears to be consummate ease, the pressure is on them is to continue "to be all and do all". Men don't see a need for them to protect and nurture someone who clearly has no need for either. The traditional husband role becomes more symbolic, titular and ritualistic rather than real or necessary.

Back in the day, the man of the family expected to have his wife wait on him after he got home exhausted from earning a day's living. Today's wife will often make enough money to raise a family and have plenty left over, help the kids with their homework and still have time to set a hot dinner on the table. A man in her life who waits to be served becomes acutely aware of his on incompetence not to mention redundancy.


I have wondered if having a financially and emotionally independent wife has an emasculating influence on men. When the woman encroaches upon territory that was once exclusively a man's, she must acquire some gender traits that go along with. To the same extent, the man who must "abrogate" in her favor must loose them or even imbue feminine traits to be able to adapt in his new environment and circumstances. If both genders were comfortable in the reorganized territory and all that it entailed, all would be well for marriage and relationships.

Reading this story about estrogen-like pollutants changing male frogs to female frogs seems to bring the theme of toxicity and its effect on gender and gender roles full circle.

2 comments:

Priyamvada_K said...

HC,
Happy to note that this post came out of your thoughts on my comment.

"Men don't see a need for them to protect and nurture someone who clearly has no need for either. The traditional husband role becomes more symbolic, titular and ritualistic rather than real or necessary."

"If both genders were comfortable in the reorganized territory and all that it entailed, all would be well for marriage and relationships."

I think what has happened is that in the quest to be independent, we have lost sight of the value of interdependence. This interdependence used to be the basis for solid relationships.

My take on this is that a lot of women desire to have a protective man, and a lot of men probably want some caring from the wife. But few dare to be vulnerable enough to admit this. The man may fear being labeled as backward, and the woman in the quest to prove herself, may fear that she may appear weak if she admitted to this need.

Truth is, it is exhausting to be all and do everything. Far from being redundant, the man's protectiveness/tenderness is all the more needed in this isolationist/lonely/individualist world. And to men a caring woman is probably desirable too.

Priya.

Heartcrossings said...

Hey Priya,

Your comments always provide food for thought.

"I think what has happened is that in the quest to be independent, we have lost sight of the value of interdependence. This interdependence used to be the basis for solid relationships."

Could not agree more !