Growing up in the feminist battleground era, by my teenage years, my views fell decidedly to the left on social issues and I even wrote a term paper in high school supporting the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. My high school library carried numerous feminist-oriented books, which in retrospect seems odd for a rural school district. I read The Feminine Mystique along with numerous books on suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and also some off-the-wall books on female sexuality written from rabidly anti-male viewpoints, where all heterosexual relations ended up categorized as akin to rape. I approached, what I thought was a well-reasoned position, based on my youthful and naive obsession with the left’s favorite canard: “fairness”. Woe be it that anything should be unfair, so I aligned my views accordingly.
Of course in typical, contradictory female fashion, I adored old-fashioned male heroes and found these chivalrous perfect specimens with the best of male traits – a gentleman, who lived by a strict code of honor, a protector of the weak, a romantic at heart, but tough enough to tackle any and all dastardly villains – yes, these ideal men lived on in popular historical romance novels. Truly, based on the millions of women, of all ages, who devour these historical romance novels, my romantic vision ran counter to my rather dismal political view, where men and women spiritually exist on different planets, destined to always be misunderstood and circling in distant orbits. What romantic heart wants a spouse who is not part of a united team? Well, that is currently where the state of marriage resides far too often and despite all these media experts on relationships, divorce statistics bare out the dismal disconnected state of way too many couples. The basic belief required for any successful endeavor, as part of any group, is believing you are part of a team and in marriage, if you don’t believe you’re part of a team, conflict, anger and disloyalty will doom any hope for a happy home. Building trust gets short shrift to a lot of psychobabble that leaves many couple regurgitating catchy jargon rather than on building trust. With trust, relationships and teams can navigate almost any adversity.
Fast forward to the present, thirty plus years later, and I’ve been reading these articles at PJ Media, written by this young man, John Hawkins, who presents his views on men, women and relationships often. His piece titled: 5 Reasons Men Cheat, (here), where he began with a disclaimer that he wasn’t justifying cheating, then proceeded to do just that with reasons like “the woman let herself go”, “he’s stuck in a sexual desert” and “he’s bored”. His views struck me as very ambivalent toward women and marriage, while still yearning for a worthy woman.
In fairness, he wrote a column on types of annoying men, but his, 7 Types of Chicks Who Annoy Everyone by their Very Existence, (here) had me laughing, while simultaneously picking out the types that might fit me to any degree. Oh no, I might posses a good bit of the dreaded Detailerella, getting caught up in telling every last tiny detail and what if my personality has a smidgeon of the pathetic Pity Vampire or perhaps I sometimes add too much drama to my stories, let me vow to never utter a dramatic sigh ever again, lest the dreaded tag of No Drama Mama, gets added to my moral failings. Throughout his columns, I noticed he sounds bitter about women and the quest for a meaningful relationship with a woman, but the larger issue that struck me is whether his is a majority male view in his age group or an anomaly. The other serious issue is – are the majority of young women like these 7 types he presented? If so, then the hope for stronger families, where committed marriages succeed seems decidedly on a downward spiral. Many reports abound offering reasons why the average age of first marriages keeps climbing, with the level of college debt being offered as a prime culprit – Huffington Post 2012 article(here), but considering the alarming attitudes pop culture icons and relationship experts peddle, it seems likely that basic attitudes about the opposite sex play into this trend too.
Did unbridled politicization of our most private relationships lead to this wasteland of angry, hostile male/female interactions? Is the concept of heterosexual marriage as a vital team and required anchor of civilization, out of date and obsolete? Listening to the media experts and pop culture mouthpieces, it appears that this view could get one cast into the pit of narrow-minded hate-mongers, deserving of only scorn and isolated from civil society. Judging by the dollars spent on romantic fiction, consumed almost exclusively by women, in the secret recesses of many a female hearts, beats the desire for these extinct gentlemen of days gone by. And just how do these stories always end, well, the man of her dreams comes along and sweeps her off her feet, professes undying love and devotion, followed by a old-fashioned, happily-ever-after marriage. They become a team, so once again, my belief in building the most basic team in civilization, lives on in the hearts of millions of women, judging by the number of romance novels sold ($1.4 Billion in 2010 – according to this former female political science professor, who takes a dim view of these novels- here).
An anecdote to pop culture views on the importance of being a lady or a gentleman came in the form of a book, Simple Social Graces, (available here), that I purchased years ago. I imagined it would, be some frilly book on Victorian etiquette, when to my dismay it ranks as one of the most insightful looks at our current cultural demise juxtaposed with a refreshing look at our Victorian ancestors views and remedies for most of society’s ills. I’ve read this book many times and find it an important look at how setting societal ideals can guide us to a kinder, gentler society, where respect for other people reigns supreme in all our interactions, both public and private. Until we return to a basic societal acceptance that the answers to our cultural morass can be fixed only by our own insistence that we agree upon and enforce a simple code of honor in society, where we insist on treating others with respect, insist that the strong protect the weak, and realize that civilization rests on whether we can rebuild that American team, I wax on about frequently. If parents can only succeed at one thing, then most assuredly teaching them to respect others ranks as the most important lesson, providing a lifeline to our society poised to descend into a moral abyss. These are my simple home remedies for what ails us and at least it’s less risky than some of my great-grandmother’s teas made from assorted weeds, which she sent me out into the nearby fields to gather. To her credit she cooked up an excellent drawing salve made from the knots on pine trees, that she claimed worked for farm animals and people too, that I wish I had saved the recipe. It healed cuts and scrapes faster than these modern anti-biotic creams and ointments, but could end up causing a visit from a social worker in this day and age, where the government regulates everything. Respect is free and so far the government hasn’t regulated it:-)