Now, I know I have almost beaten gender roles in our society to death, but I’ve still got one last little bit to harp on. All of this theory is leading up to something — a part of my sex life an astonishingly large amount of people ask me about. But as I said in my first article, I want to do such specific parts of sex justice in my discourse, and so I try to create a basis to work with. Gender roles, being virtually built into the mechanics of humping, represent a significant portion of this basis, and so with this article I shall address one final piece of the puzzle that goes into the gendered thinking of our society.
When I last wrote, I spoke of the trivialization of sex in I.V. culture and challenged readers to thrust once more, with feeling. With this piece, I want to look at actual relationship models in American society as they are presented to us, the general public.
I do this for two reasons. First, it will, in its course, reveal a very salient issue very few people realize a subset of the homosexual population faces, and if I raise more awareness then the Council will give me a gold star. I’m only two gold stars away from free tickets to Broadway. The other reason is less politically motivated: I feel looking at this subject might be useful in directly illustrating how deeply our sexual culture has been influenced by historical assumptions. Raising that form of awareness could do wonders for improving the state of psychological health in our world.
So let us look at how one can secure intercourse with another human, a process more commonly known as “dating.” Typically, this phenomenon is observed when the genital-defined man asks the genital-defined female on a date. Some fancy dinner later, they are having sex and there is much rejoicing. It’s a model we know well, due to its incredible prevalence in fiction and reality.
But what happens if, say, our man is shy and awkward, and the woman he’s interested in is strong and forward. Then his personality is in direct conflict with the only model really available to us, and suddenly there’s no sex for anyone. This, readers, is not a good result. Not having sex is rarely a good result.
And why is it that when I speak to my female friends, they seem to expect the man to take charge in the dating situation? Even some of my most direct friends expect this behavior — it is odd, because in doing this they intrinsically reduce their chance of getting ass, which strikes me as unfortunate.
Now, it is 2012, so hopefully most of us understand that if a chick wants to ask a guy out, she can. And yes, she can — not on paper. But many women still expect men to take the reins. Why? Here’s my theory: Television, story books and certain corporations responsible for children’s entertainment still put forth the man-asks-woman-out model as normal. Anyone who wants to differ? Go for it. Just figure it out yourself and let the normal people be normal. This lack of support for the “abnormal” self-perpetuates people’s tendencies to conform to a certain gendered behavior.
But let’s introduce another conflict with the arbitrarily named Cis-Me (it rhymes with Disney) model of romance. Consider two men. Using the laundry list of “masculine” versus “feminine” features, we can cast both of these men as being dominantly masculine. They also happen to be gay and attracted to other masculine men. They are attracted to each other.
Congratulations, you’ve now read the one situation for which our romance system is the most ill-suited for addressing. Think now. Give me one not-hipster example of a masculine man/masculine man romance story. They don’t happen in our fiction. They once happened — consider Patroclus and Achilles in The Iliad — but our culture has since made the possibility of romance between two strong men disappear. Between two feminine females is rare, but occasionally occurs. A relationship between a masculine man and feminine man can be found on “Glee.” But two manly men? Your best bet is gay porn (and there you are likely to find three or four manly “straight” men anyway).
I actually exaggerate slightly. To my knowledge there is, in fact, one company that has attempted to fictionally model inter-masculine romances. Bioware, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts, has arguably done more for socially assisting masculine gays with their video games than any other fiction production agency. But that’s one very specific company whose efforts won’t reach most of the population. Many of our mass-public socialization devices, like television, literature (except maybe Shakespeare) and movies — offer little to no advice on how to break with the man-asks-woman-out model of relationships.
And this romance system self-perpetuates. Assertive women are conditioned to just wait until a man asks them out. Shy men typically have to stand by until they, by chance, are comfortable enough with a woman to ask her out (by which time they are usually Indefinitely Friend-Zoned). In both cases, the participants ultimately fill their role. Even in homosexual cases, the Cis-Me model can be adapted to work if there is clearly a more feminine and more masculine participant.
People who shouldn’t be forced into this hierarchal prototype of romance end up being pushed into obeying it. The only people who don’t end up pushed into it are the ones who simply cannot. That is, men like those from the earlier anecdote, or two feminine lesbians who are attracted to each other.
True equality will never be had until the societal subconscious acknowledges not only the existence of, but equal dominance of, non-Cis-Me models of romance and sexual desire. And the social subconscious isn’t just about gays. It’s about interracial relationships. It’s about strong women and shy men. This subspace of thinking is the ultimate psychological battlefield, from which our laws and prejudices are born, and upon which the final conflicts for equality will be resolved.
So readers, it is my simple wish for you to acknowledge this. Be aware of this realm of subtlety, and how it will teach your son to be a certain way and your daughter to be another. The social subconscious shapes us from the cradle, to the bedroom, to the altar and perhaps even all the way to the deathbed.
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