"Women are different than men. In a relationship, a man needs to be the one who takes care of a woman when she's angry, who tells her to calm down. A man needs to be more understanding than a woman, and a woman needs to be allowed to have her moods."
Really? I'd like to call bullshit, but I don't quite know how. (Long explanation inside)
posted by saysthis to Human Relations (25 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This notion is fundamentally offensive to me because it seems to absolve one half of a relationship of their responsibility to control their temper. It isn't "fair".
Help me construct a rhetorically and logically sound feminist refutation of this statement that assumes the following two premises:
1) "Fairness" is a secondary value in a relationship.
2) Men and women are, indeed, different, and exceptional rules apply to both sexes.
I'm coming out of China, and two of the most common, fundamental assumptions about relationships are precisely what I've listed above. Fairness is not assumed to be an important value in a relationship, and women and men are both assumed to be given special leeway in certain aspects of relationships (ex.: women are allowed & expected to earn substantially less, men are expected/sometimes allowed to seek extramarital partners). I've never, not once, been able to argue around these two notions. Gender exceptionalism and comfort over fairness seem to be two of the most basic assumptions about relationships in this country, and attempts to refute them are turned down as "Western thinking".
I can accept these two premises as a foundation for a successful relationship on the following premise: both partners are extremely considerate of the other's feelings. I understand that relationships aren't always "fair". Sometimes people have a bad day and need a hug, sometimes people have a disease and require sacrifice. And I fully accept that men and women, while equal, are in some ways different, often for reasons that seem mysterious to me. Why in god's name do you buy so many clothes? Well, you do, and it's valid, k? Looking good is important to you, I accept that. Broadly speaking, there are differences, and they're part of what make humanity beautiful. I don't understand the primarily male pastimes of coin collecting or cigar smoking either, but hey, it variety is the spice of life, yeah?
But the above statement, that men are, blanket, required to be more considerate than women, seems to me a recipe for chaos and bitterness. But this is often refuted (again, this is almost universal, in media and in personal conversation) with the claim that asking for fairness is a kind of unworkable imposition. They have a few terms that they usually respond with: 疼爱，溺爱=painful love, smothering love. This seems to be the cultural ideal, and I find it hard to accept that love must be inherently painful for the man.
So my question, essentially, is, allowing for the notions that comfort and consideration take preference over fairness, and that the genders are different, how can I argue that harmful tempers and harsh words are conducive to a relationship filled with bitterness, rather than loving care? And I'd like to couch this in feminist terms, so that I myself don't go the way of taking a position that denies women equal rights or consideration. The last thing I want to do is say something like, "Well, if you think that, then you better not take a job or leave the house without my permission. You better stay home and cook my laundry."