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They say 'Men are from Mars ... '

February 19, 2013

By Jennifer Joyner

It's not uncommon for us in the newsroom to engage in a spirited debate. (Read: bicker like a dysfunctional family.) Topics of discussion range from serious political and social issues, to the best Beatles song, to the question of who is scarier: Freddy or Jason?
I have never shied away from this type of discourse because in my opinion it's a good way to broaden one's perspective.
There is no shortage of opinion in the editorial department, but, in all seriousness, our little arguments are always lighthearted. It's all in good fun.
Recently, the subject of gender roles came up. A coworker mentioned that he and his wife were not doing anything in recognition of Valentine's Day this year.
“We never do. She doesn't do anything for me either,” he explained.
Before I spoke, I had no inclination my response would be controversial.
“Well, you know it's your job as the man to initiate things on Valentine's Day,” I said, as if it was a matter of fact.
This statement ignited a debate between me and several of the male members of editorial staff.
“So, I guess you're not a feminist,” one of them said.
“No, I am ... I think ...” I answered. “I just believe there are some aspects of male-female relationships that work better when you follow tradition.”
Intuitively, I consider myself a feminist, but what is the definition in today's post-women's-movement society?
There are stereotypes associated with feminism that do not fit me at all. I cherish my role as nurturer to my son and caretaker of the home and love wearing makeup and high heels.
The idea of changing language perceived to be gender-biased is absurd to me. There are radicals who take issue with the fact that "she" contains the word "he" and "woman" contains the word "man." I see no reason to replace "history" with "herstory" or "semester" with "omester."
But do I believe women should be treated equally to men in terms of respect and compensation in business and their rights within our society? Yes. Do I think that women and men are equal in terms of intellect and skill? You bet. Do I think women and men both should be permitted to participate in any recreational activity or perform in any career role they want, as long as they are qualified? Absolutely.
It is nice, however, when a man opens the door for you on occasion, and it's nice when he pays for things — at least more often than you do. In past relationships, I made an effort to show how cool and contemporary I was by paying for things on a regular basis. Before long, I was taking on the brunt of the expenses. Let me say this might work fine with certain personality types or within certain relationship dynamics. But, in our case, he turned into a moocher, and it resulted in a loss of respect in both directions.
The two sexes are not emotionally identical and, in general, have different attributes. To me, it makes sense for men and women to take on different, complimenting roles in a romance.
“So I guess you believe the man should have to ask the woman to marry him?” the coworker asked.
This seemed like a no-brainer to me. “Oh, definitely,” I said.
To be clear, if there are women out there who choose to propose to men, more power to them. They can do whatever they want. I do not, however, believe men should grow to expect this sort of thing.
It is a natural tendency for men to be the pursuers. In general, they have a strong, intrinsic urge to compete with others. And most women want, on some level, to feel special … sought after … wooed.
I recently saw a funny cartoon online that said, “Girls are not complicated. Seriously, how hard is to say 'you're pretty' and give us chocolate?”
This is clearly an oversimplification, but there is some truth to it.
Now, do men want to be desired as well? Of course. Are some women competitive and aggressive? Sure.
In relationships, I have always made an effort to do little romantic things here and there, but that sort of thing is usually not as important for a man as it is for a women.
Also, most women are more nurturing and take a greater interest in domestic duties. I'm not saying all women can do is cook, clean and take care of babies. Men usually play a part in the household chores, but women often seem to take on the bulk of the work, usually either because men don't see that a task needs to be done, or they won't fulfill the job to the woman's satisfaction.
This is not the case in every home. Some families split everything down the middle. Sometimes the man does all of the chores. And that's fine. I think everyone should do what works for them.
And, for the record, the coworker in question did buy his wife roses. He said he didn't mention this fact because he didn't consider that to be categorized as a gift. I assured him that it does count. The important thing is that a gesture be made. So, because it turns out we were in agreement that he needed to make an effort on Valentine's Day, there was really no reason this should have been the subject of debate. Oh well, I'm sure we will be onto the next debate topic soon enough.

Jennifer Joyner is a reporter for The Saline Courier. Her column appears every Tuesday. She may be contacted at jjoyner@bentoncourier.com.

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