Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A View of a Buncha Rules

Check out "Watch Your Head," drawn by Cory Thomas - it's one of my favorites.
Click on the comic for an intro to the cast of characters.

I've been trying to date again. Emphasis on trying. So far, it's been a bit of a comedy of errors. One guy seemed like he was into me, but it turned out that he was trying recruit me into some direct selling scheme. Another guy, with whom I connected through an online dating site, was great on e-mail and downright creepy over the phone. I've got profiles up on two online dating sites. Many have looked at it, but few have replied.

Perhaps it's because I have some ground rules. In my profile, I say a potential match should have a kind heart, a good sense of humor, an open mind, be intelligent, not be an ESPN junkie, and most important of all have a strong sense of honest. When I choose my ideal date's attributes, I say that the man should not smoke, not be in a current relationship or be "separated" (either you're married or you're not), and that I'm currently looking to date - not remarry. I didn't think I was asking for too much, but it seems I'm one of those females with a buncha rules.

I'm not happy with my dating life right now, but I'm not going to change what I want just to get a man. What will be will be. Until I meet the right person, I have my work, my family, my pets, and my volunteering - more than enough to keep me occupied and fulfilled.

Still, every once in a while when I'm home alone, I wonder about the rules I've set for myself, and the ones we set for ourselves. I wonder about the rules we set for relationships, for sexuality, for roles women and men play in our society. Take for example the rule that women need to preserve their sexuality, or that young women in particular should preserve their virginity lest they be labeled promiscuous or "slutty." I never understood the line of thinking that encourages males to have many partners and explore their sexuality because "boys will be boys," but castigates women if they do the same thing. Is the mindset that "good girls don't" healthy? And if "good girls don't," then why do we make sexual promiscuity so glamorous? Think about the images our celebrities - especially female celebrities - project. Look at a Beyonce or Ciara video, watch a show like "Dollhouse" (where a woman's memory is wiped so she can be made into "anything you want her to be"), thumb through any magazine and look at the advertisements. The conflict between being a "good girl" and being sexual (which is the equivalent of attractive in these ads) is a constant tug of war.

Jessica Valenti explores this dissonance in her book, "The Purity Myth." Valenti, founder and executive director of Feministing.com and author of "Full Frontal Feminism," believes that we are too harsh on women who are sexual and challenges the "lie of virginity." In the introduction of her book, she states that "(i)t's time to teach our daughters that their ability to be good people depends on being good people, not whether they're sexually active." She explores the current trend of purity balls (did you know that some of them are federally funded?), the pros and cons of abstinence only education, and how the sexual double standard is harming our young women.

I also thought about whether I'm being picky as a knee jerk reaction to the way my marriage ended. One night, I remember thinking that perhaps my ex cheated because I may have asked for it. Was I too rigid? Not good enough in bed? Too controlling? Not controlling enough? I fell asleep before I could let that line of self-doubt and self-pity run out of control. Still, if I'm feeling lonely enough, the question does creep into the back of my mind: Does a woman ever deserve to be cheated on?

Fortunately, there's a bigger and more sensible voice in the back of my head that answers that question with a confident and loud, "FUCK NO!" It is, however, a question that's come to the forefront lately because of the tempest in a teapot that is what I like to call "Jon & Kate Plus 8 Gate." Long story short: Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy and girl have kids, girl wants more, boy goes along, boy and girl have a litter, boy and girl exploit their brood via reality TV, girl turns into diva, boy slinks out in the middle of the night with younger girl.

There's a lot more to this story than the snarky thumbnail I've written, but this is the gist of the story. The ugly part of this story is not the allegations of infidelity (though, if true, is pretty ugly), but the scuttlebutt out on the blogosphere that Kate Gosselin deserved to be cheated on by her husband Jon because of the way she treated him on camera. The idea that a spouse or partner deserves or earns mistreatment because of one's behavior is reprehensible to me. If there's a problem in a relationship, then you talk it out. Go to counseling. Try to find the root cause of the problem and work it out. Or leave the relationship - no matter how painful that initial breakup may be. Seeking comfort outside of the relationship, establishing another relationship on the side, well that's just cowardly. Kids runaway and hide from problems. Grown-ups deal with them and work them out. I can understand the temptation to say that, if someone is not being kind or respectful to his or her partner, they deserve the hurt that infidelity brings. Two wrongs, however, don't make a right. Bad behavior needs to be identified and corrected on all sides.

I do hope Jon and Kate are able to work out their problems, especially for the sake of their children. I also hope they work on this off camera and in private. I hope that, if Jon is having an affair, he makes a choice - either end it and return to his family, or choose the other woman and be as amicable as possible during the divorce. I also hope that Kate learns to work on whatever issues she may have to improve herself and her relationship. I say may have because most of what the public sees is on a highly edited "reality" TV show produced for maximum impact, ratings and entertainment value. The only people who know what is really happening are Jon, Kate, and the other woman. If they do divorce, I hope Kate will be as amicable as possible during the process. Their children deserve a domestic situation with as much mutual respect, love and maturity between the adults as possible to ensure their mental health and emotional stability.

Man that's a buncha rules, isn't it? More later, after I try to set up another online date for myself.

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Anonymous Blogs Browser said...

Rules make people nervous and the more there is the more nervous the people become. Already a man would be intimidated by your rules. I know, I know he gotta know what you want before-hand but looking at it from another side it looks like one of those "You knew this is what I wanted" lines to be used in future arguments. Methinks flexbility is the key. For instance, watching espn is not neccesarily a bad thing as long as he will later create exclusive time for you, right? That thing of honesty is just a killer. It should not be in the profile. It should be presumed and so on.
And cheating will always happen. I'm sorry to say so but thats the reality. Flagrant cheating is unexcusable but those one time things will always happen. Elizabeth Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Silda Spitzer and countless many others can attest to that. Many men too get cheated on but it never comes to light because women are more discreet.
Another thing; I think chastity is encouraged in girls because society has a thing for innocent girls. You have to realize that this has been a mans world for centuries and the culture of rewarding the strongest smartest man with the most beautiful and most youthful girl has deep deep roots. The culture is beginning to fade away as can be attested with the "cougar" phenom fast taking root. Interesting post this one was.

10:03 PM  
Blogger TEM said...

Cheating may always happen, but nobody deserves it or the fallout that comes from it. This talk about women getting what they deserve when a man cheats because of their behavior is absurd. It's so easy: Treat people the way you want to be treated. If you feel you're being taken advantage of or misused, speak up and demand respect. If you want to fool around with someone else, leave the relationship you're in or say up front, "I don't want to be exclusive," and let the other person have their options. I don't know why people find this so hard to do.

As for my rules, it comes from my personal experience. If I put what I want out there from the beginning, then the expectations are clear from the start. I've found you have to say you want someone to be honest, that you don't want a sports fanatic, that you want someone who's not married or in another relationship, etc., because if you don't, people will assume that if you don't ask for it they can get away with it. My ex-husbands and my ex live-in taught me that the hard way. If a guy is intimidated by what I'm asking for up front from the start, he's not the guy for me. I may be lonely, but I'm not willing to settle.

Don't even get me started on the whole double standard thing. I think the whole idea of women's "purity" is more about the subjugation of women than it is about rewarding male status, but that's the feminist in me talking. Or typing.

Keep reading and thanks for the feedback. You always keep me thinking and questioning my viewpoints in a good way.

11:41 AM  
Blogger TEM said...

Forgot to mention this, but I also got the idea of saying what you want from the start from a column and podcast I love called "Savage Love." Dan Savage is an excellent, wise, and very funny sex and relationship advice columnist. You should check him out for the entertainment value at the least and a very interesting perspective on relationships. His podcasts are out there on Audible.com and on iTunes. His column and daily blog can be found at The Stranger, www.thestranger.com. Click on the "Savage" tab to access his page.

It's all about "ask and ye shall receive" y'all.

12:12 PM  

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