Round 57 trillion of the battle of the genders began this evening with a heated debate with a male companion. We were debating a semi-popular figure and whether or not he was sexist (me claiming he was, him claiming he said sexist things but was not sexist, him eventually admitting that said figure was sexist but he didn’t like admitting it, and me smugly remarking that that was a function of his own socialised sexism), which then led onto another discussion about the many flaws of the feminist movement. One of them, he remarked, was the idea promoted by feminism and gradually adopted by everyone else, that women are inherently valuable. “Men are taught from a young age that every woman deserves to be treated with respect, regardless of whether or not she’s earned it- but women aren’t taught the same thing about men. Every woman is a ‘Queen’ and deserves to have the red carpet rolled out for her…”
He then cited an example where a popular feminist (he couldn’t remember who) was on a talk show taking questions from the audience. One young lady stood up and said that she felt upset that because she had had 3 children out of wedlock with 3 different men, that men didn’t view her with respect or ‘cherish’ her in the same way they did other women. The popular feminist replied that women like her were the reason feminism was important – all women deserved to be treated with respect.
I listened and I thought about it for a while, and to an extent I had to agree with him – there is a lot of Instagram wisdom that seems to suggest this idea that every woman has inherent value. We’ve all seen the inspirational “Ladies, you are queens descended from Nefertiti, be the best self you can be as you wait for your Tutenkhamun” and “Women, you are the womb possessing authors of life, treasure your uterus like a pile of diamonds and don’t let anyone touch it with their grubby mitts” type posts.
While Instagram can give an idea of what some people are thinking or claim to be thinking, it it’s only a snapshot in the very long video reel of life.
The reality is, that society and popular culture don’t ACTUALLY inherently value women at all, do they? Every statistic on work place equality, rape, sexual harassment, and the treatment of women by media speaks to the fact that to be a woman is generally to be undervalued. In fact, I think all our Instagram rhetoric is more likely to be a sad commentary that speaks to the fact that maybe, our personal relationships with the opposite sex give an opportunity for women to wield power in ways that they don’t have in other facets of society.
I could be over analysing, but I really can’t see the idea that we are taught to view women as having inherent value based on their womanhood holding much weight.
I would agree that in the realm of romantic relationships, women initially appear have higher expectations during the courtship period at the beginning of those relationships, but I think this balances out fairly quickly. In fact, our whole dating ritual is based on expectations from both genders. Yes, most women expect to be treated well, date paid for, chair pulled out and doors opened, but conversely, many men expect women over the course of the relationship to adopt their traditional gender role which pays them back, so to speak, for the efforts made in the beginning.
In actuality, the value of a woman is always conditional based on her sexual behaviour. The idea that men are taught to treat every women as a ‘queen’ completely falls apart as soon as the woman displays behaviour that is seen as sexually deviant – hoes, sluts and thots aren’t words that appear in a culture where every woman is seen to have inherent value.
Essentially despite our wisdom filled social media quotes, I don’t think men should lose any sleep at night over whether women are seen as inherently more valuable than them.
What do you guys think? Is he right?