Concepts of Compatibility II: Gender Bender

Posted: March 30, 2010 in Concepts of Compatibility, Social Issues

I’ve got a bone to pick with the opposite sex. Well, that’s not entirely accurate; when I first set out to write this, I was feeling frustrated, and I thought that the source of my frustration were women. However, as I began to sort out my feelings a little more, I recognized that women are just as much victim to what I’m talking about as men. I can’t put the blame squarely on their shoulders, as lovely as those shoulders might be. No, I believe that most people do things because it is the way that they were shown. What is demonstrated from one group or individual to the next easily catches on like wildfire, spreading all over the place until the burn from it begins to feel normal, and the non-burn begins to feel strange and uncomfortable. What am I talking about? It’s commonly referred to as the “Game.” This is the delicate and subtle game of attraction between men and women; the interplay of pursuit/rejection; the unspoken rules of attraction and engagement; the curious business of courtship.

My particular beef with the “Game,” is that lately, it has become unsatisfying. I find myself at a place where the choices of potential partners seems endless, due to my proximity to a large portion of the female population. But are there really more choices? From my observations, it seems that many people get funneled together, performing courtship rituals using a value system invoked by society. Many of these concepts have felt unnatural to me, and when I have tried to adhere to the socially acceptable model that has been presented to me, it felt contrived. The closer I look into what it actually takes to win-over the opposite sex, the dynamics involved, the more disconnected I feel.

The crux of the “Game” relies on the fundamental principle that men and women are essentially estranged, and appear as mysterious creatures to one another. Oh, how many times I have marveled at the seemingly deep mysteries that surround the opposite sex! But these days, I think that the mystery is only superficial, and that deep down, men and women represent more analogous creatures that have been conditioned to operate in an environment that is both confusing and contradictory. Both men and women represent virtually the same mystery to each other. Both sexes are trying to figure the other one out, in order to get a “1up” on the other in the “Game.”

This pitting of man vs. woman is set up like a game, complete with rules both spoken and unspoken. When I recently told a friend of mine about my frustrations, he reinforced to me, many of the principles of modern courtship that I find loathsome. Essentially, I feel as if I have been bombarded with other peoples’ myths regarding how one should act around the opposite sex. I will list some of these principles, and comment on them as follows:

1. Don’t expect the lady to come to you; it’s up to the man to show initial interest and approach the female.

***The whole point behind this is the archaic concept of out-dated gender roles. Men are expected to “hit on” women, thus cementing their caricatures as predators, and the women are the “deciders” as to which men they will fend off. The pursuing man (or woman, in some cases) must present value to the other person, “selling” themselves in a certain way. Why should I be the “one” who must present value? In our society, why is that burden put mostly on the male shoulders? Why not initially the female? It seems as if women are deemed inherently “valuable,” and men are pre-positioned to have to “prove” their value as an incentive for the woman to be interested.

Many women are used to getting “hit on,” so they become accustomed to expecting a prospective male to “make the moves.” And subsequently, if a man doesn’t act in the role of the aggressor, then he is deemed somewhat emasculate by the standards of our society. This type of gender posturing has an additional negative effect of creating the presumption that any encounter initiated by a man must mean that he is romantically interested. I find it difficult at times to engage in casual conversations with strangers, because they presume from the start, that I have sexual intentions (whether I do, or not). It’s hard to pay an earnest compliment when most of the time, it is perceived as a “pick-up.”

The reality is that a person (man or woman) will seek out the kinds of experiences they want, including the types of people they bring into their lives. I find it interesting how quickly and easily some women embrace the role of the aggressor when they find a man that they are interested in. If one is holding out for the other to make the first move, then they are essentially holding onto a fabricated notion of an ideal fantasy. For others, it’s the thrill of the “hunt” that they enjoy. Personally, I have found encounters where there is an obvious mutual interest and exchange to be the most satisfying. I don’t feel like I have to “sell” myself, or act like someone I’m not, just to attract the opposite sex.

2. Women are attracted to men who are confident about themselves.

***This is one of the more cliched notions of gender dynamics, and at least, a superficially acceptable concept. Who wants to be with someone who isn’t confident? But sadly, I believe that this concept has become propagandized and relegated to a mere bumper sticker slogan.

Take me for instance; I am one of the most confident people that I know. I am confident in myself, in the direction my life is going. I have taken significant measures to develop my personality and have spent an exceptional amount of time soul-searching. I know what I want, where I’m going, and who I am. I am confident enough to go to a movie alone, or eat at a restaurant solo, or go to a bar without the company of another. These, to me, are indicators of self-confidence, but instead of having a positive affect on the opposite sex, I have found that most women feel intimidated by my self-led dynamics, and are actually turned off. What I think is being implied about the confidence myth, is that women are looking for men who display confidence towards the woman they are trying to court. In other words, they don’t exactly want a “confidence man,” but a man who has confidence in them.

It must be appealing to have someone who is willing to go out on a limb, risking rejection, singling out that one particular person, and settling on them. On the obverse side, I haven’t encountered very many women who exhibit self-confidence on that same level of risk and investment. Most women that I’ve met calculate the safest “bet” towards never losing face. Arrogance is often disguised as confidence. There are exceptional women who truly do exude self-confidence, who aren’t swayed by the hype of the moment, and who do not base their style solely around what the opposite sex thinks. These are the women who I am most attracted to.

3. Women like nice guys.

***This is one of the easiest myths to blow out of the water. The idea of a nice guy is, well…nice, but I have found that ultimately, acts of kindness, and indeed, a nice demeanor can backfire. Kindness can be misinterpreted as weakness, and if this “game” is truly a competitive one (which it is), the guy who is willing to do anything to get the girl will win in the end.

Persistence pays, and speaks more clearly than the soft-spoken, principled guy who is in touch with his feelings. As far as I can tell, most women want a man who is gentle enough to read her poetry, but savage enough to kill the spiders in the house; a man who is sensitive enough to cry, but not too much; a man who is strong enough to fight for her, but not if he acts too macho; a man who opens doors for her, but not if it takes away from her independence; a man who is charismatic enough to win over any woman, but is single-mindedly committed to her; a man who is a world class scholar, athlete, and philosopher, yet comfortably fits into the stereotypical mold of mindless, sex-driven male when it’s convenient…Obviously, no one wants to be with someone who treats them like shit. But I find it very interesting how many women there are (men too!), who attach themselves to someone who has very little regard towards them.

How many times have I lost a woman to the guy who showed a little more edge, a little more rebelliousness, a willingness to break a few more rules? In my experience, nice guys do finish last, if at all.

4. Women are attracted to men who can provide security.

***This, sadly is not a myth. In my encounters, I have witnessed the paradox of women who simultaneously seek a life where they are respected as equals (emerging from a very sexist culture) and who also seek after men with a certain financial status. How is it that a particular man’s attractiveness can increase exponentially when it is discovered that he is financially well-off? What this alludes to, is the greater concept of status improvement.

I think that the most attractive quality women look for in a man, is his status, and if his status can help elevate hers. It seems like some people are more interested in the false-virtue of having someone, anyone that helps them look good, regardless of how healthy or un-healthy the relationship may, or may not be. As long as your partner has an acceptable image to the friends and family in your immediate circle, little else matters, at least on the surface. For instance, one of the first questions typically asked by friends and family of a potential courtier is: What does he do? This is a thinly disguised question that really means: How much money does he make? This happens to be one area that I definitely see disparity between the way the sexes operate. I argue that a man’s financial status is more important to a woman, than a woman’s is to a man. As well as: job status, driving status, societal status, and social status in general.

What’s wrong with wanting to be with someone who is important, and respected, and financially well-off? Nothing inherently, but when it ranks among the top qualities that women look for in men, I question the genuineness of the woman. She bases her value system on superficial aspects, much like the man who puts a heavy emphasis on how physically attractive they want their woman to be. But I still wonder: Why would a woman want to be strong enough to rise above the oppression of a so-called “male dominated world,” while simultaneously holding onto the hope for a man who will be a “good provider?” If you ask me, this concept diminishes the empowerment a person can achieve by remaining strong within themselves.

So…to sum up, much of my angst towards these gender games arises from wanting to live in a world that has progressed beyond simplistic stereotypical, traditional gender roles. I am an advocate of being yourself. If you feel compelled to do something, do it, but not out of a robotic tendency to “fit in.” If you are attracted to someone, look at the possible reasons why. Instead of looking for power symbols in the form of a romantic partner, why not develop inner strength? This may lead to finding someone who is genuinely strong themselves. If this quest to find compatibility between the sexes is indeed a “game,” why not make a new game with new rules?That’s what I intend to do; I think the current one sucks…

  1. Pablo (yo) says:

    great blog!!!If you like, come back and visit mine: http://albumdeestampillas.blogspot.comThanks,Pablo from Argentina

  2. chadstract says:

    Right on, man — Thanks!

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