vrijdag 10 mei 2013

Venus and Mars

Sometimes it seems like the traditional stereotypes and roles of men and women are back again. There was a period when it was fashionable for men to show their soft side and above all not to act macho. Emancipated, feminist mothers set the tone then and taught their sons to never to do anything that the girl does not want.

In the media a kind of new sexual firmness is the trend already for a while. Research shows that women want a real man again and no dish-washing and hoovering good guy. And too many men appear to have suffered from atrophy of their libido due to the imposed sexual correctness.

Should one conclude that the sexual correctness offensive failed? That attempts to curb the male sexual aggression ricocheted on an unshakable biological pattern? That would be a pity. Because I do not like coercive sexual correctness, but neither the traditional roles of men and women. I would regret if we were completely back to square one.

Gloom may strike the stronger when you add to these Western European trend a global trend. By this I mean the increasing sex segregation on religious grounds in many areas, measures imposed by men to curb the freedom of women, increasing rape in war zones from Bosnia to Rwanda and form Libya to Sierra Leone. Observation of these trends may give rise to the feeling that an already unbridgeable gap is only widening and cannot but bring more misery. Venus and Mars embroiled in a hopeless cruel and unequal struggle.

So, I am not optimistic at this moment about large parts of the world. But yet for our region things are somewhat different, I think. Because the new emphasis on male and female identity is much more nuanced than the former rigid roles were.

According to current discourse, there might be features that you can call female, for example a focus on the relationship or an attitude of restraint. And other features that you can call male, such as the wish to quickly grasp the moment of satisfaction. But then, these properties could very well be more evenly distributed about men and women than the stereotypes would have it.

Such views make the conversation about these things more open and complete. To get at this point we probably had to pass through the phase of the rigid feminist sexual correctness.