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Yep, women like to take a back seat in a relationship

From the towering height of a half-century of ill-digested social relations, I'll try to amend this :

Yep, most women generally like choose, or are obliged, to take a back seat in a relationship

It's interesting to indicate where one is coming from in this sort of discussion; there are no absolute truths, and the certainties we have reached from personal experience are necessarily partial.

I have recently buried my mother. She was a front-line feminist, strongly engaged in empowering helpless women. A near-contemporary of Betty Freidan and Simone de Beauvoir, she had to work it out for herself to a great extent. But what struck me, in reflecting on her life, is the extent to which her thinking was structured in consequence of her rather complicated reproductive destiny.

For me, the only fundamental distinction between men and women is that of reproduction [and before anyone interjects, I acknowledge that this is false, like all great truths about men and women : the questions of gender identity blur and complicate this simple distinction nicely!] That is to say, the question of dominance/submission as the primary motor of male/female relations harks back to a biological archetype. The behaviours expressed by modern men and women undoubtedly have an instinctive element; however, they are conditioned by the cultural framework we live in.

Clearly, we all have some innate propensions as to sexual preferences (notably, but not only, with respect to the gender of partners). We all are influenced by the role models of the men and women we grow up with (including, of course, our parents). Some (most) cultures allow little or no choice to men and women as to the range of behaviours they are permitted to express. Many societies try actively to suppress the range of natural human sexual propensities. This often leaves parents ill-equipped to guide their children in this respect :

This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin : The Poetry Foundation

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
 They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
 And add some extra, just for you.

 But they were fucked up in their turn
 By fools in old-style hats and coats,
 Who half the time were soppy-stern
 And half at one another's throats.

 Man hands on misery to man.
 It deepens like a coastal shelf.
 Get out as early as you can,
 And don't have any kids yourself.

[Disclaimer : I do not endorse the sentiments expressed in the final verse.]

My parents were equal co-deciders in all aspects of their lives (and ours). Because of their respective personalityes, my father (who had a high-status job, but preferred a quiet life) was generally perceived as being dominated by his wife.  This, in my analysis, allowed us to grow up with a larger degree of freedom with respect to the sexual roles we could assume (or alternatively, fucked us up: see above).

Bottom line : the dominant/submissive thing has a biological origin, but is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy, and has absolutely no reason to be actively perpetuated in modern culture. Everyone has a place on the dominant/submissive continuum, and no doubt a the cursor is somewhat to the right for a majority of men, and to the left for a majority of women. People do themselves violence if they try to force themselves into a role which is expected of them and which does not correspond to their true nature (and, of course, they do violence to their partner). The secret is that it's a wide world, and there are a huge number of men and women out there... one or more of them will fit you like a glove.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jun 16th, 2014 at 05:57:40 AM EST

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