Thursday, August 9, 2012

7 Days of Boring Sexual Gender Norms

Apparently there is a show on Lifetime called 7 Days of Sex. The idea is that struggling couples have sex every day for a week, and it’s supposed to save their marriage. Sex is great, and if you’re not getting it very regularly in your marriage, the marriage will most likely suck for one or both partners – but not always! Some people are asexual (notice I didn’t just say “some WOMEN are asexual”), and some have low sex drives. But even with the majority of people desiring some level of sex in their marriage, somehow I believe that the assignment to have sex every day for seven days is a bit…made for TV. 

I just watched a clip of one of the couples. He complains because since she became a mom, she’s not sexual enough. She also apparently doesn’t cook the amazing, intricate meals of her pre-baby days – now it’s all oatmeal and stuff instead of, I dunno, steak? He never specifies, but she’s failing on all fronts. She just rolls her eyes and says she wishes he’d be “less of a king and more of a nice king.” He says that all women have a special gift, and that gift is vagina. She looks exasperated at his lack of understanding. And he actually at one point complains that the child has taken away 65% of his wife’s affection, which seems…normal? Nee, even perhaps right? 

I’m so. Tired. Of. This. Narrative.

If the man with whom I’d had a child said even just one of the things that man said, I’d be gone – and I’d leave the baby at his house to be his fucking problem. I’m tired of the Entitled Man character running around our culture and saying, “I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE TIRED! I JUST SPENT FIVE HOURS WATCHING TV AND I WANT ME SOME SEX AND SOME HOME COOKIN’ NOW!” I can’t believe this is how it is in all households. Lifetime has another show debuting next week called The Week the Women Went. The preview is all crying babies and women saying they ain’t gonna miss a damn thing about their husbands because HUSBANDS! Oh, goody. A whole show wherein men burn the toast and cry out to God for mercy and PLEASE BRING BACK THAT WOMAN WHO DOES EVERYTHING FOR ME!
The other day, a friend and I were discussing the age-old problem of men babied by their mothers. I don’t know a single woman whose mother continued to pay their bills for them (as in took the daughters money and transported it to the electric company in the daughter’s stead because MOTHERHOOD) once they, well, were old enough to have their own bills, but I’ve known SEVERAL men whose mothers did this for them. To me, the helplessness of men is very obviously rooted in this cultural idea of the helplessness of men. My husband lived alone and didn’t have a woman to do anything for him for, like, thirteen years before he met me, and he STILL doesn’t have a woman doing anything for him. He does his own laundry and nags me about bringing in the trashcans, gender norms be damned. But I guess what gets me every time about these situations is that people act like this stuff is natural, when it’s so clearly an outgrowth of culture. A man can learn to cook and take care of a baby and be organized and do laundry same as a woman. These shows simply reinforce gender ideals that I hear parroted by teenagers and then my brain asplodes, and the cycle is set up once again for another generation of women to baby their sons into complete uselessness.

If a man couldn’t take care of himself and the kids for a week, I wouldn’t be married to him. Period.

And I don’t mean to blame the women for all of society’s ills. It’s culture. Culture tells a woman that if she doesn’t take care of her precious sons and heirs to the family throne, she’ll be a bad mother. Meanwhile, she’s told that she’s supposed to teach her daughter all the womanly arts, setting up a situation where all the women go, “Jesus, here, you’re doing it wrong! I’ll just mop it myself!” when they get married years later. People have to be taught how to do most things; that’s why humans require parenting until the age of 18. So if you’re not teaching one segment of the population and teaching another segment, both segments are going to grow up to fulfill every idea you have about them. 

And when you show and tell men that they’ll grow up to have a smiling, available wife who cooks “just like mom!” and never takes her tiredness out on you because you’re the king and you deserve it, well, men say things like, “STOP MAKING ME OATMEAL AND PUT OUT ALREADY!” instead of, you know, helping out or being grateful their wife made them anything at all.

I want to see a show where the women leave for a week and the men are shown with a baby on one arm and a frying pan on the other, skillfully making dinner and not ruining everything. I want to see a show where a guy goes, “You know, wife, I’d like to have sex with you every night this week, so I’m going to do an equal share of the work around the house! Maybe you will then be less tired and more in the mood!” I’d also love a reality show about an asexual’s experience in relationships or a female who likes sex. OMG STRAIGHT MEN WITH LOW LIBIDOS! I mean, for reality TV to mean anything, it needs to show a variety of experiences, not just be social norms Kabuki. People complain all the time about how reality TV is so dumb, but it has the potential to be so smart. It could teach us about people who are not like us, foster compassion, and help us understand the world in different ways. Shows like 7 Days of Sex are just lazy.

Maybe that’s because they’re dreamed up by men.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea this was on television!

    I lucked out in the sense that my parents taught me this wonderful thing called communication. When my husband wasn't helping me to the degree I felt he should have, I brought it up and we had a discussion. The light went off for him and there you go. Two happier people, working together to improve home life.

    I've missed your writing, Nan. Thank you for starting back up!