Sex: I’m a man and you’re a slut

I’m a man and you’re a sl*t. There, I’ve said it. I know you don’t like it; I know you’re going to be angry with me but that is the truth. Yes? The fundamental reality we all live with can be expressed in these basest of terms: if a man sleeps around; he’s a man; if a woman sleeps around; she’s a sl*t. Why? That doesn’t seem at all fair, does it?

It’s a man’s world. A woman may not like it but that seems to be a fact. Far better scholars than I have studied it, analysed it and written about it. History explains the antecedents of this patriarchal society in which we live while modern intellectuals who question the status quo have asked and still ask why we must continue to do what we’ve been doing. Change comes slowly; traditions die hard; don’t rock the boat.

The Double Standard

The Women’s Liberation Movement has long talked about this phenomenon which has existed in our society; the double standard which is applied to men and women. The saying is "What’s good for the goose is good for the gander" but in relation to the double standard, it means that what is good for the gander is not necessarily what the goose gets.

Women did not get the right to vote in Canada and the United States (with exceptions) until the 1920’s. Women were considered chattel. While North American society has changed, I am of the opinion that a lot of it has to do with veneer. Yes, we have laws about equality in the workplace but that doesn’t mean that there is equality in the workplace. As a man, all I have to do is stand around the water cooler with other men and follow the conversation. Nobody is listening; nobody will criticize; what are you going to say? Sometimes, it’s surprising to hear what guys do say.

True Story

My wife is a wonderful woman. Not only is she good looking (hubba, hubba), she is well educated (a Masters no less!), smart and as a person, not just as a woman, I think she’s right up there in the top percentile of our society. She’s retired now but she held her own in the workplace for 32 years with the last 6 as the CEO of a small company. Yes, I love her, but I also admire her and am proud of her.

I work with a guy who is the typical macho: still plays sports with the guys and does semi-dangerous activities. When we talk, he talks to me in that sort of man to man way, as if we’re sharing something that only men can share. From time to time when he’s talks about his wife, he presents her as a bit of an airhead: she likes to shop; she doesn’t like to work; she thinks money grows on trees and he’s going to keep providing her with it. Such dialogue is usually accompanied by eyes rolled to the ceiling. I know he’s trying to be funny, funny in a chauvinist way but I have to confess being slightly perplexed by this. Why? I would never say such things about my wife. First of all, my wife isn’t an airhead; she’s really smart. Secondly, she had her own career; she was never dependant on me. And third, and this for me is the kicker, how macho, how manly can any guy be if he sits down with other men and confesses that he’s married such a woman? That’s like saying he’s married the mistake of his life; he admits his wife is inferior to… well, my wife.

The Female Eunuch

This book by Germaine Greer was published in 1970. In a nutshell, it said that men hate women; women don’t realize this and they are taught to hate themselves. The traditional family represses women sexually and is an environment where we see the continuation of the power struggle of men over women.

I read it immediately. I was 18 years old.

I had already suspected that what I had learned, what I had seen around me, what society had been passing off to me, didn’t really represent reality. I grew up in the 50’s family model: man works; wife stays at home and raises the kids. This book confirmed my suspicions. Tradition did give us a structure, a framework for our lives and our society but at the same time stifled our ability to critically examine ourselves.

Since this time, however, I have very much grown to appreciate how difficult and slow change, true change can be. We as a nation can enact laws against gender discrimination but that does not mean people will not continue to practise it. I return to the men talking around the water cooler. Yes, we all say out loud that women are welcome but that does not necessarily mean that when we have 2 candidates in front of us for a job, one man and one woman, we might not just favour the man because… well, he’s a guy. There’s a joke in there about two heads being better than one but I will try and keep myself above board.

The S Word

I love Chris Rock. As a comedian he has a keen perception of our modern times; as a black man, he tells it like it is in America. In telling it like it is, Chris does resort to colourful language and I add here that only a black man can get away with using the N word. That particular word has such emotional force, such a history attached to it that merely uttering the word out loud in public is enough to send a shiver down the back of anybody within earshot. And if you’re white and saying that word (Hello Michael Richards!), I would strongly advise you to make sure your will is up to date.

The S word also has a big impact. Qualifying a woman with that word is tantamount to heaping on her the sum total of all scorn we as a society have for any female who expresses the slightest amount of interest in sex. Now think about that for a second. If a man goes out and has sex with 10 women, he’s a stud. If a woman goes out and has sex with 10 men, she’s a sl*t. Stud = positive, sl*t = negative. How curious. We equate male sexual prowess as a good thing but we equate female sexuality as bad. But why?

The Hite Report

Shere Hite released her report on female sexuality in 1976 and her report on male sexuality in 1981. I read both.

I’ve never forgotten the book about men and the one specific thing she discovered in her research. There was this reoccurring theme to the answers from men: men were convinced that women do not like sex.

What? But the more I thought about it, the more that made sense. We men are told to get out there and chase women. We discover that women hold back, are particular, are careful in the selection of a mate, only want to "do it" after marriage, etc. Gee, why wouldn’t we get the idea women don’t like sex?

What an odd situation. Men are guided by society to want to marry a woman who is worthwhile, of value, a woman who is not a sl*t. But in doing so, men are marrying somebody who doesn’t like sex. Men want sex. Men think they need a sl*t. Geesh, are we going around in circles here?

I’ve heard researchers try to explain all this by describing the primordial difference between the sexes: men are wired to spread their seed; women are wired to bear and raise children. This translates into men running around looking for places to deposit their seed and women trying to set up a successful environment for children. I’m sure my summation is quite simplistic but this is an idea I’ve heard from the pundits. Gee, where’s Desmond Morris when you need him? (The Naked Ape, 1967)

What’s it all about, Alfie?

There’s no doubt about it; we are a confused species. We have been following roles which have existed on this planet since the beginning of time and now that we’re looking at those roles with a critical eye, we are totally thrown for a loop in understanding those roles and figuring out not only what we’re doing, but what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. Let’s not forget that change comes slowly because we don’t necessarily like change. I could say something amusing about inertia but I truly believe we have a difficult time changing because we don’t like instability. Change involves tearing down beliefs and that means instability. At some point we will replace those beliefs but during the transition period, we are going to have to deal with some shakiness.

The Water Cooler

We enact laws; we force people to act a certain way. We build a social norm; we ostracize people if they don’t conform. However, we can’t always control their thoughts and people can be quite chameleon like depending on their circumstances. At the office, in public, somebody can put on a good show for gender equality then go home and beat the wife if not physically, at least psychologically. Laws try to force everyone to not commit a crime but will we arrive at a point where everybody does not want to commit a crime? Gender equality may be written into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada, but the man-talk around the water cooler will be the true litmus test of whether or not gender equality exists in society.

Afterthought

I sometimes read an opinion piece such as this one and not being totally familiar with the material, I know that I either do not react because it is all quite a distance from my own everyday life or I may doubt what the author says and not necessarily take the time to prove the author right or wrong. In other words, the message gets lost in the daily shuffle of my life.

I would ask that you, the reader, to remember the following:

  • In 1989, Marc Lépine killed 14 women claiming that feminism had ruined his life.
  • Robert Pickton, jailed in 207, has been convicted of murdering 6 women, charged with the murder of 20 other women and claims to have murdered 49 women in total.
  • Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman, has been condemned to die by stoning because she is an adulterer. The men in question face no prosecution about this matter.
  • Every year approximately 25,000 women die from botched abortions in Africa and yet, not one man is harmed.
Are men confused about women? You bet. Do we have gender equality? I think not. Are we ever going to get things sorted out? Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until hell to freeze over.

Click HERE to read more columns by William Belle.

References

The Female Eunuch
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Female_Eunuch

The S Word
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slut

Shere Hite
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shere_Hite

The Montreal Massacre
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89cole_Polytechnique_massacre

Robert Pickton
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Pickton

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani: an adulterer all by herself – July 12, 2010
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/07/sakineh-mohammadi-ashtiani-adulterer.html

Abortion: If we make it illegal, the problem will go away – June26, 2010
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/06/abortion-if-we-make-it-illegal-problem.html

In Praise of Women – June 15, 2010
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/06/in-praise-of-women.html

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