Wednesday, January 13, 2010

'I love you...for ornamental reasons...' *

Today, boys and girls, we have another of my occasional guest columns, this time from a reader we'll call "Mike From Canada." Within the contours of Mike's reasoning you'll see a fleshed-out portrait of "vanity taxes" in action, and also get some sense of the ongoing male skepticism/suspicion and, yes, latent anger with respect to women (and their motives), sex, romance, materialism, and the little fandango we still must dance despite the supposed progress we've made in recent decades thanks to "frank talk between the sexes," offerings like Mars/Venus, and the myriad "relationships clinics" pitched by the gurus of SHAMland. In and of themselves these are not new phenomena, of course, but the fact of their continuing existence (as well as the author's obvious passion in discussing them) is, I think, a key point in its own right. This stuff won't go away.

To me, the saddest part is what Mike implies about sex itself: that basically it's still something we (men) want and women are trying to defend against or at least "make a good bargain for." This, almost 40 years after Erica Jong and her scandalously delicious "zipless fuck."


I wanted to thank you for your article on vanity taxes and the SHAMblog follow-up "On diamond desire, Lexus love, and related social diseases." Both articles struck a real chord with me, mainly because of a particular woman I worked with for three years.

First, she was a status seeker of the worst sort: the kind of person your vanity-tax blogs were written for. She wanted to go to the 7-star hotel in Dubai for one night just for the bragging rights. She wanted to drink a $1500 bottle of wine in a restaurant "just for the experience." (When I pointed out she was unlikely to be able to tell it apart from, say, a $50 bottle, she insisted that the "total experience" would be worth it.) One day she actually came right out and told me that she "wanted the latest and greatest gadgets so people would be jealous."

She wasn't a bad person...just shallow when it came to possessions.
Anyhow, you get the picture. But it was the discussion about women and jewelry that really got me thinking. It started with her waving a piece of jewelry under my nose one day and saying with a smirk: "You guys don't get it. Husbands who buy nice things like this for their wives get nice rewards." Naturally this irked the hell out of me. I replied, "So you're telling me that basically you're all prostitutes, and if we buy you shiny things you'll spread your legs?"

That started some serious stammering and back-pedaling. "That's not what I'm saying." "You're putting words in my mouth." "You're bringing it down to the lowest common denominator." I kept asking her to explain what she really meant. A sample attempt on her part: The jewelry is not direct payment for sex, per se, but "it makes the woman feel good about herself" and thus she is "more likely to be in the mood." Oh, I get it now.

It must have caused some serious cognitive dissonance because she kept bringing it up over the next few weeks, finally culminating in her telling me that she had discussed it with her (woman) friend and they agreed that not only was I wrong, but I was missing out on the concept of "ROMANCE." She wrote it just that way, too: block letters on the white-board in my cubicle.

Anyhow, she never did properly explain her concept of "romance" to my satisfaction, but the whole incident got me thinking, especially since I still hear variations of the
sex-in-exchange-for-[fill in the blank] approach at work. Working among university-educated women, we men still get questioned, "Have you complimented your wife lately?" or "When was the last time you bought your wife flowers?" The boss recently bragged that he has flowers delivered to his wife on a random day every week. Silly me, with the rise of feminism I thought men and women were equal and to be treated as such, not that women's egos were so fragile that they required a steady stream of flattery and trinkets just to get through life.

Seems to me that the female concept of "romance" is generally a one-way street: a man flattering her, a man doing her favors, a man buying her something. Women are not expected to be "romantic."
I grant you that there's an evolutionary link to it. In the distant past, a woman would want a man to show that he was a good provider and could take care of her. Hence, little favors and gifts bought a man a chance to mate: an attractive return on one's investment for sure. But what I find patently unfair is that in modern times, many women expect to be treated as complete equals in the workplace yet quickly revert to old-fashioned "romance" once you step outside work.

Which is it, ladies: equality or not?

* It's a play on a song title that many of you may not be familiar with, but I couldn't resist.


Anonymous said...

Mercy! What a one-sided tirade. How about a check-in from the other side: I love to buy the man in my life books, music, and movies I know he'll enjoy, knit him warm scarves, mix his favorite drinks, make snacks and meals I know he loves, rub his neck after a hard day. I don't do this in the hope of getting some sort of reward, sexual, financial, or otherwise; I do it because it gives me pleasure to give pleasure to someone I love. Nor do I think it diminishes me in terms of equality; I have total confidence in my intellectual and professional capabilities and would be happy to put them up against anyone's.

In a similar vein, I enjoy cooking favorite foods for friends, buying gifts for friends and family I know they'd love, taking the time to give the cats and dog the attention they deserve. Giving pleasure is its own reward.

For my part, I have enough jewelry (bought by me or given by my family) for a lifetime, and expensive trinkets horrify me. But I do love flowers, and would be thrilled to get fresh flowers every week, even if they came from the grocery store (groceries now carry beautiful, inexpensive cut flowers, so there's no earthly reason to spend bazillion dollars at the florist's). Not, for God's sake, because the presentation of flowers would "put me in the mood"---chemistry alone does that---but because I love beauty.

In the culture in which I was raised, nothing was so despised as status-seeking and greed, and nothing so exalted as courtesy and consideration for others. The greatest generosity is surely kindness, and taking the time to truly know others and make an effort to give them joy, without expectation of return. In either sex, this is not equality, it's what is good in all of us, what we all are capable of if we stop focusing on material gain and start focusing on each other.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon: Thanks for taking the time to write. That's largely why we publish one-sided tirades, after all--in hopes of hearing "the other side."

(And I hope you folks do realize that no matter how open-minded and fair-thinking I may try to be, I am ultimately limited by the fact of having testicles. Right?)

Anonymous said...

Mike from Canada:

Hey buddy, you understand the rules, yet you don't game the system. What's wrong with you?

Treat women as equals at work. Show respect: don't (get caught) spend(ing)time staring at their rack; (pretend to) listen to their ideas and acknowledge their intellect.

After work, treat them as ladies: open doors for them; give them attention and let them know that they have been on your mind. Pick up the check for dinner; don't get all equal-rights with them after work hours.


It's that simple.

What's not to like?

Anonymous said...

Right on, anon 12:58! Geez, how hard is that?!

RevRon's Rants said...

OK... I want in on this "romance" game! I will, on (admittedly) rare occasions do something nice for the love of my life, just because I feel like it, whether I expect anything in return or not. NBD.

However... If a woman decided to buy me the trinkets that are most likely to tickle my fancy, such as say, a new motorcycle, a top-of-the-line flat screen television, or a beautifully made .45-70, I'd probably be very inclined to put out at least once and fully celebrate my inner whore-ness!

Wouldn't particularly change the way I feel about myself, but hey... we say thank you in our own ways, right? :-)

BTW - Mike, by any chance, has your co-worker friend happened to have undergone a sex change and moved to Wimberly? :-)

sassy sasha said...

this whole thing is so stupid and irritating, people value different things, they find partners who are on the same wave length. what are you getting so obsessed about! why is it your problem if this is how others "do" relationships?? tho i dont particuarly care for the sentiments of some of the other comments, they seem like jerks or maybe pigs, i agree that if it works it works!

RevRon's Rants said...

And the award for most in need of a bran muffin goes to... :-)

Anonymous said...

Hmm,I kind of had to court my husband, does that get me kicked out of my gender? He loves chocolate and give him a lot of it. I have also sent him roses "just because." He does not always reward me with sex though. Sometimes he has a headache. He did give me a nice engagement ring, but I gave him one too. By the way, the trend of men getting engagement rings is on the rise. If you read the books out there, such as He's Just Not That Into You and (yes they are like wild animals now), I did everything wrong.

Yekaterina said...

You know, generalizations of this sort are simply asinine. Yes, I know, we all form opinions of the opposite sex based on the individuals of the opposite sex that we've come into contact with over the years, but let's face it, there are all types of women and men out there.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Feminism huh? Who are the women that you are hanging around? I enjoy being treated like a lady and I enjoy being a good loving wife to my husband. This means random, I love you notes, sending HIM flowers on Valentine's Day, hand massages, and giving him genuine compliments. I love him, therefore I do these things WITHOUT superficial expectations from him. In fact, I tell my husband that I don't want jewelry or any other material items. I tell him that all I need is him,and that is all I want. I was with a man for 8 years and he had money(which is ALL he cared about). Yes, I had all the material things I could have ever wanted, but I felt empty and unloved. I broke it off with him. It wasn't worth it.

O.k. equality in the workplace....yes, I do expect to be treated equally. I am educated just the same as my male counterparts. My intellect, ideas, and opinions are just as vauluable as they are. Period.

You are trying to mix the two and that isn't working.

Steve Salerno said...

Steph: Thanks for your contribution...but...I am trying to mix the two? You're acting as if I invented this phenomenon. On the contrary, I think that what's alluded to here is a well-known and recognized double-standard. And I think the question our "guest blogger" asks is valid: For the women in that category (who clearly do not include you), which way do you want it? Or, if you want it both ways, at least admit the hypocrisy.

Does that not make sense to you?

Steve Salerno said...

I can't resist sharing: Received an email from someone confessing that he keeps returning to the site because the photo itself is such a turn-on....

We men...we're just too damn easy (and pathetic), aren't we, ladies?

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, upon closer inspection of the picture that accompanies this post, I can't help but wonder whether the item he's holding is a ring or a camera. Kinda changes the whole dynamic, don't you think? :-)

Steve Salerno said...

What's interesting, too, is how blurry the thing in the box seems to be, compared to everything else in-frame. You think it could be...vibrating?

(And we hereby commence today's installment of "just how juvenile can the boys on the blog really be?")

RevRon's Rants said...

To quote the soon-to-be late Dennis Hopper from the movie "Flashback" (one of my all-time favorites), "I'm too old to grow up now!" :-)

I tend to get progressively juvenile when confronted with what I perceive as excessive "maturity."

Anonymous said...

In response to act like men don't have expectations from women, when we know that isn't the truth. And I am not speaking about the sexual kind. For me the guest blogger is speaking about ONE type of woman. To make a generalized comment based on ALL women is seriously flawed.

Let me comment on your reverting to "old-fashioned ways" once we step outside of the workplace. Men are the same when it comes to this. My husband is considerably younger than I (20's), and he told me that he didn't like being "pursued" by women. He said it was a turn off and he wanted to be the one to do the chasing. So, who is old-fashioned now??

This isn't the 1950's where the women stay at home and have oodles of babies and bake cookies all day. Women are bringing home the pay so they have a say!! There's some feminism for ya!

And yes, treat me like a lady, and give me equal rights in the corporate world. Women are not something that is just supposed to "look' pretty at a desk, or be manipulated and molded into what a man wants them to be in the workplace. Essentially we are HUMAN beings. Treat us as such.

Anonymous said...

Wait... What? What are we talking about again? Pictures? Whose pictures?

Anyway, the only thing I have is a question for "Mike:" when the hell did you find time to do actual work, while you spend so much time on rehashing the obvious dynamics of the male-female relationships with your alluring co-worker?

Actually, wait, I do have one more thing to say (shocking, I know): why is it puzzling that many women expect to be treated as complete equals in the workplace yet quickly revert to old-fashioned "romance" once you step outside work?

Do men want to be treated as co-workers at home, or as husbands and lovers?

What's so confusing about it?

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: Apparently my reader likes the photo I used to illustrate the item. Knees spread and all that. (Doesn't take much for some of us.)

In fairness to Mike, I think he's commenting on the one-sidedness of it all. Several female visitors have said that they go out of their way to show romantic attention to their partners, and that's very nice. But come on, now; let's not put on blinders just for the sake of trying to sustain a convincing argument. Through the years--decades; generations--who is expected to send flowers and candy to whom? Who is expected to provide jewelry? Who is expected to wine and dine in order to "be rewarded" with physical favors later on? Eliz, if you're seriously proposing that everything has been as even-Stephen and unisex outside work as it's supposed to during work, then you live in a very different America than I do.

Anonymous said...

I'm even more confuseder now.

Steve, who sez that everything is even-Steven or that it should be this way?

It isn't, it won't be, and there are good reasons for that.

Having said that, isn't it obvious that different rules apply in the workplace and in romantic relationships?

Again, do you as a man want to be treated by your wife like a co-worker or like a husband/lover? I'm assuming (obviously) the latter, but, hey, I may be wrong.

Then if so (i.e., if you want to be treated like husband/lover and not a co-worker), why is it puzzling that women want to be treated as lovers by their partners and as co-workers in the workplace -- and that different rules apply to both situations?

What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

OK, I think I'm getting it: you are resentful of the fact that human females, from time immemorial and in all societies of our species, expect small (and not) gestures of romantic appreciation from their men -- is that correct?

Hm. If it is so, then I'll make a wild guess: you are either single (and will remain so), or unhappy in your relationship with the woman in your life.

I sympathize.

But don't despair: there is an easy and workable solution to your predicament: I know of this isolated men-only monastery on the mountaintop in Greece. I hear they have no age limit for prospective applicants. ;)

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: I feel as if we have a language barrier here. Or maybe a gender barrier?

Where in any of this do you see an argument for why men want to be treated as "coworkers" outside work? If anything, I think Mike and some of the rest of us are saying that that's already too much the case as it is: that in issues of so-called romance, the romance is a one-way street. It consists of men "doing romantic things for women," and women not reciprocating--unless you want to say that a woman's way of reciprocating is to have sex with you, which only reinforces the case made my Mike, the much-maligned Anon 12:58 (yesterday), etc.

I'm saying this: Why is it men who buy diamond rings (and necklaces, and bracelets) for women? Why don't women buy diamond rings for men?

Why is it men who buy flowers for women? Why don't women by flowers for men?

Etc. The burden of supplying romance seems to fall squarely on the man's shoulders.

Where is the confusion coming in?

Anonymous said...

LMAO! OK, do you want your wife to buy flowers and diamond rings for you, Steve?

If so, ask her. What's the problem?

Steve Salerno said... the old line says, "you shouldn't have to ask."

But that's not the point. The point is merely to establish that romance in this culture is defined largely a something a man "does for" a woman. Often at significant cost. It is, in many cases, put bluntly, the price he pays to get laid. The little "mating dance" that plays out, especially early in relationships. That is Mike's argument. That's all he's saying. And if you're saying you agree with that basic assertion, then you're buying Mike's argument.

Anonymous said...

More seriously -- and we've talked about it here ad nauseam, if I recall, so I wonder why the lesson(?) does not sink in: in the mating dance, it is the man's job (so to speak) to woo the woman and outwit his competition in the process. There are many ways to do it, and one of them is offering the woman gifts, proving his fitness as her possible spouse and provider for their offspring.

Women do not have to do it because they do not compete for males in the same way. Different rules apply to the sexes in the mating game.

We are not the only species where these rules apply, btw, but even the youngest members of our human race "get" these rules early on (like, in kindergarten).

I am scratching my head and chuckling: how old are you, exactly? :)

Anonymous said...

romance in this culture is defined largely a something a man "does for" a woman

Of course. And not only in this culture, but across our species -- and in other species as well. There are solid evolutionary reasons for that.

What can I say, if you don't like it, then join the monastery I mentioned above, or change the species. (I suspect snakes don't do it -- and look how happy they are. :))

Anonymous said...

Steve asked:
I'm saying this: Why is it men who buy diamond rings (and necklaces, and bracelets) for women? Why don't women buy diamond rings for men?

Why is it men who buy flowers for women? Why don't women by flowers for men?

There are women who do this Steve and there are books written about how this should not be done. That is why I mentioned the books being written geared for women about how men want to chase them and WANT to buy them trinkets. Men are writing these books too, so they are in on this lack of equality. Socially, we are going back in time.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: First of all, the Sisterhood is not monolithic on this point, as you'll see simply by perusing some of the other comments from women here. There are indeed women who do nice, "romantic" things for their men. Or claim to. ;)

And, yanno, pardon my pique, but I'm getting a little sick of people who trot out Darwin and zoology every time they want to make a point about how "that's just how it is in the animal kingdom." Oh yeah? Well then next time you have a baby, eat the afterbirth, OK?

Steve Salerno said...

(Of course, we men are simply going to spread our seed at every opportunity, because that's how it is in the animal kingdom.)

Anonymous said...

Humans do not eat afterbirth, Steve, so no need to recommend that.

But they do compete for mates in a fairly universal fashion throughout the species, with males wooing females with trinkets and other symbols of status.

You don't have to like it, but it is what it is. I didn't make up this system. The Complaints Dept. is either at the St. Peter's Gate or with the first bio-organism that has led to our unfortunate homo sapiens, depending on your views.

And of course there are women who buy trinkets for their male partners, why not. It's a nice touch, but it's just "not required" as a part of the human mating ritual, is all.

If you really, really, really don't like it, work toward changing it. Do ask your wife for that diamond bracelet already -- nothing wrong with that.

And while at it, advocate for equal pay for women -- I suspect they'll be more willing to shower you with gifts if their earnings are higher. :)

Anonymous said...

OK, the "monastery" I mention in the earlier comment refers to yet another comment I sent, which, for some reason, has not been posted (lost in cyberspace?)

It will make it, eventually. I hope.

Mary said...

Mike and Elizabeth are in agreement. They would make a perfect pair. If one is taking the Darwin/evolutionary track, then women should die after menopause. They are of no value if they cannot produce children. We are no longer on the African planes and polygamy is not as popular as it once was, so why can't are mating habits change?

Steve Salerno said...

Well, wait a minute, now. If biology ordains that women will conceive and carry children, and eventually have to have the children and nurture them, at least for a while--and possibly fall madly in love with those children, and perhaps decide to stay home with them...then why should I, as an employer, pay them equally? And then we have those 3-5 days each month when they might be ornery and out of sorts. And let's face it, they're more frail than men are, as a rule, and weaker as well, so in certain lines of work (police, fire, the military) it just doesn't make sense to put them on an equal footing with men...

Nah. Women are just too big a risk in the workplace. And hey, don't complain to me. Complain to Mother Nature.

Anonymous said...

Steve said:
And let's face it, they're more frail than men are, as a rule, and weaker as well, so in certain lines of work (police, fire, the military) it just doesn't make sense to put them on an equal footing with men...
Your comments echo the article in Time,, "Sexes:The Military Is Pregnant." There is quite a bit of resentment from male military about this topic.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon et al, to be clear: In making that last comment of mine, I was really stepping outside myself in contriving a rebuttal to some of the other arguments raised in this thread. Point being, you can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

women will conceive and carry children, and eventually have to have the children and nurture them, at least for a while--(...) then we have those 3-5 days each month when they might be ornery and out of sorts. And let's face it, they're more frail than men are, as a rule, and weaker as well

LOL! Finally you're getting it, Steve -- all the reasons why women should be getting all these extra trinkets and then some. ;)

See, you can't have it both ways (you=men): have women be dainty and feminine and dependent on you (and thus requiring special attention plus trinkets), and self-sufficient and "equal" in every respect to you at the same time.


Contrary to Mike's and your conclusion (women, what the heck do you want? make up your minds already, one way or another!), you guys are driving this market and its trends as much as women are, so take some responsibility for your own wants and desires, which are no less confused and contradictory than those of women.

So, guys, what do you want from women already? (Apart from diamond bracelets and flowers, of course. ;)


Mary, describing something does not equal championing it. It is what it is. If you'd like to change human mating rituals, by all means, work at it.

Anyway, they likely will change as we evolve socially (and evolving we are, whether we like it or not -- ever so slowly, but still).

Anonymous said...

Point being, you can't have it both ways.

Exactly. So, again, what do you guys want from women? No, seriously?

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: I give up. Something is getting lost in translation here. Much as I detest the whole Mars/Venus conceit, I'm beginning to suspect this is one of those situations where it applies. I literally do not understand what's being asked of me, or why I'm getting the responses I'm getting. Literally.

I am thereby recusing myself "without prejudice," as they say in jurisprudence. I'll leave it to others to sort out (or not).

Anonymous said...

Mike from Canada here. I'm glad to see a lively debate going on. For the first Anonymous (who's clearly a woman), yes it was one-sided, but it was aimed at a certain kind of woman. If you're not like that: good on ya!

For anon #2: yes there are times when I ask myself why I bother. Shouldn't I shut up and play the game like a lot of other people? But then I enjoy a good debate.

Elizabeth: you have let your imagination run away with you. No where did I refer to my co-workers as "alluring" and we did not stop working to discuss these issues. I do talk to my coworkers during lunch hour and coffee breaks!

For both Steph and Elizabeth: you seem to be saying: "That's the game; live with it". Well, I have trouble with a couple of things. The first is "equality". You can't demand it in an area where men traditionally had the upper hand - i.e. the workplace - and then when it comes to areas where the women had the upper hand - i.e. "romance" - suddenly switch it off. That is called having your cake and eating it too. If you want equality and our respect, ya gotta take the whole package - no picking and choosing so you get all the gravy.

Here's a thought: When a man and a woman get together for sex... they both get sex! Ya can't get any more equal than that! But essentially you're saying "No, no the guy has to earn it." What's equal about that?

Mary Anne said...

Elizabeth said:
Mary, describing something does not equal championing it. It is what it is. If you'd like to change human mating rituals, by all means, work at it.
Your statements state you do believe in this credo. You asked Steve to ask for a diamond bracelet and women should get trinkets for giving birth. Maybe you meant your statements as a joke, but they come off as you buying into this outdated and limiting mating rituals. I agree with Mike from Canada, you cannot have it both ways.

Steve Salerno said...

Mary Anne: Have you been with us before? I think so, yes? A while back? (I'm getting forgetful.)

In any case, thanks for weighing in.

Anonymous said...

OK. More seriously (because sometimes we do kid here) and to the point:

I agree that "you" can't have it both ways -- and I address it more to Steve here.

Not too long ago, Steve, you've written a post absolving men of, well, whoring around (not your exact term), because, as you said, "they can't help it." By this you meant that they are just programmed this way, presumably and mostly by biology.

Yet here (and yet again) you get on the women-bashing bandwagon (via Mike's comments) for precisely the same thing -- a biologically programmed behavior, which, in addition, is strongly enforced by societal mores. So to put it in clear and understandable terms -- guess what? -- women act this way because they can't help it.

Now that temporarily concludes my "devil's advocate" portion of this discussion.

As to my personal take on it, there is a wide variety of human romantic and sexual preferences and needs, and you (a generic you) can find somebody who will meet your needs, whatever they are. But that bitching about how bad the opposite sex is has become a bit tiresome.

Back to my devil's advocate: why, I remember yet another post of yours, Steve, where you bemoaned that very behavior (complaining about men) when perpetuated by women -- about a year ago, perhaps?

So, IMO, you can't have it both ways, Steve -- you can't indict women for being women, but excuse men for being men. It doesn't make sense, does it.

Anonymous said...


1. "Alluring" was sarcastic, obviously (or not, apparently ;).

2. This is not a game. No, really. These are seriously entrenched behavioral patterns, reinforced by societal codes, and perpetuated through millenia. This is a matter of survival of the species at its most important. It can be perplexing, however, because just relatively recently we've started questioning the male-female relationship patterns and have not yet arrived at shared and acceptable solutions to the problems these questions present. But it's not really "a game" in a strict sense of the word (not the way I see it).

You also say:

The first is "equality". You can't demand it in an area where men traditionally had the upper hand - i.e. the workplace - and then when it comes to areas where the women had the upper hand - i.e. "romance" - suddenly switch it off. That is called having your cake and eating it too. If you want equality and our respect, ya gotta take the whole package - no picking and choosing so you get all the gravy.

I'm not sure I understand your point here. First, do women really have an upper hand in the romance department?

Second, what gravy?

And, third, where is the overlap (or a suitable comparison) between workplace and romance? I don't see it.

Again my question: would you like to be treated by your woman as a co-worker or as a lover? If you don't want to be treated as a co-worker at home and in the bedroom, why would you expect her to want to be treated so? I don't get it. Different rules indeed apply in the workplace and in romance for both men and women. For one, you show your appreciation and love to your mate in ways that you do not show to your co-workers (I hope).

Here's a thought: When a man and a woman get together for sex... they both get sex! Ya can't get any more equal than that! But essentially you're saying "No, no the guy has to earn it." What's equal about that?


First of all, it's not always that when a man and a woman get together "for sex" (ha!), they are perfect equals getting the same treatment (= the same sex, etc.).

Women's sexual needs are very different from men's, and what may appear like an equal sexual "transaction" in terms of satisfying the needs of both, very often isn't (if it ever is).

And of course the guy has to earn it, if only because the costs of sex -- biological and emotional, and less so social today, but still -- are so much higher for women than they are for men (in spite of what some young women in this hook-up culture have been led to believe). And, to be sure, by "earning it," I don't mean buying it through material means, but proving himself suitable and worthy in many different ways.

It is unfortunate that a man's worth in this respect has been almost exclusively equated with the contents of his wallet (= trinkets and all), but again, it is what it is -- that's the world we live in. And, certainly, not all women use this criterion as no. 1 in choosing their sexual partner and mate. But many, if not most, do. (They can't help it, remember? :)

Now is this really so difficult to understand and accept? (Notice I don't say "like" -- understanding something does not mean you have to like it, necessarily.)

Hm. Perhaps the notion of equality indeed is so confusing to people that they see it as all or nothing and want it categorically applied across the board in all situations, without nuance, thus obliterating any consideration for genuine differences between the sexes (and individuals).

If this is so, it is unfortunate (and mistaken, IMO).

Anonymous said...

BTW, just to disabuse some commenters of mistaken assumptions: I don't own or care for the so-called feminine "trinkets." Don't own a diamond anything, or an engagement/wedding ring, nor do I miss them. Would not expect my husband to "provide" them to prove his devotion. In fact, my husband and I don't even wear our wedding bands because they are a meaningless nuisance. (Sorry, that probably offends someone out there; but we've been married for 22 years and it's been working just fine for us.*)

A genuine relationship worthy of our committment is not based on trinkets or other material symbols that we conventionally associate with it, although I'm not a Nazi about it and I understand why these things matter to others, especially to women.

There. Hope that clarifies a thing or two.

*I even let my husband keep his last name. ;)

a/good/lysstener said...

I am so glad you posted this, Steve, because I hear arguments like this all the time and they make no sense to me. I don't understand why progress in gender equality implies the elimination of all gender roles. I don't understand why expecting the same pay in the workplace means that men have to stop opening doors or women have to stop being the more nurturing gender to children. Though I may be the only one left from my generation who thinks this way, to me there is something very sweet about the courting process, where the man pursues the woman and the woman demurely defends her honor, if you want to put it that way. Historically it has always been the man who was the sexual aggressor, the man who compliments the woman and pampers her a little bit while she remains a little bit shy or aloof at first, maybe, then gradually relents. So it's a mating dance or a "fandango" or whatever you want to call it. So what? There is something very sweet about it, and to me it's a shame we're losing it today. Now you have girls just as sexually aggressive and irresponsible as boys with no pretenses about what they want, and you have hooking up and all the other lovely touches my generation has introduced into the picture. That's supposed to be a good thing?

I think everybody still agrees that there are motherly roles and fatherly roles when it comes to raising children. I don't understand why it should be all that different when it comes to the process that creates the relationships that produces those children.

Anonymous said...

Mike and Steve, so you guys want sex without romance, right? That whole romance nonsense is such a bothersome chore and so unfair to you. Maybe you also want sex without foreplay, because it is unfair and unequal--something that women "want" and you don't need.

Gee whiz, I feel sorry for the women in your lives--if there are any.

sassy sasha said...

lyss, again you sound like you're 55 years old!

Anonymous said...

Geez, this discussion seems to have deteriorated into an argument about sex, what a man "has to do" to get it, what a woman "has to get" to give it. But my read of Mike's original post is that it's about transaction versus relationship, and about the workplace versus the home front.

I'm frankly surprised that there still seems to be so much resentment over women in the workforce, since these days, in most instances both partners have to work outside the home to pay the bills and put food on the table. In most cases, for both sexes, the work is boring, poorly paid, and often demeaning. (Can you imagine your spouse---of either sex---leaping from bed in the morning exclaiming "I can't wait to get to my job as a Wal-Mart greeter!" or "I can't wait to spend the day flipping burgers at McDonald's!"?) The lucky ones (again, of both sexes) work at something they feel passionate about; the rest of us work because we must. This seems to be equality at its most basic to me, in either case, for both sexes: either you love what you do or you know you're in it for the paycheck. Seems like it should make for common cause, not resentment.

Relationships, on the other hand, are purely matters of choice rather than necessity. A man who feels he has to pay for the privilege of being in a relationship is in the wrong relationship. A woman who feels she must be paid to endure a relationship is in the wrong profession.

But, to Alyssa's point, all this transactioning has nothing to do with courtesy and consideration, which are, after all, free, and are the very basis of relationship, the proof of love and respect, the ultimate equality: He carries a heavy bag for her, she makes him his favorite nightcap. He grills shrimp for supper because he knows she loves them, she e-mails his special recipe to his parents and shares the latest goings-on with them. She puts on the game for him, he doesn't expect her to watch it. Conversation and sex are pleasures, not chores. When both sexes focus on their partners simply as people they love, people they want to be happy, equality is a given, and negativity falls away.

Homer Simpson said...

Mike from Canada said:

Well, I have trouble with a couple of things. The first is "equality". You can't demand it in an area where men traditionally had the upper hand - i.e. the workplace - and then when it comes to areas where the women had the upper hand - i.e. "romance" - suddenly switch it off. That is called having your cake and eating it too. If you want equality and our respect, ya gotta take the whole package - no picking and choosing so you get all the gravy.

—Hmmmm, erotic cake graaaavy... [sound of intense salivating]


Anonymous said...

Women of Earth and this blog: If you have to explain romance and love to guys who are already resentful about it, don't waste your time. It's not worth it. Just hope they won't cross your or your female friends' (sisters, daughters) paths in life.

Steve Salerno said...

But see--Anon et al--this is exactly what I mean. Do you see the hostility this causes? Just in this thread alone? (And I think we tend to be more reasonable people than most.)

Why can't we solve this? It's only been, oh, a thousand years?

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by "solve this," Steve? What is your idea of a solution here?

WV: curis. Indeed. :)

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, we can solve it. The solution for guys who have a problem with women and their need for romance has been unveiled recently.

RevRon's Rants said...

Perhaps the first step toward "solving this" would be to place our always-handy supply of righteous indignation on a shelf somewhere, then forget where we put it. :-)

Virtually anyone beyond the age of three could come up with proof that they've been dealt with unfairly. Virtually any post-adolescent male could provide evidence that they are at a disadvantage where mating/relationship rituals are concerned. As it turns out, the same subset of females could make an equally compelling case for their own disadvantaged state. The real question is, how does making such a case benefit you, your gender, or the overall populace?

Some people are users, seeking to gain advantage in any situation. Some people are by nature submissive, willing to relinquish their own preferences in exchange for what they perceive as being an acceptable relationship. And these two types are positively made for each other.

On the other hand, there are people who are willing to compromise in some areas, yet steadfast in their expectations in other areas. These people are willing to give love - and even some tokens that, to them, are not that significant - with varying degrees of expectation as to return on their "investments."

Were I a wealthy man, I wouldn't think twice about giving my mate expensive gifts, so long as I believed that her love wasn't so conditional as to be withheld if such gifts weren't forthcoming. As it is, I give (and receive) gifts that probably represent a larger percentage of my "net worth" than are the gifts given and received by most affluent individuals. Fortunately, both my partner and I recognize the intent behind such gifts, as well as their significance.

The gifts we give to each other are discrete entities, rather than a medium of exchange. And perhaps therein lies the core of the conflict: Rather than focus upon the appropriateness of others' preferred medium of exchange, we might want to look more honestly at our own needs. Whatever those needs might be, we'll either find someone willing to meet them, or run up against the wall of reality and recognize that those needs aren't going to be met.

Others' priorities are likely to be beyond our comprehension, much less control. And the sooner we realize and accept that, the sooner the "conflict" will end, IMO.

Jonathan said...

The bulk of Elizabeth's assertions (not arguments) directly and indirectly relate to evolutionary biology, a subject which she clearly has little familiarity with. This, I think, is the source of the disconnect. I suggest, for those of you that have the time, that providing her with educational resources regarding evolutionary biology (particularly with regard to variations among primates), will help soften the conflict.

Since I do not have the time, I will make my own assertions (which are actually supported by research):

1. There is a great deal of variation among primates.
2. We have an incomplete picture of human evolution.
3. There are more differences within sexes than between them.
4. Most of our mating behaviors are cultural (that there are cross-cultural patterns is not sufficient evidence to support the claim that our mating behaviors are biologically determined). This is a common error made by those who only read popular elucidations of evolutionary biology.
5. Culture is not limited to the manifestations of our behavior in terms of cultural products, mores, etc. It is also deeply connected with environment. For an example of this compare chimpanzee and bonobo behavior. Many of the differences are probably dictated by environment, i.e., scarcity of resources.
6. Despite my chosen terminology in this post, the biology/culture distinction isn't very helpful.

Finally, if we find it desirable, we can change the way romantic relations are managed, at least in North America, and there has been some progress. Generally speaking, women still tend to prefer being pursued, but it's not hard to imagine that changing. Anecdotally, I've been pursued by women, been given gifts, and "romanced," and if I had to hazard a guess, I don't think it's as unusual among my age group as one might think.

The fact that women are the ones who get pregnant is only a problem for rigid workplace environments, and as more men involve themselves in childcare, we'll hopefully start to see more changes (already happening in some cases).

I think it's important to remind ourselves that gender equality is a relatively recent popular notion. It wasn't that long ago that women were finally able to vote. Yes, there has been a lot of progress in a short period of time, but we seem to be under the impression that because we haven't reached perfect unity among the sexes that the experiment has been a failure. Please give it at least another hundred years or so before we throw in the towel.

And yes, there are double standards. For a long time the double standards privileged men, and to a certain extent that's still the case, but that doesn't mean we should ignore "male issues," either. Outside of a narrow sections of hyper-conservative value seekers, I think it's reasonable to reach satisfactory compromises between the sexes.

Anonymous said...

LOL, Anon! That's an excellent solution, and a much more practical than the one I had in mind:

Why can't a woman be more like a man?
Men are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historically fair.
Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
Why can't a woman be like that?
Why does every one do what the others do?
Can't a woman learn to use her head?
Why do they do everything their mothers do?
Why don't they grow up, well, like their father instead?

Why can't a woman take after a man?
Men are so pleasant, so easy to please.
Whenever you're with them, you're always at ease.

Would you be slighted if I didn't speak for hours?

Of course not.

Would you be livid if I had a drink or two?


Would you be wounded if I never sent you flowers?


Well, why can't a woman be like you?

One man in a million may shout a bit.
Now and then, there's one with slight defects.
One perhaps whose truthfulness you doubt a bit,
But by and large we are a marvelous sex!

Why can't a woman take after a man?
'Cause men are so friendly, good-natured and kind.
A better companion you never will find.

If I were hours late for dinner would you bellow?

Of course not.

If I forgot your silly birthday, would you fuss?


Would you complain if I took out another fellow?


Why can't a woman be like us?


Why can't a woman be more like a man?
Men are so decent, such regular chaps;
Ready to help you through any mishaps;
Ready to buck you up whenever you're glum.
Why can't a woman be a chum?

Why is thinking something women never do?
And why is logic never even tried?
Straightening up their hair is all they ever do.
Why don't they straighten up the mess that's inside?

Why can't a woman behave like a man?
If I was a woman who'd been to a ball,
Been hailed as a princess by one and by all;
Would I start weeping like a bathtub overflowing,
Or carry on as if my home were in a tree?
Would I run off and never tell me where I'm going?
Why can't a woman be like me?

Disclaimer: The characters of Steve and Mike are interchangeable. It goes without saying that they are also purely fictional. Any resemblance to real flesh-and-blood individuals is unintentional and should be ignored. Or not -- but then ponder it at your own risk. The original characters can be found here.

Anonymous said...

"Mike from Canada" here again.
Elizabeth, you have contradicted yourself in the same post. First you say: "... do women really have an upper hand in the romance department?" followed later by: "And of course the guy has to earn it,...".

So you are admitting that the default position for a guy is "unworthy" and that he has to work hard and spend resources to get to "worthy" status. Who has the upper hand, again?

Anonymous (9:04AM) you lament that there's nothing wrong with men and women doing each other favours - e.g.: "He carries a heavy bag for her, she makes him his favorite nightcap". I have absolutely no problem with that - but that is not what this is about.

If you reread my original article, the woman I described seemed to have a generally good marriage. She and her husband travelled together often and all indications were that she was happy with her choice of husband. So why did she have to offer me that "insider tip"? Why does she even think like that?

And why, when married men crack wise about sex being a distant memory, do many woman respond with "When's the last time you bought her (flowers, jewelry, lingerie)?"

The message seems to be: Sorry guys, being a nice guy, being faithful to your partner, being a good boyfriend/husband/father, doing things together are NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Sound to me like we're doomed to be "unworthy" forever.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, the solution I propose to Mike & Steve et al's conundrum in my last comment is turning women into men and not, as it may appear, getting Steve to sing a part of a musical (gack!).

We all know that is impossible.

P.S. If needed, a more thorough explanation (of my solution) can be found here:

Women are irrational, that's all there is to that! Their heads are full of cotton, hay, and rags! They're nothing but exasperating, irritating, vacillating, calculating, agitating, maddening and infuriating hags.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I'm afraid you're reading too much into my comment.

You say:

Elizabeth, you have contradicted yourself in the same post. First you say: "... do women really have an upper hand in the romance department?"

That was a question for you. I wanted you to explain that "upper hand" as I didn't understand what you meant by it. (I also don't understand the "gravy" you mention there.)

followed later by: "And of course the guy has to earn it,...".

So you are admitting that the default position for a guy is "unworthy" and that he has to work hard and spend resources to get to "worthy" status. Who has the upper hand, again?

The default position for a guy is neutral (plus or minus genuine attraction of a woman to the said man). He has to prove himself suitable as her mate through many different ways, as I stated, and not just by "spending his resources" (though that depends on how you define resources). He has to demonstrate his character and values, including honesty, big-heartedness, ability to care and forgive, strength, good humor, lack of pettiness, etc. He also has to give his time and attention -- yes, these are resources, I agree -- to the female object of his interest. How else would she know that she is the one to whom he is indeed willing to commit and she should be willing to accept his committment?

OK, I see (I think) where you see the "upper hand" -- in the fact that she, ultimately (and ideally, which is not always so), makes the choice. That's probably right.

But if you look long-term at the investment of both sexes into (an ideally) monogamous relationship, that "upper hand" becomes less obvious, with women going through pregnancies, childbirth and its dangers, post-partum depressions, child-rearing, deferring their careers, diminished mental health and overall life satisfaction. There is a lot of research showing that, by most measures, marriage is more beneficial to men than it is to women. So perhaps that upper hand may not seem so "upper", after all, in the ultimate count.

However, as Jonathan observed, the process is also reversed these days quite often, especially with the age and power differential between older women and younger men. So the mores are changing, whether we like it or not. You too may be pursued and have the upper hand one of these days, who knows. ;)

But if you object in general to the women's need to be courted and romanced (and the man-pursuing-and-women-being-pursued dynamic), then, I'm afraid, you may not understand female sexuality. Which probably does not help in the seeking-a-mate department, but that's just my wild and uneducated guess.

Anonymous said...

The bulk of Elizabeth's assertions (not arguments) directly and indirectly relate to evolutionary biology

Jonathan, surely you meant evolutionary psychology.

Thank you, I will kindly await suitable references from you on the subject. :)

Anonymous said...

Mike asks:

So why did she have to offer me that "insider tip"? Why does she even think like that?

And why, when married men crack wise about sex being a distant memory, do many woman respond with "When's the last time you bought her (flowers, jewelry, lingerie)?"

Mike, I don't know why your co-worker offered you those tips -- you should ask her. But maybe, just maybe, she was trying to do you a favor by pointing out something about women's sexuality, which (too many) men are oblivious to: that to feel desire, a woman needs to feel desirable and desired.

You may be a good guy, a faithful and dependable husband, a great father and all that, but you may no longer ignite your wife's/female partner's desire the same way as you did in the beginning of your relationship when you were relative strangers and your sex life was still a novelty. That's why you need to continue stoking those fires -- by making her feel desirable and desired. Enter flowers, etc.

This is not stroking a female ego (although it is so too, to some extent) as much as recharging her sexuality, which tends to wane with time and habituation. (Read the piece on female sexuality to which I linked in my earlier comment.)

For (many) men, the chase of their beloved ends with the marriage/committed relationship and they seem to believe that this is the happy-ever-after, at least that it should be so for her. But when you talk to women, you quickly learn that they miss being courted and chased, and often complain that their men no longer pay as much attention to them as they did during courtship, and certainly not the same kind of attention. This leads to boredom, sometimes resentment, and a drop in women's sexual desire.

You can protest against it as much as you wish, but this is the reality of our disparate sex lives.

So perhaps rather than complain about how awful and vain women are and how nice guys always finish last, you should buy the $5.00 worth of flowers in the grocery store once in a while and do other small and random acts of sexual appreciation (other than the obvious) to keep her interested in you and wanting you that way.

BTW, her so-so libido (I'm speculating in general terms, based on your overall comments -- this does not have to apply to your particular relationship, even if you are in one, of course) does not necessarily mean she does not love or appreciate you, but she needs to feel pursued again -- preferably by you, I'd assume, and not by a stranger. (Though this may be different in her imagination, but let's just leave it alone for now.;)

And, in general again, the most certain way to get your mate to do something nice for you is to do something nice for her/him first. Keeping score in relationships, along with focusing on your mate's shortcomings, is poison and a straight way to their (i.e., relationships') ruin.

Anonymous said...

Steve, unrelated to the topic at hand: there is a new book out by Barbara Ehrenreich Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World, (don't know/remember if anyone's mentioned it here already). Judging by the reviews, it's excellent and up the right alley.

(I already know I'm going to like it -- if I manage to get through it. ;))

sassy sasha said...

elizbeth with all due respect stop speaking like you're the voice of all women, maybe you're the voice of all *50 year old women*, we younger women can take sex when we want it or leave it when we want it just like guys do! all this stuff about biology and eveolution this and that, what are you talking about?? it's all culture, things have changed today and i dont know anybody among my friends from college or anywhere else who live by the rules you think are just part of being a women. next time you want to talk with such authority ask somebody younger than 50 first, wake up, this isnt the 1940s anymore!!!

RevRon's Rants said...

Sasha - Perhaps you might consider that Elizabeth's perspective could well be representative of a segment of the female gender other than your own (just as you demand that she do). Cultural trends are indeed different from what they were in previous generations, but cultural trends do not invalidate - much less replace - historically established (and genetically-founded) tendencies. Cultural trends are, by their nature, much more transitory than are genetic and instinctive imperatives. Given sufficient time, I think you'll discover that your own generation's perspective will ultimately prove as obsolete as those you now reject. At that point, I would hope that those who hold to a different perspective would be more tolerant of your opinions than you are of Elizabeth's.

While I don't necessarily agree with all of the points being offered by Elizabeth or anyone else, I recognize that each person has the right to express their personal perspectives, and that those perspectives must have some basis in truth, according to their own experiences. At the very least, I would never attempt to silence others' opinions unless those opinions were presented in a patently offensive manner. Elizabeth's certainly were not presented in that way.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron (and, I guess, Eliz): I gave a lot of thought to this, and I don't know that I agree with you here. I think Eliz did set herself up as the spokeswoman for the breed, through a series of comments that went on at some length; and as such, I believe that she invited a response like the one she received from Sasha (and, at least indirectly, from other women over the past several days).

As you know, I do not encourage personal bickering on SHAMblog. However, when one person says (or at least strongly implies) "I speak for all ---- and if you disagree with me, well, you're misinformed," I don't think it's dirty pool for another contributor to say, "Excuse me, but you don't have that right."

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, my point was not to defend the notion that Elizabeth "speaks for all," but rather that she describes a system of social construct that both predates and ultimately transcends transient cultural imperatives.

Changes in cultural attitudes from generation to generation are inevitable, bit to imply that they override millenia of genetic conditioning to the point of rendering that conditioning no longer valid is, IMO, a fantasy.

While Elizabeth does make her point with some conviction (and I *am* being gentle in that description!), I didn't feel that her tone rose to the level of dismissiveness evidenced in some of the responses. Thus, my comment.

I do acknowledge that, having been raised by a strong southern woman, I am predisposed to defend a woman whom I perceive as being attacked, even if the attack might be marginally justified. Such conditioning has admittedly gotten me into difficult situations in the past, but I can't help it. :-)

Cosmic Connie said...

It's obvious that women, like men, are all over the place on these issues. It's not just a generational thing. Maybe we all need to remember that the so-called "sexual revolution" and the second wave of feminism in the US -- the very factors that contributed to the take-it-or-leave-it attitude that many younger women supposedly have about sex -- was by and large driven by baby boomers. In the US, the baby boom generation is *generally* considered to be those born between 1946 and 1964, although of course there are subsets of that generation as well, and overlaps with other generations (e.g., "Generation Jones").

A lot of the baby boomers who advocated free sex, drugs & rock and roll grew more staid as they got older and had kids of their own. Life will do that to you, sometimes.

And some, I suppose, are just as carefree and casual about sex as they were in their youth.

By the way, Sasha, anyone who was having sex or even thinking about sex in the 1940s is probably very old by now, older than 55, to be sure. :-)

As for me, I've never been one to be won over by bling. I don't care for jewelry. Never did. But I do remember a very long time ago when I broke up with someone who was clearly not good for me, and he "won" me back partly by buying me a rare first-edition book. I'm not proud of it but there you are.

PS ~ Eliz, the Ehrenreich book was released in the US under the title "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive
Thinking Has Undermined America." It makes sense that it would have a more "international" title for release in the UK and elsewhere. I haven't read the book yet but love the author's work and will get around to "Bright-Sided" or "Smile or Die" as soon as I can.

Anonymous said...

Calm down, people. Mike, speaking on behalf of the whole male gender and seconded in it by the host of the blog, asked for the "ladies" opinions and got a fair share of those to choose from. Hopefully he'll find something useful in them. The responses here were kind and sincere, no matter the differences of opinions.

Anonymous said...

I think Eliz did set herself up as the spokeswoman for the breed

There is no such thing as a spokeswoman for the breed (if there even is one breed), Steve. And everyone knows it by now, no? ;)

What I offer here are just one person's opinions (albeit felt and often expressed strongly, though, I hope, not offensively), but they are ultimately just that -- my opinions. I've done it long enough on this forum that by now this much would be obvious (I'd think). Of course you may or may not agree with my opinions, just as I may disagree (or agree) with yours, but talking about it is the point of blog discussions, isn't it?

Ron says:

my point was not to defend the notion that Elizabeth "speaks for all," but rather that she describes a system of social construct that both predates and ultimately transcends transient cultural imperatives

Indeed. Thank you, Ron.

Connie, what a strange (or not really) difference in the UK and American titles (of the Ehrenreich's book). Huh: fooled vs. undermined -- I guess we're breaking the truth gently to the natives. ;)

Anonymous said...

LOL, Sassy! You're right. We old geezers know nothing about sex. And whatever we knew, we managed to forget, what with our senility 'n all. Thankfully, we have our kids to remind us what this was all about (in more ways than one ;) in those rare moments of lucidity that still visit us from time to time.

More seriously, I've added many qualifiers to my comments throughout saying that yes, sexual mores and behaviors are changing (yet again, or continuously perhaps), that there is a wide variety of human sexual experiences, and that anyone can find someone/something that suits his or her needs and preferences. This is certainly not "one size fits all" area of life. As to where this "new" sexual "revolution" takes us, will see in a couple (or more) generations.

But I'd like to point out, ever so gently, that when it comes to young women's feelings and preferences on the subject, they are also not uniform, as evidenced, for example, by the differences between your and Alyssa's comments.

So, say, let's keep an open mind, shall we?

I'll try, if you do. :)

(Granted, it's more difficult for us old geezers, yanno.)

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: Though I think Sassy could have been a bit less in-your-face in making her point, I still think I have to side with her on balance. After all, if you look back over your comments, you're the one who invoked all the psychology and biology and other science in bolstering your point, which, I think quite clearly, is intended as the authorized female take on sex and romance--and which you assume to be operative in all cases. For an excellent example of this pseudo-scientific presumption, take a look at your armchair analysis of (a) the motives behind Mike's coworker's comments (and this analysis was based on...?) and then (b) Mike's own "relationship problems." (Incidentally: Are you implying that men don't need or want to feel "desired and desirable"?) A bit stereotypical--and conveniently femme-centric--I'd say.

sassy sasha said...

elizabeth i feel you are lecutirng the rest of us like you know how it all works and we're 12, plus i dont think your old geezer sarcasm helps either. idecide if and when i have sex and it has to do with guys i desire not whether i feel like some guy desires me first! do you relaize how needy and childish you make women sound?

RevRon's Rants said...

Sigh... can't a discussion on evolving vs genetically-grounded behavior patterns exist without it turning into a cat fight? You'd think we were talking politics or something! :-)

Seriously, though... It might be worth considering, Sasha, that folks who have lived through a given life stage might have some insight into it... perhaps even more than those who have yet to emerge from that stage. Heck... quite a few people in my daughter's generation seem to believe that their generation invented love, and that previous generations haven't a clue about it!

Bran muffins for all... My treat!!

Anonymous said...

Sigh. People, these are just opinions. Mike asked -- I, among others, answered. Or attempted to. Take it or leave it. Don't have to like or agree with it.


take a look at your armchair analysis of (a) the motives behind Mike's coworker's comments (and this analysis was based on...?)

What analysis, Steve? Aren't you reading a bit too much into what I said? Mike asked why his co-worker would offer him such comments. I specifically said that I have no idea and that he should ask her. Clear so far?

Then I offered a guess that there may be some wisdom to her comments and proceeded to explain why. Look up "women, men and romance" and see what pops up: those very same complaints that Mike presented in his comments:

And why, when married men crack wise about sex being a distant memory, do many woman respond with "When's the last time you bought her (flowers, jewelry, lingerie)?"

My following elucidation was meant to explain the perspective of these women who respond in such a fashion. Nothing more, nothing less. Just answering Mike's question. I have no clue about Mike's personal situation and made sure to mention that as well. Have you actually read my comments?

and then (b) Mike's own "relationship problems."

As above.

(Incidentally: Are you implying that men don't need or want to feel "desired and desirable"?) A bit stereotypical--and conveniently femme-centric--I'd say.

Incidentally, I'm implying nothing. Which you'd notice if you read my comments as they are, without reading too much of a malicious intent into them. Did you even read the linked piece on female sexuality? Let me guess: no? Because if you did, you'd see where my arguments were coming from -- not my own sleeve, to be sure.

To remind you, Mike's question was about specific female behaviors -- how women can reconcile their desire for equality and romance. That was the question I (and others) have attempted to answer -- and no more.

If you want to discuss the male need to be desired and desirable, write another post about it, will see what'll transpire.

BTW, you posted, as the early Anon said, "a one-sided tirade," and you act all surprised/offended when you get "provocative" responses to it. C'mon, Steve, if you want to have a lively discussion, that's fine, but don't be/act surprised by it, given the nature of your post.

P.S. Thanks for the muffin, Ron. :)

Anonymous said...

Eliz, I just went to here Barbara Erenreich speak about her new book here in London - to an overflowing room. She was brilliant but unfortunately all her books sold before I could get a copy for her to sign.

I have fantasies now of Steve coming here to talk about his new book and me getting to meet him "nudge nudge wink wink".

An organisation called "The School of Life" hosted her in one of their altternative Sunday sermons and I'm syre they would love your new book too.


Steve Salerno said...

Londoner: And Steve has fantasies of having a new book to come to London for... ;)

LizaJane said...

Guest Writer Mike: Your post is undermined significantly by the fact that your premise/argument is based on the statements and opinions of a woman who clearly is wacko.

Anyone who's that caught up in status, in basing her worth and actions on possessions, and in "making people jealous" is not OK. There is something WRONG with her. So who cares what she does, says, or thinks about relationships?

What concerns me is that you clearly give her credence. This suggests you see her as representative of women in general, which she is NOT. Do you think she's "just like the rest of us," only "worse?"

Trust me, I'm a woman, and I would not spend 10 minutes in the company of someone like that co-worker of yours. She's bad news.

That said, "equal" does not mean "identical." Yes, women and men should be paid the same PAY for the same JOB. Courtship and romance, however, are not a job (just feels like it sometimes). But the workplace is what the equality refers to.

We are certainly NOT the same in the way we approach relationships. And it ain't brain surgery. It's pretty obvious. We are taking a significantly greater risk every time we say "yes":

We are the ones who get pregnant. We carry the child (try it, then get back to me if you live), deliver the child (and trust me, there's a reason they say that if men gave birth, population growth would cease). We then raise the child.

Sure, men help out. I'm the first to say that my husband is GREAT with our kids. But in reality, women do at least 80% of the child-rearing. When's the last time you spent 4 hours cleaning up vomit? It's not all trips to the zoo and cute macaroni pictures on the fridge.

So when we have sex, there is a lot more on the line for us. It's as simple as that.


LizaJane said...


Romance may seem like some prehistoric, anti-feminist stance to you. But for women -- many of us, anyway -- before we take what is, in fact, a pretty monumental risk, we'd like to be shown that we are appreciated, even adored, above and beyond all the other women around us. Yes, it's "for the woman." She's the one who's gonna give up her freedom, and, in reality, her appeal to potential future mates, not you.

And once we're actually IN the situation, it is very reassuring to know that the person who (at least in part) put us there still finds us attractive. After all...

Even if you don't wind up with sagging breasts, stretch marks, and gray hair, you are no longer 25 and unencumbered. You are now saddled with kids -- for the next 20 years or so.

AND, even worse, being beautiful isn't a guarantee (have you SEEN Tiger Woods' wife?) that you'll still want us down the road. So don't downplay as unrealistic a woman's concern that the man who got her into bed (and all that followed), will be off and running with someone else, maybe sooner, maybe later.

Oh sure, you're highly evolved, and you find age 50+ women incredibly hot and sexy. But for most of the men out there, 25 is a lot hotter.

It seems that you are pissed off that women can earn as much as you and also "get to have doors held for them." Seems a small price to pay for not having to grow, birth, and raise the next generation. But maybe you're just looking for a reason to be cheap, lazy, and inattentive?

You think that because your wife or girlfriend makes the same wages doing the same work as you, that things should be "even Steven" in the living room, kitchen, and bedroom as well. But that's not the point, and it's not how it works.

Women -- maybe not all, but all the ones I know -- want to feel special and need to feel they are the object of your desire. That does NOT, for most of us, mean expensive or extravagent gifts. It means tokens of your affection (and what that might be will vary with the individual woman's preferences and taste -- some want diamonds, some want daisies, some like a tall beer).

STEVE SAID: and perhaps decide to stay home with them...then why should I, as an employer, pay them equally?

People aren't paid for what they MIGHT do. They're paid for what they are DOING. I spent 4-1/2 years at my last full-time job before leaving for good after my first baby was born. How many men, who'll never "leave after having a baby" left after a much shorter run, for one reason or another?

It makes no sense to punish a woman in advance of what she might or might not do. Plenty of women STAY after having kids. Plenty don't have kids at all. Plenty of men LEAVE because they want to do something else, get a better offer, etc. etc. Some even leave to be with and take care of their kids! Imagine that. Perhaps those men should be docked part of the wages earned during all the years leading up to their departure?

Anonymous said...

Folks, you can debate and gripe as much as you like, but the fact is: "Every kiss begins with Kay."

Happy Valentine's Day from Kay Jewelers!

Steve Salerno said...

Meaning, Athol Kay?

Jenny said...

Ron offers: "Bran muffins for all... My treat!!"

I was hoping by this point somebody would be handing out vibrators!

Stimulating topic, to say the least. I don't have much to add except that I find it interesting how people are "taking sides" with this person or that one rather than just listening to everything that is said and taking it under consideration. Isn't it obvious that each one of us is speaking for him/herself? We humans are complicated beings with complex and ever-changing needs.

Reading through all the comments has taken a considerable chunk of time; then, the need to chime in with some new provocative observation just sets the whole thing in motion again. And considering the blog post itself is nine days old and that three new postings have appeared since then, I wonder (rhetorically, of course): What's the point? ;)

A recurring thought I've had throughout this whole thread is: You get what you pay for! And this started right at the beginning when Mike said "she was a status seeker of the worst sort: the kind of person your vanity-tax blogs were written for."