Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wussified Nation

I had this long conversation today and something very interesting came up. Somehow we ended up on the topic of his marriage and how a large percentages of marriages fail. He started to talk about how his marriage works because his wife has taken on the traditional role of the wife and his to some degree subservient to him. Subservient in that if he puts his foot down she'll abide by it. That isn't to say she just stays home and cranks out kids. She is basically an executive at a Fortune 500 company and brings in a good chunk of change. I joked and said 'But you still expect her to have dinner ready when you get home?' and he said 'Basically.'.

From there he started to talk about how one of the reasons our nation is going in the shitter is because we don't have these traditional roles anymore and men are being wussified. He points to African tribes that still have this sort of structure but his favorite example is the lion. The lion sits underneath the tree all day licking his balls and sends his women out to go find some food. All he does is provides security and knocks them up. So, the argument goes, because we as a society stress behaviors that are counter to this basic instinct we end up with some really messed up results.

Ok. My counter-argument is that while we may have evolved with these sorts of instincts from a survival perspective they really aren't necessary anymore in a modern society. I don't need to sit at home with a gun in my hand and protect my kingdom while my women go out and provide for me. I don't need to climb the trees to get the fruit or hunt down a boar to feed my family. Those hunting/protection instincts just aren't as necessary. I'm not saying they aren't there, I'm just saying that they aren't key for survival anymore.

However, back to the main point about a man and a woman. His basic point here is that when society goes counter to these basic instincts you end up with broken marriages. I argue that it is society that creates these bullshit roles and pushes people into them. Would men really feel like they need to be your never crying, no emotion 'John Wayne' types if it they weren't brought up that way? You keep repressing that crap and it is going to come out sideways, regardless of what your basic human instinct is and how in tune that image is with it.

No, successful relationships are the product of good communication and a willingness to compromise. Because his relationship works does not mean that same pattern will work for everyone. They found a balance that works for them and more power to them. But to argue that their balance works because it is based on this basic human instinct is rationalizing I think.

What say you?

UPDATE: So really, the question that I'm always curious about is this: how much is the result of human instinct and how much is the result of cultural influences?

9 comments:

Becky said...

Hmmm.....but in our case, if Darin doesn't obey me I'll kick his *butt* ;) Dude, even I'm afraid of me haha.
I'll be back....

CMS said...

Don't know. But I suggest that many men need to feel like providers in some capacity and women need to feel like masters in their households. I always thought the traditional mindset was men to bring in the and external home and women was "sometimes" to handle the money, but to manage children, and internal home. Granted this has changed but, I don't know how much people value that system or something like it.

Besides isn't the demasculinization of men just the masculinization of women?? :-)

I believe it comes down to respect, trust and communication. However people settle their power struggles on top of that, that's their business suited to their needs....... hopefully.

CMS said...

Bring in the bacon... that is, and handle the external home - siding, painting, lawn etc

Kirsten said...

I personally think this will make for great "deck conversation" on Sat night! ;-)

I think its ironic though that your friends wife is a breadwinner, and a bread MAKER! Seems to me that that is HARDLY a 'traditional' role...he seems to want to have his cake and eat it too? Not that there is anything wrong w/that...I just don't know if he can say the reason his marriage works is b/c they are in 'traditional' roles.

Becky said...

I just hung up from my sis in law....she's trying to go back to work and my brother is being a putz about her working.....he was fine with her working before kids, and now he's trying to get her to continue staying home with the kids. She has no idea why he's acting that way.....she'll talk to him more on the drive down here. I think for them, it's more of "human instinct". My dad tends to be a "controller" and my brother is following in his footsteps (neither will allow their wives to drive them anywhere, do yard work, or anything seen a "manly" job).
But I still won't have dinner ready when D gets home:) I've got a yard to mow lol:)

Ryan said...

But isn't couldn't that human instinct shared by your Dad and brother be because of cultural learning and not instinct?

Well, at least D doesn't have to mow the lawn. ;)

CMS said...

Ok, well here's something to think about. In what culture does the women secure the necessities of life ( $$, shelter, food) and the male tend to the children and maintain the household?? Other than the occasional American :-)

Dave said...

People like to use observations from nature as a justification for a lot of things, the problem is that they usually focus a narrow beam on the elements which support their theory while ignoring the vast quantities of information which disprove it. While there are some similarities between a lion's instinct and that of primitive humans/hominids, there are vast differences as well. And there are even greater differences still between they and modern humans. Mutations along the way gave us the ability to use tools and to make them, language, and rational thought, to name just a few. We've split the atom, for God's sake, and like it or not it was with the help of a few women. So I think the idea that society's ills can be explained by our lack of oppression is ridiculous.

I guess I'm pretty much on the same page as you. If they've found something that works for them then great -- more power to 'em. But I don't think his theory has quite the scientific basis he thinks it does.

Meredith Self said...

1. is the definition of a successful marriage that the people aren't divorced? i think not.

2. nature/nurture...the endless debate.

serve me/serve others....seems some are predisposed to one or the other, whether wired that way or raised that way who knows.

But traditional roles? Serve me? Whatev. People do seek partnership. And men and women are carving new ways to partner with each other, albeit through trial and error mixed with some impatience.

The fact that women are able to support themselves financially, created a freedom...including the freedom to leave that didn't previously exist. Just cuz the divorce rate is high, doesn't mean that when people weren't divorced they were happy, successful marriages. Back to Point 1.

When people learn to give and receive, be in balance with another, tend to own needs and others...then we'll see what happens to divorce rates. Or should we come up with some sort of 'marriage rate' instead of divorce rate. what would that criteria be? ;p

Anyhoo...my 1/2 cent.