Sunday, January 07, 2007

Yet another version of "Men can't help themselves"

A forum discussion of the Peter Bodo speculation on the marriage of Justine Henin-Hardenne and the sexist underpinnings of that speculation led to about what I expected--a few women saying yes, of course, we have to all worry about Pierre-Yves Hardenne's "pride" because he is a man, but no one would give a damn if the situation were reversed. But also, as I expected, it led to a lot more people saying that is is "understandable" that Hardenne would find the situation intolerable because he is a man and men cannot stand having their wives earn more money or be more important.

A few posters allowed that such a condition may not be "right," but it is reality--men just can't help feeling the way they do because of--wait for it--society's expectations. In other words, according to these posters, men as a class do not have either the courage or the creativity to self-actualize, but must be dragged through life as victims of gender role discrimination. Boo. Hoo.

There was even some feeling of contempt for Hardenne--and even for his wife's coach--that they sit in the stand and wait for their hard-working "meal ticket" to come through. First of all, Henin-Hardenne is making all of that money largely because of her coach, who--for the terminally ignorant--does have a job: He is a tennis coach. I couldn't resist bringing up the fact that no one complained that Pete Sampras's wife was sitting in the stands waiting for her meal ticket to come home with a truck of money, and that no one would complain if any wife of modest means sat in the stands and watched her husband work hard. Because men are supposed to be meal tickets, and women are supposed to be dependent on them.

Sure enough, several posters came forward and said that it is "acceptable" for women to look at men as meal tickets--society doesn't think badly of them for it, but it is unacceptable for men to perceive women as such.

First of all, our society does not accept women as recipients of male meal tickets--it assigns the role to them as a way of perpetuating the patriarchal structure of the culture. And even when women accept the role of subordinate and dependent, that same society calls them whores and gold-diggers. It is only when a woman has a child that she may possibly be spared this suspicion, because then she becomes the "madonna" half of the madonna-whore syndrome.

Of course, I could not say any of this. I would have had just as much success posting the front page of the New York Times in Swahili. Because the concept of sexism is lost on an amazing number of reasonably intelligent people in this, the 18th Century.

8 Comments:

Where is this discussion? I followed your link and there are no comments there either.

Thanks,
Asha

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:39 PM  

The original discussion to which I referred is at Tennis.com, at Bodo's column. The one to which I am referring in this post is on a WTA forum.

By Blogger Diane, at 11:05 PM  

I find it doubly interesting that they used the word 'pride'. A woman would surely be expected to 'take pride' in her husbands achievements, while it seems that a man is a castrated sissy for taking pride in anyone but himself.

By Blogger Pacian, at 4:47 AM  

I used the word "pride"--I don't know that any of the posters used it. But what they said had exactly the same meaning. "No man could deal with that" came up a lot.

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