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THE DESEXUALIZATION OF THE AMERICAN MARRIAGE/WAY TO LEAVE YOUR LOVING: GENDER ROLES

by admin - May 18th, 2009.
Filed under: General health. Tagged as: .

Dr. Carol Gilligan, in her book In a Different Voice, summarized the complex issue of gender roles. She suggests the same-gender caretaker experience of young girls predisposes them toward empathy through the sameness experience, an emphasis on relationship and a fear of desertion and separation. Autonomy becomes problematical for the woman who is so early, so long, and so strongly attached. The different-gender primary caretaker experience of boys results in lack of the “sameness sense,” less empathy, a devaluing of relationship, and fear of commitment and loss of autonomy.

The work of Drs. Pepper Schwartz and Philip Blumstein, in their study of twelve thousand American couples of varying gender orientation, also suggests that men are eroticized and women romanticized. This pattern was present in the report of my couples as well, but the interviews revealed that men knew there was another way to be, but needed permission, help, and support in learning this “other way.” Both genders needed help in stepping out of assignments and into choices.

I found a major difference in my interviews regarding eroticism and romance. It was not true that if one was less eroticized, one was more romanticized. It was also untrue that if one was less romanticized, one was more eroticized. I learned not to ask “Which are you?” in favor of “How much of each are you at what time, with whom, and why?” I found the answer depended as much on what had happened in the marriage as it did on what happened when the sperm met the egg and the genetic relay race began Marriage provides an opportunity for role change, modification, creativity, for what I call “cross-roling,” being a little of everything sometimes.

Ask yourself now how much of your marriage is dictated by “gender junk,” obligatory, involuntary sex role. How much of your marriage is freedom to evolve as self with another person? One husband described his wife as “wanting only sex. She does not want to hold. She wants me on and off. She says that’s how a man should want it.” This wife was trapped by the gender junk that can block intimacy.

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