She will be discussing with her readers why it is she dislikes gender stereotypes.
“Why I Dislike Gender Stereotypes,” by Mari Ruti, author of The Case for Falling in Love
I dislike gender stereotypes because they blind us to what is most interesting, most alive, about other people. Take the Mars/Venus mentality that permeates our romantic culture. This mentality is meant to bridge the differences between men and women by helping us decipher “the male psyche,” so that we, for instance, understand why men “need their caves.” But what it actually does is to cause us to focus on the most superficial aspects of love (what men are “supposed” to be like, what women are “supposed” to do) so that we no longer see our partner for who he actually is: we fail to respect what is distinctive about him, and instead reduce him to a “category” (the male psyche, the male ego, etc.) that has been handed to us by our culture. He may need his cave. But he may not. If you assume the former, you might miss the latter. And who’s to say that you don’t need a cave from time to time? I sure do.
I am speaking to women in particular because we have been conditioned to think that to make romance work, we need to make a superhuman effort: learn to read the male psyche, figure out a game plan, play hard to get, show just the right amount of vulnerability, etc. And we tend to believe that when things don’t work out, it’s our fault – that somehow we destroyed our relationship by taking the wrong step somewhere along the line. Did we come on too strong? Did we reveal too much of ourselves? Did we seem too desperate? Did we step on the fragile male ego? Did we return his call too quickly? Should we have let him drive around aimlessly rather than insist on asking for directions?
This, of course, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t aim to have fulfilling relationships. It’s just that there is no clear correlation between effort and happiness, and that the more we try to control and manipulate love, the more we stifle what is most magical about it. Authentic love couldn’t care less about our gendered games. And it doesn’t have much patience with our poker-face. It aims at the very core of our being – at the spirit that makes each of us a unique and irreplaceable creature. What’s so sad is that the more we let gender stereotypes rule our romantic behavior, the less likely we are to release this spirit. And why, for heaven’s sake, would any woman want to date a guy who falls into the stereotype – who thinks that women are “prey” to be conquered, or who claims that it’s in men’s “nature” to stray, fear commitment, forget your birthday, or fail to understand emotions. Why are so many self-help gurus trying to sell us a guy like this? My advice would be to run in the other direction.
I think that most quality men – that is, men worth dating in the first place – share a lot of the same romantic confusions and insecurities as women do. And a lot of them are looking for a strong woman with whom to build an emotionally complex relationship. When we replace the deep mysteries of love by stale gender formulas, we can’t recognize this. And we give men a convenient excuse to treat us badly. So let’s toss those self-help guides in the recycling bin and focus instead on savoring what is most surprising, least predictable, about love. And let’s have faith that a guy who genuinely likes us is not going to walk away just because we know how to parallel park, change a light bulb, or read a map. A guy worth our attention would never be that dumb!