Thursday, December 08, 2011

On ABC, "traditional girl" gets first dates to get free meals -- bringing back all the old questions about gender roles

Thursday morning, ABC GMA presented the tall tale of a young woman who would date as many young men (on first dates, after finding them on as possible to get dinner bought, and get free meals.  “I’m a traditional girl” she said. 

When I had my spell of heterosexual dating in the fall of 1971, we didn’t go Dutch, and I found the whole thing a bit of a performance.  Oh, yes, after seeing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (United Artists, dir. John Schelsinger, rather startling at its time for depicting a love triangle with a “gay” corner , review), I made a point of walking on the outside (street) side going back to the car with my female date – whose father had at one time tried to offer me a sandwich.  

And then, when I got into the whole William and Mary expulsion and NIH therapy thing in 1962 – it is still striking to me today how disruptive it was to “them” that I wouldn’t go along and indulge their world of gender roles.  It was more of a problem for them that I did NOT share their passions and impulses, than it would have been had I been “normal” and caused a pregnancy – and attendant responsibility. How ironic.  I had become the alien anthropologist, the detached observer, motivated by a world of fantasy capable of judging the fitness of every single male for continuing the species – while not sharing their risk of creating responsibility.    If I wasn’t “competitive” enough to function in a social group as a proper male, so weren’t a lot of other males. This whole idea was very disturbing to them.  But in those days, families were bigger, external threats were real, constant labor was needed to secure the family, and everyone had to share it.  It wasn’t surprising that all of this got tied to gender roles and then longterm martial sexuality, which socialized everyone else. 

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