Monday, December 31, 2007

"Bi-Gendered" Relationships

This article kinda irks me. On the one hand we see that the writer is making a point about men and women friendships that can be platonic; an idea that is often brushed to the side. Meaning, our world is often set up dichotomously – men hang with men, and women hang with women. But this friendship is different; they are two genders that get along well, have good conversation, and yet, don’t want to sleep together. Wow. Unheard of, right? Of course I am being facetious here…anyone can be friends with anyone, but with all of the pressure to remain true to predefined (and gross) gender roles in society (i.e. the men play sports together, while the women shop for shoes together), it is often skeptical to see a man and a woman being friends and nothing more. And the comments posted to the article prove this skepticism:

“I think in certain ways you really want to date your friend Sean and try to sabotage his relationships,” one commenter writes.

“One day your friend will find a woman to love and that same relationship you have with him will dwindle as he transfers that part of his life to her. You're both wasting time. You need the courage to have a romantic authentic relationship with someone. Him too," another commenter remarked.

These comments are awful. They perpetuate the idea that men and women can have little in common/comfort if they are not sleeping together. The idea is very heteronormative in that it points to romance as being the ultimate goal between women and men.

And in other ways, the author herself irks me. She compares the relationship with her male friend as something that her female friends cannot give her. Is this because she thinks women are only “cheerleaders” who offer support, thereby perpetuating a common idea that all women are more nurturing then men? Or is it because the man in her life gives her “realistic” advice, as if to say that only men can offer real conclusion while women are somewhat floaty?

It is interesting that as much as we move forward towards equality, and the elimination of gender-role justification, these types of articles only seem to put a back-peddle on the progression.