I had to cut my last post short because it was time to leave my office Friday afternoon and go home. Now, it's Saturday morning and I want to add a couple of things that I didn't have time for yesterday.
My mother and father taught me to treat people with respect. I have tried to do that all of my life. Partially because of my upbringing, partially because of the very religious atmosphere in which I was raised, partially because of my early recognition that if I wanted to be treated in a certain way I would necessarily have to extend that same courtesy to others, because of all these things I tended to treat females as fragile, helpless creatures who needed my protection, often from themselves. I think I went overboard in my early years. I also know I wasn't always successful in my intent never to hurt anyone.
I passed up many opportunities for what might have been harmless little carnal romps, or even extended romantic relationships that might have lasted a few weeks or months or years, because I thought that there was too much potential for heartache and heartbreak. Not mine, of course. Although I was a very romantic guy, I figured I could handle the inevitable traumas that often accompany romantic entanglements. I was more concerned about the girls: after a breakup, how would they feel after they had been 'used,' and how would it affect their lives afterwards.
Was that realistic? I don't think so. Who are the real aggressors in the mating game? Women see what they like or want and then set out to get it. And it is easy for them to get what they want. They look great, smell nice, and that is already one more than the absolutely minimal requirement for a male to be captivated by a female. What should keep us males in check, some sort of ethical standard when it comes to dealing with other people, is often absent in today's society. Not just absent in males, but in females too. People use each other all the time. Even when it is entirely consensual, each party uses the other to get whatever it is that they see as necessary for themselves. Any sort of consensual relationship is okay by me, but there is that really troubling detail that gets in the way of things sometimes: truth.
People lie. Men lie. Women lie. When a man lies about a woman, it might be along the lines of: "Yeah, we totally did it last night. She is really into me." Even the worst lie a man can tell about a woman is not likely to have her rot in jail for decades. Not so for a woman. An accusation of rape, even if charges are dropped, even if proven to be absolutely baseless, will ruin a man's life. That is a big difference.
I am not attempting to paint every woman as a conniving, heartless and selfish bitch. Far from it. I am just saying that men and women, boys and girls, males and females of every age, nationality, and religious background need to understand each other, respect each other, be kind to each other. And, those things, I believe, all come from some sort of ethical 'package' that we must have ourselves and must instill in our children. It doesn't need to be religious. It doesn't require a degree in philosophy or psychology. It can be something as simple as an adherence to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That pretty much covers it, don't you think? If we each did that consistently, the world would already be a far better place.
The problem is is that a variant of the Golden Rule is, I think, more commonly used: Do unto others before they do unto you. An acquaintance of mine put this variant even more succinctly. His version: Screw 'em all but six, and save them for pallbearers. Crude, but unmistakeably clear. It means, don't trust anyone. They are going to take advantage of you anyway, sooner or later, so don't even give them the opportunity. Take advantage of them first.
That, unfortunately, is the way the world mostly works today. It is no wonder males and females don't trust each other. Males want sex without so much as a 'how do you do' and women want... what is it actually that women want? I wonder.
My son knew all about prenuptial agreements before his tenth birthday. He knew all about entrapment by greedy and manipulative women. He knew all this stuff because I cautioned him that some females are like that. Not all females, but definitely some females. And because it is impossible to discern whether a new love falls into that despicable category while she is still all sweetness and light, one has to be cautious.
What kind of a world is it in which it is necessary to tell a young boy such things? What kind of a world is it in which it is necessary to tell young girls that boys are only after one thing and that they will use you and discard you without so much as a thank you? It is a kind of world in which parents have to take the responsibility to educate their children about certain realities. We do not need to teach our children to be cynics, never to trust anyone of the opposite sex, to become embittered about how unfair and screwed up everything is. We just need to teach them to think. My son, and your son or daughter, can benefit from our experience. It is up to convey what we have learned, but if we have been burned in some way by a member of the opposite sex, it is not up to us to turn our daughters into misandrists and our sons into misogynists.
Male/female relationships, romantic or not, are as screwed up as they have ever been. We need to change that. The very fact that we are talking about it here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, is a good start.