November 24th, 2008

Griping? Or Musing? Women and Should, Part 1

I like Women's E-news. I get it in my e-mail, but it's also on the web so I've supplied a link.

Short form: women (and men) often hide money from their significant other. Women often do this because they've been in a relationship with an abusive and/or financially irresponsible partner.

About a decade or so ago, I read two separate books on the specific subject of equality in heterosexual relationships because I had a lot of questions about how couples handle money, chores, etc. and talking to people was just confusing me -- I needed some organizing principles. Between the books and the talking-to-people, I decided that (a) the way people manage money says a lot about their relationship and (b) you won't ever see me with only joint accounts again. Well, maybe when I've lost a competency hearing and someone else is managing the funds, or maybe if everything's been signed over to the grown children because I need to qualify for state needs-based aid or something. Not before.

It's all well and good to trust someone. It's much better to be able to make and implement important decisions yourself. And it is unutterably important to make absolutely certain that a lapse in judgment associated with a significant other does not become a tragedy. I firmly believe that if you're with someone who demands a level of trust incompatible with independent action, that person is, prima facie, a Really Evil Person. You should definitely hide money and resources from them, even if you can't bring yourself to leave right then and there.

You might or might not be able to imagine my response to the above linked article. Let's just say I'm seriously contemplating canceling the e-mail subscription to Women's E-news. Do _not_ _ever_ _ever_ interfere with women's mad money.

Good goddess. What the _hell_ were they thinking?

Griping? Or Musing? Women and Should, Part 2

On a retrospective What Not to Wear Episode, one woman hadn't bought clothes for herself in a long time. Like, maybe fifteen years or so, she'd gotten a little wrapped up in the kids and family etc. The kids and family decided the whole Martyr Thing wasn't really all that great a deal for them anymore and ratted her out to Clinton and Stacy who bullied her into some serious Girl Time -- they got her to a spa in addition to the clothing budget, hair and makeup. Yadda yadda, that's what the show is all about.

The part that pulled me up short was when she said, "I guess I'd really let myself go." I loathe this particular phrase. When I hear it, I hear a woman who is basically groveling for her failure to adhere to social norms of dress and grooming (if about her personal appearance), home care, child care, etc. There is _way_ too much stuff to do in anyone's life; we should all try to be compassionate and not apply pressure. But in this particular case, she was saying it immediately after saying she wasn't even on her own priority list, and I got a little flash of her riding on a bus, looking out the window as she pulled away from her self, waving sadly goodbye.

Okay, maybe I don't loathe that phrase so much. Sometimes, it's not about social pressure to conform -- it's about having given up things that you really wanted to do for yourself, and just couldn't find the time.

Griping? Or Musing? Women and Should, Part 3

Oprah has done a show (probably more than one, but at least one) with Laura Berman, a sex therapist whose personal appearance gives me the heebies -- probably doesn't have that effect on anyone else since people commenting on Berman invariably talk about how attractive she herself is. I have been unable to watch more than about ten minutes of this show (or shows -- I'm not sure if I've seen two segments of one show or one segment each of two different shows).

The show has a couple panels of four women each at remote sites connected in via Skype and a big screen. Periodically, Oprah checks in with these groups of women to get their response to whatever Berman has been saying.

Back in the day, daytime talk shows on the subject of sex (and I'm a little frightened by the fact that I've now seen representative samples of this genre over a period of three decades) were mostly focused on figuring out how to get women to (a) have and orgasm (b) with the man of their choosing present. The books at the time were off in la-la land with g-spots and simultaneous orgasm; TV was marginally more grounded in life-as-experienced-by-middle-class-folk-with-family-responsibilities. Things have changed a little, but not much. The sex therapists are still trying to get women to look at themselves, touch themselves, maybe get a vibrator, and try to figure out how to actually talk their partner through giving them an orgasm once they've figured out how to do that themselves.

Berman brings something brand new to the table, however: Guilt. You Should Want To Have An Orgasm. You Should Want to Have Sex. Sex will Improve Your Health. Sex Will Make You Live Longer. Blah blah bleeping blah. Back In the Day, it was assumed that women wanted to have Good Sex and it was a straightforward problem of how.

This sort of mirrors what's been going on with the medical community at large, but Berman is lagging slightly (oh, such a surprise; she's on Oprah after all). In the post-Viagra world, there were a variety of efforts to Fix Lack of Libido in Women because It Was a Problem (TM). Well, it was a problem for someone, a problem a lot of women were extremely happy to fix with a Divorce. Prescribing Viagra (Cialis, etc.) hasn't done any good, nor has testosterone. Lately, some researchers had a really bright idea: let's ask women who don't enjoy sex and/or don't want to have sex are bothered by this. The answer was predictably mixed, but quite a lot of the respondents with low libido really didn't have any particular issue with it, other than the nagging. Which I think explains Berman.

You can imagine why I didn't care for the show.

It's one thing to bully people into putting down the Little Debbies and trying some whole grain for a change. It's one thing to nag about eating one's vegetables. It's one thing to tell people to get off the couch and turn off the TV and go for a walk once in a while.

It's entirely another thing to tell people They Should Have Sex. This just seems wrong to me.