Friday, November 16, 2012

Compatibility: A Foundation for Relationships

Recently, I stumbled across a video about how to "unlock your man's heart" and how to "make him love you". For some reason I can't explain, even to myself, I listened to it. As I listened I became pretty sure I'd heard it before. I'm not going to link to it because frankly I think it's a waste of time.

Here's the important thing. Why in the hell do we women run around trying to figure out how to "keep him", "melt his heart", "make him love us" or whatever the hell the latest expert tells us we should be doing to be loved? Men don't run around trying to figure out how to keep us, melt our hearts, make us love them, etc. Seriously, I'm so tired of society telling us we have to unlock his heart and make him see how amazing we are. If he can't see it, perhaps he doesn't deserve us.

Now there's an idea. Let's make him prove he deserves us. Now, I know that's not really fair either. But, indulge me for one minute here. Imagine if we felt confident that he'd never leave, so we quit treating him like he has one foot out the door. What if we decided our needs and wants were as important as his. What if we quit feeding men's egos by clinging so desperately to making a relationship work. What if we stopped being so terrified he'll find something better if we don't keep him hooked. What if we just trusted he's in the relationship because he wants to be. What if we just decided to love both the other person and ourselves enough to want everyone to be happy even if the relationship doesn't work out.

Strong relationships are based on not only love but compatibility. Now, I have to admit, I used to think love trumped compatibility, but I've come to understand how important compatibility really is as my husband and I have spent long hours discussing the importance of compatibility.

When two people are compatible, they bridge those gaps between them without the need for manipulation. No deception is necessary to "keep" the relationship. Compatibility doesn't mean two people are mirror images of one another. In fact, it doesn't necessarily mean they even have the same interests. It means their personalities are compatible, their values are compatible, their life goals are compatible, their needs are compatible, and when something arises that isn't compatible, they work together to figure out how to handle it.

So if you find yourself looking for ways to keep him "hooked" maybe it's time to reassess and figure out if the relationship is fulfilling or if you're trying to make something work that just doesn't have a foundation to build on...

As a fiction writer, I'm loathe to admit this, but the stories we write often perpetuate this ideology that keeps women from standing firm in their strength and realizing their full power for the sake of "hooking" him and/or "keeping" him. This hearkens back to my recent post about how strong women are so often portrayed as needing to be saved from themselves by the strong handsome man whose love seems elusive. I'll admit it makes for great fiction, but it makes for miserable lives.

Perhaps its time to just treat one another like human beings and stop letting all these "experts" tell us they hold the key to our happiness...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Objectification: The Sum of My Parts

Objectification of women (and men, but for the purposes of this post, I'm going to focus on women.) can be subtle or blatant. We often excuse or dismiss it. On the flip side, we sometimes grow overly indignant about it and create a situation where we can't deal with its effects because we get too caught up fighting about the nuances of what is and what isn't objectification. I recently became embroiled in such a discussion when the other party in the conversation took great offense when I pointed out how his behavior fit the definition of objectification. After a few moments looking at the definition of objectification he agreed that the behavior in question fit the definition of objectification but still took great offense at the very idea that he would objectify women.

Let's be clear about this. Everyone objectifies other people at some point in time. We're human. It happens. The problem is when objectification is a way of life because it allows us to put one group of people, in this case women, in a lower societal position.

There is no way around it. No matter what you tell  yourself, the moment you think a woman's body is more important than her mind, her heart,and her soul, you objectify her. The moment you see only the parts of a woman's body used for sexual pleasure, you objectify her. The moment you think a woman is incapable of making her own decisions and being her own person because she is a woman, you objectify her. The moment you attack a woman's right to have sole domain over her body, heart, mind, and soul, you objectify her. The moment all a woman is to you is a way to get turned on and consequently to achieve sexual satisfaction, you objectify her. The moment all a woman is to you is a breeder, you objectify her. The moment you decide a woman doesn't have the right or responsibility to make decisions for herself, you objectify her. The moment you want a woman to smile and look pretty but keep her mouth shut, you objectify her. The moment you treat a woman like a possession, prized or otherwise, you objectify her.

As soon as you objectify a woman, why would you treat her like a human being?

Women have had to fight for every right we have, and that's just plain wrong.

We excuse men for objectifying women with the tired excuse that that's just the way men are. Well, men, sorry, you're no longer getting off the hook that easy. Grow up. Men make the choice whether or not to objectify women. If that's your choice, own it, but be ready to suffer the consequences.

The real problem with objectification of women is that it allows society to treat women as less than human. If women are merely objects, there's no reason to value their work, their opinions, or their contributions. If women are merely objects, they can be possessed like any object. If women are merely objects, they cease to have have any rights. If women are merely objects, men can do with them and to them as they please. If women are merely objects, they cannot be victims or survivors. If women are merely objects, there is no reason to show them even a modicum of respect.

When we allow women to be objectified, we forget what it took to get the rights we have and the responsibility we have to protect those rights. Women were once considered the property of their fathers and their  husbands, and in some places in the world still are. Women were considered less intelligent than men for far too long. Women have been repeatedly relegated to roles of providing men's entertainment over the centuries. Women have been deemed only capable of pushing out babies and cleaning house far too often in past. Women have been kept to subservient roles and given salaries to keep them dependent on men for far too long. These restrictions on and attitudes toward women allowed men to create the rules that kept women objectified.

We like to think objectification has ended, but it hasn't. Will it ever? We can hope. The best we can do try to help people understand the negative effects of objectification and see how they can treat women as equals and why they must.

I've been giving this a lot of thought since my conversation, and that thought resulted in the following poem.

The Sum of My Parts

I am more than
The sum of my parts
You might see my smile
You might stare at my cleavage
You might notice the curve of my waist
You might admire my ass
You might let your gaze linger on my tight calves
You might long to touch the softness of my inner thighs
You might imagine the kiss of my lips
You might dream about my tongue’s ability to please
You might fantasize about the heaven between my legs
You might look at me
And only see
The sum of my parts
You might desire to devour me
You might want to dominate me
You might even wish to pleasure me
If you can’t see the beauty of my soul
If you can’t see the brilliance of my mind
If you can’t see the generosity of my heart
If you can’t see my thoughts as equal to yours
If you can’t see my emotions as important
If you can’t see I’m as much a person as you
If you can’t appreciate me for whom I am
Once you get past
The sum of my parts
If you can’t understand
Why knowing me
Is a privilege
If you can’t see
I am so much more than
The sum of my parts
If you can’t embrace
All I offer
You don’t deserve
To enjoy
The sum of my parts
I decide
Whether you treat me with
The respect, appreciation, and consideration
I deserve
If you don’t
You’ll be left to fantasize about
The sum of my parts
You’ll never have the honor
Of knowing me
Mind, heart, soul, and body
And knowing me is an honor
I promise you
I’m worth so much more than
The sum of my parts
Do you think you deserve
To know all of me?
Then prove it

Women, it is up to us to stand up and say "I refuse to be anyone's object. I am a human being. I am capable of achieving anything I want to achieve. If you don't like it, that's your problem."