January 27, 2010

Well, back to one of the recurring topics on my blog – men and women and their interactions. The Art of Manliness (which I highly recommend) posted What Can Manly Men Expect of Women? It touched on the idea that the expectations of manliness are still extremely high and criticizing any shortcomings is still extremely common. However, with the change in position for women, certain expectations and any sort of criticism is often met with a large dose of contempt. The comic they post is spot on:

I love the idea that you can’t “define manliness unless it was juxtaposed beside femininity”. The same idea is communicated in the last two questions of this interview with a matchmaker. If women want men to be gentlemanly and chivalrous (I do!),  then shouldn’t it be ok for men to want women to be typically feminine and ladylike? Financial stability is what women look for to ensure security (in other words  we – and potential children – will be taken care of). Guys are probably looking for the same thing, except as the traditional money-making figure, the definition of “taken care of” wouldn’t be financial stability. Instead it takes the form of having a tidy living space or having someone make dinner.

I guess it’s important to point out, in case anyone reads this as terribly anti-feminist, that these expectations are not applicable to relationships in general. Boyfriend/girlfriend relations are all about compromise. As the roles of women and men in terms of work have become more similar, it’s unreasonable to expect just one person to also include the domestic duties. But anything platonic or work-related – well, we’re pretty much all on the same footing then. Chivalrous acts are not expected (though still fully appreciated). I’ve noticed this gets tricky. My male co-workers almost always hold the door for me and pull out my suitcase from the taxi trunk. Clearly, it’s because I’m a girl. It’s not an extreme burden for them, and it could just be seen as polite. The tricky part is that there’s not a lot I can do from the feminine side in this everyday polite context. So it ends up seeming a little unfair for the boys.



  1. I wonder if it’s a biological vs cultural thing going on? Women want men to be manly for biological reasons. I’ve read study after study that ovulating women want tough guys and menstruating women want chivalrous guys. But do men biologically want a woman to cook? Probably not. At least that study’s never been done.

    • That study hasn’t been done because it’s hard to find groups of ovulating and menstruating men.

  2. Eh…society’s unfair. I’d say that most men don’t realistically expect any sort of reciprocation for platonic chivalry (there’s a very different quid pro quo at work when they’re working the other angle), so just enjoy the courtesy that the well-raised ones offer you.

    • This reminds me of the Chris Rock “Bigger and Blacker” part about why men are nice. Every time they help you they are implicitly asking for sex.

      Line from the sketch:
      “Can I help you with that door? translation: Can I help you with some [crude word for male anatomy]”

  3. After reading this I found myself compelled to hold the door for Lan, well that or I have always done it and just not noticed.

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