Sexism and the Missing Step

Writing about sexism can be tricky these days, especially for a man. Women are quick to point out anything that feels remotely sexist to them, so men largely learn to keep quiet on the subject. But I’ll risk speaking up because I see something happening that may be creating a sexist reality. There’s a missing step in relationships, something that used to happen but disappeared, and pointing it out might help.

Twenty-five years ago, American women were much more assertive than they are today. When a man and a woman became friends, there was almost always a discussion about what kind of friendship they were in and if romance might become a part of that. It was a discussion where the woman set the boundaries of what was possible. These days, this step of a relationship with the opposite sex is often missing.

What happens instead? There’s either a retreat away without explanation or a strange leap forward without much discussion. The retreat is a form of ‘ghosting’, where a woman makes a decision but isn’t assertive enough to let the man know that decision. Instead she just starts treating him as a ghost, leaving the man wondering what happened and asking why. The leap forward skips any discussion of boundaries and opens territory where the woman wants a relationship but doesn’t want to talk about it. Sex, and everything else, should just happen intuitively because that is how true love works.

Strange as these two ways of relating may seem, there’s another that is much stranger.

It’s hard to tell if this other behavior is a leap forward past the missing step or a weird stumble backwards down the stairs. Suddenly an attractive, formidable career woman starts talking in ‘little girl voice’ and even wants some daddy discipline. A setup for sex scene I suppose, but it’s best to get to know each other through romance first before going there. Isn’t it? Is this an underdeveloped sex drive or an overdeveloped one? I don’t know, but honestly it does nothing for me except make me think that the person isn’t capable of adult romance or spiritual love. Shrinkage.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not preaching about sex or trying to control the behaviors of women. I learned the value of open communication from women. I also know that men will jump over missing steps and skip whole staircases if there’s the possibility of sex. I just think that if you ghost someone or leave someone guessing or start acting like a little girl, you shouldn’t be all that surprised if you don’t get treated as an equal.

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