Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Gender Roles

This began as a response to this post on sexism in language, but it got way too long and so I transplanted it here.

Excellent post, LG, (you got me on the "man on the street") and everyone has made excellent comments. But alas, too many people are in agreement, so I feel a need to stir things up.

As to the rape/date rape distinction:
Recently in my Evidence class we discussed certain federal evidence rules that make it much easier to convict alleged sex offenders. What struck me was the assumption, by each female (and most male) student who took part in the discussion, that the alleged offender was guilty. Therefore they believed all of the rules that made this easier a good thing.
But why this assumption? In no other area of the law is there this assumption. If I walked into my state legislature today and asked them to pass laws making it easier to convict alleged murderers, how would that go over? The rules assume guilt, and I find this abhorrent.
I think this PC way of speaking about rape has led us all to believe that no woman would file a false report of a rape. While I will not dispute the figures that tend to show a large number of unreported rapes, I would argue that reported rapes are much more likely to be fabricated, whether a lie or a regret turned to altered memory. This is especially true in a date rape situation. But does it make sense to make it easier to convict innocent people because so many guilty people go free?
One of the rules in particular makes it more difficult to attack the character of the alleged victim. Which I suppose is good if you want to encourage people to report crimes. But what if the "victim" is a pathological liar, or a sex addict, or bi-polar? Any of these could easily lead to a false date-rape claim, and I suspect that there are probably other personality characteristics which could also lead to this result.

As to sex roles:
I think SusieQ is perhaps on the right track. If we can agree that there are biological differences between men and women, does it not also follow that there are other differences? Isn't it logical to assume that men may be more suited to different roles than are women? Is there inherently anything wrong with that as long as it is not misused in a degrading way?
My fiancee and I recently spoke with my pastor in a pre-marriage counseling session. He described the husband a the wife's head. The head does not abuse the body or use it for its own ends. The head does what is best for the whole of the body, and coordinates the actions of the whole so that each part does what it is best suited to do.

This brought to mind what I believe is an ancient Chinese statement: that the man is the head but the woman is the neck, and she can make the head face in whatever direction she pleases. Who is more degraded in this metaphor?

And that brings me to the western proverb "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." What is wrong with ruling in this way?

And finally, I would like to make the point that many women abuse the gender roles as well as do men, by using sex for personal gain or by abusing the over-protectiveness of men over women. It's simply biological fact (hormones and tissue development) that makes it easier for men to abuse women. I submit that if women were physically as strong as men the incidence of women abusing men would be nearly as high as the more familiar situation.


  1. Pre-emptively, I'd like to add that society's continuous disdain for rapists is evidence of not a sexist society, but of a society that respects and honors women in their roles while despising men who have no respect for women.
    Even in our prisons, rapists are looked down upon as something below any other form of criminal, and are violently sodomized accordingly.

  2. exellent job Kelly. Couldn't have said it better.
    I as usual sound like an illiterate. Arrgh!

  3. I for one, prefer that a consent form and release be signed in advance of cracking the seal on the condom, so that if things don't, ahem, come off as intended, there is ample fodder for the cross examination and an actual document to rely on to ascertain the intent of the parties.

    Feel free to call me anal (and pathetic for the sleazy pun).


  4. as for your post on my blog, yes, it is for a class

  5. Kelly, I agree wholeheartedly that the goal of the justice system should be to convict the guilty, not the innocent. I was wondering though how you know that reported rapes are much more likely to be fabricated. Have there been studies done?

    I was wondering, too, why the female students and most male students in your Evidence class assumed that the alleged offender was guilty. What was their reasoning? Were you able to find out? Don't they know, like you, that reported rapes are much more likely to be fabricated?

    About the sex roles and what your pastor told you, with all due respect to him I must say that I think it takes two heads working together in concert to do what is best for the whole, the body. My husband and I have been married for 43 years. During all that time we have been two heads working together for the betterment of the whole. The whole in our case has been our family.

    My husband and I have shared equally in the decision-making. No one has been the boss in our marriage. Rather, we have seen ourselves as a team. We put our heads together in order to come up with the right decisions.

    Now as far as division of labor is concerned in our marriage, we have taken a more traditional route simply because it has been the most practical route to take in our particular situation.

    Each marriage, each man/woman relationship is going to be different and call for different strategies for the betterment of the whole. It is up to you and your fiancee to decide what roles each of you will play in your relationship and whether or not the two of you will have the traditional marriage in which the husband is the head.

    Thanks for all the hard work you put into your blog. I appreciate it.

  6. Well, susie-q, we both know there is a lot of history in 40+ years. It's not like you started out wise, right? I think Kelly is pretty smart & he will do O.K. His heart is in the right place. & that is what's important.

  7. l>t, I am not sure why you said what you did. It sounds like a put-down. Why? Of course, Kelly is pretty smart and will do okay and has his heart in the right place. I was just telling him how my husband and I have conducted our marriage through the years and what worked out good for us. Is that a sin?

  8. Well, actually that's just simple logic that doesn't really mean anything. Of course more reported rapes are fabricated. Why would you fabricate it if you weren't going to report it? And there are always going to be some instances of any crime that are fabricated for vindictive reasons or otherwise.
    I think what I should have said is that date rape situations are more likely to be fabricated than the other situaiton because the "victim" will have more motive to fabricate (whether intentionally or subconsciously) a claim, simply because they know the "perpetrator." That's why I think it's useful to retain the distinction between rape and date-rape rather than just calling them all "rape."

    Honestly, I know of at least two situations where men were falsely accused of molesting young girls. The first one was an elementary teacher of mine who was sued twenty-some years after the fact based on a "repressed memory," which as I understand it is a highly suspect phenomenon in the psychological community. Luckily he did not get a judgment against him. I wonder why, in over 30 years of teaching at the same school, there was no one else able to come forward and join his accuser?
    The second is a friend's step-father, who was accused of molesting his step-daughter's friend. Knowing all the parties involved, I don't believe it--and neither does anyone else in my friend's family, including the "victim's" former best friend. Last I knew, this man was still in prison serving time.

    As far as everyone in my class assuming it, it was the way they responded to questions. They would say things like "Well, he's more likely to be a repeat offender" (which is actually a lie when you compare it to crimes such as armed robbery) or "Because it's so hard to get other evidence you need to make it easier."

    I think there are a lot of times that girls and women will feel betrayed and will fabricate a rape claim. Or they do it for attention. Or they consent and later regret it. This is, of course, not to discount actual cases of rape and the devastation that this can do to a person's psychological and reproductive health.

    As to the point on headship: I'm glad that your setup works for you. I'm not entirely certain what the Biblical idea of "headship" means, but it's not necessarily the husband making all the decisions. There is always a sharing of authority. Perhaps headship is having the final say when a decision can't be agreed-upon. But that sounds too simplistic and selfish, so it must mean something more. If I remember correctly, my pastor said something along the lines that a husband is willing to die for his wife and lives to serve her, while his wife lives to serve him. They simply serve each other in different ways.

  9. Yes, Kelly, your explanation about fabricated rape stories makes more sense to me.

    I will say this though that it must be very difficult for a woman to come forward and report a rape. There is the feeling of being dirty and the fear that people will think you are dirty. There surely remains to some extent the stigma,too, as was the case in years past, that somehow the victim contributed to the crime and is partially to blame. You know what I mean, "She wore her skirt too short." Or, "What was she doing walking down a deserted street at night?" Things like that.

    Women who have been raped surely ask themselves "What did I do that might have caused this?"

    I, too, know of a few instances where individuals were accused of molesting a child and they were most likely innocent. One was a pediatrician with a family and a thriving practice. The accusation was very flimsy, and probably he would have been found innocent in court. But the accusation itself had the power to ruin his life. He ended up committing suicide over it. This took place about the time of that California trial involving the pre-school where they were supposed to have engaged in satanic practices at the school. I think the defendants were eventually found to be not guilty.

    Another case I am aware of involved a friend of ours whose teenage daughter was suffering from emotional problems. The daughter told her counselor that her father had molested her. But it was not true.

    The same thing nearly happened to our former brother-in-law with his own teenage daughter who was having severe emotional problems and was later diagnosed as bipolar. She began accusing her father of having tried to molest her. Later she denied that it was true.

    These are very sad cases.

    On the other hand, we have these painfully true cases of child molestation and murder. I have known two child molesters personally. One was a school bus driver for a school our children once attended. He liked little girls. The other was the principal of another school our children attended. He liked young prostitutes. In both cases, these men had families.

    It makes it most difficult to talk to children about this subject without destroying the trust they need to have in adults who are in their lives. It makes it most difficult for adults in their lives who want to show them physical affection.

    It is a depressing subject for me.

    Regarding roles in marriage and the Biblical meaning of the term headship, I think the reasons our arrangement worked so well for my husband and myself is that we tend to think alike, we share the same value system, and we are evenhanded with each other and reasonable. In those rare instances where one of us was adamently opposed to a course of action, we talked it out until we were able to agree.

    Our one daughter and her husband have a relationship more Biblically based. They are comfortable with it and it seems to work well for them.

    My husband is a good man. I am glad I have him. He has been a good husband and a good father. We also serve each other in many small and large ways. In the small ways department, I help him remember to eat his broccoli and he helps me remember to go light on the ice cream. ;-)

    I know you will have a wonderful marriage.

  10. Hmm, I think my main problem with the whole low rape conviction thing is what we consider rape. That is (at least according to a recent ruling in the UK), drunken consent is consent. This is nonsense. I do not trust myself to make decisions as important (and sorry for sounding slightly pruish when I call the decision to have sex important) as having sex with someone while heavily drunk, and I simply don't think that consent really..counts if someone is drunk.

    [nb, this is for people who are not dating. A bit of drunken sex is harmless if it is not for the first time- in an established relationship the rules are a little different]

    Of course if the law WAS changed it would mean people would have to be far more cautious... but I suspect that is a better thing. I dunno...

    As to whether if women were physically more dominant there would be just as much abuse the other way? No, I don't think so. I think men are generally more aggressve, not just because of physical strength because of hormonal differences. I'm not saying every woman is a blushing flower, just that on average females ARE less agressive.

  11. Let's assume that I agree with the statement that drunken consent is not consent.
    The question remains about the culpability of having sex with someone who is less than consenting. What if they're both drunk? Then are they raping each other?

  12. In suggesting that if women were larger than men, then they would be abusing men at the same rate as men abuse women is totally unsupportable conjecture. Why would you make such a claim?

    I think your preacher is a sexist pig. Why not let the woman be the head?

  13. Unsupportable conjecture? I think not. Arguable? Certainly.
    In reality, however, women are just as abusive as men. It's just not usually physical abuse.

    And sexist? Only if you think the Bible is sexist, as I assume you do. He does his best to follow what the Bible says as he understands it. And I don't think that you fully understand the concept of headship in the Bible, as I certainly do not. There are different roles for men and women to play. The sexes are different, especially emotionally, and so they are suited to different roles, whatever those roles may be. A woman's higher emotional intelligence makes her better suited to be the emotional glue of the family, while a man's capability for (???? I'm not sure what it is, and out of fear of sounding sexist I don't want to state anything without knowing for sure) makes him better suited for ????.

  14. Sorry susie, I guess I thot your were sounding a little presumptive in your description of your wonderful marrige. As if you & your mate started out knowing the right way to do it. I was pointing out that things take time. I guess you sounded a little 'pie in the sky' to me.
    I still like trusty ghetto's solution. Let's make everyone sign consent forms for everything w/grey area. You lawyers would be rich.

  15. L>T, what I wrote to Kelly wasn't about any "pie in the sky". I am sorry you had that impression. It was about what has worked for my husband and myself in our marriage. I did not claim it was perfect, only that it has worked and that it has been good.

    I wish you would come and visit my blog. But I have to warn you, it is all about happy "pie in the sky" stuff. ;-)

  16. Hmm, yeah, I meant to say that if one party is sober (relatively, to be defined by people who, you know, have actually studied this kind of thing), and the other drunk, the sober person is taking advantage of the drunken person no matter whether they have consent or not. Perhaps not AS bad as rape, but still wrong. Currently there is nothing legally wrong with that at all, and I really cannot agree with that.