?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

I'm still chewing over the issue of 'settling'.

My mother, and my aunts, understand what the word "settle" means, but the colloquial phrase, as used by Gottlieb, and understood by both me and the people who posted on this thread here, was not familiar to them. They were, of course, expected to marry; they were, of course, expected not to have sex until they were married; they were expected to be good girls, and they had the usual contemptible and completely enraging words for the not good girls.

(My mother and I had a number of arguments, debates, and all-out screaming fights when I was a young teenager because she'd raised me to be relatively practical and relatively logical, and some of those phrases struck me as sexist, hugely gender-biased, and entirely unfair. My father would very quietly pick up the newspaper and head out to the living room when we talked about these things because a) he had no opinions to offer and b) the words could easily become incendiary.)

But my mother's generation didn't use the term "settling" in the same way. And it occurs to me that there are reasons for that, one being that women were not considered capable of their own upkeep away from their parent's house; marriage wasn't a matter of romantic love; it was a matter of necessity, like finding a job. This, by the way, is not the way it was ever presented to me; this is hindsight. It was important to my mother that we all marry for love.

Yes, that was a digression.

What I am still wondering, however, is why "settling" has no real male counterpart. I asked my husband about it, and he understands and recognizes the term -- but it's a term that women use, and they apply it to other women. So I asked him what the male equivalent was. There was some silence and some thought, and then he admitted that no male equivalent came to mind.

So I asked him why.

He said that men in general don't talk to each other about relationships or relationship issues; they don't talk about their marriages, their wives, or, once they're no longer teenage boys, their sex life. If they're talking about relationship issues, they're almost always talking to women.

So... why is this? Is it just the cultural context, that leftover conditioning that still requires women to be in relationships to be happy? Men are often lonely; is it just the social pressure not to talk about these things that prevents them from entering the same types of conversations, or are these conversations inherently pointless or boring?

Comments

towersofgrey
Mar. 13th, 2008 02:12 am (UTC)
*De-lurking*

First off, I want to state that bobafet states is right on, in terms of gradient. There is no one definition of "maleness" and that depending on the male various types of conversations can occur.

To answer your question, though, I think we phrase it differently. Growing up with my friends over the years, seeing all of us date, sometimes with disastrous results;) and then some of us getting married, the one thing that all of them said to me, at one point or another was the fact that they had found someone who they wanted to be the mother of their children. This came from guys who didn't even want children, still don't have any, etc. I think its a way of saying settling that works for a guy.

Its admitting the strength of the partner. They are saying that there is something that they admire so much in their spouse, that they want their children to have some part of that character/soul/being. At that point, imperfections don't matter, that undefinable thing is more than enough.

I also think that it has something to do with the fact that MFEO myth (made for each other) is not really directed at the male in terms of marketing. We aren't constantly saturated with that demand for perfection in a mate so there is in a sense, no settling to occur, because we just don't view relationships that way. Which is not to say there aren't some other really negative attitudes marketed to us that can cause havoc with long-term relationships such as the madonna/whore dualism. I just think in this area its less of an issue.

Thanks for letting me comment!
msagara
Mar. 13th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
the one thing that all of them said to me, at one point or another was the fact that they had found someone who they wanted to be the mother of their children.

Wait, this one, I have heard. I hadn't ever thought of it in the context of settling, but it's an interesting observation because it's a comment I've heard various male friends made over the years.

Which is not to say there aren't some other really negative attitudes marketed to us that can cause havoc with long-term relationships such as the madonna/whore dualism.

If I go there, I will be there all day, and the size of the rant will dwarf all but one of my novels. I absolutely, wholeheartedly, emphatically agree with this, though.

Thanks for letting me comment!

Thanks are due in entirely the opposite direction -- the thing that makes LJ, for me, is the external opinions and the give-and-take of threads of conversation. So, thank you :)

Edited at 2008-03-13 06:57 pm (UTC)