I Don’t Want To Be Anyone’s Special Little Princess

I recently ran across this quote from Christian Patriarchy advocate Don Miller. Let’s take it from the top, shall we?

Do you want to be treated like men in every area of your life? And if not, is it confusing for you to want to be treated more kindly and tenderly in a social area, but more straight-forwardly in the sense of economic and cultural equality?

People like Miller are always saying that feminists want women to be treated “like men.” The reality is that I and other feminists want women to be treated like people. Like individuals. Part of what is going on here is that men treat other men like individuals, but they treat women as “the other.” Men frequently see each other as individuals first, but see women by their gender first. If a man messes up at his job, he will be individually blamed for it; if a woman messes up her job, it will be blamed on her gender. So I suppose that yes, we want to be treated like men, but we only inasmuch as men treat each other as individuals.

Also, is it just me or is Miller suggesting that because women are (supposedly) treated more kindly and tenderly in the social area, they should be a-okay with not having economic and cultural equality? Because, newsflash: Being treated “kindly and tenderly” in exchange for my giving up my equality sounds like a terrible deal. Is it a deal Miller would like to take, I wonder?

This is actually a constant theme for complementarians and defenders of patriarchy. They act as though women get sweet deal because they get to be taken care of by their husbands, and in return all they have to do is give up their autonomy and submit to their male authorities. Sometimes they go so far as to paint themselves as the martyrs, getting the raw end of the deal. And I have to be honest, the more I run across this trope the more it grates on me. Because no, being “taken care of” does not make giving up my autonomy a-okay. I would much rather be able to make my own decisions and choose my own path, even if it means having to do things myself.

Let me be more pointed: As women, do you want for men to say you’re beautiful? Because if we treat you like men, we will never say you’re beautiful. We don’t really care. And we won’t make you feel small or special or precious, either. We won’t protect you because, quite frankly, you need to protect yourself or you’re a wimp. Do you really want us to treat you like men?

Oh, so much wrong here.

First, honestly? I don’t want men in general telling me I’m beautiful. The only man I want telling me I’m beautiful is the one I’m romantically interested in. I would actually much rather other men refrain from telling me I’m beautiful. And is it just me or is Harris acting like being told you’re beautiful is some kind of favor gifted from men to women in exchange for women giving up equality? The thing is, I would rather be respected as an equal than flattered with pretty words. I don’t want to be told I’m beautiful. I want to be treated as an equal. I want respect.

You know what’s interesting? My husband wants to be told he is handsome more than I want to be told that I am beautiful. It’s true. Sean is always showing off for me, always inviting my approval and praise. He absolutely loves to be told that I find him attractive. Nay, he craves being told that. And so I do, often. But I don’t feel the same need for him to tell me I’m beautiful. It is enough that I know he finds me attractive. Does Sean’s desire to be told that he is attractive make him somehow feminine in Miller’s world?

But back to the issue of respect. I am reminded Love and Respect, a Christian marriage manual, which I saw quoted on Sarah over the Moon recently:

Psychological studies affirm it, and the Bible has been saying it for ages. Cracking the communication code between husband and wife involves understanding one thing: that unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her. It’s the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, and yet few couples ever find.

You know why this makes no sense to me? Because I personally crave respect more than I crave love. Really. I would rather be respected than loved. Of course, in reality I want both, and I think in reality everyone wants both, but if I had to choose, that’s the way I’d go. I think it’s because I cannot imagine love without respect. The condescending, belittling, sicky-sweet, parent-child love so many Christian marriage manuals suggest husbands offer their wives makes my skin crawl.

Next, about being made to “feel small or special or precious.” That actually doesn’t appeal to me one wit either. In fact, Harris’s entire idea of what women want makes me feel stifled. You know why? Because it’s not what I want! Not in the slightest! I don’t want to be treated like a precious little princess and told how sweet and pretty I am. In fact, that’s honestly the opposite of what I want. I want to be respected as an individual. I want to be seen as a person first and a woman second.

I don’t like gender roles, I really don’t. People are individuals and have individual talents, needs, desires, abilities, and interests. Why can’t we just see each other as individuals first? Why can’t we judge each other based on our talents, abilities, and interests rather than based on what’s between our legs? Why is this concept so hard for Harris and others to grasp?

Let me conclude with a quote from a post by Grace is Human:

But the other thing is – what makes Miller think all men don’t want to be told they’re beautiful? Including by other men? Do men never feel the need for protection? Do all men embrace or benefit from the idea that any man who can’t protect himself is a “wimp?”

Contrary to popular misconception, gender justice activists have had quite a lot to say about how patriarchal masculinity hurts men - how it makes men more vulnerable to certain kinds of violence, how it damages men’s health and wellbeing by encouraging them to ignore or suppress pain and other signs of illness, how it limits the range of men’s emotional expression in ways that damage their emotional, mental, and physical health and the strength and health of their intimate relationships.

The question isn’t whether women want to be treated “like men” (where the definition is what Miller and other white patriarchalists think “like men” means). The question is whether being treated like men – being expected to behave “like a man” – is even good for men.

Yes to all of that.

See, feminism really is revolutionary. Men like Miller assume that the goal is to have women treated “like men,” or even that in egalitarian marriages the wives become the men in the relationship while the husbands become female and passive. But the reality is that feminism isn’t about men and women switching roles, or about women jumping into men’s role along with them. No. It’s revolutionary. It’s about upsetting the entire patriarchal system and rebuilding it on values like equality, compassion, respect, and cooperation. And there’s something simply amazing about that.

Note: The original version of this post attributed Miller’s quote to Joshua Harris, who has made similar statements in the past.  

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Skjaere

    What’s so weird to me is how many of these arguments are similar to the ones used to support slavery, back in the day. “Those poor black people need someone to take care of them! They can’t be expected to look after themselves! It’s up to us to look out for their best interests! They should be grateful not to have to worry about making decisions for themselves!” It’s the “white man’s burden” translated for gender.

  • jose

    Like a person, please.

    There are a few stupid ways to treat a person like a man. This has to do with gender roles, expectations, masculinity and femininity, which I’d like to see removed from the planet.

  • spidergal

    Wow…Just wow. Every time I read more of this it spins me out even more. Granted I had a less than feminine upbringing and so a lot of these concepts are a little foreign to me to start with – But why is it the man has to be the provider? What if he wants to pursue other life dreams that don’t pay as well…Does he give them up?
    The reason this, in particular, makes me want to chat/post is that I would be in what “the other side” would consider a completely unconventional situation. I work in IT (which I enjoy massively) and get paid well to do it. My lovely partner – Is a musician. He teaches guitar and music theory and does gigs on the weekend but by no means does that enough money to live on. I earn 2-3 more than him and am perfectly happy being the breadwinner, as every day I get to see him doing what he LOVES not what will make enough money for me to maintain my “traditional gender role”…Which I have no interest in and would drive me to distraction within weeks!

    • Tracey

      I’m in the same boat as you. I’m in IT, married to a teacher who earns orders of magnitude less than I do. Both of us are doing what suits us and what we love. He’s not in the least threatened that my salary ensures we can pay *both* the electric bill AND the phone bill every month, with some left over for, you know, groceries. There’s not enough Prozac on earth to make me content sitting passively around in a “traditional” (hah!) fundagelical marriage and we’d be living in a box on the side of the highway if I didn’t use my skills and my interests to support the family.

  • KarenH

    Yeah, I’m okay with protecting myself. And the first group I plan to protect myself from are dickwads like Harris who think my highest aspiration is (or should be) to be some moron’s pretty little princess.

  • chervil

    “that unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her.”

    They must love this concept of “unconditional respect”. Not earned respect, you just get respect, no matter what you do, no matter what kind of terrible person you are, you get unconditional respect if you are a man, just because it strokes their egos? Unconditional love is something you give to your children. I don’t expect to be loved unconditionally by anyone but my parents, who put up with a lot from me and come back every time. Other than that, I’m not a child.

    Maybe as a teenager, I liked being told I was beautiful and I liked flattery, but I’m not a teenager and I don’t need or want to be flattered. Flattery is phony and shallow. Women don’t remain in a childlike state expecting someone to pop sweets into our mouths, pat our heads and told we’re pretty pets. We’re way too busy living life for that. We don’t want who we are to be defined by our relationship to someone else. We don’t want who we are to be defined by how someone else sees us or treats us. Like men, we want to be defined by the human being that we are, by our own values, strengths and shortcomings. I don’t need your unconditional love, and if you don’t want to respect me, that’s your problem. That’s how we want to be treated like men. Why is that so hard for the patriarchs to see?

  • LaurenF

    Ooh, I think you got something there with that parenthetical, Karen. Because they think that’s what our highest aspiration *should be*, they think they know that’s what it really IS. Even if we say otherwise. It’s like there’s no distinction for them between “should” and “is”: secretly, Hillary Clinton wishes she had really never left the kitchen; she just won’t admit it because she’s been brainwashed by evil feminists who told her that wasn’t good enough.

    *sigh* It would be kind of nice if the fact that we feel men like Harris are scum mattered to them at all. But I doubt it does. Probably just one more sign of how lost we are without following their rules.

    • chervil

      Being treated like a man is not having someone telling me what I should be thinking. Being treated like a man means not having a man make rules against me “for my own good”.

    • Tracey

      You raise a good point; I remember when Hillary Clinton was forced to defend her using her brain and skills, and the faux outrage about how she *dared* to say her path was not to sit at home baking cookies. Oh, the sturm and drang over that–any “good” woman would be *thrilled* to be chained up to a stove by the ankle, barefoot and pregnant and churning out pans of cookies.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com MargueriteF

    Wow. The quotes from Joshua Harris couldn’t possibly be any more condescending, could they?

  • machintelligence

    If a man messes up at his job, he will be individually blamed for it; if a woman messes up her job, it will be blamed on her gender.

    As XKCD puts it:

    • lucrezaborgia

      Sometimes, I think about going to fundy forums and responding ONLY with xkcd comics.

      • http://www.purplenoize.net Veronica

        Do it!

  • Evenstar120

    Oh, my. I want to comment, but my jaw is just hanging open.

    Starting with the “beauty” remark: first of all, I know what I look like, and genetic material being what it is, I can’t really control my exterior beyond eating sensibly and exercising and how I dress. I’m fairly average in the looks department (like most people). I’d much, much rather be valued for things I can control like my education, my work ethic, and contributions to society. So to answer Josh Harris’ query, nope, I don’t care if you tell me I’m beautiful.

    And I don’t really care to be treated as “small or special or precious”. That sounds like the way you treat an infant or toddler. I prefer to be treated like an independent, thinking adult.

    And like Libby Anne, I can’t imagine love without respect.

  • Cldg

    “Small” ?????
    What in the world?

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      I had about the same response.

      On the ‘protection’ thing, it occurs to me that he’s missing the power of having options. Being protected is nice, but needing to be protected isn’t. Being strong is nice, but needing to be strong isn’t. I think most men and most women would appreciate both being able to rely on someone else and being able to take care of themselves, but being forced to do either sucks.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        “Being protected is nice, but needing to be protected isn’t. Being strong is nice, but needing to be strong isn’t. I think most men and most women would appreciate both being able to rely on someone else and being able to take care of themselves, but being forced to do either sucks.”

        Well, shit. That is well-said!

      • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

        Liked 1000 times.

    • Niemand

      That was my response too. I can imagine wanting to be seen as beautiful by every man (and woman) in the world*. I can imagine wanting to be seen as precious and special. But small? In what way is “small” a desirable characteristic? The only time I’d want to be seen as “small” is maybe if I’m looking to be hired as a professional jockey or something.

      *Though personally, I agree with Libby Anne: I want one particular person to think I’m beautiful. The rest of the world, eh, whatever.

      • Christine

        I can imagine it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s stupid.

    • wanderer

      Josh Harris seems like he gets his ideas about what women want from Harlequin novels.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Do I want to be treated like a man “in a social area?” Yes! Because in a social area, men are treated like people! Yes, I wanted to be able to walk down a street without men calling out comments about my looks (oh wait, they’re just telling me I’m beautiful, SQUEE!!!! This is better than chocolate! And new shoes!). Yes, I want to be able to express a strong opinion about a book or a film or politics without a lot of guys thinking it’s just SO ADORABLE that I have a brain! (And on, one occasion, turning and saying “She’s a feisty one” to the male friend that was with me, who had the decency to look really uncomfortable.) Yes, I want to be able to be angry or frustrated without men assuming that “it’s that time of the month.” Yes, yes, yes! I want to be treated like a person!

    Although I am also in total agreement with your last quote about how masculinity hurts men. Jackson Katz is one of my favorite activists that focuses in particular on the damaging aspects of conventional masculinity–track down any of his work if you can, especially his film, “Tough Guise.” There was a really good piece in the NY Times a few months ago about the poor state of mental healthcare for veterans and one of the factors (among many) that was cited for this was the macho “warrior culture” of the military that makes it taboo for men to seek help for non-physical (or at least invisible) injuries. I have several male friends who served combat tours overseas, and I’ve seen this firsthand. Some of them stuff it and suffer more, some of them speak up about it as a problem. And if Joshua Harris thinks the latter group are “wimps” than he can seriously go fuck himself. I think they are brave.

    And, yes, it is so true about a lot of men really wanting to be told that they’re attractive! I have experienced this with several partners and have had it “confessed” to me by a few close male friends. My ex would goofily grin from ear to ear when I told him he looked sexy in the jeans he was wearing. He would never solicit those compliments but they obviously made him so happy that I’d try to offer them a lot. We’re still close friends, I still do, and it still makes him get adorably aw-shucks. I think it has something to do with the fact that, since women are so often DEFINED by our looks and expected to be highly concerned with what other people think of them (so a man complimenting his female partner is seen as practically mandatory), masculinity, as it so often is, is defined as “opposite of what women do/are.” So it’s taboo for a man to desire that kind of affirmation, even though I think it’s something most people need at least a little of. It’s kind of a raw deal for guys and so I make a conscious effort to remind the special men in my life that I find them really attractive. And I can’t say I’ve ever run across one that doesn’t welcome it.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Wow. This is so messed-up in every possible way. YES, I want to be treated like a man!

    I’m thinking about my engineering classes in college where I was the only girl. Can you imagine if anyone tried to treat me more “tender” or “special” than all the guys? As if I need more help, as if I’m not able to do the work and be an engineer on my own. GET OUT.

    • Stony

      As a fellow female engineer, congratulations. Did you ever have any professors call you “Mr. 628″? I had one who insisted I was “Mr. Stony” until the last day of class. I think, in his way, he was just trying to level the playing field for me, but it was so very odd.

    • Christine

      I have to admit – having gone through engineering, yes, I do wanted to be treated the same as the men. That includes not having anyone assume I know the subject better just because I’m a woman (I know this doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but I grew up on my mom’s stories). This did lead to some issues when people first found out that I knew the subject better because I knew the subject better, but we worked it out.

      One of my co-op positions I was not only the only woman on site, but I was the first female co-op. One of the shop floor guys ended up telling the engineer that he had to go out to the floor to chat, the shop guy couldn’t come into the office anymore because he kept forgetting to watch his language (which, of course, he had to do because there was a woman present). I mean, yes, I appreciated the drastic cut in the f-word being used as punctuation, but I’m fairly sure that the EIT did too.

      • Tracy

        Re: the language thing – this drives me crazy. Recently my fella and I were chatting with a male neighbour. Male neighbour swore and, without taking a breath, looked at me and apologized for swearing and then went right back to what he was talking about. He just assumed that bc I’m female I’d be offended. I didn’t even get a chance to proffer a foul-mouthed response. :)

  • http://AztecQueen2000.blogspot.com AztecQueen2000

    The only guy who treated me in that hyperfeminine way (e.g. calling me his “delicate little flower”…gag, gag) showed 11 of the 15 warning signs of a potential batterer. NEVER AGAIN!
    My DH has me hauling around 70 lb. tubs of compound and help him use power tools (he’s a contractor). He never calls me “delicate” or a “princess.” To me, “princess” means some soft, spoiled creature who doesn’t want to get her hands dirty for fear of breaking a nail.

  • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

    “Small”? What does that even mean? Thin (which I am but haven’t always been)? Short (which I’m not and haven’t been since middle school)? If it means either of these things, why would someone treat any person of any gender better or worse based on their physical size? Unless they were a total prick? Does it mean “like a child”? Well, that’s just stupid. I’m a grown woman. I want men, women, and androgynous individuals to treat me like an adult. Does it mean “insignificant”? Why would any mentally healthy human being see that as a positive thing?

    And what’s with this assertion that men “don’t really care” about women’s physical beauty, which seems to contradict the entire premise of the purity movement? That men can’t so much as glance at a woman, any woman, without being aroused by her womanly womanness? But now Harris tells us men “don’t really care”? I’d love to see Harris and the equally complementarian evangelical John Eldredge, author of Wild at Heart, debate this point. Eldredge asserts that every man longs for “a beauty to rescue”. That kind of sounds like caring.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      I think he means that men “don’t really care” about having their physical appearances affirmed. Which, as Libby pointed out, just isn’t true. At least not for all men and, I’d say, not for most of them.

    • Tracy

      I’m confused about the ‘small’ thing too. Small, special and precious… like what, a pocket dog? A baby chipmunk? One of the Rings of Power? (is Harris actually Gollum, and women are his precioussssss?)

  • Christine

    I noticed something similar when looking at what you (and others) have said about “child training”. A lot of the downsides are seen as benefits. I don’t know how much of that is clever spin “But of course this shelters women, makes them something small and fragile, that’s the point.” and how much is just a sign of a completely different worldview, but it’s incredibly disturbing. (The child training similarity is that I’ve noticed that the goal seems to be to shut down the kid’s curiosity and to teach them to never question you, you know: things that most parents go out of their way to encourage).

  • Cldg

    @Amethyst- I was thinking along those same lines. I’ve been fat and I’ve been thin, but what I’ve never been since age 13 is small. :)
    So I guess he thinks that my deepest desire must be to have men treat me like I’m petite, so i can pretend like I am the ideal size of woman? How bizarre.

  • thalwen

    Ugh, the “men deserve unconditional respect in exchange for being ‘loving”” has always squicked me out. You are exactly right, unconditional love belongs to children. Respect and love in relationships are earned. Of course in fundie circles, with “love” a man can be domineering, rude, selfish and say he’s doing it out of love. A woman is supposed to “respect” her husband by never criticising him, doing what he tells her to do etc. So yeah, being treated like a man sounds a whole lot better than being “loved.” It just sounds like a nicer way of saying husbands command, wives submit.

    • Rilian

      Anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense to trade love for love, or respect for respect, if you’re going to be trading things at all?

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    These people seem utterly incapable of imagining social relations without a strict hierarchy in place. I still remember people on past such threads constantly saying, “But who, in the end, makes the final decision?” The answer that both people in the relationship can seem to fly past them.

  • Angela

    Wow, flashback to the Victorian era. It’s hard to believe that there’s still women who buy into that. Great post but there was one thing that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. When you say that “men see each other as individuals, but they see women by their gender first” it comes across as the same type of sweeping generalization that you are arguing against. As I read further I saw that clearly you don’t believe that all men think or behave that way and I can only imagine that you meant to say “men like Harris” or something similar. I’m not trying to nitpick. I only bring it up because there are some feminists who man-bash to get their point across and I believe that if we don’t want to be stereotyped (even inadvertently) it’s only fair that we extend the same courtesy.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Good point – I will edit it slightly. :-)

  • Stony

    For a while I dated a man who was 6′ 6″ and had a 22″ neck. Around him, I appeared delicate and waif-like, but even he didn’t treat me as delicate or waif-like. I’m big, I’m bold, and I work my ass off doing the best job I can so I’m respected in a male-dominated career. If the guys I work with think I’m funny, or charming, or fun, or pretty, well, great, that’s a bonus but totally unnecessary. Usually they tend to notice first that I can do the job, that I will do the job, and that I’ve got their backs. Just like a GUY in the same position. You know, a …what’s that word…….????…… a PERSON.

    My husband thinks I’m luscious and gorgeous, and I think he’s luscious and gorgeous right back. He certainly doesn’t think of me as someone who needs her widdle hand held in the big scary world, any more that he might need his hand held when the going gets rough. Why does the idea of equality in relationships scare and offed these people so? Do they think they will be emasculated? Is that their worst nightmare??

  • MM

    Harris’ idiocy here seems to be an outgrowth of his dating philosophy. See, while some men tend to be not very good at understanding women (emotionally and sexually), we do tend to get better at it with experience, which generally comes from dating. I look back at my relationships throughout the years and cringe at how clueless and/or asshole-ish I was…not because I wanted to be a jerk, but because I simply didn’t know better and some women (as well as men) aren’t good at communicating what is or isn’t working for them in a relationship. But after dating a few women, I was able to learn some “best practices” (if you will) and how to adapt to the specific needs of my current partner. What this experience also has given me is the realization that not all women think the same and there really isn’t a “way women think.” Humans just aren’t that simple.

    But Harris and his ilk, who advocate of courtship and only having relationships that could end in marriage, never get this kind of experience, and so all they have to go on are what is passed on to them from the older generation of Christian men, which is this “women are delicate flowers that need to be protected and lavished with attention all the time.” It doesn’t help that the Church tends to be somewhat of an echo chamber for this…you get men who are clueless about women and taught that they are superior paired up with women that are taught to expect nothing more of men and that they have no real individuality…when these people don’t date, they don’t get the chance to realize that the so-called “gender roles” are pretty much made up.

  • H

    One of the things this reminds me of is the state of political discourse about women in the 19th century. I am not 100% certain this is the correct essay, since I couldn’t find the full text without paying (if it is, I read it several years ago), but “The Burden of the Ballot” by Catherine Cole Mambretti essentially describes all of the “privileges” that women would have to give up if they want to have the right to vote and be politically equal to men. These are “privileges” such as men not swearing in their presence, being treated politely and solicitously, having men put their coats over puddles, etc. Unfortunately most of these “privileges” are of exactly the same type one would give to a child, which puts women and children on the same footing, ie, utter dependence. Sojourner Truth’s essay “Ain’t I a Woman” brings in the other side of the story. Women who aren’t middle-to-upper-class white women don’t/didn’t get all of those so-called privileges, but they also didn’t have the rights. Even today, one woman might have a door held for her and be called beautiful while another woman is the victim of gender-related violence. That’s not a great trade-off.
    A while back I was grocery shopping, and a man was sitting on a bench calling out “you’re beautiful” to any woman who walked by. Since I happened to walk by him twice, he said it twice to me. I assume he had no idea that I was the same person, because he wasn’t saying it to an individual, just to a class of people called “women”. I said thank you, but I was actually very annoyed. It felt like a kind of impersonal, pretending to be friendly, attack.

    • sara maimon

      The store should have this man removed for harrassing customers.

  • smrnda

    Harris’ conception of gender relations seems to be pretty juvenile, like an 11 year old who figured out relationships from watching sitcoms from the 50s and early 60s.

    I also think he sells men short. Men do not treat each other like disposable commodities. Do men in the military go “man, that guy’s getting shot at, but damn, he’s a wimp if he can fend for himself.” No, men (and women) who face actual danger know you need to watch out for each other.

    But here’s the catch – if women don’t agree to the “Harris Bargain” he’s going to stop telling us we’re beautiful. O, the horror. I think the deeper issue is that men like Harris *will be attracted to women regardless of how unequal or egalitarian our society is.* They just want a deal where they don’t have to treat women as equals. I mean, here’s Harris setting the standard for what means ‘treating a woman with respect.’ Why does he, and not a woman get to do that?

    And please, I would like a lot less attention based on my appearance. Please, no obscene remarks from passing cars (though I’m sure from his earlier writing Harris is going to blame women for being harassed in public.) On top of that, stuff like that isn’t even about men being attracted to women – it’s men trying to show women who is in charge in public spaces.

    The other thing is I can’t respect someone I do not see as worthy of respect. I could probably love someone who I didn’t respect, in the sense that I could care about them while admitting they had some major character defects, but not respect.

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

    Men won’t make me feel small? Oh no! I love being made to feel insignificant! Ha. My boyfriend is 6’5″ and he doesn’t make me feel small, whatever that means. I am physically smaller, but that doesn’t make me fragile. And I’d rather live in a world where I don’t need to shelter under the protection of one man to prevent the ravening hordes of men from attacking me, because without that protection I’m seen as fair game because I’m not some man’s property. No thanks! I’d rather interrogate that line of thought and fight to be seen as a real person. (And really, what does all of this say about conservative views on men?)

    I may have been more concerned with this as a teenager, but I really don’t need men telling me I’m beautiful. I know what I look like. My boyfriend tells me I’m beautiful all the time, which is nice, but I really don’t need it to come from anyone else. Especially random men in cars. No thanks, not a compliment.

    I don’t understand why these books create a division between love and respect, because I think in a romantic relationship they go hand in hand. Although I think we’re talking about two different kinds of respect: deeply felt respect for a peer who has earned that respect, versus the deference given to an authority figure. In my opinion, the former is the basis for a good relationship, and the latter is an appalling way to talk about marriage. The way they talk about respect is incredibly superficial, and is based purely on obligations derived from gender roles. It’s not about forging a healthy relationship, it’s about playing your assigned part. I would not want to be “loved” without respect, because to me that is not the real love of a peer and a partner.

    This whole “do you want to be treated like a man” thing is just stupid. I want people to treat me with basic courtesy, because that’s how we should treat other human beings. It’s really not that hard to be polite to people without tying yourself in knots over how you’re supposed to treat them because of their gender. Be aware of your own body in space. Don’t yell obscene comments at passers-by. Say please and thank you. It’s not that hard!

    Libby Anne, your last paragraph is really great.

  • Sue Blue

    I’m a nurse, and I have the opportunity to observe all kinds of human interaction. Most younger male patients treat me as a professional, but when taking care of older white males, I often get patronized. Calling me “honey” or “dear”, asking me to run little errands, clean something up, or get them something special to eat, acting surprised that I can understand and operate the monitors they’re hooked up to – that sort of thing. Younger nurses complain about unwanted comments regarding their looks, questions about their marital status or whether they have a boyfriend, etc. I’m older so that’s not much of a problem for me anymore, but I remember it from my younger days. Female doctors and surgeons often get treated by older males as if they’re just apprentices to some male supervising physician, or treated as if they “must” be “just nurses”. Male nurses face serious discrimination and prejudice, as if there is something wrong with a man because he wants to go into a caring, supposedly “subordinate” profession like nursing. Nursing professionals are constantly addressing this problem.
    I regard myself as capable and competent both in my professional and personal life. I’m with Libby – I would rather have respect than some patronizing, condescending kind of “love”.

  • Red

    I know I’m just re-ringing the same gong with my comments, but apparently people need to keep ringing it or Harris and the like will never get it.

    You don’t have to trade equality for being treated appropriately. Joshua Harris acts as if it’s impossible for men to be considerate of women’s needs AND see those women as equal to them in social roles. In reality, this is not difficult at all.

    Think about it. Let’s take the example of the workplace. Let’s say that a man has a fellow man for a coworker. Let’s imagine this coworker is having a really hard year personally, and is more sensitive and needing support from friends. I’ll bet you that man will treat his coworker with an advanced level of consideration while at work. Does that mean that he will start thinking of his coworker as “less than” or someone who isn’t “as fit for the workplace,” just because he has to treat that coworker with more sensitivity? NO!

    The same is true for interactions between men and women (though I am highly suspicious of the notion that women need more sensitivity and men need less…my experience leads me to believe that men need the same sensitivity as women but have been socially trained to do without). There is no earthly reason why treating a woman with consideration, admiration, and yes, gentleness, would mean that you see her as being less fit for the same social role as you.

    What floors me flatter than a pancake is that Josh Harris is essentially claiming something that is very, very against the message of Jesus. Jesus didn’t say “Hold your love and care over people’s heads until they act how you want them to act, and if they disobey, snatch your love away from them.” No. Jesus didn’t say “Exchange good treatment for that other person knowing their place.” Jesus told us to be self-sacrificial–not exchanging good deeds for good deeds in return, but giving our good deeds freely, not considering whether the other person has “earned it.”

    Joshua Harris needs to seriously reevaluate these teachings in light of the savior he believes in.

    • Red

      And now I’m trying to figure out why I was typing Joshua Harris when the original quote was from Miller….it’s so easy to get these sillies mixed up…. :)

  • abra1

    I have actively rejected the “princess” phenomena for my own daughter (I wasn’t raised with it but then it wasn’t such an omnipresent cultural factor for little girls in the 1980s) without really articulating for myself out exactly *why* I find it so very problematic. This is it…
    …it isn’t just the hyper-sexualization of little girls (which is in and of itself a *huge* problem)…
    …it isn’t just the spoiled rotten attitude it seems to engender in girls with parents who otherwise do not encourage it…
    …it isn’t just that it encourages girls to only play at being princesses instead of the myriad of things they could and boys who don’t face the same pressures do…
    …it is training them up to be submissive women who only know to seek that kind of external affirmation of their value. They/We are so much easier to control that way.

    • A Reader

      You’re lucky–by the 90s, almost everything was princesses. I won’t lie: I liked it at the time, but looking back…it’s really just creepy.

    • Rilian

      I think I missed the princess crap because my parents were simply not the types to waste money on stupid toys. I’m also not addicted to video games for that same reason.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha

    I can’t speak for all women but:
    No, I do not want to be treated more kindly and tenderly than men in a social setting. I want to be treated as well as men are.
    (And if I did, the males I know in real life will not treat me like that any way. And patriarchal males and even their females give the exact opposite: They treat women less kindly than men, for example Markymark and Laura Grace’s treatment of Fromdenimjumperstobluejeans here: http://denimjumpers2bluejeans.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/the-porn-factor-and-its-relation-to-the-treatment-of-women/ .
    This is not unique: No patriarchal males treated me more kindly and tenderly on any blog I ever visited when I read patriarchy blogs. In my experience, patriarchal males are the best possible reason never to give up your rights. On one patriarchal male blog, I even read that men should have the right to kill their wives and children with no police protest – and nobody on the blog disagreed.)
    I also want to be treated in a straightforward manner in an economical and cultural setting.
    I want to be married one day, and I want that one man to treat me more kindly than he treat others, male or female. But in return, I will treat my husband more kindly than I treat others, male or female.

    The whole complementarian/ patriarchy story that men will protect if you are simply willing to lie down your rights is bulls***.
    Laying down rights is exactly the way to get abused: If women in a particular society have no property rights, what they have will be stolen with impunity. If women have no right not to be raped, very few men will protect them from rape. If they have no right to live, they will be very unlikely to get medical treatment and very likely to be murdered. That is common sense logic.

    • Red

      This is easily and continuously demonstrated in societies where women have fewer legal rights. Harris should perhaps look into basic Sociology 101.

  • Emmers

    Bravo! This kind of attitude happens in lots of patriarchal cultures – look at the song Aicha, which involves a guy telling a lady “I’ll take care of you and give you presents,” and her responding that prisons are still prisons, even if they’re made of gold, and she wants equal rights instead. Pretty awesome stuff.

  • A Reader

    If my choice is between being strong, intelligent, and independent or being a small, precious princess, I think the choice is pretty clear. Could he be any more condescending? I am not small and weak. I am not a pet. Sometimes yes, I will want to be told that I’m beautiful, but that doesn’t mean I need to be “protected” and shut away like an exotic pet bird.

  • Judy L.

    What always strikes me about the whole ‘princess’ thing is that being a princess isn’t an identity that a girl or woman can create on her own: there is no PhD program in Princessology, no community college that grants diplomas in Practical Princessing. A princess is a princess only by virtue of her relationship to a man: a king’s daughter or a prince’s wife. (A queen’s daughter isn’t necessarily a princess, as the title is dependent on the legitimacy of the daughter’s birth, and that legitimacy is found in her father’s recognition).

    It’s no surprise that some men embrace the whole ‘princess’ thing – it means that they get to be princes and kings.

    • Attackfish

      Well, if the queen were a queen regent, or if she were a princess regent herself… Also, even an illegitimate daughter of a king acknowledged by her father wouldn’t have been a princess in many monarchies. But your general point remains.

    • http://noadi.etsy.com Noadi

      This is generally true but Queen Elizabeth’s daughters are princesses and they are not the daughters of a King (her husband is Prince consort since she is the one who inherited the monarchy). So a daughter of a queen who is a queen in her own right and not via marriage to a king is also a princess. /pedant

      • Judy L.

        Attackfish: The recognition I was referring to was legal legitimacy, not simply acknowledgment of paternity.

        Noadi: You are quite right about Queen Elizabeth II’s daughters. /happy-to-stand-corrected :)

      • Attackfish

        Judy L, I think we’re arguing semantics not substance,but “that legitimacy is found in her father’s recognition” my point was, that there were two conditions, the king has to be married to her mother, and her father has to recognize her. It looked like you were saying only the latter was important.

      • ALWR

        Princess Anne (Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter) retained her title in spite of marriage to a man who did not accept a title.

        But never mind that generation. The British have changed the rules for the next one. If William & Kate have a firstborn daughter, she will not only be a princess (granted through her father, but her mother was a commoner), she will be the next in line to the throne even if ten brothers came after her. And her children, boys or girls, will be royal in their own right regardless of their father’s status. It is all changing for the better. Because of that, I will be rooting for them to have a girl.

  • RB

    Before I married my husband, I was engaged to someone else who was into patriarchy and it took me a while to realize why it wasn’t working but it was because of the love without respect. It didn’t work at all and we were both miserable tho he wouldn’t admit it. Once I was free from that damaging controlling relationship it was amazing! And now I have a beautiful egalitarian relationship. And my husband also needs to hear he is attractive just as much as i do. I’m so glad to be free from that bull and I’m glad you are too!

  • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot JW

    One of the things I get from you comments Libby, I think, is it seems as if woman want to be treated as individuals and men should be treated as individuals taking out the fact that men usually have certain characters with their gender as well as women with their gender. It is kind of like you are neutering each others gender in order that the equality might be leveled, or something. Now, that just sounded funny to me , lol.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Gender is a social construct rather than something natural. And the way gender is currently socially constructed in our society is a product of centuries and millenia of patriarchy. So yes, I want to break down the way gender is socially constructed in our society, which is both a product of and in turn perpetuator of patriarchy.

    • Red

      Libby, while I think what you’re saying is important, I would like to point out that it isn’t even *technically* necessary to believe in gender-as-social-construct in order to deconstruct Harris’ premise. I truly believe that even people who believe in some biological “emotional” difference between men and women should still reject Harris’ premise.

      I mean, when you think about it, let’s pretend (for the sake of argument) that women are more sensitive and men are less, etc. So….why does that mean that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to recognize each other’s gender differences but give each other equal opportunities and roles in society?

      Unless one believes that those gender differences suit people for different social roles. But that’s not a proven statement either…it could just as easily be the case that man’s traits, and woman’s traits, are BOTH needed in ALL spheres of life, and that removing male traits from the home and female traits from the workplace leads to a lopsided society.

      Again, I”m not arguing against the gender-as-social construct idea (to be honest, I haven’t decided where I stand on that, but I’m definitely open to your premise). I’m just saying, let’s not get hung up on fighting the fight there. Harris’ premise is stupid no matter which way you believe, and people who believe either way about that should still reject his ideas and not have to live under them.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Another related point to be made here is, even if there ARE innate tendencies towards psychological differences between men and women (and I said “tendencies” for a reason–even JW himself said that these supposed gendered characteristics “usually” apply, implying that they do not ALWAYS apply), what exactly is the downside of treating a person as an individual first and foremost? Let’s say, hypothetically, that a given characteristic is present in 80% of men and only 20% of women. If that were true then it would certainly be correct to say that most men are This Way and most women are not This Way. But how does that help you when you are dealing with one individual woman or man? To what degree is that characteristic present in the man you are dealing with? What if you happen to be dealing with one of the 20% of men that isn’t Like That or one of the 20% of women that is? Then you’re on you’re own, and that’s a lot of people. Even if you could make well-founded generalizations about the natures of men and women, that helps you not at all when you are dealing with just one woman or man. Doesn’t it make more sense to just wipe your assumptions and deal with that person as he or she is, without having a ready-made box to push him or her into? Isn’t that just a Best Practice for getting to really know someone and understand them, regardless of whether gender differences or innate or socially constructed, regardless of how likely you are to find that that person will ultimately meet with your preconceived notions?

        And btw, I am definitely in the “social construction” camp. I’m just pointing out that, as you say, it doesn’t matter. Unless you are truly arguing from the premise that ALL MEN are one way and ALL WOMEN are another way, with NO exceptions, which JW does not seem to be doing, and which few people actually do, this is meaningless when you are dealing with individuals. Treating somebody as an individual first and a man or woman (or anything in between) second is ALWAYS the better way to go.

      • Red

        Hear hear, Petticoat Philosopher! That too is an excellent point, and one which I have never heard a satisfactory answer to from people who espouse The Big Fat Gender Differences. :)

        And, in case we haven’t beaten this far enough into the ground….why would it be all that unreasonable for women to ask to be treated one way in social situations and another way at work, as Miller says it would be? Men are generally treated one way by their friends and one way by their boss. I mean, hello–yes, your behavior is going to change depending on what situation you are in, and it doesn’t speak to some “inconsistency” in how you want to be viewed as an individual.

  • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot.com JW

    ‘Gender is a social construct rather than something natural’

    How have you understood this concept that it isn’t necessarily natural?
    I think to my own self that I tend to be more comfortable around women because of the openness in conversation and the ability share emotions and such because with guys I don’t have alot of shared interest such as cars, mechanics, and hunting but I do love sports. I even work in a field that has been considered more women related – accounting. I don’t socialize with men outside of the workplace that much because there isn’t alot of commonality which his a strange thing but it comes natural to me. Could this be what you mean about being natural as opposed to social construct?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      That whole thing about women sharing emotions and guys liking cars and hunting? That is socially constructed. That is not natural. Yes, there are biological differences – the X verses Y chromosome, the different genitalia – but “gender roles” and all of these ideas about women being more maternal and men being less emotional, or about women being good at things like nursing and teaching while men are good at things like cars and sports, all of that is socially constructed rather than natural or universal.

      • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot.com JW

        What have you learned to state that these things are more social constructed and not natural on their own? From my perspective it sounds as if you are trying to make ideas fit into a mold because you don’t like how they fit right now but you have to have learned something in order to feel this why. What did you learn specifically?

      • Christine

        JW, I’m confused. If these things were natural, wouldn’t they happen in all societies? You need to explain what you’re trying to say, because it makes no sense if I take it at face value.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Your accusation that Libby is ignoring reality or making stuff up to fit a particular ideology that she’s already decided upon is a common one among anti-feminists. But the truth is, feminists often become skeptical of the idea of innate gender characteristics because of their own experiences and observations.

        I know that this is certainly true of me. I was raised in exactly the same world as you were, JW, and I heard plenty of supposed truisms about the way boys were and the way girls were and some of them I even accepted at face value because I was a child and that’s what children often do (even born gadflies, which I certainly was…). But I fairly early on, things started to not smell right to me, not only because it became increasingly clear that *I* did not fit the girl mold in many ways but that, when I really, really looked, others didn’t fir their gendered molds either. It started to seem like there were so many exceptions to the rules that the rules themselves were meaningless. It was these experiences, my personal experiences, that eventually led me to more formal feminist critique of the idea of innate gender characteristics, backed up by actual scholarship. I did not go read a bunch of feminist theory and then go around trying to fit my lived experience into what I had read because it sounded nice to me. It was the opposite. I was drawn to feminist critique because it seemed to more accurately describe my lived experience than the stereotypes and tropes that I, like everyone else, had been fed. And as I grew older, lived more places, knew more people, and expanded my horizons, it seemed like it fit many other people’s lived experiences better too–including, it seems, YOURS. You yourself say, further downthread, that you often feel that you yourself do not fit the traditional masculinity mold. And yet, instead of questioning how much sense that mold really makes, you “feel like a neuter.” Why feel like that? Why not just feel like a man who likes some stereotypically “masculine” things and dislikes others? All you need to do to be male is identify as male, it’s not a performance. Why do you cling to model of gender that YOU don’t even fit into? Why do you conclude that it is you who is deviant instead of entertaining the idea that maybe it’s the model that is flawed? And WHY do you make such a point of fighting those of us who do express this idea? I don’t understand.

        You want to know what we learned? This is what we learned.

      • http://www.purplenoize.net Veronica

        I wholeheartedly agree that gender roles are social constructs. But gender isn’t just gender roles. I am a trans person, and our experience hinges a great deal on the distinction in my opinion, though radical trans feminists will probably disagree.

        If we look to other mammals who don’t have the social pressure we do, you still see behavioural differences between sexes. Hormones trigger some of these at least. I too, switching from a male hormone level to a female, have noticed a difference in many aspects of my personality and how I experience things around me. They’re subtle, but quite noticeable. It is very common for at least trans women to experience this. Although I do deviate somewhat physically from the male norm, my body was still male enough. The clear disconnect between my sex and my gender identity is what underpins my transsexual experience. It is a lot more than being uncomfortable with gender roles. though most of us experience that too. A person who prefers the opposite, if you will, gender role, isn’t necessarily a transsexual. It runs much deeper than that.

        These days, when transsexual care no longer hinges so much on gender role conformity as it used to, there is a lot of trans people, my self included, that are uncomfortable with either gender role, at least when taken to the extremes. In earlier days we were forced by the medical patriarchy into such roles much more so than cis people are by society in general. If we didn’t comply, we’d be refused medical treatment. This is still the case many places; including, to an extent, here; which is why I am going private instead of public. Anyway, this is why I am uncomfortable with the blanket statement that “gender is a construct”. Gender is more than that. At least make the distinction between gender identity and gender roles. That’s a good place to start.

        This topic is a bit difficult to handle with the mainstream feminist theories, but people like Julia Serano has suggested instead to use the term “subconscious sex” to keep the disconnect of body and mind we feel out of the gender debate. I’m fine with that too, as long as we recognise that there is more to this than genitals and social norms.

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      Honestly, at this point it is impossible to know how much gender difference is natural and how much is socialised into us. There’s no denying that boys and girls get treated differently from birth, and that’s going to affect how we act as adults. Plus, any difference that DOES exist is still based on averages–it’ll tell you nothing about an individual.

      Also, while socialising with men may not be natural to you, it is to me. I have a lot of geeky interests, so I’ve always tended towards having more male than female friends. I can spend hours in a room with a bunch of guys and not realise I’m the only girl there–that’s just my ‘normal’.

    • chervil

      I’ve often read on patriarchal sites that real men like to hunt has a bit of an issue with men who don’t. And therefore:

      “I don’t have alot of shared interest such as cars, mechanics, and hunting but I do love sports. I even work in a field that has been considered more women related – accounting.”

      You’re kind of proving Libby Anne’s point here. If gender roles were natural, you’d all think alike, the way Joshua Harris thinks all women are interchangeable, with the exact same desires and self images. Maybe someday he’ll get around to actually asking a woman’s opinion, but probably not since a woman’s actual opinion doesn’t seem to factor into the equation.

      The patriarchy will tell you be told that to be a real man, you have to like hunting and cars and be a manly man, have a manly man job like forklift driver, not a nerdy bookkeeper, and think and do everything that other men like, for your own good. Feeling “natural” now? Enjoy having people tell you what to think?

      • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot.com JW

        I am not a hunter and in fact before I landed with the company I work for now I didn’t know anything about hunting. When I learned about it I found that some of it just seemed silly. ie sitting up in a tree stand for 8+ hours waiting for deer to cross you path to shoot. Really? That is hunting??? i don’t know much about guns either but I never was around others and never put myself in position to learn about these things. I think this is because I shied away from alot of guys because I found my interests were not the same as they. Even when I talk to my brother I have more in common with him in dealing with relationships then I do with mechanical stuff though I do talk to him about strength training. I do strength training with some powerlifting in there. I can’t stand it with guys get this ego thing going in which they want to show their ‘ego’ type of thing. Many times I feel like a neuter because I don’t have alot of common ground with guys but I don’t have alot in common with women but I also believe I am one of those exceptions. Ironically, given the the social state of America from a sexual standpoint why wouldn’t I be confused sexually wondering if I were hetero, homo or just no interest at all? Women turn me on and guys do not, lol. Now that just sounds funny!

        Man is a social creature and by being social and socialized I think it helps establish societal construction of roles for both genders. After all, there are roles for everyone in society and we teach them to the next generation in order for society to function , hopefully in a healthy way. Always exceptions to those rules but those exception do not amount to absolute truth which is what I think is the issue that Libby is wanting to make in her post here.

        Please don’t crucify my words because they are my opinions just as your words are your opinions.

      • chervil

        You live by rules. You have rules that you have defined, and you expect me and everyone else to live by them. Rules on who can say what to whom and how it’s OK for you to mock Libby Anne and disagree with her, but no one can disagree with you. Rules the correct way people should live, minus the “exceptions”, you therefore conveniently exclude yourself from your own rules, they’re only there for everyone else, apparently, the holders of the absolute truth.

        I’ve never seen you be gracious on this site, maybe you don’t mean to be snide, but you come off as incredibly snide and a bit of a schmuck. I’m only saying this in the nicest way, as constructive criticism, because you would get better responses if climb down from your high horse and tone down your self righteousness. I mean, “crucify”? Come on. A bit dramatic and hyperbolic.

      • Anonymouse

        @JW: What in the world does this even mean:”Ironically, given the the social state of America from a sexual standpoint why wouldn’t I be confused sexually wondering if I were hetero, homo or just no interest at all?”

        Are you feeling threatened that people who are gay are no longer killed on sight? Does the fact that other people feel differently from you make you question your own sexuality? In that case, your sexuality may not be what you would like to believe. Are you one of those people who bleat that their own marriage is at risk if two strangers they’ve never met get married? Really, please just come out and say what you mean instead of talking in rightwing code, because your meaning is completely unclear.

      • John Evans

        It is interesting that JW’s statements about social roles do not take into account how social roles and behaviors vary widely between nations, social classes, and time periods.

        It also ignores the profound role-enforcement activities of the advertising industry.

    • RowanVT

      I am a woman. I was born female, I identify as female.

      When growing up, and to this day, I hate sitting around and talking about feelings. I hate shopping. Shoes are boring, I’d rather go barefoot. Dresses are annoying. Makeup feels icky. My favorite pets are snakes. I love hiking, climbing trees, and digging in the mud. As a child, you’d be more likely to find me catching frogs with the boys because “girl” activities were bloody boring.

      The vast majority of the women I work with are the same way. We wanted physically demanding and active jobs. Heck, if my knees weren’t all arthritic at a mere 30 years old, I’d enjoy doing construction work!

      Now, tell me where all that is in society’s idea of “woman”?

      • Chervil

        Same here!! Hate shopping, hate dressing up, hate fashion, don’t like makeup. No shoes. Don’t talk about feelings, I feel uncomfortable in a group but I’m a good listener, 1 to 1. I love being outdoors, I need it. Used to catch frogs as a youth, climb trees, all of it. My daughter is just like I was, only much more kick-ass. So proud of her!!

      • Christine

        Wait, I can add my awareness of the evils of shoes to part of what makes me less feminine? *toddles off*

        One of the things that scared me when I was pregnant (with my 30% chance of having a boy) was that it would be a lot harder for me to avoid focusing only on “appropriately” gendered things, because most of those are what I find more fun. (I find a lot of them fun in a skirt, but I don’t feel I have to fit a specific definition of tomboy to do what I enjoy).

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        Me too, I’ve always hated shopping, I can’t understand Sex and the City’s protagonist’s fasciuantion for shoes at all, I was a complete tomboy (and still am in some aspects), I learnt how to apply make up on myself only last year and because one of my best friends seriously insisted, I only like wearing jeans, not skirts or dresses, I’m handy with tools and fixing things, I’m no good dealing with people and less so with girls my age, … I loved catching frogs too when I was a kid, how nostalgic =) My parents had a hard time with me always trying to climb to dangerous places, I had one Barbie (my lil’ brother had 2) and the only use I had for her was gnawing her plastic ankles XP

        As have being said elsewhere in the comments, we will never know for sure which parts of the gender construct are genetic and which ones are learned (specially in those 2 first years of life) but one example that always gets me is how in the medieval ages blue was a girl’s colour and pink was a boys colour so the fascination of girls with pink sounds completely fabricated by society to me :P Actually I don’t like pink at all and when I was a kid I didn’t want to have anything to do with anything pink.

    • Rosie

      JW, you apparently have no problem with the idea that YOU don’t fit into the prescribed gender roles, and wanting understanding for that. Can you understand that a lot of other men feel the same way you do? From there, can you understand that a lot of women also feel the same way you do? What percentage of the men and women in the world have to personally fit the “normal” by your gender roles for you to conclude that those roles are natural? What percentage of men and women wanting to do something different is necessary to conclude that they’re not particularly natural? Most of us who have concluded that gender is a social construct have done so because we, personally, and most of our friends, have found those roles to be too constricting. And even if it’s isn’t entirely a social construct, what harm can come from treating it as such, from treating all men and women as individuals first? None at all, as far as I can see. But forcing men and women, even a minoirty of them, into roles they don’t have the personalities to fit–that can be very harmful indeed.

    • Noelle

      JW, You are correct. There are both nature and nuture aspects to gender, just like most things. It is not entirely a social construct. Now some societies are more strict in how they expect men and women to behave, and that is unreasonable based on physiology and genetics alone. There is too much variation within a group to make strict assumptions, such as Mr. Miller’s up there.

    • NakedAnthropologist

      I think we need to make an assertion between what is sex and what is gender in this type of break-down. Current anthropological, sociological and biological (as well as other sciences) all point to gender being a social construct. For example, in the US we have primarily two genders: male and female. But India has 13 different genders, and many other societies have multiple genders as well. Gender is what we think of as “feminine” or “masculine” – pink or blue, if you will. Sex is the actual biological differences between males and females, and includes anatomy, brain chemistry and the like. Libby Anne is correct in saying that gender is socially constructed, but like most social constructs, gender is also based on biology (somewhat). We (in the US) tend to think that women are more emotional (as a stereotype) but are they more emotional because of biology or because they have been taught/enculturated since they were infants to embrace their emotions and be more public with them? Most of what I have observed with any gender stereotype is that they are social constructs – different cultures have created them over time. That’s not to say that they can’t be influenced by biology or that certain people cannot be a certain and fit that stereotype – that’s just fine and dandy. But part of Libby’s point (I think) is that when these stereotypes are forced on others by one’s own preferences, that’s when there’s a problem.

  • Twist

    If being treated like a man means being treated as a human being whose opinions and contributions are equal to those of anyone else present, rather than a precious little flower who might break if she thinks too hard, then yeah, I want to be treated like a man. And unless you’re going to hold the door open for all the men here as well, don’t freaking hold it open for me.

    I find the idea of ‘unconditional respect’ extremely disturbing. Like something an abuser would demand.

    • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com Retha

      I agree with you about unconditional respect. He also mentions unconditional love, but no man actually gives that either. No man say “there is no quality that puts my bride above any other woman, no reason why I fell in love with her, I just happen to love her for no reason and will keep on loving her the same if she cheats on me, abuse my children and steal all the household money to support a pill addiction.”

      Both unconditional love and unconditional respect are unrealistic expectations for adult relationships.

  • Maddie

    You know, I’ve wanted to feel small. But the reason for that desire was fucked up beyond words – I wanted to feel small because (a) I have an eating disorder and spent years of my life mentally abusing myself for not being physically small enough, and (b) I spent a lot of time in an environment that Joshua Harris and his ilk would have approved and in that space I was a physically largeish young woman with a loud voice and definite opinions, and that was not the approved model for young womanhood. But because I was young, and already had the eating disorder and associated low self esteem, I bought into the entire notion that young womanhood should follow a particular mold (that I was failing to fit into), and furthermore that my value as a woman was entirely dependent on whether people found me desirable as a potential girlfriend/wife. Which, duh, they did not, because I took up too much space. But I believed that I had no value as a woman unless they did, and so I desperately wanted to be/feel small – physically petite, soft-spoken, delicate, fragile, fucking submissive (and not in a kinky way) – because I believed that that would make me desirable to these guys who found me intimidating as I was, and therefore did not want me. And that, from their point of view and mine, was what would give me value. Not my intelligence or personality or kindness or any other damn thing. Just being the kind of girl that a Joshua Harris kind of guy would find appealing. SMALL.

    So yeah, from my experience, women can want to feel small, but it is because of fuckwads like Joshua Harris who create a culture in which our taking up space is seen as undesirable. And then they try to glamourise that self-effacement and tell us it’s something that we want for ourselves, because isn’t it nice to feel small? Isn’t it nicer to feel small and fragile and beautiful than to be treated as though we deserve to take up some space in the world?

    Well, no, Joshua, it fucking isn’t. It’s oppressive to those women who actually are small and soft-spoken and are treated like pets, and it’s oppressive to those women who are not small or soft-spoken and are treated like freaks. And frankly, it’s oppressive to men who are small and/or soft-spoken, or who don’t have overbearing personalities or who just might LIKE to have a woman in their lives who takes up some fucking space. So fuck you and the condescending, lying horse you rode in on.

    (Apologies for all the swearing, Libby Anne, this hit the nerve deeper than I realised when I started typing this comment. You’re totally on the money on everything here, I just got totally distracted by the “small” comment.)

    • Laurie Schiller

      Like x1,000

  • el

    Socially constructed vs natural is a whole huge can of worms.
    But in general, you’ve articulated some things I haven’t been able to say very well. Women are not the Borg. We do not share a hive mind. We (well, a large number) do not wish to assimilate you. (Maybe that’s where concern about being tainted with femininity comes from.)

  • Noelle

    I am small, but at no point in my life have I ever wanted to be treated like a delicate flower. The few who may have tried have been discarded as annoying or bothersome or creepy. Those who stuck as friends, collegeues, or even those old hopeless crushes and the current spouse were the ones who treated me as any other human being. This rule extends as far back through childhood that I have of any memory of peer interaction.

    This seems to be the overwhelming response to Mr. Harris’ sentiments here. We’re probably not Josh’s type. Does this needy lady he speaks of exist? No wonder feminism confuses him and others like him. He really doesn’t understand that women are just people. Plain old boring, no-mystery, full of faults, hopes, dreams and opinions people. I’ve seen chromosomes. Not any magic powers afforded to either the XY or XX combo pack, I’m afraid.

  • Julian

    Point of information: Grace’s post was in response to a post by Don Miller (http://storylineblog.com/2012/10/30/like-equals-or-like-men/), not Joshua Harris; the portions you quote, while they certainly sound like something Harris could have written, are all Miller’s work.

    Not that it changes anything you’ve written, which is perfectly accurate about that mindset in every way. But credit where credit is due, etc.

    For what it’s worth, they both make my skin crawl.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I just went back and reread Grace’s post, and you’re right, I misread the paragraph immediately before that quote. She said that quote sounds *like* something Harris *would* say. I thought she was saying that the Miller article *reminded her of* something Harris *had* said. Thanks for pointing it out, I’ll amend it.

      • Julian

        No problem, Libby Anne; I can see how you read it that way. The difference between the two is pretty negligible anyway. I figured you’re someone who’d want to make the proper attribution, though. Glad I could help!

    • Noelle

      That certainly explains a lot. Although Miller is well-repected in his circle for his previous auto-biographical works, his recent stuff shows that the man does not understand women. This is not the first example I’ve seen of his completely missing the mark. And Miller is in his forties, so this can’t be dismissed as a teenager/young 20 writing dumb stuff like with Harris’ old works.

      Miller either needs to stop giving any sort of advice just for the ladies, or take some time off to learn that women are merely human and can absolutely be compared plain and regular to men in just about every context. (It is more difficult for us to pee standing up. That’s about it.) He has spent so much time being introspective on his own life and growing experiences, that it boggles the mind with his inability to transfer this same knowledge to the cohort of women who have grown in the same time frame along side him. I’d encourage you to keep an eye on him. If he truly wants to learn and grow in this area of his life as well, who are we to not help him?

  • Hilary

    In total agreement with everybody here, but I had a different thought about being small and preceous.

    So you don’t want to be small, beautiful, and something to be protected and cherished at all times, no matter what the cost? Something . . .Prrrresshhuuuussssss. My Preciiouusssssss. Smegal will swear to serve the Master of the Precious. He will swear on . . . on the Precious! Gollum, Gollum . . . .

    What does he think woman are, the One Ring? Something that will distroy even the strongest mans will, something of ultimate temptation that if used will turn him invisible, and ultimately only answers to the Dark Lord himself? Something that will give Sauron dominion over all, even unto the ending of the world? I mean, really.

    Oh, wait a minute . . . .

    Never mind.

    Maybe someone should tie him down and force him to listen to all 7 Harry Potter audio books, with bathroom breaks per the Geneva Conventions?


    • Christine

      I’m not sure you can both meet the Geneva Conventions and force someone to listen to all 7 Harry Potter books ;)

  • Katherine

    When he talks to women I can feel the condescending tone seep all over. (“small or special or precious”-really?) Why does he think women always need to be praised for their looks? Why not a talent or a personality trait? Ex.: “She’s a great speaker” or “She is intelligent”. Being told you are pretty feels good but being praised for something we can do or our personalities feels so much better. Other then that I think a lot of people get the whole princess thing wrong. People think princesses are all dress-up, tea parties and balls, but aren’t real princesses suppose to be political figures?

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com krwordgazer

    What troubles me most about the men quoted in this post, is that they apparently have no real interest in finding out what real women want– they are quite content with assuming that they already have women completely figured out, and what they have ended up with is a false image.

  • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot.com JW


    You live by rules. You have rules that you have defined, and you expect me and everyone else to live by them. Rules on who can say what to whom and how it’s OK for you to mock Libby Anne and disagree with her, but no one can disagree with you. Rules the correct way people should live, minus the “exceptions”, you therefore conveniently exclude yourself from your own rules, they’re only there for everyone else, apparently, the holders of the absolute truth.
    What I see if that if anyone disagrees with what LIbby says than they are seen as negative. It is a rare thing to see someone disagree with LIbby on this blog and if they do they are labeled as haters and just negative. Show me that I am wrong in this? I am sure you will pull out the obscure small reply to prove that?

    I’ve never seen you be gracious on this site, maybe you don’t mean to be snide, but you come off as incredibly snide and a bit of a schmuck. I’m only saying this in the nicest way, as constructive criticism, because you would get better responses if climb down from your high horse and tone down your self righteousness. I mean, “crucify”? Come on. A bit dramatic and hyperbolic.
    So now you judge me as not being gracious? I believe you judge me because I don’t agree with some of the things being said on the blog and that disagreement doesn’t bode well with you and others. You can tell me I am on a high horse but in reality it is you who is on this high horse. The blog response for Libby has no place for disgreements for when their are disagreements then they are responded to very quickly. And you will tell me that I am self righteous as a result? That is ignorance isn’t it?
    Again, show me where people disagree in a response and are not responded to in some kind of rebuke?

    • chervil

      I’m not judging you, I’m pointing out an observation. I couldn’t care less if you’re gracious or not, I really don’t. I don’t care what you say, I don’t care what you think. I don’t care about your hunting story at work, so I skipped that part.

      You can disagree all you want, but you are coming across as mocking and insulting. That’s it. Like I said, maybe you don’t mean to be, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that maybe you’re unaware of it. Telling my I’m “crucifying” and “judging” you is a perfect example of your self righteousness and tone issues.

      I wasn’t “crucifying” your opinion, I was trying to give you a flavor of how actual women feel when people like Joshua Harris says the things he does. And your over the top reaction says to me you didn’t care for that so much and that’s why you lashed out with such a hyperbolic response.

    • chervil

      OK, JW, I just reread my comment. I barely disagreed with you, I said “you’re kind of proving Libby Anne’s point” I didn’t even say “You, JW, are wrong and your words are absurd!!” I said “kind of agreeing with Libby Anne”. “Kind of” is crucifying now?

      Then I quoted 1 thing you said, then talked about the patriarchy movement, and then Joshua Harris, and then back to patriarchy and how they feel about men. How is this possibly “crucifying” your opinion? I mean, where do you even see that? It has to be the 2 questions I asked, which is why I think you didn’t like being confronted with them. They were not a criticism, but a request for empathy.

      • Anonymouse

        There’s certainly a lot of butt-hurt whining and carrying on when you don’t fall at his feet and bathe them with your grateful tears for showing you the way, isn’t there?

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      What on earth are you talking about, JW? I am aware of not one person on this thread who has labeled you a “hater,” NOT ONE. Instead what people have done is put a lot of effort–wasted, apparently–into writing thoughtful responses to the questions that you yourself posed to us. And since these responses present serious challenges to and criticisms of your way of thinking, you are now crying persecution. It would seem to be YOU who equates disagreement with hate.

      Seriously, dude, there is really no point in deliberately soliciting a debate on a particular topic when you’re just going to wail and moan when people actually engage you in that debate. Sheesh!

  • Ray

    Someone brought up Princess culture and I admit I am of two minds of it. The general idea is of it from what I grew up with was that “You are special and no one can tell you otherwise.” and that was what some girls needed to hear. However, somewhere the princess culture became all about purity and entitlement. I can not condemn the Princess culture as a whole because I was immerse in it and it is apart of me. I grew up watching shows about princesses who saved the world without the help of a prince (and there were of course a prince). I just don’t think I would be able to keep my child away from Princess culture since it is common and while I don’t like what it has become. I can’t fault it for what it did to me and the friends I made over the years who also cited watching Princess shows and reading comics where there are princesses, but also heroes. Maybe I am just being an old lady about this. Sorry if they are typos and grammar mistakes, I am typing this on a tiny screen.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

      I just blogged about this today. I sure don’t want to be some patriachal ideal of a princess, but I don’t believe patriarchy gets to own Princess, either.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      I am totally sympathetic to the criticisms of princess culture but you can count me as someone who thinks that sometimes a little too much fuss is made over it. To me, the problem arises when little girls’ play is deliberately limited by adults to only “princess” stuff or other girly gendered stuff because it limits’ their expression and DOES reinforce certain values, like beauty matters above all else etc. etc. But I don’t see any reason to freak out of a little girl is interested in this particular kind of pretend-play. As long as she isn’t being told that this is the only kind of interest she’s allowed to have because she’s a girl, let kids be themselves. Most of the problems are in the marketing, not in the kids’ interests in and of themselves.

      It’s become almost a feminist credential to say that you hated all that princess stuff when you were a kid. Well, guess what? I didn’t. I LOVED all things princess when I was little. (As well as other things that were NOT stereotypically girly, and I was never told that my “girlier” interests were preferable to my non-girly ones. Sometimes I played Princess, sometimes I played Explorer. Sometimes I played Explorer Princess.) I didn’t come out of my princess stage thinking that my role as a woman should be defined by my relationship with a man or that rule by divine right and unearned privilege were just awesome, or anything like that. I was 4. I didn’t even entirely really get a what a princess WAS, except that she seemed to be a lady who wore a lot of pretty, fancy dresses, and I liked me some pretty, fancy dresses. I still do. So what? I’m as much a feminist as any feminist you’ll ever find. I’m just a feminist that loves pretty things. Also, sci fi.

      Liking princess stuff when they’re little will not prevent your daughters from growing up to be intellectual, opinionated nerds who regularly get called “feminazi” by their classmates. I promise you. So just relax, feminist moms. :-P

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I recently heard a story of a woman whose daughter wanted to be a princess for Halloween. So she got her a dress and put it on her, and her daughter looked at her askance. “Where are my weapons?!?” she wanted to know. “I can’t defend myself without weapons!” In other words, our stereotypes about princesses don’t necessarily apply to little girl’s stereotypes about princesses, and today’s princesses are not the 1950s’ princesses (compare Brave’s Merida to Snow White, for instance).

  • http://lanasmusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana Hope

    DITTO DITTO DITTO. I’m DONE making excuses for complentarianism too.

  • NakedAnthropologist

    So many of the comments here by other people have been apt and on-point, and so I can only agree with many of you. In addition to the whole child-princess culture, being small and delicate (among other things) the other vibe I get from most patriarchists is that women are supposed to be QUIET. Don’t disagree – especially with men. Always smile and nod. And I just can’t do that.

    Anecdotally, when I was still involved in Catholicism and bought into the complementarian thing, I read this romance series by Christine Feehan – basically vampirish romance novels with a heavy complentarian angle. Recently, I re-read 1/2 of her novels for a nostalgia kick, and I was stunned. Stunned that I used to like these (embarrassed too, I’m so glad the internet provides anonymity for these types of confessions). There’s blatant rape in those books (which the woman always ends up enjoying, of course) and the guy is all, “oh, we’re meant to be, this is natural…” I couldn’t finish the book. I couldn’t believe that I used to find that sort of crap romantic. It’s sickening, and a little scary. As others have commented, I want to be respected/loved/known for myself – not some pastel imitation. And reading Miller, that’s what I see that he and people like Harris want – pastel imitations of real people. And to that, I say no. No, I will not pretend to agree with you just because you’re a man. I used to want to feel small and delicate, because I thought that’s the only way someone would find me attractive – because I was taught that being who I was – smart, bookish, sarcastic, and usually happy-go-lucky/different-drummer wasn’t okay for a girl. Now I know better – and that’s my own expression of ideal womanhood-because it is unique, and mine.

  • Zack

    I believe that Harris and the others are spot on with their claims. The majority of women tend to crave love more while men tend to crave respect more than love. Maybe it’s not even about the craving a certain amount. It’s that men tend to feel the lack of respect more strongly than most women and vice versa. Also, it seems that men tend to forget to express and show love more often than most women while women tend to forget how important it is to most men that they feel respected. As someone who is both married and deals with couples and counseling I have to say that the love and respect crew are on the right track.

    In my experience women with feminist concerns tend to hate the idea of being pampered in a very cartoony Prince charming sort of way. But I’ve never met a woman who isn’t interested in the kind of man who is willing to sacrifice his needs and wants for those of his wife when it really matters. Love plays out differently in different relationships. Love depends on the person being loved.

    • smrnda

      I’m at least happy you admit love depends on the person being loved, rather than the cookie-cutter formulas offered by a lot of people. I think the problem is that, in this day and age, many if not most women just don’t have any need of a man to ‘sacrifice’ for them. We have our own jobs, manage our own affairs, pay our own bills and make our own decisions and have our own goals.

      I think you underestimate the level to which women want respect, but I also find that many men aren’t always very aware of what types of behaviors appear disrespectful to women, or to what extent they occur. You’re right that the Prince Charming Performance is pretty annoying and isn’t grounded in reality, but I find that most women I know have found men to be more disappointing over issues with respect than anything else, and this would be true for husbands, boyfriends or even total strangers.

      I think at times our culture (religious or otherwise) doesn’t teach men to respect women, but also shapes women’s expectations so that they have a kind of ‘boys will be boys’ attitude towards what to expect out of men. My readings of Christian literature on the topic leaves me with the impression that the writers are telling women that men can’t help being just ‘grown up boys’ but that if the woman doesn’t make the grown up boy feel like a big strong man, she’s going to damage the guy’s fragile little ego. None of it touches on issues I recognize as respect. I don’t blame religion for that exclusively since the same messages are found elsewhere.

      But overall, women want respect as well.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        If women didn’t keenly feel a lack of respect, we’d have never had a feminist to begin with and it certainly wouldn’t have made the kind of social reforms that it has. The idea that women don’t care as much about being respected is demonstrably absurd.

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      I think some men have been conditioned to expect a certain kind of deferential respect, which is not the same as the earned respect given to a peer. Deferential respect is superficial and hierarchical. It’s not a sign of love. Women, on the other hand, are frequently conditioned not to expect the same level of respect. They may expect that their opinions and feelings will be dismissed, or even that their person may be violated. And that’s definitely not a sign of love. How can you truly love someone, or feel truly loved, in the absence of true respect?

      I absolutely want to be respected, because I don’t think respect and love can be decoupled. I expect to be respected as a human being. I expect the people who love me to respect my person, my opinions, my feelings, and my abilities, just as I respect theirs, regardless of gender.

    • John Evans

      Zack, if that is true, (and I suspect it isn’t) how much of that is conditioned? To what extent are young males told that to desire love and tender affection makes them weak and inadequate? We tell male children to not cry, and endure physical and emotional pain stoically. We tell them that to be admired they must be physically powerful and undertake risky activities. We tell them that their place in the hierarchy is critical, and any lapse of ‘respect’ is a deliberate attack – a challenge for their rung on the ladder. Kids believe what you tell them. This does not make the behaviors we observe in them in adult normal, natural, inherent, or desirable.

    • Niemand

      The majority of women tend to crave love more while men tend to crave respect more than love.


      But I’ve never met a woman who isn’t interested in the kind of man who is willing to sacrifice his needs and wants for those of his wife when it really matters.

      Oh, hell no! A partnership, married or not, where one partner is a martyr is a disaster! Compromise, decide together whose need is-in the particular situation-more greater, but a man who is always sacrificing for his wife is not a good husband. I can’t imagine wanting or even being willing to accept continual sacrifice from my partner and I can’t imagine wanting to be with someone who thought I was so weak and incompetent that I needed his constant sacrifice to survive.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

      Yeah, men don’t care about being loved. They make all those Forever Alone and Friendzone rage comics and memes because they’re dying for a woman to respect them. :eyeroll:

    • chervil

      “In my experience women with feminist concerns tend to hate the idea of being pampered in a very cartoony Prince charming sort of way”

      Imagine that, disliking a very Victorian upper middle class fairy tale of tea times and drawing rooms and calling cards because it’s utter lack of foundation in reality. Where on earth do you do to find women who are “pampered” all day every day in this way? Look around the world, women are doing all the work, far from being pampered. You seem to think it’s odd that women don’t prefer this scenario. Maybe because, like you said, it’s a fairy tale.

      “But I’ve never met a woman who isn’t interested in the kind of man who is willing to sacrifice his needs and wants for those of his wife when it really matters.”

      Yeah, I’ve never met a woman who was dying to be married to a selfish asshole, are we still talking Prince Charming here?, either.

      The kind of man who would sacrifice for is wife is the kind of man she would respect. And if he’s willing to do the sacrificing for her, then the feeling is mutual. Respect isn’t just bestowed on a man because he is the penis-haver and he needs to have it stroked constantly in order to feel like a manly man, no matter what a colossal loser he is. Respect is earned, and one way it’s earned is sacrificing for your loved ones. A man can’t just demand respect, unless it’s earned, it’s all an act.

  • stardreamer

    The dark side of all this, which they carefully don’t mention, is that if you reject the pedestal they’re offering to put you on — if you do anything at all that enables them to categorize you as “not a lady” — then they feel no obligation to treat you like anything but a piece of dirt. They will say things to you that they would never think about saying to a man, and then say that you deserve it. They will beat or rape you, and say it’s your own fault for not knowing your place. When you hear a man saying this kind of shit, run far, far away and never let yourself be alone with him.

  • AnyBeth

    Hm. I don’t want just anyone to tell me I’m beautiful, but from people who find me attractive, I do expect occassional flirting that’s appropriate to the relationship (if any) and social situation. I don’t think this is a gender-related expectation.

    I consider dangerous anyone who would make me feel small or precious. The same for anyone who demeans those who cannot sufficiently defend themselves, gender aside. You can’t trust someone who considers you lesser. Doing something for you becomes doing something to you when it’s something you specifically don’t want. If the choice was between no one doing things for me and people doing things “for” me without considering my own wishes, I think I’d choose the former. The latter too easily leads to some soul-destroying places. Been there.

    I can’t imagine love without respect. I’ve been the object of such emotion, but it’s not at all the same. These people “loved” and “helped” not me but a simulacrum of me, the person they “knew” I was with needs and desires they “knew” I had. To the real me, this was demeaning at best, criminally abusive at worst. Whatever it was, it wasn’t love for me.

  • sara maimon

    In the English language, to “feel small” usually means to feel ashamed of oneself, unconfident, low self esteem etc.

  • sara maimon

    one of the commenters who referred to sojourner truth reminds me of the quote “there are no black woman”.
    There are no middle aged and older women either for men like this. Women 50 and above don’t exist for this man. Men like him certainly don’t tell these women that they are beautiful, or that they are little princesses. But its not like these women get so much respect- since they aren’t his preferred sex toy, they should rather be shunted into an old age home.
    Women who have grown their entire lives with their sense of self dependent on the sex-toy (beautiful little princess) identity are in for a rude awakening at menopause. I recall walking with a friend who was at that transitional social stage, carrying a heavy bag. She looked at a passing man and batted her eyelashes in a way that she had prob been taught to do since her youth. He ignored her and walked right by. “How rude” she said. It was so pathetic.

  • jadehawk

    ” make you feel small”

    i think this must mean something else in christianese than it does in common english, because who would ever want to be made to feel small? usually that phrase is used to describe making someone feel stupid, foolish, inconsequential, childish, etc., none of which have positive connotations.

    • Carys Birch

      I imagine it’s small in the “next to ooooooh big strong man” sense. Which rules out fat women too, along with older women (as Sara Maimon pointed out).

      Miller has a small scope of acceptable womanhood. Not that that should surprise anyone, I guess.

  • jadehawk

    “. We won’t protect you because, quite frankly, you need to protect yourself or you’re a wimp. ”
    men protect other men all the time. that’s why soldiers who die in the act of protecting their fellow soldiers are generally referred to as heroes.

    what he means is that men don’t protect strange men with whom they have no emotional connection. which is ok. but the implication here is either that husbands/sons/brothers/fathers/male friends aren’t honestly emotionally attached to the women in their lives, or that women somehow expect protection from complete strangers. either way, that’s a false and screwy assumption.

    • smrnda

      I think it goes with the idea that men protect ‘decent women’ but that any woman willing to step outside of a man’s view of ‘decent’ is somehow judge to be a slut unworthy of protection. You get this attitude when issues like sexual harassment, rape or abuse get trivialized – if the woman had only behaved in a ‘decent’ way and accepted her proper place, she would have been at home protected by her father or husband.

  • Don Gwinn

    In some ways, it’s a transactional view of some things that simply don’t work as transactions. If people think you’re beautiful, and they want to tell you so, then they’re only telling the truth. If they don’t think you’re beautiful, but they say that they do, they’re lying. If they don’t think you’re beautiful, but they want to make you feel beautiful because it’s part of the social contract in exchange for all you’ve given up . . . still lying.

  • http://www.newlife.id.au Marg

    So much of what is said in this article resonates with me. I would rather be respected than loved too!

    And I hate it (on the very odd occasion) when a man tells me I’m beautiful, or words to that effect. It’s creepy if a man (other than my husband and sons) says it.

  • Karleanne

    I’ve been lurking on this blog for a while, but this post really nailed it for me!

    It was funny, because I started relating the post to Love and Respect just before I reached the paragraph where you introduce it! My husband and I were actually given this book by our premarital counselor, and I think it was the first step in helping both of us break our complementarian mindset–just because we were both so offended by it. When we read it, we at first thought we were reversed (my husband desiring love, me desiring respect). Then we saw there was a handy Q&A section in the book, one of the questions being “What if this doesn’t seem to fit us?” or whatever. The answer? You’re wrong. You may think you know yourself better than this mass-produced book, but you don’t. Women who *think* they want respect are really just using the “respect avenue” to try to get love, and men who *think* they want love are just using that to get respect. I don’t remember the exact wording, but that was certainly the gist. Needless to say, the book is now gathering dust on some bookshelf at my parents’ house.

    What’s funny to me now is that the best we could conceive of at the time was that we were “flipped.” I desired respect because I was the much-spoiled youngest daughter of a doting family where I never doubted I was loved (but was at times treated like a much-beloved pet), and he desired love because although he had always been given responsibility and respect, he never had anyone love him for just being him. Even as we rejected which “column” we were being put in, we didn’t dispute the fact that the two columns existed; we honestly couldn’t just see ourselves as individuals.

    That, I must say, has been the greatest gift of feminism to me as well: the ability to say that people are just people. As a feminist, I get to like dresses not because I’m a girl, but because I like dresses. And I get to do the banking and pay the bills not because I’m rebelling against gender roles, but because I’m better at it than my husband. And I don’t need to feel guilty that when I see a cockroach, I jump on the couch and scream for someone else to kill it. And I don’t need to feel disappointed in my husband when he’s not some knight in shining armor, because he’s just a person too. Feminism has given me–and my husband–the gift of freedom.

  • Rinecolaria

    I’d also like to note that respect should never be unconditional. Respect has to be earned.

    His views on love seem to be ass backwards as well. Love is so much more complicated. Unconditional love is not an always good thing either, not to mention love isn’t something a person freely controls. It’s not like a gift you can just wrap in a nice box and hand out.