To be or not to be: A Princess or an Equal?
February 15, 2010 4 Comments
While scarfing down some breakfast in between classes this morning, I read this post at Gender Across Borders. For the link-phobes, it talks about the issue of feminist relationships, and the difficulties navigating an equal relationship. In the comments I noticed a common theme popping up, that tends to pop up in these sorts of conversations. If certain commenters are to be believed, ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement:
Ladies, you can either be a princess, or you can have a completely equal relationship with your partner.
Gentlemen: you can either treat your significant other to dinner, hold doors open for them, or, treat them like your dudebro friends.
Because feminism, apparently, has just ruined dating rituals and “chivalry.”
It’s a zero-sum game-either guys can do nice things for the women they are dating, or they can treat them as full equal beings in an equal relationship.
Notice how this idea completely leaves out LGBTQI partnerships. Unless you say that only one person in a relationship can be a “princess.” But that leaves out the assumptions about gender roles and expected gendered behavior in these relationships.
Also take notice of how this idea does not address women’s sweet-nothings for their partner. It assumes that women either “do” nothing for their partners (except put out, but that doesn’t count, of course!), or, it assumes that in an equal relationship, women continue to “do” the things they do (are expected to do? like to do?) while men no longer need to “do” anything.
**note: What I mean by the things men and women “do” in relationship is just those little things that people do for the person that care about. Not necessarily purchase-related things, note that door-holding is one of the Big Examples are used in this conversation. Money isn’t, or rather, shouldn’t be important in a relationship. But showing your affection and appreciation for your partner does help to make a healthy, solid relationship, and is what I’m referring to here.
I feel like I’m pointing out the obvious, but you do not have to choose between having an ‘equal’ relationship or showing affection/sweet nothings/showing common courtesy for your partner. This is not a zero sum game.
What does an equal partnership mean, if one or both parties refuse to do things for one another?
Along the course of this “debate” the meaning of equal seems to have been lost, or rather, co-opted by those that do not wish to put forth effort in a relationship, yet reap the benefits. If the actual definition of an ‘equal relationship’ were used, we would not be having this conversation. In an equal relationship, you do not keep a tally of who does what for whom. In an equal relationship, you do not “owe” your partner for them having done something nice for you. An equal relationship does not mean that you trade action for action, gift for gift, or favor for favor. In an equal relationships, gifts and favors are given freely, not with strings.
Relationships featuring gifts with strings is an unequal relationship–the old fashioned dressed up and garnished with a pretty title: “He Treats You Like a Princess.”