Author Elizabeth Gilbert discussed this subject in a talk she gave for the 10th anniversary of O Magazine. She said the following: "We are at the beginning of a vast and completely unprecedented social science experiment. We are in the first generation of women in the history of mankind who have had freedom, autonomy, literacy, education, access to their own economic well-being, access to their own power... And we do not have thousands of years of strong, autonomous female role models to look to for how to solve our lives. We are all doing it for the first time, ourselves." 'Eat, Pray, Love' Author Takes On Marriage
Granted, Gilbert was speaking to a predominately female audience, yet her words are equally relevant for the men who date these newly independent women. They don't have role models, either. Men don't have past generations of males who can guide them in how to act and respond to shifting cultural milieu. There aren't dozens of male figures throughout history who were married to women that made more money than they did—women who were the primary breadwinners of the household. As Gilbert mentioned, this is new territory we're embarking on, and men and women are all in it together.
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So, what can we do to help each other out?
Perhaps a good starting point for this journey is resisting the urge to lump anyone of the opposite sex into one, single category. Not all women are radical, male-bashing feminists, just as not all women are born romantics with an appreciation for old-fashioned gender roles. The spectrum is wide and long, and each woman falls at some varying degree. How Feminism Harms Women
When the male reader commented on Birch's article, he addressed her as though she was a male-bashing feminist—yet she is far from it. On the contrary, Birch takes pleasure in relying on men for certain things. She says as much: "I want a guy to court me a bit... Grand gestures are wholly unnecessary. I just want someone I can count on. I want him to do the little things to make me sure he is the real deal." She wants the men she dates to be leaders, and doesn't mind foregoing some independence if it means that she gets to feel special and taken care of as a reward.
Does this also mean Birch wants to turn back the clock and live in a time when women couldn't make their own choices in life, or have a voice in determining the political state of the world? No. Probably not. And that's the key. We don't live in that world anymore.
I think there is a primary distinction between wanting independence from men, and wanting equal rights. In the 1960s and 70s, the feminist movement couldn't see this distinction, because it was men who ran the world. Men were the ones in positions of power. They held government offices, owned major companies, and ultimately decided everything; therefore, they were the ones holding women down. They were the enemy. The Backlash of Feminism
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Today, this is not the case. We're on a much more level playing field, which makes it easier to revert back to gender roles in some instances, especially in romantic relationships.