By most measures, women’s representation in American political life remains disappointing. The percentage of women in elected office is way behind the percentage of women in the workforce, to say nothing of the population. And of course there’s never been a female president or vice president.
But the electoral situation looks downright modern next to the fundraising scene, as demonstrated by areport from the National Council for Research on Women, Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics, and the Center for Responsive Politics.
Recently, a date said to me, “You haven’t given me any compliments yet. I’ve complimented you plenty of times.”
It made me think about how rare it is for a man to openly express a desire to be praised for his looks and question why I didn’t compliment men on their looks more often. When I Googled, “men given compliments on appearance,” Google suggested I try, “Men give compliments on appearance.”
The concept of women complimenting men on their appearance can still seem foreign. Men are often portrayed as using compliments as a social tool, but do they themselves want to be applauded for their physical attributes?
In wanting to be praised for his looks, it would appear my date falls into a minority, according to one 1990 study by researchers at SUNY Binghamton and the University of the Witwatersrand, which concluded that compliments from men were generally accepted, especially by female recipients, but “compliments from women are met with a response type other than acceptance”: as a threat.
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Some of the biggest stories and debates in the media in 2013 had to do with gender relations—LGBT rights, women in the workplace, parenting styles, and more. Same-sex marriage gained more approval and legitimacy than ever this year, both in public opinion polling and as a matter of federal law. Sheryl Sandberg told women to “lean in” at the office, while the military told women they were now permitted to “lean in” on the battlefield. Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning. And researchers offered up interesting new studies for individuals seeking a happy home life.
Here are our picks for the most interesting narratives about sex and gender in 2013.
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Despite the dramatic changes in gender norms in the last few decades, there is one domain where men have steadfastly refused to make tremendous gains: Chores. Wives who are primary breadwinner in the house? Hardly unusual. Husbands who are passionate closet-organizers? Rarer specimens.
This might not be a problem requiring a national solution, but Stephen Marche writing in the New York Times, has one anyway. "The only possible solution to the housework discrepancy is for everyone to do a lot less of it," he writes.
Hm, maybe. But also, how convenient. Wives want cleaner homes; husbands don’t. And the “only possible” compromise solution is that the guys get exactly what they want?
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The group that oversees the free encyclopedia is trying to fix a years-old problem.
Read more. [Image: Kristina Alexanderson/Flickr]
The word “bro” has been around for a while now. Yet despite its longevity, there is no universally accepted definition the term. Are bros chill guys who just wanna have fun, or obnoxious dudes who can’t string a sentence together? Must they play lacrosse? Is membership in a fraternity required to be considered a bro?
This week, two residents of Washington, D.C. (possibly these guys?) offered their attempt to define the term.
Read more. [Image: HBO]
Not all that long ago, an American statesman of considerable influence wrote an opinion piece for this very publication, about a political issue that directly affects women. It was perhaps the finest example of mansplaining ever published.
This election season, the idea of “mansplaining”—explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman—has exploded into mainstream political commentary. Hugo Schwyzer over at Jezebel noted its growth in September, writing that it has “moved beyond the feminist blogosphere.” And, sure enough, these days pretty much every time a male politician opens his mouth about so-called women’s issues he is dubbed, like so or like so, a mansplainer.
But the article in question wasn’t written this year. Its author was Lyman Abbott, a prominent New England theologian, and it appeared in the Sept. 1903 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.
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Not only do we 2012 women fail at being 1950s wives, we fail even more spectacularly at being 1950s husbands. In the Mad Men era, the archetypal dad came home; put down his briefcase; received pipe, Manhattan, roast beef, potatoes, key-lime pie; and was—apparently—content. By contrast, dwelling in a grayscale midlife purgatory of grinding Pilates and ever-shifting diets (Atkins? Zone? South Beach?), if we breadwinning women were handed a Manhattan at the end of the day, we’d be likely to burst into tears and wail, “What’s THIS? What’s IN this? Why are you UNDERMINING me?!” We 21st-century female monsters are used to fussy bistros featuring spa cuisine and quinoa and dressing on the side. These husband-cooks whom Mundy lauds, however, want to make us some risotto (too carby) even while we are curled up in the fetal position, sucking in our ever-present potbellies (which the 1950s Dad didn’t worry about), dreaming desperately of a Manwich.
My own culinary moment of truth came on a recent day of frustrating business calls and frustrating writing, plus an hour-long installation of a complex new HP all-in-one printer thingy while roasting a chicken while struggling to fix our enigmatic dishwasher, after which I sat down to dinner with my male partner—who had just cheerfully returned from the outside world—with one candle (I couldn’t find the other). I made the mistake of asking “How was your day?” and he made the mistake of responding, and as I watched his mouth move, I felt my trigger finger twitch and thought those awful words only a woman who needs a man neither to support her nor to be a father to her children can think: How long until I vote you off the island?
Read more. [Image: Wesley Bedrosian]