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Gender Role Symmetries

lots of gendered interactions involve roles for both the male and female, which go together.

for example a female dresses sexy and a male looks at her.

sometimes people complain about one half of the interaction, but not the other half, even though they are an integrated whole.

e.g. females complain "why was he staring/leering at me??? who gave him permission???" and then continue to dress sexy. (btw, if she does not complain and shut it down immediately, it's harder to resist later.)

the same female will not complain when a guy looks at her and she's single and finds him attractive. she does not object to gender roles in principle, nor to this one when it benefits her.

another example is flirty touching, which i'll call kino, for kinesthetics (PUA terminology, and shorter). this is another stereotyped behavior pattern involving both male and female roles. "blame men" is a stupid response to a mutual interaction.

people pretend like the woman didn't do anything because her role is more passive, and the man is responsible and blamable because his role is more active. if anything this is backwards, since initiative is a virtue and passivity is a sin. but really it's stereotyped behavior, they are both just playing social games, they are equal participants.

it doesn't really matter what the specific content of the male and female roles are. Are you really going to condemn someone for the happenstance of being born a particular gender (and therefore being pressured into the corresponding gendered behavior, which s/he had no choice about the content of)?

the only person with a moral high ground would be one who rejects social games. in which case he'll be rejecting the stereotyped behavior patterns done by both sexes, rather than taking sides (feminists take sides).

kino is part of courtship (including marriage-track dating, one night stands, flings, etc). if a guy likes a girl but doesn't do kino, he puts their relationship at risk. she may reject him, even though she likes him enough that she would have continued the relationship if he did kino. if he does kino especially well, she may even especially like him, significantly more than she would if the kino issue didn't exist and wasn't a factor.

guys are under pressure to do kino. some guys do kino even though they don't want to. they may be scared of it, and force themselves to do it anyway. it's a mistake to see them as aggressors who are touching innocent women without consent. many guys are just trying to conform to gender roles and play social games well, so they can get somewhere with women.

there are some bad apples. i don't deny that. there are overly-aggressive men. there are flawed women too. i'm focusing here on most people.

kino is, as far as physical touch goes, not a big deal. people routinely get touched in crowded places, and don't really care. and they get touched in kino ways by other people and like it.

when people react negatively to kino, it's because of the social meaning of the touching. it's not really, actually the touching that's very important, it's the attached social meaning. people don't like being touched in a courtship way by people they don't like to court. make sense?

women touch their own breasts. they check for breast cancer, or adjust them in their bra, or wash them. and they think nothing of this. b/c the physical touching really isn't important at all. these examples involve the same physical touching a woman would freak out about, but without the social meaning. and kino doesn't even involve touching breasts. it's milder than that.

the thing is, sometimes people will say they were being sexually harassed or abused by being touched. receiving initial courtship attempts from a guy you aren't into – even if they involve mild touching – is not abuse or harassment. it's just a normal behavior pattern which he's a victim of as much as the female is.

whenever you encounter gendered behavior you don't like, try to be fair and considered any corresponding behavior from the other gender. you (or the person you think is a victim) may be an equal participant in the gendered interaction too!

Elliot Temple on July 21, 2014


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