The battle of the sexes

As I watched Modern Family last night (which, by the way, is the best new comedy on the airwaves these days) I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when one of the characters woke her daughter in the middle of the night and beseeched her teenager to teach her how to use the remote. The daughter sleepily, and irritatedly, asked, “Now? Why can’t daddy teach you?” and the mom ever so matter-of-factly responded, “Because we’re married.”

It was so succinctly put. Although I laughed, the veiled sadness of the situation wasn’t lost on me.

Marriage somehow tends to bring out all the stereotypes of both genders to the fore. Women and their emotional dramas. Men and their forgetfulness. The silent grouch. The overly-communicative diva. The one who won’t ask for directions. The one who loves the shopping channel. The mall-fashionista. The gadgety nerd. The nurturer. The provider. Unknowingly we find ourselves stuck in a socially-constructed maze of expectations. Almost unfailingly, we can “predict” what the general gender-specific reaction will be to something we say. We are so entangled in the politics of marriage, that we forget the reasons we entered this lifelong pact.

Besides the whole “love” part of it, wasn’t it about sharing a life together … accepting each others’ failures (and failings) … not being on the defense all the time … leaving our egos out the door … not judging … being a team instead of competing against each other?

And yet, we empathize with complete strangers of the same sex, but not with our spouse. How do we end up taking sides with those “against” our better half? How do we bond with colleagues( from different nationalities and different ethos) around spousal jokes? How are we able to label our significant other (who is so unique that we believe he/she was “made just for us”) into a general “this is what all men/women do” category? And we do it with so much reckless abandon all the time that it becomes second nature to the concept of marriage.

I guess it is just the way it is, given what a social construct marriage is to begin with. And since no one seems to mind it, who am I to question this age-old mechanism that continues to fuel the power struggle between men and women?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The battle of the sexes

  1. Glad to know that! I did not intend to comment on your relationship, i cannot dare to do so… I think I was trying to question your “who am I to question” part. you are everything to question it.. we are suppose to question each and every assumption.

  2. You have really touched some part of reality when you said “Marriage somehow tends to bring out all the stereotypes of both genders to the fore”. And, of course, I agree.

    Men on their own are not at all forgetful, not a bit more than women. Almost all of engineering work and technology development are done by man (why so, that is a different topic), and if they would have been even 1% forgetful, it would not have been possible to even make a electric bell, let alone a computer or anyother magical device. But as you said, it is the marriage which makes them act forgetful and lazy at home. Why so?

    Males being gadgetry nerd has nothing to do with marriage, it s a social problem at a different level.

    I do not agree when you said “Unknowingly we find ourselves stuck in a socially-constructed maze of expectations.”. I do not agree with usage of “Unknowingly” there. We all know these things, we conveniently choose to get stuck and act as if we do not know anything. Playing stupid, we are.

    “…we empathize with complete strangers of the same sex, but not with our spouse” coz we are shameless and thankless human beings. just as simple as that.

    “I guess it is just the way it is, given what a social construct marriage is to begin with.” Ok, do i smell someone giving up here? not you, not you, my dear. It is all about getting oneself out of the world of pre-defined notions.. remember you talked about this in one of your post on patriotism.

    • Not giving up, Vikas. Just resigning to a fact as I see it in society — doesn’t mean that’s what applies to my personal life. Brijesh and I are blessed — we are honest with each other to the point of being brutal and it’s worked for us not to give in to these stereotypes. For most of our friends, our “marriage” seems completely dysfunctional. For us, our “live-in arrangement in the farce of a marriage” works just fine πŸ™‚

  3. Great comic! That made me laugh, and I needed that tonight! πŸ™‚

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