Point Counterpoint

Voice Card  -  Volume 4  -  John Card Number 11  -  Tue, Jan 24, 1989 12:53 AM

This is a response to volume 4, Larry Card Number 9 ("Still Black and White")...

Larry: Hooray! I love to argue! Let me tackle the second point first, since that's the one I feel more strongly about:

I said that men and women need each other in ways other opposing cultural groups do not, and you disagreed, saying you weren't sure a need exists at all.

But men cannot produce offspring without women, and women cannot (yet) produce offspring without men. Men and women depend on each other for the survival of the race, and if that's not a need, I don't what is!

This need is so fundamental, so obvious, that its easy to overlook or dismiss, but it is at the root of a thousand more subtle needs. Even more urgent, perhaps, is the need for physical affection. Just as babies will die if they are not held, so we will wither without love. Indeed, sex is often DEFINED as a need. And there is more. Every man has a mother, every woman a father. In countless ways we shape each other and look to each other for meaning and definition.

As evidence, consider the time and energy expended on courtship and mating rituals throughout human history. Count the songs written, the crimes committed, the sacrifices made in the name of love. Some would argue that everything we do arises from this incredible force, this bond, this NEED!

Imagine for a moment that all whites are wiped off the face of the planet, or all blacks (pick a color, any color). A horrible tragedy! A disaster! But life would go on. There would still be families and lovers, homes and hearths, songs and squables and marriages right and left. Now imagine that all men are wiped off the face of the planet, or all women. There would be no point in going on even if we could.

Quite a speech! My point is that a need DOES exist, a need that makes the relationship between men and women different than any other kind of relationship.

Now then, about this "women in a man's world doing better than men in a woman's world" business. I think both of us have been rather vague so far. What worlds are we talking about?

I keep thinking of those fifties sitcoms in which, because of a wager or some other silly contrivance, father-knows-best stays home to cope with laundry and groceries while mother spends a day at the office. Plot 52B. Usually, for the sake of symmetry and so as not to wake the audience, both parties perform poorly and end up begging to return to their assigned roles.

Is this what you had in mind? Do you mean that the office is a man's world that women excel in and that men flounder at tupperware parties? In the fifties, maybe, but as a child of two working parents and a bachelor with a decade of domestic survival under my belt, I say that those days are gone (or at least fading fast). What worlds were you thinking of exactly?

The worlds I was thinking of were the worlds of adolescence and dating and relationships. On these battlefields I feel that neither sex starts with an advantage. I guess my point is that most interaction between the sexes takes place not in man's world OR a woman's world, but on what might be considered neutral ground.

As for my remark that women may be more adept on the surface, you may have caught me there. I'm really not quite sure what I meant by that. I have a vague notion that women are better "talkers" than men. But this is not based on personal experience (I can usually keep up my end of a conversation) and I hate to succumb to stereotypes without evidence.

I do NOT think it's true that women are more insightful than men. Nor do I believe that men can only express their feelings with grunts or with fists. It's just that when it comes to communication, men and women often seem to have different priorities.

Hmmm. I seem to have wandered a WEE bit off course. Let me summarize.

First. Because of the special nature of their relationship, men and women abide by a unique set of rules, and any analogies to racial interactions are of limited value.

Second. Ninety percent of the time we interact not in a man's world OR a woman's world, but on neutral ground. Any inequities in the communication arise not because of inherent skills or cultural biases, but because of a difference in priorities. Perhaps we can argue about where these different priorities come from in our next round of cards.

Thus I take back a few of things I said in my last card, but for the most part stand my ground. Thank you for a very stimulating rebuttal; I think somewhere amidst all my rhetoric I am refining my ideas a bit. I hope we can keep this going!