Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Men Reading Romance

For the past number of years, I have felt an increased sense of androgyny in the United States. Yes, it may be slow in some sectors, yet still observable and growing. Then last night, while keeping one eye on the World Series, I read some very interesting review articles.

Go to The Romance Reader Website, theromancereader.com. If you click on “Features,” among the 16 features you’ll see “Men Reading Romance.” If you click on it, as I did, you’ll find seven review articles (two are “New”). I read through them and was truly intrigued. Each of the articles is co-authored by one of three teams: Jean Mason and her husband Paul, Cathy Sova and a long-time romance reader Dean James, and Jeri Wright and her husband Terry. While Jean, Cathy and Jeri seem to offer insightful comments about the books (romance novels) under review, I also thought Paul, Dean and Terry carried their weight as well.

And as an aside by the way (no pun intended), if the concept of androgyny bothers you or ticks you off (i.e., the mixing of both male and female genders or having a lack of gender identification), you may want to look at Christa Reiser’s 1999 book, Reflections on Anger: Women and Men in a Changing Society. (barnesandnoble.com/bookSearch)

Don’t tell John Wayne, but you know… maybe the world is becoming more androgynous.

Thanks, Bill

4 comments:

Angel said...

(I come by way of your links at Teach Me Tonight)

It's a happy thought, I agree. I think that dividing off aspects of personality that all male and female people have in various levels, depending on personality, biology, etc., and arbitrarily labeling them "masculine" and "feminine" is unhealthy and wrong. If people are coming back to wholeness, to being able to be entirely themselves, male and female, I say hooray! :)

And bless your heart, you delightful romance writing man!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Angel,

I’m glad you found me and stopped by (and as an FYI, is that you at “the sea and the mirror”?).

It indeed sounds like you and I embrace a similar philosophy regarding gender versus humanness. I also have seen many people use John Grey’s gender differences (men and from mars and women are from Venus…) to justify the way they are and what they do. I’m more from the school of thought… “Okay, and now that you have that awareness and the choice (and responsibility) to change, what are you going to do about it?”

Thank you for your gracious comments, Angel… I’m flattered.

I hope you return often,

Bill

Angel said...

Bill,

(and as an FYI, is that you at “the sea and the mirror”?).

Yep, that's me.

I also have seen many people use John Grey’s gender differences (men and from mars and women are from Venus…) to justify the way they are and what they do. I’m more from the school of thought… “Okay, and now that you have that awareness and the choice (and responsibility) to change, what are you going to do about it?”

The gender essentialism of John Grey and his ilk is a particular hot-button of mine so, erm, let me take a moment to reign in my un-feminine anger here.

((deep breath))

Okay.

Aside from the fact that Mr. Grey's opinions are *highly* debatable and unsupported by hard science, you're completely right. We're human beings, cognizant creatures who can chose every day who we want to be and how we want to treat each other.

I can't understand why anyone would give up that freedom and take the shackles of social control instead.

Mybe the people who use gender difference as an excuse don't realize that the same stereotypes that allow them to abjugate responsibility with a casual "It's 'cause I'm a guy" or "I'm just a girl" bind them to behaviors that they might not like, and prevent them from things they might want.

The same stereotype that disallows men from being in touch with their emotions also releases men from the responsibility for taking emotional care of the people around them, yes. But it's also a very effective way to create a population of people who can be made to do violence to other people without feeling that they have the right to object.

And I think it could be argued that the stereotype was created by society for that express purpose.

Now, why would anybody think that the right to be emotionally careless with other people trumps the heavy prices that comes along with it?

I don't think they would.

I certainly don't find the rewards and excuses society is prepared to give me for accepting its strictures terribly tempting.

Thank you for your gracious comments, Angel… I’m flattered.

You're quite welcome! It's great to see someone doing their own thing, going about life their way.


I hope you return often,


Will do. Hopefully not so much that you get sick of me, of course. ;)

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Angel,

I see you are a believer in “Free Will” and “Choice Theory” (so am I). And part of the problem is conducting research on Dr. Grey’s theory is that when all of the data were collected and analyzed, we still wouldn’t know if the participants responded because of their gender or because they subconsciously thought “that’s the way I’m supposed to respond… I’m a man (or a woman).”

Another issue you surfaced is that with Free Will and Choice comes the “R” word… responsibility. (Yikes, who wants that… it’s so much easier to blame it on my gender and get on with my day.) Yet as you also say, the gender stereotyping does rob people of many of the wonderful parts of life.

Thanks again Angel… ‘til next time,

Bill