Gender Roles


Here are excerpts from a long article in Psychology Today entitled "Gender Wars."

We live in a time where gender-based roles are changing and few pathways are marked as we try to figure out the right way to make our lives work in relationships. What complicates gender relations is that the world we inhabit today would have been almost impossible to envision even as recently as the 1950s. Gender relations in contemporary society present a seemingly paradoxical picture.

What has not changed, apparently, since the 50s is the desire of men and women to figure out what is appropriate for their own and the other gender--and to find ways to live together. What has changed is that we are now less sure about what is the right way to be a man or woman.

To a large degree, the ambiguity everyone’s feeling about gender is part of a greater uncertainty about what is real, true, and right in general. Human relations and the search for identity, which translates into ways of believing and being, have grown particularly complicated courtesy of the technological explosion and information saturation we all now experience.

This process is further compounded by the challenges in society to many of the beliefs that we have held as self-evident for so long. Gender is but one of the traditional categories of self-identification that is deteriorating. That encompasses not only the belief in two genders but in notions of masculinity and femininity. Result: rampant confusion about how men and women are supposed to act.

What we call “gender” encompasses biological sex but goes beyond it to the socially prescribed roles deemed appropriate for each sex by the culture in which we live. Complicating the issue is that only the broad outlines of gender roles are drawn by the larger society. The gender roles we each carry out are highly individualistic, built on our biological and physical makeup, appearance and personality, life experiences such as work and education, and history of sexual and romantic interactions. Each element influences how others perceive us as a man or a woman and how we perceive others’ intentions and expectations for us.

I recall a discussion with my father back in the late 1970s. My first wife and I had just bought the identical house my parents had purchased on the GI Bill in 1956 for $11,600 at maybe 4% interest, tops. My ex and I paid $57,000 at something like 12% interest and were both working to pay the mortgage. My father made a disparaging comment about “working mothers” even though my ex and I did not yet have children. I looked at my mother, who had never worked and who paid all the bills, and asked if she could make a monthly payment of something on the order of $675 on what my father was earning at that point in time. She said absolutely not.

My father has long since passed on and sometimes I think back on that conversation and feel badly about it. Though it was not my intention, I may have embarrassed him or caused him to feel inadequate as a man, as a provider for his family. I’ve experienced that feeling a time or too and I know how stinking lousy it feels. All I meant to do was to say, hey, it’s not like when you and mom started out, and here’s the proof in hard dollars and cents: I’m college educated, earn more than you and I still can’t afford to buy the same modest house I grew up in. Over the years I’d heard plenty from him about how things “should” be and I needed just once to have him agree that many fronts, circumstance were such that my world could not be as it “should.”

As it was, my father never again commented about my two-income marriage. That day he could do little more than shake his head in bewilderment. He’d fought in the European Theater of WWII under General Patton. He knew how to point a gun at the enemy. He knew how to use his GI-Bill reward to move his family out of the city and into suburbia for a better quality of life. But he also knew the world was changing into one he didn’t understand, and there was no longer an identifiable enemy to blame. Yes, he changed somewhat with the times when he was given no alternative, but for the most part, I think he made a conscious decision to cling as best he could to the fading world he knew best.

Up until a few years ago I’d been clinging to some old notions, not necessarily because I’d made a conscious decision to do so, but mainly out of ignorance. My favorite saying is “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Had I not met Goddess V, I might still be the man I was 10 or even 5 years ago. When we first met, had she pointedly told me she was a dominant woman and expected me to submit to her, I might never have pursued a relationship with her. As it happened, our FLR evolved over time similar various changes in our society have come into being. With one important difference. Changing economics and other outside influences often force people into making changes. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of survival, ie., the two-income family.

However, a wife-led marriage was not imposed on Goddess V and me by outside societal forces. No one said, hey, this is how it’s gonna be from now, so you’ll have to either like it or lump it. It had more to do with us taking a hard look at who were, both as individuals and as a couple, and at what was working and not working in our relationship. I should add that this was more true for me than it was for Goddess V. It required redefinition and acceptance of our gender roles both in terms of what we expected from ourselves and of one another. Once we did this, we experienced more harmony in our relationship than ever before.

Eternal Valentines


I was immediately intrigued by this photo when I first saw it on my Yahoo homepage last week. Archeologists on a dig in Italy have uncovered these fossilized skeletons that have literally been locked in an embrace for the past 5,000 to 6,000 years. To me, the image is the ultimate paradox. In the same instant it’s both gruesome and romantic. It’s a harsh reminder of our mortality, and yet it also illustrates human spirit that sometimes transcends our mortality.

One can only speculate as to how these two people came to die nearly cheek to cheek in what is clearly an endearing embrace. The article I read inferred these two people were male and female, and apparently rather young due to teeth that had not yet been ground down with age. Were they two lovers? Perhaps husband and wife? Did they die in this position? Together? Could one have been so heart broken as to lie down next to the partner who had already expired to wait for death? Perhaps they were arranged this way after death as a tribute to their togetherness in life, or as testimony to their love for each other. Love. Were people who lived five or six thousand years ago, who were barbarians by today’s standards, even capable of experiencing love as we define it today?

This brings me to the point of my writing about this here on a FemDom blog. If you read much about this lifestyle, if you participate in any of a couple of forums on the subject, you may note that emphasis is often centered around a D/S component. In the VOT Forum, for example, there is currently a great deal of heated discussion about whether “real” FLRs should include D/S, discipline, orgasm control, or even use of the terms dominant and submissive. One individual even asserts that 90% of FLRs are bogus, simply sham relationships in which men top from the bottom to satisfy their fantasies. Women once again are exploited and manipulated by men. That women rarely initiate FLRs on their own is cited as proof of this.

My intention here is not to belabor that particular debate. I do however want to say that in all the discussions, a term I see used less than any other is LOVE. That’s unfortunate because in my opinion, love is the most critical component of all. Anyone who has read this blog knows that Goddess V and I believe in female-led relationships and in FemDom. But while her role as a domme and mine as her submissive may define who we are within our marriage, it’s the love that we hold for each other that keeps us centered in our relationship.

As for the ancient “Valentines,” we probably won’t see them on a Hallmark card (“My love for you is everlasting”), but I think we will be seeing this image again and again. In magazines and newspapers, on the Internet and in text books. The photo has the cover of National Geographic written all over it. Being a romantic at heart, I think this a good thing because I believe as human beings, we need to be reminded of just what is and what is not important in the grand scheme of things. This image might help in that regard.

Unfortunately, this couple will undoubtedly also be transported to some cold and sterile laboratory for all manner of tests, none of which will tell us the human story behind these two lives, and then eventually to a stuffy museum somewhere where people will gawk at their bones. As a romantic, my vote would be to cover them over where they lay. Walk away and let them be together in their embrace for thousands more years to come.

Oh, and Happy V-day to all those in FemDom relationships!