Society grooms women to be beautiful, silent, and obedient while it grooms men to be emotionless, unapologetic and to chase money. Deviance from this template inevitably comes with pushback. A woman who falls on the peripheries of beauty will be looked down upon and have fewer opportunities to succeed. A woman who expresses unfiltered opinions is often called crazy or bossy. A man who is not rich is often discarded as a loser. A man who is “emotional” isn’t considered enough of a man; it seems that the strength of vulnerability goes unnoticed. There are specific traits that predispose either party to a certain immunity from consequence. If a woman is beautiful as defined by very narrow margins of beauty, she is rewarded for it.
If a man is rich, he can exercise a dangerous level of power. As a result, it would come as no surprise that men go to great lengths to accumulate a shitload of money while women feel pushed to spend ridiculous amounts of time and resources on cosmetic procedures or beauty products with the aim of conforming to beauty standards of the present time. The issue arises when the two attempt to form a relationship. Through the subliminal messages we are bombarded with on a daily basis, a woman is often taught that her value lies in how she is perceived by a man. An unmarried woman over a certain age is made to feel inadequate. “There must be something wrong with her.” A man is taught that his value derives from how many women admire him and how many men envy him. An unmarried man of any age is rarely questioned about his plans for the future. “He just hasn’t met the right woman for him.”
If a woman, following these unwritten rules, is attempting to be a “desirable woman” and the man is trying to be an “enviable man”, the two become inherently incompatible. A woman who is placing her value in a man when the same man is placing his value in the desire of other women, end up in a twisted love triangle; a triangle involving two egos and a set of rules.
“Compromise” is cited as one of the key benchmarks for a successful relationship. What does that really mean? While on the surface, it may seem like this refers to simple compromises such as division of labor in the home, the truth is the compromise is usually rooted in an agreement between two stubborn egos. These egos have been bred by powerful external forces. Egos are trained to be indestructible. To recognize the power of the ego however is the first step in learning to tame it. This is where the compromise begins. When we stop attempting to conform to society’s rules, we make our own. In other words, being physically beautiful will not solve all your problems as a woman. Similarly, just being rich will not make you as a man fulfilled. I will make a distinction between being rich and being successful. Success is achieving real goals, while being rich is having money.
In order to move forward, we have to recognize the methods that have been used to entrap us. For example, women are often cheated on by men who “love” them. The first line of reasoning that women inevitably walk down is that we are inadequate. We are not beautiful enough or we are not worthy of love. Ironically, with men who do cheat on a woman they “love”, you will find that they have deep-seated insecurities too. Perhaps they are not accomplished enough and look for validation in what society tells them makes them a “man”: money, and the admiration of women. Maybe at some point in their childhood, they also felt inadequate.
There is the argument that men are simply biologically incapable of resisting sexual urges. This is simply not true. Humans have the capacity to exercise rational decision making over instinct. If a man were to be given a million dollars every time he rejected a sexual advance from a woman who wasn’t his partner, would he stay loyal? I would argue the likelihood would increase exponentially. What does that tell us? It is A CHOICE. In that hypothetical example, the man in question would have determined that the consequence of cheating (losing a million dollars) would outweigh the benefit (sexual contact). That would imply, in another circumstance, he may determine the consequence of being disloyal to his partner and jeopardizing their relationship does not outweigh the benefit of instant sexual contact. Unless you have a medical condition preventing you from rational decision making skills, you are capable of loyalty. Society condones and in many cases, encourages men to behave recklessly. Maybe if women were given the same green light and not socially terrorized for the same infidelity, we would behave recklessly too. Those of us who do are often disproportionately penalized for it.
As we know, there are entire industries that profit from the insecurities of men and women while catering to the lust of our egos. Society gives women a recipe that is supposedly infallible. But this recipe is constantly changing; what body type and hair color are considered attractive is always changing. Are we to spend our lives constantly morphing ourselves along with it? Cosmetic surgery, hair removal, and beauty industries only grow as they succeed in amplifying the insecurities of women.
Men are taught that the level of respect they deserve is in direct correlation to how expensive their car is, how big their home is, and how many women they sleep with. Let’s say a man does accomplish these things. Now what? Is this man fulfilled? Let’s say a woman is the absolute definition of the current beauty standard, and is with a man who “loves” her for her beauty and subservience. Is she fulfilled? The truth is the recipes that we are given are not designed to produce healthy outcomes, they are designed to keep our souls hungry.
What makes people genuinely fulfilled? How do we build healthy relationships with people who have never been taught what that looks like? The first step is to stop holding each other to these impossible standards. Stop expecting women to be these silent creatures who exist primarily to fulfill the sexual desires of men. Stop shaming men for expressing real human emotions. Dismantling ideas that have been fed to you through almost every channel is not an easy feat. How do we measure our own worth? Is it by how well we conform or by the contributions we are making? Shouldn’t we each work to move society forward as opposed to maintaining the status quo? What will give you long-term fulfillment as opposed to fleeting pleasure? Let’s approach each other with a heightened sense of compassion for the different pressures we face on a daily basis. Let’s stop burdening ourselves with unattainable standards and abiding by rules in a game in which there are no winners.