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The Price of Marriage and Dating

Posted on May 9, 2005 in Crosstalk Partnership Sexuality

square144.gifAmong my wicked little conversations is one I have been having with shelli regarding the fate of a man who attempted to trade a T-bone steak for sex. In repartee, I remarked:

Honestly, don’t a fair number of women give out for, say, dinner and a movie? Does that make them prostitutes and the men who date them johns?

It’s a good question and, here I must add that the remark is made half-sarcastically. When I was a younger fellow, I felt left out because the dating scene involved having the finances to take a woman out. Many women, in fact, object loudly when their date can’t perform this mercantile feat. Likewise, many men think that dinner and a movie is an invitation to date rape. Whatever happened to just enjoying one another’s company and conversation?

What separates dating and, for that matter, marriage, from the selling of sexual favors? Ideally, when we want to spend time with a person, we respect that person’s moods and boundaries. How often have I heard the wail that a marriage or domestic partnership is failing because one of the partners is no longer putting out for the other. I shake my head and ask “what happened to for better or for worse?” Members of the society around me seem to think that stimulation of the genitals is the only end of marriage and when that opportunity declines, the arrangement must be terminated. It’s little better than turning a person into a porno picture: you have lost all sense of the human being as anything except a picture splashed with semen or vaginal fluid.

We think too much, I believe, in terms of ourselves and others as things to be marketed. And that drives good people mad. I am reminded of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the father of an unwilling bridegroom keeps talking about his future daughter-in-law’s “great big tracts of land”. What does she exist for except politics?

There’s not a lot of space between thinking of a woman (or a man) as the property she or he owns and that which reduces her or him to body parts that can be traded for. Tits and ass. Braceros. It’s all about buying and selling. No wonder some people don’t get that marriage is about partnership, that dating is about spending time with a friend.

They don’t get it because when it comes to finding other people, they shop.

On a related note, I like women. Their company suits me better than men. And I feel hobbled in building friendships by the attitude that so many other men take with regard to the concept of a lunch or a dinner. Rendeavous, in our society, often means a trip to the local sleezebag motel. So when I invite a woman to meet me for lunch or coffee, this idea often flits through her head. She may like me, enjoy talking to me, but fear of what I want prevents her from accepting the invitation. I can’t say that I blame them: a lot of men are that way.

American women are trained to do two things: 1.) Not ask any questions and 2.) assume that men are predators. Both of these work against guys like me who just prefer women over men. I hate the locker room and the sports bar: it’s worse than sitting in the living room doing nothing. And that is what I do most days, most of the time.

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