A number of women in the
dating game say that they are looking for a man who is “vulnerable.” The
word vulnerable means in danger, threatened. People who feel
threatened don’t make good companions. What these women probably mean is
that they are looking for a life companion who is opened to sharing his
feelings and empathic to his partner’s sensitivities. The contradictory
language may go deeper than a shallow command of vocabulary.
In the course of human
history, cultural mores have changed very slowly, cemented by religious
bias and taking centuries to alter. In the last half century, values
have changed at light speed. In the beginning of that time, women were
not allowed to buy birth control pills without the condescending
permission of a physician, yet women were held accountable for any
unwanted pregnancies. Men could father children without much of any
liability. If an unwed couple were living together, the attitude toward
the man was, “heh-heh,” but toward the woman was, “What a slut,” and she
was generally shunned. An out-of-wedlock baby was always regarded as
being the woman’s fault even though she was denied access to control
over her own physical being. In the case of rape, it was generally felt
that the woman “asked for it” unless she was dead.
Five decades later,
over much of the
thousands of years have reversed. Celebrities and even staid English
royalty view cohabitation prior to engagement as the norm. That would
not have worked for Diana in the 1970s, early 80s.
The change in cultural
values inexorably brings change in gender expectations.
It’s a mistake, however,
to believe that men should be just like women and women just like men.