Word Worth®
                      World Magazine of Ideas and the Arts™ — ©Winter 2019 Volume XIX,  Issue 1

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Columns

Vulnerable

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, attitudes held over much of the world for 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.

 

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