While I try to avoid heavy injections of my personal life into this column, there’s no better way to introduce this week’s topic than to relay a conversation I had with a friend the other day.
While discussing relationships, he asked me vaguely if I was “in control.” When I asked him to clarify, he said “do you have control over [your boyfriend]?” Somewhat puzzled, I said that I didn’t have any more control over him than he has over me.
In retrospect, that wasn’t a great answer, but I didn’t really know what to say. I expressed some confusion over what he was getting at and finally he said, “Women get men to do things by withholding sex — that’s how they control the relationship.”
Ah, we reach the true reason behind his sentiment. Mildly offended, but still wondering if he was joking, I reassured him that I do not withhold sex. He claimed that every woman does it, and that it was just “how things worked.” Slowly it dawned on me that he was, in fact, serious.
I suggested that maybe it was just the relationships that he’d been in, but he insisted that it was a universal principle of relationships, like he was stating one of Newton’s Laws.
People seriously think this, don’t they? Hollywood often portrays polarized versions of man and woman — often depicting the sex-crazed boyfriend and the manipulative, frigid girlfriend as the “typical” relationship.
I can see why it might be easy to let this shape your thoughts in, say, middle school, but I always assumed that once people actually had relationships of their own, they’d develop more reasonable and mature points of view.
Now I’m not saying my friend and those who think like him are letting Hollywood control their brains. What I’m saying is that these people can be viewed in a clear dichotomy: those who have had the withholding-sex-for-control experience and those who haven’t.
Those who have had the experience are, in my opinion, quite pessimistic and a little sexist. I hope this doesn’t need to be said, but for the record, there is absolutely nothing healthy or normal about a relationship in which one person withholds sex for control, and the other person allows that to happen.
To believe that this is the norm just because you’ve known a couple of women who act that way, for one thing, is incredibly depressing. If I were you, I’d be swearing off relationships forever. I don’t think I need to explain what is inherently sexist about this, so I’ll spare you all the soap-box rant. The point is: Don’t be discouraged just because you’ve been with one or two maniacs.
I’m guessing some of you are probably thinking, “I’m not discouraged at all, I’ve just accepted that certain things must be done in order to earn sex,” or something equally absurd. At least that seemed to be the way my friend looked at it — and I can’t imagine he’s the only person on campus who feels that way.
My response to this is: What? First of all, I’m sorry that you’ve been in such one-sided relationships.
Second of all, this whole situation is definitely a two way street. You don’t have to let your girlfriend manipulate you like that. In fact, you don’t even have to be in a relationship like that at all.
But I’m not here to convince everyone that all women are different — if you haven’t figured that out yet, a few words from me will likely do nothing to set you straight.
If this all comes off as rambling, it’s because I have a ton of feelings on the subject and could probably go on for pages. The point I’m trying to make is this: We’re in college now, we know a lot of people and we have a decent amount of experience under our belts. There’s no longer any excuse to hold ridiculously stereotyped views about the opposite sex and how relationships with them work.
Those who still insist on doing so are honestly only hurting themselves and missing out on what relationships should be about.
Bazarian is a member of the class of 2013.