Speaking of discussion that shakes out of the Anthony Weiner fiasco without actually involving Weiner himself of Sheryl Gay Stolberg mentions a serious double standard in our expectations of men and women's sexual "propriety." And I'm passing it along because to a certain (I think probably extensive) degree
“I have no hard evidence that women are less likely to engage in risky or somewhat stupid behavior,” Ms. Pearson said. “But women in Congress are still really in a situation where they have to prove themselves to their male colleagues and constituents. There’s sort of this extra level of seriousness.”
And voters demand it. Celinda Lake, a Democratic strategist, says women politicians are punished more harshly than men for misbehavior. “When voters find out men have ethics and honesty issues, they say, ‘Well, I expected that.’" Ms. Lake said. “When they find out it’s a woman, they say, ‘I thought she was better than that.’"
Source: The New York Times
One of my big axioms about expectations is that while nobody's perfect, in the aggregate human beings are remarkably good at rising to their expectations but remarkably bad at exceeding them.
So... what do you think the consequences might be of saying "We can't expect men to control their sexual urges but we expect women to be better than that?"
Note: Celinda Lake isn't saying those are her expectations, she's reciting commonly held social expectations -- expectations that are held as dearly and enforced as rigorously by the likes of arch patriarchs like Mike Huckabee and of uber-radfems like Twisty Faster as well as fans and commentators of relative lightweights like Bret Farvre ("some guys just never grow up") and Britney Spears ("what a slut.")
Check out all the foofaraw over the recent SlutWalk protests. The whole thing was triggered by a Toronto cop setting expectations: we expect women to control themselves because men are incapable of self-control. And the reaction, again from left and right, has had a disappointing tendency to revolve around social expectations that... women must act "respectably" in order not to "make" men behave irresponsibly.
Ironically, but in a lot of ways not at all surprisingly, the only voices of dissent from that particular status quo are the subset of generally-younger feminists who aren't old-school "man-haters" at all but instead have a rather generous expectation that men are human beings and not animals, and who are mostly just over-the-moon exasperated that men don't, won't, or (even more often) are heavily pressured not to meet their expectations.
Those are the feminists, for instance, who got the original intention of the SlutWalk organizers, or like Halifax crisis center co-ordinator Jackie Stevens who, according to reporter Hilary Beaumont (emphasis mine) says
Rather than automatically thinking that way, she says society needs to see that an attacker has chosen to take advantage of someone who is vulnerable.
When Stevens reads articles about drunk driving, the police are quoted telling people to stop drinking and driving. But when she reads articles about sexual assault, there is no warning telling would-be attackers not to rape. Instead, the authorities tell potential victims to take precautions.
“Rather than always putting out the messages of ‘don’t walk alone’ or ‘don’t drink’ or ‘don’t talk to strangers’—all of those things—we need to say ‘don’t sexually assault,’” Stevens declares.
As a result of these misplaced messages, we say, "She shouldn’t have been walking home alone late at night," or, "She shouldn’t have worn a short skirt," rather than, "He shouldn’t have raped her."
Source: The Nova Scotia Dominion
Not that expectations are all about rape, even though questions about expectation and rape abound. It also boils down to crap as petty as expecting adult men to figure out how to tie their own ties instead of needing their partners to do it for them. (Hint: My dad taught me how to tie a tie on Sunday mornings before when I was about eight. And then expected me to do it from then on. An expectation I've somehow always managed to rise to even during my hippie and every-day-is-casual-Friday tech days when I could go years at a time without needing to wear one. But I digress....)
Anyway, that's the big realization that caused me to drop my lackluster search for a non-misogynist, non-sensitive-new-age-guy men's movement and switch to unapologetic feminism: that feminists had higher expectations for men than not only society at large but of considerable numbers of nominal "men's rights" activists. (Because with a few notable exceptions most of the "rights" MRAs are activist for read a lot more like excuses. I'm pretty sure this is one of the big reasons they get so little traction from feminists and non-feminists a like.)
Does that mean I agree with everything feminism has to say about men? Why no as a matter of fact I don't. And does it mean I think men should just go along with whatever feminism says would be good for us? Bwahahahahah! No, because that would be just more of the same letting women do the heavy lifting expectation-wise wouldn't it? Which in my very sincere opinion would be falling once again into the most insidiously anti-feminist trap possible. It's ok to listen to feminists as human beings contributed to what might be a consensus on expectations, but because they are human beings there's no reason to believe they've got any essential insight. In fact almost the opposite! There needs to be a consensus on equal expectations precisely because society demands as much too much of women as it expects too little of men. That's something we can only all work out together.
Anyway, I seriously appreciate those feminists who've got enough respect for men (and, I'd add, enough realism about women) to recognize that one of the most critical equalities is not simply equality of opportunity ("classic-liberal" feminists) or separate-but equalities (essentialist feminists) or even equality of power (original-radical feminists) but equality of expectations. Because, seriously, the sentiment captured and related, but one hopes not shared, by Celinda Lake does no favors either for men or for women. Period. At all.