Psychological Self-Help

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Another fascinating facet of gender sex roles is the fantastic
emphasis in our culture on women's attractiveness (discussed in
chapter 8). Clothing, hair styling, beauty aids, perfumes, special diets,
exercise, and fitness aids cost uncountable hours and billions of
dollars. The women's role forms only half of the commercially
choreographed intercourse between the sexes: women agonizing over
every detail of their appearance and men yearning and vying for the
most beautiful play mate they can get. These "traps" consume
enormous human energy. Rodin (1992) suggests ways women can
avoid finding so much of her meaning in her body, but the other half of
the solution involves teaching men to find other parts of females more
attractive than her body, such as her brain and interesting ideas, her
healthy personality, her interesting conversation, her good values and
acts, her purposeful life, etc. If that could be done, it would provide a
major revolution. 
Misunderstandings between men and women about roles
There are lots of misunderstandings between men and women
about gender roles. For example, many women think males want a
maid--a wife who stays home, cooks, cleans, and isn't too smart. But
many males say they want, more than anything else, a capable,
assertive, happy partner, not just a housekeeper. Yet, about 40% of
women feel like they are their husband's housekeeper and only 28%
feel like his lover. That's sad. On the other hand, men think women
want a big, burly, hairy, tough, handsome, "he-man" stud with money
for a partner. Well, handsome maybe, but females do not admire an
overly macho male. Even 15-20 years ago, being loving, gentle, warm,
caring, intelligent, capable, self-confident, and willing to stand up for
his beliefs was more important to women than being tough and
fighting (Rambo type) or influential and obsessed with power (Donald
Trump type) or a hunk making out sexually with lots of women
(Tavris, 1977). What are the 1995 ideals? 
It may surprise you but about 50% of Psychology Today
respondents (both women and men) said the ideal male would above
all else be introspective, wise, compassionate, and concerned with his
own personal growth, i.e. self-actualizing (Keen & Zur, 1989). Another
25% said the ideal man's one "ultimate concern" would be "his family,
i.e. being a good husband and father," 12% said his highest priority
would be "helping others," 7% said "religion," only 4% said "his work,"
and the remaining 2% mentioned art, making money, sports or play,
and political activity. The male least admired is cynical, selfish,
materialistic, and violent (including personally fighting, watching
violent sports, and hunting). Note that the ambitious, urbane, critical,
sophisticated, organization man of the 1950's, willing to do anything to
make it to the top, is not valued by these young, well educated
respondents. However, it would be foolish to believe success is no
longer highly valued. (Indeed, men predict business will change
women, i.e. "power corrupts;" women think women will change the
system.) 
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