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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Monday, February 04, 2008

We Attract How We Act

I watched a taped segment from The Oprah Show the other day that has me fuming. Now generally I enjoy Oprah, and highly admire her as an example of how absolute power needn't corrupt absolutely. But she had matchmaker Patti Novak on her show earlier this week, and some of the advice dispensed by this 'expert' was truly horrible.

Ms. Novak apparently hosts her own show on cable somewhere, on which she helps hapless women discover why they can't seem to find Mr. Right after years of trying. The impression she gave on Oprah's show is that she teaches these women to discover why they are attracting inappropriate men. I agree with this approach, in general - self-analysis and self-work to become ready for a genuine healthy relationship. But her advice also included:

  • Expect the man to pay for the date, and allow him to orchestrate the whole event.
  • Act as if we 'need' him for our daily functions, something that she calls the Pickle Jar Principle. In other words, hand him a jar to open and ask for his help because we want him to believe he is needed.

She spent most of her show segment bashing men as evolutionarily inferior to women. So her message became "Girls, men are stupid but we have to make them feel as if we're the ones who are stupid if we really want such pathetic creatures in our lives." Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

Ms. Novak kept saying that her principles allowed women to be their true selves. But how is pretending incompetence going to allow us to be real? And how is starting a relationship with paternalistic views going to lead to equality? I think we need to simply be real - not feign incompetence nor ooze superiority. I don't believe in fighting about who is picking up the dinner tab, but I also think that we need to stop expecting men to do this just because they are men.

Pepper Schwarz, reknowned sociologist who studies equally sharing marriages, says that to attract an equal partner we should date peers and act as equals from the start. A man who wants an equal partner doesn't find it important to rescue women from stuck pickle jars. His satisfaction doesn't come from the surface-level appreciation he might get by paying for dinner or doing heavy lifting; it comes from mutual respect and from a partner who knows and deeply appreciates him - period.

I agree with Ms. Novak that we need to pay attention to whom we are attracting, but I disagree wholeheartedly with the falsehoods she recommends. Men are neither superior nor inferior to women, and if we act and believe this we can attract an equal partner.


Blogger Unknown said...

yuck! i can't even imagine purposefully seeking out someone who thinks he needs to save women from things like stuck pickle jars.

(by the way, i've been following this for a while and your idea is AMAZING and has been very much our ideal, though we didn't have such a succinct name for it. i love the blog and i'll be visiting often; i also linked to you from my blog, which is at www.onthespiral.blogspot.com.)

3:22 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks - you've made our day! Your blog(s) are inspiring as well - love your anniversary ode to Jeremy. If you and Jeremy connect with ESP, please consider writing your story for our Real Life Stories section! Send me an email if you are interested.

10:38 PM  

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