Men and women, how different are we really?
I think not very. But my Czech friends seem to differ.
I have spoken to a female Czech friend, my age, very smart, working as a journalist. Technologically savvy, educated, likes to drive- unlike me, she is a very good driver – she even participates in car races . You’d say this is a modern, emancipated woman, confident and equal to any man. Of course, she is.
But she still talks about roles of men and women in society being completely different, how women pick partners because of future support and safety for them and their children, and men pick good looking women to have healthy good looking children. It is all very black and white, girls like pink and dolls, boys like cars, mothers have more developed parental instinct than fathers…. etc. I could go on for longer.
And last week, I had a visitor, a Czech friend from university and his wife. Very nice people, we have known each other for almost 40 years.
But when we left the safe platform of normal conversation, something worrying came up.
My friend is a bit of a funny husband, watching too much TV and letting himself be mothered. But he is also kind, funny, and very useful in DIY, he fixed some things in my house! His wife is lovely, laid back, friendly, sensible. They are happy.
But one evening, Jan and I had a very strange argument. We talked about danger of STD’s and I told him about a research I read about.
There was a questionnaire for young men after holiday.
Here is how it went:
- Did you have sex with a stranger on holiday?
- Did you use a condom?
- If not, did you have one?
Most of the men had unprotected sex with a stranger on holiday with a condom in their pocket, but did not use it. Even that is a bit shocking, but what came after left me gaping. Jan claimed that for a man, once he gets aroused to a certain level, is no longer in control, and can even force a woman if she gave wrong signals before etc. “There is a point of no return, a man cannot help it”. It then went into women sometimes causing their own rape etc.
It was an amicable enough but heated discussion and his wife wisely kept quiet. Jan claimed it is just not possible to stop, claiming specialists also say that.I said “Well, a man can masturbate”, and he said “yes, but he might not think of it because he is no longer thinking at that point. Women are stronger and different and also sexually rational choosing the right genetic material for their children.”
I asked him if he thinks women after menopause don’t want sex and he said that women do get old earlier and cannot have kids earlier than men.
I do not think for a second that he would rape anybody, it is just talk, but the assessment of ” animal feeling that cannot be stopped” was ridiculous.
Men are rational being, it is like saying that if someone annoys you enough, you beat him up. Jan also said men are naturally polygamous (not a wise thing to say in front of his partner).
I felt like telling him about my book, but I didn’t.
I spoke to my partner about it and he said that Jan paints a sad picture of men and that few men in America would believe it and even fewer would ever say anything like that, even if they did believe it. As always, my sarcastic New Yorker had an answer.
“Accept his argument and then take it to its logical conclusion that if men can’t control themselves and their reactions, then how can they be trusted to be in powerful positions where self-control is essential?”
I spoke to a gay friend of mine.
This is what he said:
“It’s easy for me to know as a man, that your friend is completely bonkers. It’s as though he’s come in a time machine from the Steppe after having tea with Genghis Khan. Maybe he was just continuing a discussion he was having with him about such matters.
Imagine, there are primitive tribes who no longer believe such things. Where has Jan been in the last 50 years?
The truth is, no man has ever believed it, but it was an excuse to do whatever they wanted.
Does he mean that if he was in the heat of sexual desire, that if he heard his children screaming in the room next door in a burning fire, he would just ignore this and carry on?
Of course not! He would stop and save his children.
What he is actually saying, is that some things are important enough for him to stop, but some things are not important enough (ie. his regard for the rights and opinions of women). ”
Well, I think there are plenty of people who think like Jan, they just do not say it.
Which brings me to political correctness. Unlike my Czech friends, I like it.
I think there is nothing wrong in a bit of auto-censorship to prevent offending other people’s sensibilities.
We all have prejudices, but we should be aware of them and fight them.
I love Prague, but I would not move back.
A lot of my friends there think I am a naive feminist socialist.
Many Czechs, men and women still criticise what they call political correctness and then say racist or sexist things.
I am sure that a lot of people in Britain or USA think the same, but they don’t say it, because they know it is not socially acceptable. Unless they are Donald Trump, of course.
It is nicer. You might say it is less honest. But polite society and good manners are based on a certain lack of honesty. We moved far from our ancestors. And what might have been true centuries ago is no longer true now.
I am grateful to live in the 21st century, where women are more equal to men than ever before. Like with different races, nations, religions, I do believe that we have much more similarities than differences.
Black and white, men and women.
I love the two friends I am writing about. They are smart, decent people.
Yet, they make me feel like an alien. They think I am naïve, too trusting, too ready to see good in people. They think I am blind to the dangers of massive immigration to Europe, and that I am deluded about the male and female role and position in society. They call me “slunickar- a sunshine person”- a person naively welcoming, and not appreciating dangers of foreign immigration or of the vanishing of men and women filling traditional roles.
I will always be a foreigner in England, and that is OK- they are friendly to foreigners here.
But I do not want to be a stranger in my home country.