In the practice of therapy, particularly couples therapy, I often help patients navigate and negotiate how gender works in their marriage or romantic relationships. Last year, gender roles came up in the public sphere due to the presidential election, particularly in response to Donald Trump’s surreptitiously recorded remarks about women with the television host Billy Bush.
In her article “What Women Really Think of Men” in the New York Times, Irin Carmon not only revisits Trump’s misogynistic attitudes, but also analyzes his supporters’ flippant descriptions of his statements as “a guy thing” or “locker room talk” to show how “when we declare that men will always be brutes and women can only shrug from on high, we engage in what President George W. Bush once called the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Carmon writes, “…it does women, and society, no favors to grouse about female superiority as a way to let men off the hook.”
I absolutely agree. When we set a standard for men that is problematically low whether in national politics or in our own relationships, everyone loses.