Friday, January 04, 2008

Where the Boys Are

Man #1: Funny thing about women. If you don't make big a pitch for them they get mad. If you do...they get mad. How can you win?

Man #2: You can't - they're not playing for the same stakes.

Where the Boys Are (1960).

I was watching this old 1960s classic about women, men sex and Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break. While the women grapple with whether they should or shouldn't..go all the way. The men are busy trying to convince them that there's only one option. After all cats it's the 1960s, what are we antiquated or something? Get with it!

The problem with all this perfectly outlined by the dialogue above is that men and women in 1960 aren't playing for the same stakes. The stakes being - virtue, love and marriage versus lust, fun and immediacy. Both wonderful in their own way - just very different. It makes for interesting viewing. The boys are trying to persuade the girls to give it up and the girls are trying to convince the boys to give up something too: their bachelorhood. It seems that they'll never quite get it together - either the boys need a little convincing or the girls do.

So a lot has changed, right?

Just a few short years later the sexual revolution was in full swing. Girls didn't have to wait for marriage in order to explore their sexuality anymore. Indeed, women were exploring a lot of things, including being the bread winner as well as cooking that bread and exploring for the first time a decision about the bun in the oven .

One didn't have to get married anymore to do anything they wanted, but that didn't mean that people didn't get married young. It still happened. In fact most women I know from that era DID get married, very very young - this is despite their "options".

Nowadays girls give it up big time and some even proclaim (and personally I hate this saying) that they can "have sex like a man". Waiting to get married until after one fulfills their personal dreams is something that happens more often. In fact every single woman I know who has gotten married in the last..oh say 20 years (since I started noticing that people actually got married) has had not only a career but earning on par or beyond their husbands. Yes things have certainly changed since 1960.

You'd think though, that things had changed so much that marriage would have been made redundant. Certainly one doesn't "need" to get married like one did in the old days. However, marriage is vibrantly alive. The truth of the matter is that people are still running down the isle, one, two even three times isn't uncommon. Just because we're breaking up more often hasn't actually affected the marriage game. Let's not forget that those who decide not to make it legal are still engaging in married like behaviour - making a home, having children, monogamy - defacto. While the cost of a ring has been spared, in the eyes of the law these people are as good as married, so the point still stands. Marriage is not dead. Far from it.

Has the concept of men being trapped by marriage (by women) changed though? Surely, since remember we don't *have* to get married anymore but you know what? No, it hasn't. If men needed to be convinced back in the 60s then they still have to be convinced now.

Has the concept of the fallen woman versus the healthy bachelor changed? Well, yes and no. Men who sleep around are still thought of as playboys which hasn't changed much since the 60s. Women who sleep around certainly aren't considered fallen anymore. However, there is a rather nasty stigma attached to women who decide to have frequent sexual liaisons with numerous men - and indeed women who specifically decide not to turn the sex into a relationship.

So things in that regard have changed in some ways but not in all ways.

The stakes you'd think would be evened out. But at the core of it all there's still that old struggle between wanting to get married versus (and we all know one) - the commitment-phobe. And there's still the struggle in cultural opinion of the slut versus the bachelor.

It's been 48 years since the 1960s dawned and in 48 years of enormous social, political and technological change. We have all the earmarks of change happening around us ... but when it comes down to the big things what has actually changed? I keep coming up with nothing significant except ...underwear. Women's underwear has definitely changed.

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