Peter is a reader who has written thoughtful comments in the past. I found his latest email so interesting that I’m posting it here, for your comments:
I was struck by the hostility from “Jeane,” and pleased by your response, characterizing it as “anti-male”. It certainly was. I’ve been playing the personals for a while and have been struck by the sexism that exists even here in the center of gender enlightenment (San Francisco).
When people can hide behind the anonymity of the internet, a lot of heartfelt feelings are exposed, and some of them are bitter. I understand that sexism against women is as old as recorded history, and that men need to come to terms with resentment that will inevitably be released in forums in which face to face contact exists, and much more in forums where the discomfort of a personal retort is absent. I’m prepared for that, and make a point of identifying myself as a feminist in my responses, but still am distressed by the hostility of the type I read from Jeanne.
If there is any message you can convey to older women through your forum, please tell them that many men are trying hard to get past this barrier to male-female relations that an oppressive culture imposes, but it’s a two way street and we must get encouragement, not dismissal, when we make that honest effort.
My experience in internet dating – or attempts at it – is that many women begin with a chip on their shoulders, posting ads that lead with “where are the good men,” “are there any good men left,” “don’t bother if you’re (fill in the blank),” or disclaimers about not being there for casual sex.
The theme seems to be that men are presumed to be lurking on a romantic website for a quick lay. The reality is that men and women have a different biology, and that becomes very apparent at menopause. We know that, and to assume a man in his fifties, trying to connect with a woman his age, is ignorant of or impatient to the need to be considerate of those facts is condescending. We want emotional connection as much as women do, will do what’s necessary to get it, including working with her around sexual issues.
But women need to give us a chance, not assume we will think less of them because we have changed in different ways and at different rates. We want you, ladies. We’re ready to try.
Let’s hear from both women and men about this issue. I challenge you to express yourself without stereotpying the other gender. The way to tear down barriers is one honest communication at a time.