Episode 1: Sex and Sandwich… FEMINIST INFO RATING SYSTEM: Links mentioned in this podcast: Emily’s “Angel in the House” post Lindsay’s critique of “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” Holly Welker’s Bitch magazine article on Fascinating Womanhood LDS.org YW Manual 1/Lesson 8 Podcast: Play in new window | Download | Embed Share this: Read 24 comments I will be majoring in women studies and theatre for my master’s degree, so I appreciate the academic foundation at the beginning of the podcast. Thanks for the great podcast! Wonderful first podcast! I’m not sure who said this, but I loved the part about putting yourself in another’s shoes, and trying to imagine what another person thinks and wants, and how impossible that becomes when we buy into certain stereotypes of what men are & what men want, and what women are. I’m not sure about this. I’m not trying to stereotype but every man I’ve ever met really likes sex and food. They like other stuff too, but those things seem kind of universal. The suggestions you all gave seemed very gender neutral and I don’t think that’s a good thing. What’s wrong with giving your husband good food or good sex? Especially if that makes him happy. I also really like Dr. Laura’s book and think you were too critical about it. Dr. Laura does a good job calling it like it is. I know it’s hard to hear for femisnits sometimes, but sometimes it really is just as simple as sex and a sandwich. Finally! A podcast that was fun to listen to and not so serious. This might become my favorite to listen to! Great job- you were all soooo great and I really like the host. I disagree with you Ashley. Although my husband like sex and food, he also loves other things like intellectual discussions. I on the other hand, am perfectly content with a silent car ride. I’ve learned that over the years, he really thrives off conversations with others and so I force myself to engage with him. I really don’t think he would be satisfied with a partner that only sexually pleasured and feed him. I think a point that the ladies on the podcast were making is that relationships are not so simple. At different points in relationships, both parties require a variety of needs that extend beyond sex and food. Okay, but I just feel that these arguments ignore simple biology. Men are naturally more sexual. They just are. Show me the research that says they aren’t. No one is saying they aren’t more sexual. I was simply stating that there is more components to a good marriage than sex and food. While sex is certainly an important part of a good relationship, it’s not the only thing that is important. I’m not a wife or a mother, but I appreciated this podcast. It speaks deeply to the struggle I have with the Church–namely what my role is as a single, childless women, and if there IS a place for women in Mormondom outside the cult of domesticity. Thank you for speaking my thoughts back to me, and helping me come to know myself better. Ashley said, “Men are naturally more sexual. They just are. Show me the research that says they aren’t.” If you make that claim I think that you actually need to provide the research that says they are. The big problem with “it’s just biology” is that it ignores that while perhaps many men would be content with sex and a sandwich (and there is nothing wrong with sex or sandwiches or making your husband happy by giving him both/either/and/or even at the same time, nor him making you happy by making you a sandwich and a great big O), stereotypes while perhaps helpful in understanding groups and group behavior, are often really poor at helping us understand individuals. At first in our marriage I felt like there must be something wrong with one or both of us because I seem to initiate more than he does. Is this the norm? No. Is it normal. Yes, yes it is. My husband also likes to cook more than I do. Go figure. Does this mean there is something wrong with us? If you buy into the idea that men have to be more sexual, more food driven, less emotional, whatever male stereotype you want to name, and further is you put the weight of holy gender roles upon those things, then if your natural inclinations don’t line up with the holy gender roles then indeed people can and do there is something wrong with them and/or their spouse. I’ve totally heard women complaining about husbands who don’t ‘preside’ enough, well what if he’s not inclined to be in charge of family meetings and you are the queen of the efficient meeting? why should you both suffer to try to meet expectations that suit neither of you? What if he loves playing with babies and it makes you want crawl in a hole and die? What if he’s not great at holding down a 9-5 job and you are a corporate genius? What if he loves quiche and hates sandwiches (my husband finds sandwiches suspiciously soggy for the most part)? While stereotypes are often there for a reason (and sometimes not the reason you may think) what sense does it make to try to force people into those stereotypes in our personal relationships? Very well put. This comment articulates how I feel better than I could have articulated it. Ashley, if being a good wife was just about making sandwiches and sex, then wouldn’t all men just marry the first person to give them both? I would hope that a person gets married to another person because of some sort of strong connection(emotional/intellectual mixed with physical) than just, “Oh, this person makes me food and gives me sex.” I know what you all are saying and I agree that people each have individual preferences, but how do you explain a lot of the similarities men have and that women have with other women? For example, I am more of a nuturer and my husband is more rough and tough. Why is that a problem? I don’t know if it’s biology or what but there’s a reason men like certain things and women do. You say that they don’t, but they do, at least for some things. I know that people have individual tastes but men CAN’T have babies. Women were born to be mothers. I should say that a friend recommended the podcast to me but I stopped listening half way in when you said that some women are better than men at providing. I know God has given us these rolls to help us, not to hurt us. However, I can see I might be missing something. I will listen to it thru, I just don’t like when people tell me I’m bad just because I’m doing what the church says is the right thing to do and what God has told us to do. Being a wife isn’t always easy and sometimes is it really hard to do the house stuff when I could be out talking to other people, but I know it’s worth it. I understand what you are saying. Yes, they talked about some women that provide, but they didn’t say all women should. The panelists didn’t say that if you are following the church then you are bad. What I took from the podcast discussion was that we should be flexible because everyone is different, and so is each partnership. If you like being a nurturer in your relationship, then that’s great. Not all women do, and that’s okay too. First of all, No One is saying you are bad for whatever you choose to do. You did listen to the first half, right? so you know that both Lindsay and I are housewives, stay at home mothers, we do the same thing you do. Why on earth would we condemn you for doing the exact same thing we do? And you’re right, it is hard, and it is important. But Emily is not, has never been a housewife, she does however have a super cool job in Manhattan (seriously it’s an amazing job) and a really wonderful husband (for whom she “provides” and also he is a wonderful cook and very nurturing) , and lovely happy life. Is she bad for what she does? I know her, she is a very good person, living a very good life. Is she to think her life is broken because she doesn’t fit into a certain roll? Is that what would be best for her life? How would imposing my life choices on her improve anything for anyone? Her’s is not like my life at all, and sometimes I’m jealous of her life, and sometimes she’s jealous of my life. It happens. No one lives a perfect life, we all wonder if we should have made different choices, we all have moments of drudgery and unhappiness, we must all strive to make good decisions in the future, and live with the things that we can’t change. And love each other. And it’s true that men can’t have babies. I don’t think that anyone ever claimed that men and women are the same, or that there is no inherent or biological reason why men love the sex and the sandwiches. I tend to think that there are some inherent differences, most animals have gender roles after all, and while we are very smart human animals, we are still animals with hormones and all that. I think the problem comes when we try to reduce whole complex intelligent people to those differences. The thing is, men and women are mostly the same, the book Delusions of Gender, meticulously lays out the research showing that men and women to be almost identical in almost all our logical and emotional capacity, the differences make up far less than 1% of the total data, but because we are drawn toward categorizing things (because this is how we make sense of the world, lumping everything into categories of easily digestible chunks) we don’t highlight similarities, we are drawn toward the (generally quite small) differences. So these differences get shouted out far and wide, and then people start making vastly exaggerated claims about these differences. There are differences, sure, but we all tend to magnify these differences so that they look much much bigger than they actually are. And further there is a huge amount of overlap, the average woman may tend to want sex less than the average man, but there will be huge variations among men and among women. Some women want sex more than most men, and some men want it far less than most women. What does it serve to tell a perfectly happy healthy man that all he wants is sex and a sandwich when in fact he hates sandwiches and has not so much interest in sex? And if those difference are inherent and natural and biological, then why do we need to worry about enforcing them or expecting them or imposing them? If they are natural, then people will tend to do what comes naturally. I’m very grateful that my husband is happiest as a nurturer and I seem to be pretty good at the “corporate shark” thing (I’ll admit the thought of me as any sort of shark makes me giggle, but yes, I enjoy my career). But mostly, I’m glad sex and food isn’t what my husband requires for happiness, because frankly, I suck at cooking and am not always in the mood. And I’m sure my husband is glad that I’m a-ok with his career choice not bringing in the dough, though I know it was very hard for him to share that burden for me, simply because of the religious culture he was raised in. I’ll admit, I have given sexual favors to my husband for no reason other than to make sure my husband felt appreciated and loved. And he has done the same for me. But it isn’t the sex that makes that work; it’s the desire to appreciate and love, and that can be shown many ways. I think something that may be FAR more beneficial to couple than anything Dr. Laura has said, would be the “5 Love Languages” book (which are remarkably free of gender stereotypes yet still quite helpful, if I remember right). Thanks everyone, this was great! I’m looking forward to the next fMh podcast! And the next, and the next . . . My thoughts about the general topic: I, personally, can’t imagine a marriage working solely because the man gets his fill of sex and sandwiches. I know y’all said in the podcast that men have claimed that’s all they need to be happy; that is just unfathomable to me, I guess. Because of my sex drive (yes, greater than the husband’s!) and my enjoyment of cooking, let’s just say my husband is very fulfilled on both accounts. But those two things don’t even come close to fulfilling my husband. We fulfill each other with intelligent conversation, jokes, pranks, silliness, snuggles, kind words, listening ears, tear wiping, counsel, service, collaboration, quality time . . . the list goes on. Oh yeah, and love. Ha! I guess I just can’t imagine being so base, so primitive, as to be satisfied with just two fundamental needs. Surely a marriage should be about more than our basic drives to survive and reproduce! Is there really a normal man out there who desires absolutely no companionship, no relationship at all, from a wife? Who is happy just as long as she sets food down in front of him three times a day and submits to sex when he wants it (no talking, no cohabiting, no flirting, no memory making, no nothing)? (Assuming that he wants all of his womanly needs to be met by his wife, i.e. he’s not going to other women for other needs.) What I’m proposing here is a little bit ridiculous, right? Right?! Isn’t it interesting that it all comes down to viewing people are individuals and having empathy? Although it can be difficult at times, I really can understand why some balk at these Mofem critiques. I really can understand that if you are a woman or man who fits the mold, who fits the stereotype (and I don’t mean “stereotype” as a pejorative here), who feels safe and happy with abiding gender norms. And that’s fine. But I don’t feel fit the mold. My husband doesn’t fit the mold–and *that’s* fine. We have a great marriage. He’s my best friend and I love him more each day. I don’t want to turn this comment into an essay, but I wish I could say how much progress I have made as a person and coping with my often crippling depression when I finally accepted that it was okay that I don’t fit the proscribed gender roles and that it was okay that I didn’t want to. Ultimately, I have come to the belief God is more expansive and understanding. I believe He/She/It/Them know who I am and is aware of my talents, limitations, and desires. I don’t believe in a God who requires me to wear shoes that don’t fit me or flatter me (there’s a silly metaphor for you). Back to my original point. It comes down to developing empathy for others. I really believe the apex of progression is to have gain the capacity to have compassion for others and love them unconditionally as individuals. That’s God’s love to me. Here’s a quote from a video game my husband likes. Despite its origin, I think it’s really applicable here: “One sure mark of a fool is dismissing anything that is outside the realm of his [or her] experience”. I think we all are fools in this sense, whatever side of the aisle we may be on. I think we can achieve progression/harmony/Zion (what you will) when we have this awareness and strive to correct our foolish assumptions. Just briefly scanning over the little mini-debate in the comments for this issue made me think about a discussion I had with my husband last week. We were talking about how sometimes when people hear feminists say “men and women are equals” that some people misunderstand and think that feminists are saying that men and women are the same—meaning that gender is 100% a social construct. And I think that causes some people to distrust what feminists are saying because they look at the world and they see clear examples of ways in which men and women are different (or perhaps ways in which men and women fit into certain gender expectations). It’s kind of a nature vs. nurture debate. I think it’s clear that there are some biochemical processes that can influence the way men and women behave. However, it’s also clear that the way men and women behave is very much influenced by social training. What I’m unclear of is where biochemistry stops and where culture begins when it comes to influencing gender identity. And I don’t think we’re ever going to have a way of parsing it out completely because, as Lisa was saying, it’s a highly complex and individualistic thing. For some reason, there are many men and women that fall neatly into socially-defined expectations for male and female behavior. But some men and women don’t. (Myself and my husband certainly don’t, for example.) What I object to is when we say that it is “natural” for men and women to behave in a certain way when there are enough exceptions to those generalizations to suggest that it isn’t. Because if you don’t fit into what is defined as “natural and normal,” that can be hurtful to hear and can be very psychologically damaging. It suggests that you are somehow unnatural or abnormal if you don’t fit the mold perfectly. That’s why I don’t think it’s in any way helpful to put men and women into rigid categories—even if there may be some basis for truth behind those categories to begin with. I love this discussion. I was laughing from the first moments of the podcast as you read from Dr. Laura’s books. Years ago, I was contemplating going to a “Mid singles conference,” and yes, I’m sure it was as bad as it sounds. I was able to track down the organizer’s MySpace page (that’s how long ago it was) and saw that he wrote on his profile: “All woman should read ‘The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.’” And that sentence clinched it. I did not attend. As an egalitarian Swedish male – LDS, married to a Utahan woman, having lived in the US for many years – I liked this episode. It is interesting to see how very different cultures can be. It is also sad when people are willing to accept things that are not to their enjoyment, in a voluntary relationship. Eternal marriages may not always be appealing. To get away from stereotypes, I do not call myself a “feminist” – even if I generally back their cause – but rather I claim to support “individuality”. I think it is healthy to embrace (all kinds of) equality and diversity and reject (all kinds of) discrimination and bigotry. A woman could watch sports, provide financially, and think about sex, but so could a man. A man could enjoy cooking, keep the house in clean, and take care of children, but so could a woman. Both my wife and I do all of the above and to largely the same extent – though neither of us watches sports. (Another couple may do the very opposite of us!) Interested in the development… As for the comments: It would be great if the format could be changed, so conversations were grouped. I agree with everything Chriccha said, right down to (and especially) the need for change to the comments format. Mormon Expression and other Mormon-themed podcasts use Disqus, which seems to be a basic but effective format. Just a thought. I was a little skeptical about this podcast — not because I object to feminism, but just because it’s been difficult for me in the past to see all of the sexism in the church (even after my disaffection). So I had wondered if the whole idea was overblown. This podcast really helped expand the thoughts I’ve been having lately and the sexism that I finally have been perceiving. Thanks for your clear explanations for those of us that are pretty ignorant about basic feminist issues. It’s also good to grasp that terms like “objectify” and “sexism” are indeed negative, but not always in the harsh or abusive ways that I had thought. As usual, my comment is getting long. Suffice it to say, great job, and I’ll be listening. Keep up the good work with posting. This really is something! This podcast certainly isn’t working — it isn’t playing past the 25 minute mark. I’ve tried downloading, different browsers, etc. Help?! Leave a Reply Cancel reply Name Email Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.