I guess this is like the intro
Pizza rolls are quantitative.
Gender roles are qualitative.
But qualitative isn’t such a cut and dry concept. We try to quantify it by establishing a globally recognized binary. Albeit we still know deep down the only number that truly matters is how many pizza rolls I can consume in a single sitting (mission statement: of firm disbelief that nutrition facts should be adhered to).
We’re taught to simplify from a young age. What’s the common denominator between men and women? Human existence. We are the same. (I mean, as long as you have a bellybutton. Sorry Kyle XY.) So where does this stigma of gender roles and by extension relationship roles stem from?
Prepare yourselves for a magic carpet ride of rambling, unasked for, supererogatory perspectives on how contemporary dating culture sucks for basically everyone. We’re diving headfirst into the world of Disney princess classics & Nicholas Sparks novels as I convey my discontent on how media outlets are damaging the expectations versus realities of romantic relationships.
I will be an open book (or rather webpage) and admit I actively avoid the presence of romance in popular culture outlets. Titanic? Nah fam, haven’t seen it. 50 Shades of Gray? Burn my eyes pls. The Bachelor? Repulsively ignore it (and your tweets about it, too).
Somewhere in the distance Kanye is quietly singing to me. How could I be so heartless. Idk Kanye. Idk. However, let me distinguish that it’s not as much romance itself that I oppose, but rather the social standards established by appropriating the culture surrounding it.
And so it goes. We learn appropriate behavioral cues from the media sources we consume. Let me better phrase that. We are strongly influenced by society’s expectations of how our lives should be. Okay one more time. We are brainwashed by the unrealistic requirements of what we “need” to be happy.
Coming soon to a blog page near you: My riveting life history (abridged)
Relationships, romance, dating. To me it’s crap and aggressively evade it. Why you ask? (& because you missed the key points from section 1?) Well have I got a show for you. *cue the lights* *smoke from the fog machine clears as the anecdote enters*
In barren Verona where we lay our scene. Where pizza rolls make pizza doughs unclean. More seriously though: I haven’t been in a real relationship. I’ve never had an hombre to call my novio (translation: hombre = man. novio = boyfriend). Simply because there was no one who seemed worth my time. It has been solely by choice. Apparently an unfathomable concept (“Whaaat but you’re so funny/not ugly/awesome!”). I suppose these comments intend as compliments or validation but what most don’t realize is you’re all rotten – so keep your compliment change, ya filthy animals. No one’s ever struck my fancy. High school was the peak of my awkward phase. Y’know, the kind of awkward phase that includes the the weirdest, most grandmother-esque clothes you can find at goodwill and bangs that make you look 12 years old (but tbh I’ll never be a day over 16).
I want to say I remember a few people texting me “ur cute” or uncomfortable unbroken eye contact from across the lunchroom (obviously the things we consider harbingers of flirting). But I still wore weird, grandma clothes and was above all that. In the back of my mind I knew it felt immature. Like really. The best you can come up with is ‘ur cute’? I’ve seen better lines on a cracker jack box or a 5 gum wrapper. The sentiment: slightly appreciated. The delivery: boy sit yo ass down.
Quite frankly, I’m waiting for the feeling. No, not the whole ‘love at first sight’ feeling. And no, the other feeling is just nausea from the impressive number of pizza rolls. I’ll meet someone who meets the balance between tolerating my crazy and him not annoying the crap out of me.
Our bff the media throws it back at me a lot with the gross “romance film genre” (that will hopefully be as 2000 and late as the Black Eyed Peas), but also shit like ‘couple goals’ featuring an attractive couple kissing or conquering the world or whatever. Why does the media do this to me (yes I’m taking this personally). I mean granted, sometimes I’m a wreck and eat an entire pint of lactose free ice cream and watch Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando and Paul Newman, only to ask myself. When will I meet a Humpharloman (sounds better in my head). What am I doing wrong to not find a man who owns a nightclub in Morocco & helps me flee the country? Rest assured, I’ll find my Humpharloman. And we’ll always have Paris. So I support the idea of loving, unquestionably. I don’t support the idea of being told how. Which *drum roll, please* leads to the next phase of our romanticized constructs.
The setbacks of establishing early development misconceptions
As a child I was told to assume trustful dependency on a strange man to save me with a kiss while unconscious (BECAUSE CONSENT IS NOT MUTUAL AMIRITE.), I mean I obviously can’t (@ Sleeping Beauty, Snow White). As a child I was told to look past aggression and abusive behavior if a beast locked me in his castle for life, I mean he’s just misunderstood (@ Beauty and the Beast). As a child I was told to sell my soul to the sea which and leave my family forever, I mean it’s worth it to be with a man who is attractive (@ Little Mermaid).
So after the foundations of my childhood romance ideals were set (like concrete honestly) by the patriarchy infused princesses of the 90s, I worked my way up to the king in this monarchy of “what to expect in a man.” Yes. Nicholas Sparks novels and, of course, movie adaptations. I won’t use as many examples for the simple reason that he follows a basic plot line.
— We love each other! We can’t be together because [insert external but easily resolved with proper communication conflict here] [commonly a parental figure]! We reunite because love conquers all! —
Yes. Very touching. Pulls on the heart strings. Now presume I’m referring to the cliche, overly publicized, and most easily recognizable works (you know, the ones that everyone and their mother can quote a line or two from). The two most prevalent issues with ole Nick’s stories are that:
1. Every male lead is a dreamboat with a little baggage. But I mean he’s hot and maybe kinda mysterious but sensitive and faithful and the baggage exists I guess but only as artificial depth to his character (because it somehow doesn’t affect him or signal deeply rooted daddy issues). Fundamentally: he shows no fallible flaws. [Personal note because there’s just a lot of sass and hypercritical judgments that wanna be free: I believe sparks wrote every dreamboat male in his own image and plot twist, is the one with the baggage in the form of a superiority complex.]
2. You can solve a problem by justifying that it’s love. The element of effective communication lacking throughout these paralleled stories (but omg of course such different plotlines. in this one he’s a cowboy.) where we never actually see them talk in depth about how to resolve their problems. It usually just ends in a sex scene or glazing over the problem like a thin layer of icing. Because sex and mollification are the rock solid foundations to healthy, happy relationships (however unfortunately not Dwayne the Rock Johnson solid. but solid nonetheless). So imagine then if no grand, dramatic conflict exist in your relationships? you may doubt the bliss (where you shouldn’t) and subconsciously instigate sparks-esque issues in your own life. you can’t accept that your life isn’t like the movie. you especially can’t accept the failure of not fitting the learned model (or societal law, if you will). this mind frame of denial thus leads to the untimely end of your courtship. so foul is fair and fair is foul and maybe it’s not foul play? just foul misconceptions of reality.
But wait, there’s more… (here’s where I objectively offer unbiased reporting – but in a much more real sense: tear this subject apart)
Y’know when you’re dragging yourself up endless stairs (a treasured pastime) and you think you reached the top, but realize there’s another flight or maybe seven to go? That’s an analogy for this blog post. I imagine you’re thinking (in between labored breathing) “was that not exhausting?” “why hasn’t she stopped yet?” “heaven is a place on earth without stairs” Well. Here I am waiting (Maroon 5 daylight style) to take you to the top flight. You’re the guest of honor to the overarching theme behind this. We just took the more scenic route to our destination to notice the detail of it; we took the long and winding road.
Mostly it’s that in my life I’ve been brainwashed by society to like boys who are mean to me and aren’t actually interested. I know that I do it, too. I’ve tried to spend time with guys who believe i eat rainbows and butterflies for breakfast. But since I’m not your basic, helpless 90s royalty, I don’t need that dreamboat man to swoop in and save me. the whole time I’m wishing for that brooding guy who ignores me and instead assumes i grew up on a daily diet of skulls and human souls (or locks me in a castle, whichever comes first). that in mind. I’m renouncing the presumptions of the patriarchal paradigm set by centuries past that pressured conformity. (the subtle alliteration was only intended after the 3rd P, promise) (also try saying that five times fast). Honestly, I’m renouncing all things within the spectrum of a Katherine Heigl chick flick or the flower department on Valentine’s Day.
I’m renouncing romance.
At this point it appears rather axiomatic that I’m your modern day Miss Havisham; tormenting the streets and harassing everyone in a grungy/raggedy wedding dress (seen only on What Not to Wear, season 2) about how love doesn’t exist. I mean, yeah, slightly true. Just more of a hyperbolic truth (it was the dress from season 3).
Clarification: I simply believe that love doesn’t exist in the way we’ve been led to believe.
Where could these ideologies have stemmed from?! *she asks incredulously as the concrete walls of diction from her childhood, constructed by Walt and Sparks themselves, come tumbling down* I’ll give you a clue (it was them; they did it! gender roles… in the study… with the candlestick!!). Yes. Gender roles. The disappointing second to pizza rolls. So boys and girls: follow the unspoken laws. Learn your social cues. And don’t forget to wash behind your ears.
Gender roles dictated the formative years of my early development. “Why does everything have to be pink? I’m not even pretty in pink.” (Elise Anderson, cerca 2001). “Why do the boys have to go into a separate room to learn the same stuff about human bodily functions?” (Anderson, 2004). “Why are we forced to participate in a school wide ‘battle of the sexes’ as a form of spirit?” (Anderson et al, 2012). “why is there only one gender neutral bathroom in this 9 story residence hall when the toilets in my real home have never shown animosity to who takes a seat?” (Anderson, 2016) (footnote: I’m just saying; to go into a “men’s” room would not be my first rodeo. maybe my 86th. but who’s counting.)
Why? Why?!? *she screams frantically – shaking passerby by the shoulders in bewilderment* What does it all mean?!??!
And as the non-mutually consenting, closet abusive princes we’re subliminally taught to love — may we also emulate the incapable, pink princesses they search for. Ahhh, you know what that smells like? Not teen spirit. That is social learning theory. This is the spark notes of the spark notes: Albert Bandura reaches further than the behavior theories based in using reinforcements. Social learning theory adds additional elements and asserts learning as, 1.) important roles during the cognitive (or internal) process – it’s dependent on the individual, and 2.) reliant on observation of the social surroundings (@ media outlets like popular film and text) and the environment.
We learn it all from taking the social cues of those around us. By result: you must find a prince like him. You must be a princess like her. This is the equation to the ‘happily ever after’ ending ingrained in our epistemology since once upon a time. I’m Simon Cowel’ing this turn, it’ll be a no from me.
J.Cole, pls tell Prince Charming: I don’t wanna be saved.
The degeneration of our generation (I know you just thought to yourself: damn good rhyme) unmasks itself when we expect instead the social construct of love. He’s not a strong man who saves me from the castle he locked me in? He’s not dreamboat male lead archetype? He’s always shushin’ me when I try to have the talk? *she despairingly gives up on the relationship because, while perfect in every other way, his one hamartia is that he doesn’t complete the HIMYM olive theory*
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
Quick review. 1.) Love is a cool thing. 2.) The culture around it grew to be convoluted and shady af. 3.) Now adding to my resume: could be mistaken for cynical banshee, can offend even the english language, but most of all, not easily swayed by social expectations built on antiquated values. 4.) Love is not uniform. Love is not procedural framework to follow. Love is not meant to serve as a media-force-fed paradigm.
Love is any form that gives you the feeling you’ve waited to feel. The loving feeling for little quirks about a person like a weird, double chin face he makes just for you or a subtle snort when he laughs real hard at your fire standup material. And yes, it finally is that charming pizza roll feeling. Only this time you’re stuffing your face with pizza rolls and competing to see who can eat the most (me). To me, that is love.
And in the end, there’s no more Kanye (no sir, I will not let you finish). And in the end, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.
This is my catechism of our relationship romanticization.
[– editors note: the transitions for these were weak af at various times. apologies to the readers. just imagine that my mind has 37 tabs open & maybe forgets that it even opened a web browser in the first place. –]