The Battle of the Sexes
The battle of the sexes has raged on as long as anyone can remember. Each sex, at some point, has either wanted or believed they had the upper hand over the other. It can be in the form of a power struggle or manipulation that one sex proves itself dominant over the other. Many times they find that they are evenly matched. The power balance in today’s society is fairly balanced. We have men who show deep feeling and women who are aggressive and harsh. We also have the opposite in both sexes.
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Science is still working to discover how much our DNA affects our sex in terms of aggressiveness, affections and other factors in relationships. Science has yet to prove that there is a battle of the sexes at genetic level. Therefore much of it is dictated by society and its expectations of a particular sex. These expectations change through time and there are always exceptions to the rules. There was a time when women were dominant in certain areas, such as the household and men were relegated to dominate out of doors.
There are other times where males are completely dominant and the female submissive. The roles change back and forth through time, each time getting a little more evenly balanced between the sexes. For the most part, today’s society see men and women as equals. There are still issues to be addressed but for the most part we are equal in almost everything. The movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, is set in present time and shows both sexes as equally driven to succeed. Andi, the main female, is a modern woman who believes most relationships fail because men just don’t understand the female mind.
She believes that men allow themselves be driven off due to certain things women tend to do in relationships. She also believes that men don’t want to put forth the effort that a true relationship takes to succeed. She sets out to prove this by betting her boss she can “lose a guy in 10 days” by doing everything that is usually the death of a relationship. She picks out a man named Ben and sets to work. Andi is a modern woman who believes that she is an equal in every way to the male in a relationship and even superior at times.
She does everything she can to prove her point. She tries things such as clinging, mentioning marriage, calling his mother and many others. Ben, the main male, believes that women want to fall in love and make that the goal of a relationship when they meet a man. He believes that by telling a woman what she wants to hear and overlooking her “quirks” men can make any woman fall in love with them. He too makes a bet with his co workers that he can get a woman to fall in love with in 10 days. He picks Andi at the same time she picks him.
Both believe that they understand the opposite sex better than the other and can gain the upper hand in a relationship. Ben is shown as an over confident male who thinks ignoring all the things she is doing will make her fall in love him within 10 days. Outwardly he overlooks her buying a dog “for them”, interrupting his poker games and similar incidents but inwardly he is cringing. He cannot figure out how she turned into such a clingy, needy, marriage minded woman so quickly. Andi, for her part, cannot believe he has not yet called the relationship off.
Both find that without all the games and manipulation, they are on equal ground and the male-female relationship does not have to be a contest and their perceptions of the opposite sex were not always correct. In the movie, “The Wedding Crashers”, the two main male characters, John and Jeremy, have been breaking hearts for years. They believe that flirting and sex are fine as long as they do not get attached. They portrayed as not believing love is worth the risk you must take to get it. If you fall in love, you get hurt so avoiding commitment of any sort is one of their most basic rules.
They crash weddings to pick up bridesmaids, whom they will never see again and enjoy woman after woman with no regrets. They are successful in business and do not think of the future as it pertains to love. In the 1990, where this movie is set, men are still portrayed as being a more knowledgeable regarding the opposite sex. They believe if they say the right things and keep it casual they are safe from being pulled into a relationship. The women in the film, Claire and her sister Gloria, approach the male –female relationship from opposite directions.
Claire is self assured and believes herself to be too smart to fall for the usual pickup lines and manipulations. She holds herself at a distance to causing men to have to approach her rather than approaching them. Gloria is manipulative and aggressive. She is a cheerful and persistent pursuer and does not allow herself to be deterred. Both women reflect the modern woman in different ways. Claire shows it with her self assurance and Gloria with her belief that she can be the aggressor in a relationship. Both are facets of the era we live in and there is no right or wrong in these representations.
As the characters find out, both sexes can be the user or the used, depending on the circumstance. Claire has the power to draw the men to her by being aloof or unobtainable, thereby issuing a challenge to the males to overcome her barriers. She is diplomatic but does not meet a man halfway. She likes to control the situation on her terms. Gloria is the complete opposite of her sister and goes after her chosen man with using all her wiles. She is sweet one minute and throwing a tantrum the next, all the while keeping her intended fascinated by her mercurial moods.
She has no problem initiating sex and as with most present day women, is not afraid to admit she has a sex drive. Claire is not a prudish woman but chooses more carefully then her impulsive sister. Gloria tends to be needier than Claire, clinging to her chosen man because she worries her clinging will drive him off. Claire is presented as a strong woman who will take only the right man and not just anyone who happens along. When John falls for Claire, Jeremy is stunned and dismayed. He urges John to remember the rules they followed. , who wants an immediate commitment from him.
While John is trying to woo Claire, who remains just out of reach, Jeremy is targeted by Gloria. She begins to pursue him so intensely that she frightens him. The couples are shown as opposites of each other with the female aggressor in one relationship and the male aggressor in the other. It shows the modern day balance that both sexes have worked hard to achieve and maintain. The results are both couples finding out that both mixes work and they really want to continue their . relationships. The Philadelphia Story is set in the 40s and the main female, Tracy Lord, is a rich, spoiled woman used to getting her way.
She has beauty and she has money and that is what really matters in that society. With those two things, she can treat a man anyway she likes and be admired for it. People consider her strong and willful but consider it her right to be so. Of all the characters in this movie, the female Tracy, wields most of the power. While the husbands are given certain due simply because they are men, she uses all the expected female wiles and they capitulate. The males are shown as expected to cater to the woman’s whims because she is a rich and beautiful prize.
The female acts as she is expected to and in return makes demands of the men that must be filled, lest she move on to the next beau. This was an age of romance as well and both men and women were portrayed as romantic at heart. The males are also shown as having a softer side. Tracy breaks up with her groom, George, because he misunderstood a situation and didn’t believe what she told him happened. He storms out, leaving a church full of wedding guests and everything set to go. Another man offers to step in but it is ex husband Dexter, who has been in love with her since they divorced, who marries Tracy.
In the time of “The Philadelphia Story” women were expected to draw the men to them, rather than pursue them openly. There were always exceptions to this rule, especially for the extremely wealthy. Women were to be ladylike at all times, however, this gave them power even as it took some from them. Men could openly pursue a lady but if she chose to play coy or hard to get, they would have to work hard to win her favor. Men were portrayed as sophisticated and suave. They were the aggressors, but only to the point that they be the chosen one.
They still had to curry favor from the female to keep her as their prize. Women were admired more for wealth, beauty and elegance in those days than for intelligence or imagination. Today’s expectations of the sexes are much different for most people. Women are accepted as equally intelligent, imaginative and brave. We now have women in combat; this does not reflect on them as women, it enhances their appeal. Men are doing cooking shows and designing clothing. There are still diving lines in some areas but we are making progress as shown in the films and in life.
Blustain, S. (2000, November). The New Gender Wars. Psychology Today, 33, 42. Cohan, S. (1997). Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Connell, Robert William: Gender and Power, Cambridge: University Press 1987 Essentials of Sociology (2005) Appelbaum,R. , Duneier, M. & Giddius, A. Website: http://www2. wwnorton. com/college/soc/essoc/reviews/ch09. asp Galician, M. (2004). Sex, Love & Romance in the Mass Media: Analysis & Criticism of Unrealistic Portrayals & Their Influence. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) starring Kate Hudson, Matthew McCaughey and Adam Goldberg. Directed by Donald Petrie, Paramount Studios The Philadelphia Story (1940) starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart, Directed by George Cukor, Warner Bros. The Wedding Crashers (2005) starring Owen C Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walkin Directed by David Dobkin, New Line Home Entertainment Channel 14 Battle of the Sexes Website: http://www. channel4. com/science/microsites/B/battle_sexes/ Wikipedia (2007): Culture and Gender Roles Website: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Gender_role#Culture_and_gender_roles