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Why is the image of women as the guardians of male morality still so pervasive?

(40 Posts)
Bramshott Sun 02-Oct-11 11:52:50

"A letter to" in yesterday's Guardian here started me wondering why in this day and age, the view of women as the guardians of men's morals is still SO widespread? You see it on here on the relationships pages all the time - the idea that husbands can be 'stolen' and that its the OW who has betrayed the marriage much more than the husband - the idea that men are always going to cheat and it's up to women to stop them, whether that's the wife who should have "nipped this in the bud" or "put her foot down earlier", or the OW who should have not been available.

Clearly the letter is written by someone who has been betrayed and is very hurt, but IMHO saying "Men couldn't cheat if there was no one to cheat with" is just one step away from teaching abstinence to girls only in schools - making women always responsible for morality rather than putting the onus on men to behave better, and blaming them when they don't.


runoutofideasforanickname Sun 02-Oct-11 12:07:07

Women are the gate keeper's of their own sexual morality. Men are designed to fornicate and reproduce and if there's an open gate !! That's not an excuse for men to act immorally but nature determines that men are more sexually driven than women and it therefore takes them more effort to resist temptation.

SinicalSal Sun 02-Oct-11 12:15:11

No that is not true Runoutofideas, both men and women are 'hardwired to reproduce' and also to have sex for it's own sake. It's society that's telling us that it's ok for men to follow their urges but not women. It's very deeply ingrained but it's not innate.

SinicalSal Sun 02-Oct-11 12:20:45

In answer to your question Bramshott, I suspect it's because:
It's a dirty job (imposing some sort of order on the messy business of sexuality, and all that goes with it, inheritance etc) so somebody's got to do it.
And that somebody should be the somebody who is in the sex class anyway.
Sex is nice and it wouldn't be fair if men had to impose limits on themselves and make themselves feel guilty over something that is so life enhancing and neccessary and a mark of virility and strength.

sportsfanatic Sun 02-Oct-11 12:25:16

It's the old double standard isn't it?

SardineQueen Sun 02-Oct-11 12:28:05

Of course men should be allowed to do anything they like, and if they do something wrong it is the fault of the woman.

Didn't you know that?!!

It's the same as the rape myths isn't it. Oh it's her fault she led him on she had a short skirt on blah blah

Horrible pervasive entrenched stuff, and so damaging.

Riveninabingle Sun 02-Oct-11 12:32:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bramshott Sun 02-Oct-11 12:33:33

"men are more sexually driven than women" - you see I just don't believe that's true runoutof. It's just a 'get out of jail free card' for men who can blame 'biological urges' for their bad behaviour, and an neat excuse to castigate women and make them feel it's all their fault and if only they had been 'more pure' everything would be okay.

runoutofideasforanickname Sun 02-Oct-11 12:38:33

So what we are talking about is morality itself and of how to instill it in society as a whole, would it help if there were more moralistic tv shows, newspapers and media content. Yes it would but you can you put the genie back ino the lamp? So where does that leave us? Moralist education in schools and at home most certainly, but your up against it when you try to instill moral values in your child when all around all they see is contradictions.

OneHandFlapping Sun 02-Oct-11 12:40:16

SardineQueen, I think you've just put your finger on the source of the "oh she was asking for it" myths. It's just the other side of the coin of women as guardians of sexuality.

yellowraincoat Sun 02-Oct-11 12:41:55

I just don't believe that men are more sexual than women. I've been in relationships where I've been the more sexual one and relationships where my male partner has been.

I hate hate hate this thing where women who've been cheated on blame the other woman. The other woman owes you NOTHING, unless she is a friend/colleague.

SinicalSal Sun 02-Oct-11 12:43:39

I don't think it's morality per se, runoutof, but more applying the same standards, whatever they are, on both sexes.

runoutofideasforanickname Sun 02-Oct-11 12:45:16

Rivenina; It is true, it is proven, look it up, men are more sexually driven than women.

Catslikehats Sun 02-Oct-11 12:46:32

"men are more sexually driven than women" is a ridiculous assertion and tied into the idea that sex is dirty/wrong and not for the enjoyment of women.

I understand that the woman writing that letter is doing so out of pain but it strikes me as more than a little pathetic to be looking to the OW and not the person who ultimately betrayed her.

Deeply entrenched anti women sentiment and deeply depressing.

Bramshott Sun 02-Oct-11 12:56:04

It is interesting as well as infuriating though isn't it - because otherwise sensible women who probably have no time for rape myths often subscribe to this sort of sentiment without realising that it's the same thing.

Catslikehats Sun 02-Oct-11 13:22:07

I agree. I was thinking about this today as there was what I thought was a deeply unpleasant thread on relationships last night/this morning where a woman posted that she was feeling attracted to her boss and was contemplating cheating.

She came in for a lot of very unpleasant comments and was clearly seen as the one at fault, but also as just a "hole" to him. very depressing reading I thought.

Riveninabingle Sun 02-Oct-11 13:27:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wamster Sun 02-Oct-11 15:24:25

Why? Because it suits men to have women blame each other for their bad behaviour. Maybe infidelity is not abuse -I don't think that it is, actually- but it has an element in common with abuse i.e. men saying: 'she made me hit her', 'if you put your put down with me, I wouldn't have done that'.

It also suits women to blame each other, too, because, obviously, it is easier to blame a third party (i.e. the 'hussy' that your husband has cheated with) than accept that you've invested a lot of time into somebody who has turned out to be a cheat.

JLK2 Sun 02-Oct-11 17:18:55

Men are more driven to have sex with lots of women than women are driven to have sex with lots of men. It makes sense, a man can get many women pregnant but a woman can only get pregnant by one man at one time.

SardineQueen Sun 02-Oct-11 17:53:54

You ignore the possibility that women might enjoy sex, JLK2.

TheRealTillyMinto Sun 02-Oct-11 18:18:21

JLK2 your argument does not work on the numbers: say one man impregnates 5 women. If we say there are approximately the same number of men and women, what where the other 4 men doing? They weren’t impregnating the 5 women because the women were already pregnant.

BelleDameSansMerci Sun 02-Oct-11 18:23:50

Where's SGB? Suggest that JLK has a read of this thread.

I suspect that the reason that women are held as the guardians of male morality is that they are then resolved of all responsibility. It suits them. It can also suit the wronged woman (I currently am one fwiw) to blame the other woman rather than face up to the fact that, perhaps, her partner simply preferred someone else. Or didn't think enough of them to not keep it in his trousers.

BelleDameSansMerci Sun 02-Oct-11 18:25:03

"They are then resolved of all responsbility" meaning "abolved" and "they" being men... Don't type tired smile

BelleDameSansMerci Sun 02-Oct-11 18:25:14

Absolved, FFS.

lostinafrica Sun 02-Oct-11 18:31:12

That letter is a depressing read, isn't it? "The letter you wished you'd written" should surely be to the person you've invested in a relationship with and who betrayed you, no? It's hugely disparaging to the man to say "if it hadn't been you it would have been someone else." She came across as bitter and in need of some time and perspective. Such a shame that her bitterness seemed aimed at the OW only, not her H. They were BOTH at fault!

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