Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Striking a balance.

Hi everyone,

I wanted to discuss a balance issue I have witnessed between couples in both Japan and the US. Every pair goes through all kinds of problems, but when two people are upset about who is "doing more of the work," how do we begin resolving this issue? It could be a difference in cultural values, but I wanted to share this idea with you today.

(Note: These are general descriptions of the stereotypes I have encountered. They are not applicable to everyone.)

In my opinion, the "Me Me Me" mindset is the general stereotype of women in the US nowadays. Having experienced this myself first-hand, the woman I was involved with put her needs in first place and made me secondary. Her feelings were the most important, meaning that if she was "happy," that everything else (including my own feelings) was satisfactory. Recognition or understanding of my feelings were frequently lacking, and her pride and ego were a burden on communication. Conflict resolution was the toughest battle, resulting in a lot of unresolved issues. I was explicitly told to put in 70% effort, while she only put in 30% at all times. While being "strong," "dominant," and being treated like a "woman" could be characterized as having sex appeal in the US, I feel the expectations are far too unrealistic and only create frustration.

The Japanese stereotype, on the other hand, is more of a "You you you" mindset. Basically, it is to think of others before yourself, with careful consideration of your own actions as well. Saying your opinion or taking action without anyone's consent is thought to be selfish and inconsiderate. Instead of the woman making the decisions, the men are usually expected to make the final choice. Men are generally above women here, and expect their women to take care of their basic needs (or treat them like a "man"). The imbalance of power lies within women who are 'too considerate' of others feelings, while disregarding or ignoring their own dissatisfaction. This overly altruistic mindset can only add up to a lot of pent up animosity.

So where do we draw the line between balancing both out? I don't necessarily believe that either are the correct approach. Idealistically speaking, a 50/50 effort would strike a great balance.... but I have also realized that this is just as incorrect.

At any given moment, depending on the varying circumstances, the balance could easily tip to 75/25 - 25/75 on either side. No matter how 'equal' the men or the women want it to be, it is a constant push and pull... a balancing act, so to speak. Being able to put your needs away for the other is an absolute necessity. Taking one for granted is a big 'no-no,' but becoming too selfish about how much 'effort' you are making completely disregards the 'effort' they would similarly make for you.

As humans, I think we tend to take a lot of things for granted. Yet, we also start to feel more selfish when the odds are against us. Could it be the lack of understanding that causes the said imbalance issues to arise? Could problems be solved easier if people accepted the 'tug-of-war' for one's attention and needs?