1182000 Dr. Kathryn Keller
Montclair University  
Gendered Close Relationships

There are notable differences in the ways women and men, in general, approach close relationships.

Male Deficit Model
The male deficit model maintains that men are not adept at intimacy because they are less interested and/or able than women to disclose emotions, reveal personal information and engage in communication about intimate topics.

The solution recommended is for men to overcome masculine socialization by getting in touch with their feelings and learning to communicate openly and expressively.

Personal disclosures are the crux of intimacy; women have more intimate relationships than men boys' friendships lack the emotional depth of girls' friendships, and males focus on activities to avoid intimacy.

Alternate paths model - The alternate paths model agrees with the male deficit model that  gendered socialization is the root of differences in women's and men's typical styles of interacting.  It departs from the deficit model, however, in important ways.

First the alternate paths viewpoint does not presume that men lack feelings and emotional depth, or that relationships and feelings are unimportant in men's lives.  Rather, this explanation suggests that masculine socialization constrains men's comfort in verbally expressing some feelings and, further, that it limits men's opportunities to practice emotional talk.

A second important distinction is that the alternate paths model argues that men do express closeness in ways that they value and understand - ways that may differ from those of feminine individuals but that are nonetheless valid.

Scott Swain - men's perceptions of their close friendships.  He discovered that men develop a closeness "in the doing" - men engage in activities not as a substitute for intimacy, but, in fact, as an alternate path to closeness.
Men do no generally express intimacy through self-disclosure.   Also, There is also increasing evidence that talking about problems may be less effective than diversionary activities in relieving men's stress and enhancing their feelings of closeness.

Gendered Friendships

Differences Between Women's and Men's Friendships
How women and men create friendships and how they communicate feelings of closeness.
Paul Wright - women tend to engage each other face to face, while men usually interact side by side.
Men doing things together - for women being and talking together is the essence of close, personal relationships.

The fact that women use talk as a primary way to develop relationships and men generally do not underlies four gender-linked patterns in friendship.  First, communication is central to women friends, while activities are the primary focus of men's friendships.  Second, talk between women friends tends to be expressive and disclosive, focusing on details of personal lives, people, relationships, and feelings; talk in men's friendships generally revolves around less personal topics such as sports, events, money, music, and politics.  Third, in general, men assume a friendship's value and seldom discuss it, while women are likely to talk about the dynamics of their relationship.  Finally, women's friendships  generally appear to be broader in scope than those of men.

Because women are socialized to be attentive, supportive, and caring, certain problems may arise in their relationships.  Clinicians have pointed out that feminine norms of communication make it difficult for women to deal with feelings of envy and competition. It is not that women do not experience envy and competitiveness but rather that they think it's wrong to have such feelings.

Women may repress or avoid talking about envy and competitiveness and thus create barriers and distance.
It's also the case that women may find it difficult to override socialization's message that they are supposed to be constantly available and caring.  Thus, when women lack the time or energy required to nurture others, they may feel guilty and self-critical.

In summary, women's friendships tend to develop out of the central role accorded to communication, which allows disclosures, expressiveness, depth and breadth of knowledge, and attentiveness to the evolving nature of the relationships.  Because they know the basic rhythms of each other's life, women friends often feel interconnected even when not physically together which allows women's friendships to continue even when not geographically close.

Men's Friendships:  Closeness in the Doing.

Scott Swain "closeness in the doing".
Men's relationships are distinguished by what Swain labeled "covert intimacy."  In contrast to the over expressions of caring between women, men tend to signal affection through  indirect, nonverbal means.  These include joking, engaging in friendly competition, razzing, and being together in comfortable companionship.   Affectionate punching and backslapping
Men's friendships are often, although not always, more restricted in scope than are women's  Men tend to have different friends for various spheres of interest rather than doing everything with any single friend.  Overall, men's friendships involve shared activities, instrumental demonstrations of commitment, covert intimacy, and limited spheres of interaction. Women's friendships tend to last over distance and time, whereas men's friendships are more restricted.

Gendered Romantic Relationships
The cultural script:
women should be attracted to men, and men should be attracted to women.
More feminine women and more masculine men are desirable.
Men should initiate, plan and direct activities and have greater power within the relationship.
women should facilitate conversation, generally defer to men, but control sexual behavior.
Men should excel in status and earning money, and women should assume primary responsibility of the relationship, the home, and the children.
The conventional heterosexual dating script calls for women to be passive and men to take initiative.  Although many people, especially women, claim not to believe in these gender stereotypes, research suggests that most heterosexuals conform to them.  Conformity seems to reflect both our internalized sense of how we are supposed to be and the belief that the other sex expects us to meet cultural gender ideals.  Thus, women tend to play feminine and men tend to play masculine, each reflecting and perpetuating established social views of gender.

There are exceptional to compliance with cultural scripts.  Androgynous individuals .  Less role playing between gay men and even less between lesbian women.
Within love involvements, women are generally expected to assume the role of "relationship expert."
In lesbian couples, partners tend to take mutual responsibility for nurturing the dyad and for providing emotional direction and support.  Because both women are likely to have internalized feminine identities, both are attentive to intimate dynamics.  Gay couples, on the other hand, are least likely to have a partner who nurtures the dyad and provides emotional leadership.
Despite efforts to increase quality between the sexes, enduring heterosexual love relationships, in general, continue to reflect traditional gender roles endorsed by the culture.  Men tend to be perceived as the "head of the family" and the major breadwinner; women tend to assume primary responsibility for domestic labor and child care; and men tend to have greater power.
Following the best-friend relationships with the added dimensions of sexuality and romance, lesbian relationships tend to be monogamous and high in emotionality, disclosure, and support, and partners have the cost equality of all types of relationships.  Gay couples are less monogamous and more tolerant of extrarelationship sexual involvements , keenly sensitive of power issues, and lowest of all relationships in expressiveness and nurturance.
Gendered modes of expressing care.  -
Women generally create and express closeness through personal talk and instrumental actions, while men rely predominantly on instrumental activities.  This difference complicates heterosexual partners' efforts to achieve intimacy.
Gendered preferences for autonomy and connection - Autonomy and connection are two basic needs of all humans.  Masculine individuals tend to want greater autonomy and less connection than feminine persons, whose relative priorities are generally reversed.  It is not that men want only autonomy and women want only connection.  Both sexes tend to want both, yet the proportionate weights women and men assign to autonomy and connection generally differ.
Gendered power dynamics - Generally, both women and men believe that men should be more powerful, and this varies only slightly when a female partner's job equals a male's in prestige and salary.  egalitarian relationships become more traditional with the birth of a child.

Varieties of Intimate Relationships -
Heterosexual Marriages -  Are legal contracts although we think of them as partnerships.  Marriages are still subject to government regulations , and there is variation among the 50 states as to the specific conditions of the marriage contract.  For example, Alabama voters yesterday to remove the prohibition of inter-racial marriages from state law (although the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional in the late 1960s).  In most states, the husband continues to determine the place of residence.
Marital relations are fundamentally power relations.  Who has the power?  It will depend on how we measure power in marriage.  Major decision-making.  Most recent research has found that the partner who earns more money tends to be the more powerful partner as measured by decision-making.  However, important qualifiers - among couples who adhere to the belief that men should be the primary family breadwinners, husbands are more powerful regardless of either partner's earnings.  
Also -useful in determining a couple's relative power in marriage is the meaning couples give to women's paid employment and unpaid household labor.
Gender and Housework: Who does What?  
When it comes to housework, research consistently shows that wives spend more time on these chores than husbands do - as much as five times more hours per week.  .  Apart from the amount of time wives and husbands spend on housework, there are also differences in the kind of work they do around the house.  Wives usually do most of the daily chores, such as cleaning and cooking.  Men do less regular and less repetitive chores.  Wives experience more time constraints because of the types of household chores they do, whereas husbands have more control over when they will do their chores.  Wives have less leisure time.  
There is no denying that many couples today do strive to be more egalitarian, especially early on in their marriages, with a more equal division of labor between spouses.  However, even couples who wish to be egalitarian often find that their effort toward an equal division of labor breaks down they become parents.

Caregiving - Ralph LaRossa, "Fatherhood and Social Change"- There is an asynchrony between the culture and conduct of fatherhood.  
Culture of fatherhood (specifically the shared norms, values, and beliefs surrounding men's parenting) and there is the conduct of fatherhood (what fathers do, their paternal behaviors)
Fathers' levels of engagement, accessibility and responsibility were only a fraction of the mothers; and that fathers tended to spend a greater part of their care giving time playing with their children. Moreover, we found that the kinds of play that fathers were likely to be involved in were the kinds of activities that could be carried out at a secondary (semi- involved) level of attention (example, watching television)
Fathers have internalized the idea that they should be more involved with their children, but on another level of consciousness they do not find the idea all that attractive.  Primary time and secondary time (LaRossa's term)
The consequences of the asynchrony between the comparatively speaking "modern" culture of fatherhood and the "less modern" or "traditional" conduct of fatherhood are the emergence of the technically present but functionally absent father, and increase in marital conflict in childbearing and child-rearing families, and a greater number of fathers, especially in the middle class, who feel ambivalent and guilty about their performance as fathers.  

Single-Parent Families -86% of children living in single-parent home live with their mothers
The single-parenting experiences of men and women are different.  Single fathers are more likely than single mothers to be well-educated, employed full time and at least middle class.  Single fathers are often seen as somewhat extraordinary - but also as incompetent parents.

Single mothers tend to receive less support from others.  But the biggest problem of most single mothers is money.  Feminization of Poverty - some analysts feel that both no-fault divorce  and lack of child support enforcement are major contributing factors to the feminization of poverty.
Event-driven poverty - consequence of divorce.
Although men almost always fare better than women economically following divorce, they often do not do as well emotionally or psychologically.  One indication of this is the higher remarriage rate of divorced men compared with that of divorced women.  

Singles and Domestic Partnerships - The single population in the US is very diverse.  In addition to never-married heterosexuals, the single population includes gay men and lesbians who are not involved in a committed relationship; women and men, heterosexual and homosexual, who are not married but living with an intimate partner in what is called a domestic partnership, and separated, divorced, and widowed women and men with or without dependent children.  

Heterosexual Singles and Domestic Partners
For most heterosexual young adults, singlehood is a temporary status.  The vast majority eventually marry, but they are delaying marriage longer than in the past.  190 24 for women and 26 for men.  However, the number of people who have never married has increased across all age groups --now at 27% for males and 20% for women.
Domestic Partnerships - about 4 million couples Domestic partnerships are relatively short - about 2 years - either ends in marriage or a breakup.  When domestic partners want to add children, they usually marry.  Most domestic partnerships are childless.  Third, most domestic partners (56%) have never been married and many have divorced parents.
Domestic partnerships do not appear to be more equalitarian than married couples.

Gay and Lesbian Singles and Domestic Partners -Research is continuing to refute many of the beliefs commonly held about gays and lesbians - such as promiscuity, inability to form committed intimate relationships.  Equality between partners is highly valued - particularly in lesbian relationships - a significantly higher percentage of lesbians than heterosexual women report being rated as equals by their intimate partners.
Some changes in attitudes toward homosexual relations - particularly among the younger groups. Problems occur because these relationships do not have legal sanction.  Same-sex marriage (Vermont - what happened there?)
The biggest problem for gays/lesbians seems to be in the area of parental rights.  Only 6 states permit adoptions by same-sex couples.  Research consistently shows that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are emotionally healthy, well-adjusted, have little effect on a child's sexual orientation.  

Violence in Families and Intimate Relationships -
July, 2000 National Institute of Justice, drawing on a population that was 99% heterosexual, found that 25% of women and 8% of men, were victims of an abusive relationship sometime in their lives.
The official statistics probably underestimate the problem.  
About 12% of adult intimates experience at least one incident of physical abuse at the hands of their partners.
Straus's findings suggest that far from being a one-sided attack, partner abuse is usually mutual abuse, an exchange of physical and psychological abuse between partners.
Some researchers have cited findings that appear to show that women assault their male partners as much as men assault women.  Women do report using violence against their husbands or boyfriends at about the same or even a slightly or even a slightly higher rate than men report using violence against their wives or girlfriends.

However, what does further research show? (See Jack C. Straton, "The Myth of the 'Battered Husband Syndrome'")
Some researchers have used the "Conflict Tactics Scale" which doesn't discriminate between intent and effect.  For example there is no difference between a slap that stings ands a punch that causes permanent injury.  There is no difference between a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs.  There is no difference between a violent who defends her daughter against the father.
The extent of the violence - these studies take a single year rather than a looking over time.  
When both partners are interviewed independently, there is great discrepancy.  Men tend to underreport and minimize the extent of the violence.
The surveys exclude incidents of violence that occur after separation and divorce, yet these account for 75.9% of spouse-on-spouse assaults, with a male perpetrator 93% of the time.
The CTS does not include sexual assault as a category although more women are raped by their husbands than beaten only.
Police and court records persistently indicate that women are 90 to 95 percent of the victims of reported assaults.  U.S. national Crime Surveys shows that men who are assaulted by their spouses actually call the police more often than women who were assaulted by their spouses.
87% of men murdered in the U.S. are killed by other men.  3% of male homicide victims are killed by wives, ex-wives or girlfriends. About one third of female homicide victims are killed by husbands, ex-husbands, or boyfriends.  
Partner Abuse in Gay and Lesbian Relationships
.    Though statistical research has been spotty, researchers believe abuse is as prevalent among gay or lesbian couples as among heterosexual ones.  
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, a network of 24 nonprofit gay and lesbian organizations has found that cases of domestic violence among, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have risen 235 in 1999.  Lesbians reported as much abuse as gay men did, although other surveys have found more violence in gay male relationships
The issue of gay domestic abuse has been shrouded by silence until very recently.  Victims face extraordinary challenges from the courts, the legal system and often their friends and families.  Many fear exposure, or find services do not meet their needs.  No shelters exist for battered men.  Even women's shelters often do not protect victims from their abusers, if those abusers are women.   The gay victim is not taken seriously.  In many states, gay men and lesbians cannot get protective orders in Family Court even though married couples or heterosexual couples with children can.  Instead, gay men and lesbians can only get the orders in the criminal courts, and only after the police have intervened.
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Last updated  2008/09/28 05:09:45 PDTHits  1350