I am not one for the good ole days. I prefer the present to a past filled with isms and oppression. However, there are lessons to be learned from the past, not just what to avoid but also how to behave. In economically first world nations we’re paying a price for losing gender circles. Gone are the days when men and women regularly associated in gender delineated packs. Not sexist divided social structures but places where people communed based upon their sex. Presently social groupings depend upon education, location and workplace affiliation. Many of us live very far from our biological families. There are no cultural associations where we learn how to deal with the opposite sex.
It’s common knowledge that half of all heterosexual marriages end during the first seven years. It takes that long to figure out what to say, what to ignore, when to take over and when to hang back. These are things that elders used to share. Not just any elders but those who had earned places of honor in social networks. This was purposeful and routine. These people cared about the community and knew that strong families were essential to its survival. Sure gossip and ill-conceived advice has always existed but it used to be countered by an abundance of pure wisdom.
Women who’ve been there objectively used to tell brides, “That’s what men do. Just smile and nod.” In some societies newlyweds were separated most of their inaugural marriage year just so that they could learn from experienced community members. Sure we must allow for cultural and historical context but you get my point.
Perhaps we can use social media, cable television and eBooks to impart such information? Imagine having access to conversations in proverbial crafting circles and campsites. That’s reality television worth watching. The gatherings may look different in 2012, men crafting and women camping, but the essence of the talk is probably the same.