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September 08, 1974 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-09-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

laura Berman
howie brick
contributing editor:
mary long



page four-books
page five-the great

Number 1 Page Three Septembe

r 8, 1974


Sex,. love
By TIMOTHY BARRON overcome - is that a
LAST SUMMER Susan and I split to reject traditional
up. The shock I felt then - one that internalizes as "right'
hasn't yet disappeared - came at least what in turn becomes
partly because I had assumed we would to overcome, no matte
endure. Despite doubts and rocky times, believes the lessons
I quietly believed things would work out solete. The second pr
and we would stay together permanently. though we are quick
It was in the aftermath of our split, reject the choices
when I was feeling a mixture of fear made, the range of n
and confusion, that I first seriously ques- us seldom offers eas
tioned such absolutes as marriage, mono- ers.
gamy, roles, children and commitment. Jack, a thoughful se
And to my surprise, when I looked neither a job nor a s
around, I discovered that my friends, put it this way: "The
and their friends, were beginning to is what I don't wa
face similar conflicts. that's settle for the
Nonetheless, it wasn't until later that But the rest just seem
I realized the first source of conflict I start thinking ab(
seemed to be between generations. It from a relationship, I
was at dinner one night that a spontan- was someone around
eous discussion about our parents got I could act out of sor
underway. Howard Wolowitz,
There were about six of us at the table, 'U' professor who see
and when the conversation turned to how put the problem in me
we would do things differently as parents "One of the conseque
the feelings spilled forth.
"I don't want to be a parent like my
father was," said one of my roommates
in a voice laced with bitterness. "He
knows he failed as a parent by never be-
ing around. I don't even know who he
is, and he doesn't know who I am. We
have very little to talk about. I used to
feel sorry for myself, but now I feel
sorry for him. He missed his chance."
Donna, who had just graduated from
college and is just beginning medical
school saw the limits of her mother's
life: "My mother has always been totally
subordinate to my father. She brought
us up and she shut up about having to
do it. But it's sad now because we've
all left home and she lived through us.
All she has to look forward to is cook-
ing my father's dinner - which he may
or may not like. I'd be bored to death."
PETH, WHO came out of a sheltered,
middle-class background, had slight-
ly different resentments. "How am I
supposed to have made a serious career?
My model was this person who never
worked a day in her life and who en-
couraged me from the beginning to look
for a man - that was the most im-
portant job. I feel like I'm at a big
disadvantage now - men have a 20 year
headstart. It gets my angry.'
I realized the feelings they articulated
probably represented only the tip of an
iceberg. My belief that what hovered
beneath was something much more com-
plex was borne out in subsequent conver-
sations with another 15 or 20 students.
By asking first about attitudes toward
parents, I uncovered a general pattern
that looked something like this: ;
Although we came from educated fam-
ilies, most of us were raised on a diet
of fairly rigid and circumscribed atti-
'tudes about lifestyles. Our parents got
married (and had sex anly after the
vows), made a permanent commitment, roles and fewer outsi
and produced children. If they got di- that if anything goes
vorced, they did so much later, often tionship, it is blame
only to remarry quickly. Roles were Personal satisfaction 2
clear and complementary: the male was a part of identity nov
chief economic supporter, the female was marriage could be sus
baby maker and child rearer. the church or the ki
But for my friends at the University' people would say, or

seemed morally wrong
traditional bets are off. The emphasis that isn't true. Roles,
is instead on a range of constantly ex- up, were functional, a
panding options - remaining single, liv- about them are forer .
ing and sleeping with someone but not ity. Competition is be
getting married, carrying on multiple, the odetmore cm
short-term relationships, not having Healthy as this may b
children. Women are now freer to pursue it will take an awful b
careers, men to undertake family respon- experience to get the
sibilities: more than ever bisexuality out. In the meantime
and homosexuality are acceptable. To
the majority of us who are experience- lots of frustrations, r
hungry, idealistic about relationships, sions, later marriages
and antiauthoritarian, our obvious reac- es."
tion to the new freedoms is positive. Liv- Take Cary 22, an
ing together before marrying, for in-
stance, encourages a much more inti- ing woman whose attit
mate and open way to know someone ed radically in the la
else. Sharing responsibility for childrear- a freshman she met D
ing means that the traditionally distant and lived with him
father ill. knew hie family )%attar a


fib eration:

sharing, but how
not me having the

can I

respond? It's

ire eds,

powerful emotion-
rlies our attempts
beliefs. What one
and "good", and
familiar, isn't easy
er how strongly one
have become ob-
oblems is that al.
and passionate to
our parents have
new options before
y, clear-cut answ-
nior who has found
trong relationship,
only thing I know
nt to do --and
sake of settling.
is like a fog. When
out what I want
almost wish there
telling me. I wish
me higher cause."
a psychiatrist and
es many students,
ore general terms:
ences of undefined

"I THINK it is an incredibly hard and
painful transition. It is wrenching for
me to change my way of relating, parti-
cularly with a woman since it's harder
to hide behind old roles. I was used
to being dominated; I was never bound
by the concept of being a housewife, and
yet a career was really secondary. An
emotionally important relationship was
my biggest priority, and I related to
David the way I did to everyone: the
only way I could be valuable was if I
could be needed. My interest in a ca-
reer wasn't an outgrowth of a strong
self-concept, it was more that I'd al-
ways done well in school and so it
seemed like a logical step. I might have
been a doctor, but you better believe I
would be a married doctor. My involve-
ment with Barbara meant some pretty
serious changes."
Cary is typically ambivalent about the
future: "I'd like a love relationship but
I don't need it absolutely. When I think
about the kind of people I'm attracted
to - strong and independent - and the
emotional needs I have, I'm in a real di-

her telling me, just when we were split-
ting up, that I didn't fulfill some of her
real needs. She said it in a very mat-
ter-of-fact way, but it really threw me.
Needs? I hadn't even thought about
needs. You just had a relationship and
that was that. It wasn't until we were
apart that I began realizing what she
AVID HAS been only sporadically in-
volved since he broke up with Cary
and he is unsure about settling down
again. "I don't know. I'd like to but
I'm supercynical about getting caught in
another relationship like the one I was
in. I look at Cary now, and the ways
she's changed, and I have such mixed
feeling that I realize I don't know what
I want. In one way she is much more
attractive to me now. She's stronger,
more aware of herself, more independ-
ent. I can't help thinking that being in-
volved with a woman has been a large
part of it, getting out of the shadow of
expectations about how to relate to men.
"But that's only one part of it, the

A FEW DAYS later I was walking
down the street discusing careers
with an ambitious woman I know, when
she noticed an adorable five-year-old
boy across the street and lit up. "I love
kids. Seeing one like him makes me
want to be a mother." She smiled but
there was an edge in her voice. "Every
time my maternal instincts flare up I
squelch them, consciously. How am I
going to bring up kids and have a career
at the same time?" Another woman I
talked to, who recently started work in
a day-care center, feels the conflicts
more in a personal than a career con-
text. "There are feelings in me that
say yes, I'd like to be a mother, but
then I say, what if I had a kid now?
What would I be doing with a kid?
The kids I work with, a lot of them, are
really unhappy. Would I want to have
an unhappy kid? Would I want to be
responsible for that? It's frightening. I'd
like the father to be someone nice, and
I'm worried about the idea of his not
being around. I don't want to be mar-
ried, but I'd feel more inclined to have
a child if I was. That's another con-
fusing thing."
Joanne Veroff, a local psychologist,
considers the ambivalent attitude toward
children, particularly among women, a
fascinating new phenomenon. "With birth
control and abortion and the end to so-
ciety's expectation that everyone should
have children, the decision becomes yet
another personal choice. Young people
seem to believe they shouldn't have child-

AIthough we came from educated
families, most of us were raised on
a diet of fairly rigid and circum-
scribed attitudes about lifestyles.
Our parents got married (and had
sex only after the vows), made a
permanent commitment, and pro-

we wanted to do.dIn a lot of ways he
had been rare. Sexually he didn't have
to be the aggressor and he wasn't con-
cerned only with his own orgasm. He
cared about whether I was enjoying sex.
After our relationship was over, I was
celibate for a long time, and I even
got to like the feeling of independence,
but eventually I began seeing other men.
They were usually trying to exploit me
sexually, and I felt I was being used
as a receptacle. I began to distrust men
in general, and I suppose one reason
was that I felt I had so many hurdles
to face that men didn't. I began resent-
ing them and I got pretty cynical.
"I like men. I want a man and I want
to be in love. But I keep meeting ones
who didn't emotionally fill needs, and
I realized that it was characteristically
only with my female friends that I got
fulfillment. I had a sense of resignation
that some day I might have to have
a gay relationship. I hadn't had one be-
fore because of the guilt, the fear, the
hassles, but mostly, I guess, because
I never met a woman where it worked
out. I think I would have had an affair
if I had met someone.
"I DON'T TAKE as much shit as I
used to, but my tendency is still to
fail into a dependent role because I like
strong men. It's a constant fight. One
night I was in bed with a guy I had
been seeing and he told me he thought
I was getting too serious. That made
me furious. I'd felt good/about the fact
that we'd been able to keep it light, and
I'd been enjoying it anyway. But then
I realized the reason I was so angry
was because here was another male
denying feeling, pushing away commit-
ment, and here I was, a typical female,
trying to deny that it mattered when it
Ann has discovered that many men
aren't ready to deal with women on an
equal, nonexploitative basis. But I saw
men who were plagued with the opposite
problem - women apparently less ready
to reject expectations than they were.
Jamie, for example, a sgihtly clumsy,
bespectacled 20-year-old talked about his
troubles with forthright innocence and
great intensity: "The girl I'm seeing
was taught to believe the male is dom-
inant; she was brought up in an Ortho-
dox Jewish household. She wants me to
take the lead in the things we do sex-
ually, and I have trouble with that. My
parents spent so much time trying to
make me guilt-free about sex that now
I'm self-conscious and unnatural. I tell
her I'm a bit inexperienced myself, and
she's got to have patience, but she ex-
pects me to get things going. I guess
I believe in men's liberation as much
as women's liberation. The barrier of
men having to act strong and sexually
dominant is idiotic. I would probably
have an impossible time staying involv-
ed wtih a woman who was locked into
that role."
ENOUGH TALES. What of the future?
Today's confusion is tomorrow's un-
certainty. Many young people today can
imagine a future alone, but few can ac-
cept that possibility as a likely alter-
native. Nearly everyone struggles with
conflicts they are only beginnnig to un-
derstand. For my part, I feel divided.
That notion that I'll feel less pressured
to put work before relationship, that I'll
be involved with someone who has a
challenging career, and that before any
marriage commitment, I'll live with thei
person long enough to know what I'm
getting into - all these assumptions
seem enormously attractive. On t h e
other hand, I can't imagine coping with
multiple relationships or bisexuality. I
don't want to compromise if there's the

prospect of a more satisfying alternative
out there, but I also don't want to spend
my life in a constant and ultimate fruit-
less search for the ideal.
For now - hard times, much turmoil.
Lisa, a wry and perceptive 20-year-old
woman, says it well for many of us.
Her family is solidly traditional and
middle class; her current friends, whose
backgrounds are similar, are all making
varied and valiant efforts to check the
past and test the future.
"You want to know, the truth? I'm
so free I'm lost. I can't stand to be
dominated but I only like dominant men.
I don't expect to be married at 30, but
that scares me to death. Lesbianism is
the new thing. You've gotta consider it.

duced children.
vorced, they did

If they got di-
so much later,

often only to remarry quickly. Roles
were clear and complementary:
the male was chief economic sup-
porter, the female was baby maker
and child rearer . .. But for my

friends of

the University,


tional bets are off.

: ;na:.:v..;N.;.. " r. :. ' Y"K^.';:,s 'R?" :f h:a k .. \;c: '; :,3: ';:;:? .< :'3 ':Y":c :n: >,: i:;..;,:y;; ,,..

de expectations is
wrong in a rela-
ed on one's self.
is so much more
ww. Before, a bad
tained because of
ids or what other
simply because it
g to end it. Now
as they were set
nd the new ideas
unners of irstabil-
ginning to replace
plementary order.
e in the long run,
ot of generational
ese things ironed
, you can expect
esentment, confu-
and more divorc-
intense and strik-
tudes have chang-
.st two years. As
)avid, fell in love,
for most of the

lemma, I don't even know if I'll settle
down with a man or a woman. But
either way, let's say my lover gets a job
in Florida; and I get into school on
the West Coast, what are we going to
do? And I suspect it may happen some-
time. So maybe you solve the problem
once, but then what precedent does it
set for the next time? It is showing
weakness, is it damaging one person?
There are lots of qustions, and there's
a lot of room for resentment."
"It's hard to come to terms with, but
I think 'enduring' may come to mean
a few years and not a lifetime. That
scares me. Maybe people won't make
serious emotional commitments until
much later in life. When things seem
impossible I say, well maybe when I'm
35 and we're both settled . ."
Not surprisingly, the experience of the
last year has been one of great change
not only for Cary, but also for David.
"It was devastating for me when I
found out about Cary, of course - ego
crushing and scary. It was frightening
partly because it meant I was without

positive side when I'm rational and
objective and not hurting. The other
side is that I think Cary has lost some
of her softness and gentleness -- and
that bothers me. She doesn't care as
much about how she looks, and she is
less vulnerable, and innocent. Maybe
that's chauvinistic, but those are quali-
ties I liked,. ones I wish more men had.
"Also I think the force of my per-
sonality, forgetting whether it belongs
to a man or a woman, tends to push
anyone I get involved with into a sub-
ordinate role. I don't want to do that,
but it's hard. I sympathize with women
who find it difficult not to subordinate
themselves, because I find it difficult
not to dominate. In the last year, at
times when I've been working hard,
I've said to myself, 'Thank God I'm
not in a heavy relationship now 'cause
I'd really screw it up. Maybe that
means going my own way."
David grimaced and looked at me
plaintively. "Does it really have to
be all or nothing?"
-f - n f _ A ~ M r n~fo tn

ren unless they themselves are together
and have fully formed identities. In my
own case, I learned a lot about myself
by bringing up children. If people decide
to wait until they have strong identities
before having children, they may just
end up not having children at all. It's
funny, but it never seems to occur to
the students I talk with that maybe you
don't have to be a perfect parent. Plenty
of healthy, happy kids have imperfect
NOWHERE ARE our conflicts more
highly charged, and the ability to
sort them out less successful, than in
the area of sexuality. Other kinds of
struggles may be smoothed over by
words, or simply denied; with sex it's
all in the open.
Although few people seem involved in
multiple relationships, many struggle
even in traditional setups. Ann, an at-
tractive woman who graduated this
spring, found that no single sexual pos-
sibility - and she's tried a range of them
- has proved ideal. "My ideal goal when
T ra ma to 11 .: , .. 4..- -I

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