A Woman’s Responsibility?

October 10, 2016

(Please understand, I’m not trying to condone or condemn anyone with this.  I’m just trying to outline some speculation on responsibilities and roles in relationships.  I’m also not going to get into legalities.  Also, I know it is a very standard presentation of the argument, but it could apply to all types of relationships.)

So… Donald Trump has engaged in this tactic of attacking Hillary Clinton through Bill’s affairs.  My general feeling is “So you’re dredging this up to prove a point?  That Hillary shouldn’t be President because Bill is too much like you?”  Anyway, I had a brief conversation about it with a conservative individual who brought up an interesting point.  Kind of point I haphazardly touched on years ago when I was young and stupid, but still interesting.  The idea suggested was that it showed a lack of control from Hillary of Bill.  Now, I’m going to outline a speculative piece, because it does raise some interesting questions in my mind about roles in relationships.

There have been a couple of scenarios in my own life that kind of add some interesting details to it.  Mostly its some ancient history, but it frames my discussion a bit.

First story is about an aunt and uncle.  To sum up, there were some drugs and alcohol involved that ended with my uncle in jail.  I’m not going into detail, but it did make the newspapers.  Some people in the family have criticized my aunt’s handling of it, basically stating that she was not nearly as concerned with her children’s safety as she should have been.

Second is a point about an old relationship that went sour just over a year ago.  I’ve written a lot about this, but I wanted to use an anecdote to position the question a bit more.  Few months after breaking up we got into a bit of a back and forth over some of what I wrote here.  In that exchange, she made some remark about how I should “read a book about sex and the female body.”  This stuck with me because for two reasons.  One, I had been reading about such things when we were still together because I wasn’t really happy with my sexual prowess either.  And two, a lot of what I read indicated the woman should be taking the responsibility to make sure I’m getting the job done right.

I’m just using that bit of history to frame this line of questioning.  I have raised questions about the amount of responsibility she’s taken for much of anything, but as far as I’m concerned, it is ancient history.

So the questions I’m speculating on are really concerned with where do you really draw those lines of responsibility?  Let’s not forget, everybody is wired differently.  My ex never really acknowledged that I could’t exactly look up a cheat code to push the right buttons to make us live happily ever after, even though she had that expectation.  And as much as I took responsibility for that ending, I would be lying if I said I didn’t think she could have accepted more responsibility for the state of our relationship at the end.

My aunt was in a position where my uncle was out of his mind, putting her and my cousins in danger.  It can be easy to criticize how she responded, but there can be any number of factors involved.  Should she have left him?  Easily to say “yes”, but if you were in that position with your significant other, would you?

Which brings me back to what’s gotten this back to bouncing around my head: Hillary Clinton.  Now the idea she hasn’t shown enough “control” over Bill is a… it’s a tricky idea.  I’m not going to get into an exploration of the Clintons’ marriage, plenty has been written about that already.  But the question I come to is, how much control does one really expect in a relationship?  As I said, everybody is wired differently and Bill Clinton has a very strong personality.  How much control could one really exert over him?  And how much should a relationship be about control?

Balance.  The idea of balance is key to a lot of things.  I think one of the biggest faults in my own relationships has been a lack of balance.  I think a basis in control is dangerous and the idea that Hillary’s lack of “control” of her husband being a fault is also dangerous.  However, what I wonder about now is: where is that balance of responsibility?  Does a wife really have a responsibility to control her husband?  Everybody is different, so it will vary from person to person.  As a result, judging all relationships by the same standards is bit of a trap.  The dynamic at work with the Clintons probably is abrasive to the majority to the population and questionable, but be cautious when you judge it.  I’m sure a lot people think she should have left her husband, but how much does their dynamic really matter?

So how do we judge relationships?  Good, bad, in-between?  What criteria do we use?  Where are those lines of responsibility drawn?  I would imagine it varies from person to person and judging them by the same standard can be misleading.  I suppose if people have found that balance, that is the key to the matter.

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