For those of you unfamiliar with Everybody Loves Raymond, I’d describe it as your typical updated 1950’s sitcom, featuring the patriarchy’s favorite kind of guy – a bumbling, buffoonish, insensate husband – and its favorite kind of woman, too – a wife who tolerates him for no reason other than she loves him. It’s a nasty stereotype about men, but the purpose of it is to excuse men who function at the level of this character and condition women to think that’s all anyone should expect from men… even though we’re simultaneously told to kowtow to them as the superior gender. (See the linked article for more on this bizarre topic.)
I got trapped with a TV playing this show at my gym last night, and in the few minutes I watched, here’s what I saw. The husband was accusing the wife of never wanting sex anymore, which left him sex-starved. Then the wife very gently informed the husband that the real problem was that he was selfish in bed and she needed more variety in their sexual activity. Once her carefully chosen words finally found a skull pothole and sank in, the husband felt bad about it, but asked why it had taken her twelve years to mention this? Then she felt bad about delaying it so he had even more years of embarrassment to look back on. Aw, poor guy.
Okay, yeah, I realize this might be cathartic to women who get blamed for not lusting after Mr. Unconscious Husband, who have been tolerating selfish marital sex for years because they have no idea how to broach the topic, or don’t feel entitled to, or lack the experience to know what they’d prefer. I’m glad women who are deeply isolated from feminism can get a message like this from somewhere.
But I so hope they don’t stop at what the show presented, because:
- Waiting 12 years shortchanged her. She’s entitled to attentive sex. Yes, entitled, entitled, entitled to an effort on his part. You’re not born a good or bad lover; this is something you can work at.
- He gave himself permission not to notice she was less than thrilled. More specifically, society handed him that permission, and he accepted it without another thought.
- How did we get to the point where this discussion was even needed? How can you like sex and love your partner but not have a vested interest in your partner’s pleasure? It doesn’t even compute, and yet somehow it’s been made into a norm.