When men attempt bold gestures, generally it’s considered romantic. When women do it, it’s often considered desperate or psycho.
~ Carrie Bradshaw (Sex & The City)
In Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook, we see Noah carelessly hanging from a carnival Ferris wheel. He hopes that his bold gesture will be perceived as daring and romantic, and will therefore solidify a date with Allie, the girl he absolutely had to pursue.
Now, of course that’s an extreme scenario (albeit a fictional one), but that pivotal scene always had me wondering what would have happened if the roles were reversed.
If a girl decided to act in a similar manner, would that be seen (in societal terms) as persistent and vulnerable, with shades of romanticism? Or would she be dubbed as ‘crazy,’ or ‘psychotic?’ My personal opinion is that it’s typically the latter.
Let’s explore another scenario — something a bit more realistic than dangling off of an amusement park ride to draw attention.
What if a guy felt compelled to spontaneously stop by a girl’s house, unannounced, in order to convey his feelings, or attempt to save a relationship that was starting to break apart? I don’t know about you, but I’d probably view that scene as somewhat charming. However, if a girl were to suddenly arrive at a guy’s doorstep, yearning to achieve the same feat, I’d presume that she’d probably be seen as a stalker.
Jenna Sauers’s post on Jezebel pokes fun at the portrayal of women in relationships. “This may shock you, but a 30-something single male recently had a run-in with a crazy chick who was, like, really crazy. First, she texted him. When he texted her back, sometimes she texted him more, and sometimes she even texted him drunk.”
While this author is highlighting the subject of communication, this mentality — that women can be easily deemed as ‘crazy’ for taking initiative — can be applied to the realm of bold gestures as well.
The usage of ‘crazy’ in this context isn’t a literal translation for mental health, but a remark on how women act or respond; perhaps it’s a response that is generally considered ‘the thing not to do’ in the world of dating.
Interestingly, Sauers notes that the origin of hysteria is rooted in the Greek word hystera, which was also their word for uterus. “Crazy has been a gendered trait in Western culture for thousands of years,” she said.
When it comes to enacting romantic gestures (the ones that are courageous and insistent and sincere), is there a double standard? Is it all par for the course for our leading men, but frowned upon when the ladies give it a go? I tend to follow the train of thought that society views women as a little too ‘out there’ when they’re adamantly putting their hearts on the line.
Can we break this gender stereotype? It’s possible. Maybe the next time a girl does decide to go out on a limb, ‘desperate’ won’t be in our vocabulary.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Feb 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Suval, L. (2014). Romantic Gestures: Is There a Double Standard?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/02/04/romantic-gestures-is-there-a-double-standard/