Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ethics of relationships and relationships in general

In my musings yesterday about what I should blog about, I brought up the topics of ethics in relationships. This is something that interests me, albeit some aspects of it are somewhat academic and/or theoretical to me. As I mentioned in yesterdays post, I have never had what one could call an intimate relationship with a member of either my own or another gender. Keep this in mind when reading the post.

I have had friendships which I tried to change into relationships to the detriment of all parties involved. Four times I have destroyed friendships in such a manner. If my impulsive act in December leads to the same result it ups the number of friendships destroyed to 5. In hindsight, my behavior was inappropriate but I am starting to wonder if it was not also unethical. That is also part of what I would like to think about in this post.

However the difference between me now and me 10-2 years ago is that I have gone through several growth experiences, that I hope have given me sufficient understanding about the issues involved to act slightly more *dignified*.

Perhaps this will save a friendship that I fear has been wounded through what essentially boils down to a feeling of entitlement on my behalf. Such is the dream of course. My own perceptions of myself could be deliberately blinding me to my own flaws, where I dream I have conquered the monster but in reality the monster has conquered me. Sort of like a human rootkit.

I would like to point out to the guys reading this that while women are fully our equals in every field the expectations of society have shaped all the women we know in certain ways. I would advise them to consider the following the Male Privilege Checklist to gain insight into how different the expectations of society shape men and women. What is worse is that many of these expectations are seen as being "natural" and "the one true way" instead of being social constructs which arose due to circumstances reigning at the time.

Also something I have seen to be brought into discussions about gender and gender roles is that of the bell curve. Women are said to be emphatic and men are said to be aggressive. However if we plot aggressiveness and empathy on a bell curve it would reveal that the average man or woman are far closer to each other than they are to the extremes within their own gender. E.g. My natural emphatic ability would be only slightly less than that of the average woman and my level of aggression would only be slightly higher than hers. My aggression would still be substantially less that the woman who makes up the top percentile of the female bell curve on aggression and similarly the emphatic abilities of the top percentile men would be much more than that of the average women.

The simpler version of the above would read "We are all individuals and the ways in which we respond to the world differ but we are closer to the average person of the opposite gender than we are to the extremes in our own". Hence stereotyping men as aggressive and women as empathic helps no one.

Another problem in relationships is that of entitlement. Entitlement is a insidious disease, one that I have in the past succumbed to far to often. Yet it also plays a role in relationships, romantic or otherwise. The feeling that "I have done this for you, you need to do this for me in return, or that you need to give me this because I am special" is rife throughout human interaction.

To illustrate what a sense of entitlement may lead to is the following (Warning Graphic and Disturbing) in the link, a woman is anally raped by her partner to the extent that she ends up in hospital. Now he is sorry. His threat of wanting to commit suicide is simple manipulation through emotional blackmail. What she should tell this guy is to go ahead and kill himself. Some things are unforgivable.

Or an even worse case of entitlement. Some would say that this case is lesser than the one before, I say no, it is worse. Consider the rape case made against the current deputy president of the ANC, Jacob Zuma (yes I am trying to Google bomb).

Without going into too much detail let us consider the ethics of the actions he took. He admits to having unprotected sex with a woman while being married to two other women. He willfully exposed the other two women in his life whom he apparently loves enough to marry to HIV infection.

Quite literally he was not only playing Russian roulette with his own head but that of the two women he married as well. Mr Zuma your desire to have sex with a woman more than half your age is not more important than the health of the women you married.

Remember the above is not even in contention. This is what he said happened. Personally I think he is guilty of rape and his ethical lapses of such a magnitude that everyone should ignore him. That this has not been done is I think a chilling indictment of the society in which we live.

I shall continue in this vein tomorrow.

Daily Tally
Weight = 100kg +/-
M = 0

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