Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Man Shadows revisited

Some more thoughts

Last week, I made a post about how many women are handicapped in sailing by having men who cast shadows, similar to wind shadows, over the women. An anonymous commenter observed that I shouldn’t completely blame men for the problem.

Anonymous has a point. While often it is the actions of men – being discouraging, or protective, or pushing too hard, or whatever – that keeps women back, that’s not the only factor in a man shadow. Sometimes it is the woman who chooses to remain in the shadow rather than sail out of it. I did briefly touch on that issue in my original post, when I mentioned women who had the time but who didn’t want to come to the lake alone when their men couldn’t be there.

For many women, being in the shadow is comfortable. The man is the skipper, and the woman is crew, and everything works fine, and she doesn’t have to take any responsibility if something goes wrong. And if the couple is comfortable with that, there’s nothing wrong with that arrangement. But sometimes I wonder what potential the woman might have if she were willing to break out.


Blogger Fred said...

>> But sometimes I wonder what potential the woman might have if she were willing to break out.<<
I know about that. Have sailed with a couple ladies either as skipper or crewed for them. All my years in the 3men Keelboat (I DO NOT say person) H-Boat Class, I have sailed with my woman comfortably crewing. She never wanted to do more. Come the "Ladies Only Cup", she showed superior boathandling and tactics agains much more expierenced dinghy girls and it made me proud. I always felt that women on board raise the "climate", let us men talk more friendly also in the heat of things.
In Germany you can see more and more women handling the berthing of the boats and the men handling the bowropes. No more shouting from the backend, which definety "sailitically correct".

Thu Apr 27, 05:09:00 AM MDT  
Anonymous Dr Pants said...

I think it has something to do with testosterone. It's inate in men to conquer. We are conquerers. We want to tame the large vessel and use the sea. It's genetic.

Sun Apr 30, 02:16:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

But how do you tease out which part is genetic (average strength, muscle mass, perhaps pre-wired mating behaviors) or just plain old socialization? Is spatial visualization hard-wired or influenced by testosterone or something that's learned? Did millenia of guys going out hunting-gathering and women spending most of their productive lives in child bearing and rearing leave a genetic imprint?

Or is a lot of it learned? How many role models have sailing women had compared to males? How many families would have done what Tania Aebi's dad did and give her a boat when she turned 18? How many families still wouldn't encourage their girls to have much to do with sailing?

Also, a whole 'nother discussion could be about the destructiveness of men shadows depending upon whether a man's influence is aligned with a woman's goals, aspirations, and welfare, or is simply a selfish ego trip or attempt to dominate and manipulate.

And, even if the alignment is good, when does pushing / cajoling / cheering / support go over some line and become unproductive or harmful? And how does even the best-meaning and emotionally sensitive and supportive guy in the world accurately determine where that line is and avoid trespassing over it?

Maybe a guy who means well and wants to help will inevitably have to cross the line slightly - and be corrected quickly (firmly but gently out of deference to fragile male egos) by an assertive woman - in order to "calibrate" his position. And they'll have to do it again and again as both members of a couple learn and grow and discover new interests and develop new abilities and face and solve new challenges.

If the effects of men shadows are like those of a leading boat's bad air, is it possible that one of the good guys could communicate well enough with a woman to create the opposite of a man shadow - - a "man lift"? (And no, not the ones you rent at construction equipment supply houses.)

Mon May 01, 05:06:00 PM MDT  

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