the dance

      "Traditional couples who have been married a long time, if they’ve worked at their marriages, work so well together that it’s increasingly hard in most matters to distinguish their ‘sex roles.’  This is something the egalitarians never understand about hierarchy: that it leads to the thing they think they want but can’t get the way they want to get it.

      It’s as if the couple have spent so long learning to dance that now they move so fast and so smoothly that you just see one thing (one flesh) moving.  The husband has always led, and he’s still leading, but he’s better at it.  He’s leading his wife where she can and (mostly) wants to go, and she’s following because she wants to.

      She trusts him and thinks that following him makes the dance better, and even when it doesn’t (because he’s not perfect), they keep dancing in a way that covers the mistake.  If she hesitates or resists, he changes the dance, most of the time (because he’s not perfect), because he knows she knows something he doesn’t.

      Meanwhile, the egalitarian couple, if they’re still dancing together, are examining their contract to see who is supposed to be leading now, and for how long, and under what conditions, and with what limits, and making sure the benefits of dancing are shared equally, as are the costs, and when they finally get on the dance floor they have to keep stopping to negotiate all those little points that weren’t covered in the contract.  There are some egalitarians spinning round the floor, but only because at some point they stopped dancing like egalitarians.

      I can understand the egalitarians’ point of view and, like them, can think of some of the men still tromping on their wives’ feet because they think that leading means dragging and pushing, but I still prefer the dance to the negotiation." David Mills