Socialization and social roles, if too opposed to human nature, will lead to massive unhappiness. To act according to our natures is distinctly fulfilling, and if that is thwarted beyond a point, one wonders what is the meaning of life, after all.
In the state of alienation, when men are not allowed to be men, and women are asked to be not just women, men as well as women will not know themselves, and seek endlessly for a feeling of what essentially is their own nature, suppressed.
With the proliferation of the knowledge industry, jobs and homes are no longer stable or restricted to one place for long. While white collar jobs are alienating for reasons long known, it is also important to see what urban ghettoized nuclear living does to what I call fulfillment of gender roles.
We are born with the same genes that we've had for thousands of years, even though our environment has undergone a drastic change. Is there harm in wondering whether there is a limit to human adaptability? We may adapt, but there may be a steep psychological cost of that adaptation. We may survive or even seem to thrive, but we will not know what or where a home is.
By all indications, gender warfare is escalating. The genders loathe each other, but want to win each other's affections. This is leading to an epidemic of sociopathy.
Not only this, due to massive cultural programming (which I think is driven by complex factors, more on this later), women cannot easily admit to themselves that they want a protector-provider male, and men feel guilt at looking at a woman's body and seeing primarily sexual fulfillment. This leads to self-deception in relationships. Both genders (want to) think that they are pursuing "love" and not a biologically driven destination, not able to realize that the ideal of "love" is a fiction created by mass media.
One doesn't need to imagine too hard what happens when this fiction of "love" dissolves into a realization of what one actually wants and expects from the other, and what the other actually wants and expects from oneself. "Unconditional Love" between a man and a woman is such a fraudulent concept that even very otherwise aware people fall for it. There is always an expectation from the other. But it is politically and culturally incorrect for women as well as men to admit what they want. Hence, the confusion.
But why all this cultural re-programming? Why, day in and day out, are men being asked to be accepting and altruistic, and why are women being exhorted to be aggressive and demanding? I think it is naive to imagine that this is solely because of women "awakening" to their oppression, that this is perhaps a historical or a political reckoning.
That too, but one has to ask: why is the media so interested in this political upheaval? Mass media is never known for agenda of social consciousness and enlightenment. Why are magazines, television, movies, all so insistent on creating an empowered female, or for that matter, a sensitive new age metro-sexual guy? Statistically speaking, what does that empowered female do with her new-found enlightenment and power?
One word: consumption.
Analyze women's magazines, closely examine chick flicks (a horrendous recent example is Sex and the City 2), go through the newspaper color supplements, and what is the one thing that jumps out of all these? Happiness is to "feel good about yourself". And that "good feeling about oneself" presumably comes through spending and consuming and having no real goals beyond oneself.
And "love" is the ultimate commodity these days. The harder it economically becomes to actually love another human being (and emotionally it always was a chimera anyway), the more insistent is the message that we must find it, that everybody else (the characters in the movies, that is) is finding it without much difficulty.
But what happens when you are chasing a feeling which mass media is telling you is very important to find, but which may not really exist in the manner that you imagine it to be? You will become depressed and will feel bad about yourself.
And how to feel better about yourself, or to "be oneself" in this miasma of alienation? For that see the facing page of a woman's magazine article about love and "being yourself". Revlon.
Paulo Coelho and Cosmopolitan are saying the same thing. You just have to decipher their code.
Now, if we agree with the proposition that Fulfillment Through Love is a fiction created by propaganda (though the feeling of love certainly isn't a fiction), and that attraction between males and females is biologically driven and is intended to bring them together to have children, then the way out of this mess may become clear.
To be sure, this attraction can express itself in subtle ways, since we are undoubtedly more cognitively developed than other mammals. And this loving attraction is a great trigger to kick-start a relationship. But to mistake the initial spark of attraction with the stable warmth of a steady relationship is where the confusion reigns.
"Love" is a means, and provides strength, to a relationship. Limerence is a nice state, but not something that can be sustained, or something that should even be considered sustainable.
Men and Women need each other. Disregard the cultural programming that you can find happiness and fulfillment within yourself. That is not human nature. We are communal beings. Disregard even more vehemently the cultural message that the feeling of being loved is more important than the happiness of loving someone.
And believe at your peril the feminist rhetoric that gender roles are social constructions.