So I thought we could ease our way into this section with perhaps a lighter discussion on conceptions of power. The document looks at current conceptions of power as being things such as domination, manipulation, competition and pursuit of self interests. I think in our everyday interactions we might not see power only manifested in those terms. Let me give an example. Not too long ago a male friend of mine and I were in a market place picking up some fruit. This friend of mine wasn’t feeling too well, in fact he was sick, and so he wanted to buy some fruit in order to help him feel better. Realizing that he really wasn’t doing too well, while he was paying for the fruit I picked up the bags filled with the newly purchased good, wanting to help out a friend in need. As we began our walk back to the house, my male friend began to protest, “let me carry the bags, you don’t have to do that”, he said as his facial expression tried to mask his pain. “Look you’re sick, don’t try to be a hero, I can carry the bags” I replied. We continued this back and forth for a few more steps until he pretty much just scooped the bags out of my hand and kept walking in front of me. Rather than try and regain ownership of the bags, I decided to have a discussion with him about his inability to let me carry the bags. He was insistent that he wanted to carry the bags, that he could do it and that while it was very kind of me to offer, I didn’t need to do it (the fact that he barely survived the walk back home is less important).
Now I could just assume that this particular friend has problems asking for help, it doesn’t have to be related to power or gender at all. However, considering the fact that this type of incident has happened to me several times, I’m beginning to think there is some greater force at work here. Could it be that there is an established power dynamic between women and men, in which men have been raised to quite literally carry the burden of doing the heavy lifting? Why was it such a challenge for my male friend (and those others who are spared from being given as a specific example) to allow me to assist with carrying the bags? What is the motivation for the need to exert power in this manner? This type of behavior could be just an isolated event or it could give a greater insight into the dynamics between males and females.
Or am I making an issue out of nothing? Have others experienced similar situations?