Way back in June my friend Abby Kinchy let me know about an article in the New York Times by Stephanie Coontz, a scholar best known for her book The Way We Never Were, which addresses myths about the “traditional” family. The article is about no-fault divorces and their pros and cons. What struck Abby were the accompanying images, which depict two hypothetical break-up letters (to “John” and “Jane”) that include a list of stereotypes about men and women, what they want out of marriage, and why they fight.

The Dear John letter:

So women want to break up because they feel stunted in their marriage (they miss out on experiences, they’re bored, they want to travel), they are still hung up on old flames, they want kids and their male partners (of course) don’t, and they just might be lesbians.

The Dear Jane letter:

What do men stereotypically want to leave their female partners for? Being emasculated (“you make me feel like less of a…”), men aren’t supposed to be monogamous (“it’s not natural for a man to be mono…”), they want more sex with more people, women spent too much money shopping, or their wives get stupid haircuts.

There is some gender agreement, though; neither men nor women can take a spouse who gets fat.

UPDATE: Citizenparables thinks the images are more playing on those still-existing stereotypes:

Perhaps the point of the images is rejecting – crossing out – those cliche stereotypical excuses, which are by implication false (because surely they can’t all be true!), leaving the essential idea that when someone leaves a relationship it’s a choice, pure and simple, which they ought to own rather than blame on either themselves or the partner.

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