Five Things You Would Never Say to a Man
I currently work in an office of women. All women. Well, there’s one man, but he’s gay and a temp, so his brief influence upon the office dynamics will be negligible.
Not to be a traitor to my own gender, and not even to complain, but I am not a “girly-girl.” Which to me simply means I’ve questioned and continue to question most of the brainwashing — er, socialization — specific to gender in America (though, of course, we know the problem is global, though it comes in different flavors) and adhere to it mostly just when it is required of me for business purposes (e.g., attending trade shows in women’s business attire, which thankfully includes pantsuit options). And there are times when I feel an ethical dilemma coming on even about that — but hey, at least no one’s asked me to strip for my paycheck… yet.
I tend not to talk about the things my cohort does. Heck, I tend not to care about the things my cohort does — latest fashion trends, Desperate Housewives, weddings, having kids, yadda, yadda.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with caring about these things. People care about what they care about, and they’re entitled to that. It just so happens I could give a crap about any of it. And sometimes I wish that, like me, people would question why they care about what they do.
But that’s not up to me, so anyway…
There are many things that occur in my workplace that I have the sneaking suspicion would never happen if there was — for lack of a better description — some sort of balance to the force, for better or worse. Sometimes I wonder how different it might be if there were more men — or less “girly-girl” types, at least — in this environment.
Hence the subject of this blog. The fact that I’m even thinking about this, along with the things I’ve witnessed up to this point in my life, have made me realize just how different the standards women are held to are from the standards men are held to — and even scarier, how sometimes it’s women themselves holding (or trying to hold) each other to these. And I’m not saying the standards men are held to are any less oppressive and ridiculous in their own ways, or that men don’t perpetuate them amongst themselves either. I’m just saying…
You’d never say this to a man. (Well, at least not a heterosexual one, which brings up the whole issue of why anyone in their right mind would adopt the behaviors of the oppressed — but that’s another topic for another blog.)
1. “You seem upset. Is it that time of the month?” This is what I consider to be a classic societal blunder. The assumption that the most likely cause for a woman’s anger, sadness, etc., is because of her hormones is one of the biggest insults anyone using this “logic” can levy against a woman. Men may not have blood we can blame their emotions on — and oh, they are emotional just like the rest of us — so I guess in their case, we actually have to use our heads and try to get down to a genuine cause for distress as opposed to some unruly bodily force that allegedly renders an entire population irrational.
This is not to say hormones don’t affect moods. That’s a scientific fact. But guess what? Men have hormones too — which cycle on a daily basis as well as a monthly one. So if we were going to use logic to blame hormones for mood swings, who logically would be the better choice: men or women?
2. “That outfit makes you look fat.” I would be tickled to see someone say this to a man. Actually, I’d just be curious to see the response. I could imagine someone getting clocked for a statement like that to a man. But first off, men are never fat; they’re stocky or have big builds. And admittedly, when women ask other women if an outfit makes them look fat, they’re never fat either; the person questioned will respond something like, “It doesn’t flatter your fill-in-the blank.” But do not be fooled: This is simply the female translation of, “Yes, that outfit makes you look fat.”
And what does that woman in the “unflattering outfit” go and do? Feel bad about herself and change. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m all in favor of people not wearing styles that don’t fit their body types, which is again why no one should wear skinny jeans ever. But most clothing will look decent on anyone if they’re just bought in the right size — as opposed to, you know, trying to rock two sizes too small. That would make even Kate Moss look fat.
3. “I’m so jealous — Bobby’s way hotter than us.” Along the lines of objectifying oneself through clothing and makeup instead of gaining attention and respect through intelligence and hard work, there seems to be this constant comparison of hotness among women. Some of it, of course, is perpetuated by media, society, and men as well. But I’m pretty sure guys don’t sit around secretly begrudging their friends or gossiping about them for being “hotter” than they are, and I’m also pretty sure they don’t think their friends’ success in life has much to do with appearance. And guys, if you do believe your appearance ultimately determines your relationship success, for instance, I have two words for you: Pete Doherty.
Everyone has something to offer, and beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. But I hope for everyone’s sake that the perceived “beauty” of a person will truly be assessed deeper than the layers of one’s skin as our society evolves.
4. “Your wedding planning will exhaust you.” I’m pretty sure — though men, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong — that guys don’t sit around dreaming of their perfect wedding. “It has to be on the beach in Jamaica. I have to wear a white dress, but it has to have pale pink accents, but only around the waist. It has to have a tropical paradise theme. My bridesmaids will be my sisters, my best friend from high school, but definitely not the best friend from college, though she’s invited. I want to have lilies in my bouquet, but they can’t have a fragrance, because I want the fragrance of the roses to be predominant. I want to have an outdoor reception, but I also want hanging lights in case the sky is cloudy so it still feels like there are stars. I have to have filet — no other cut of beef — for the dinner. And I simply won’t be satisfied unless my wedding cake is white, milk, and dark chocolate in descending order.”
Are you feeling queasy yet? Yeah, me too.
I think guys have it right when it comes to this sort of stuff. “Did I find a great girl? Check. Is she at the altar? Check. Am I up there too? Check. Are the people we love here to celebrate with us? Check. OK, I think we’re all good.”
I mean, I get that there’s planning involved to make that come together, but if you’re blathering about all these other inane details on the daily that in the end won’t make a bit of difference if the truly important components aren’t there, then I think you’ve seriously lost sight of the whole point of a wedding in the first place. Just sayin’…
5. “Can you baby-sit my kids this weekend?” We don’t expect men to be willing or — dare I say it? — entirely capable of being able to handle the responsibility of caring for children — especially if said children aren’t their own — alone. It’s the stuff that many cheesy movie plots are made of. But on top of this, we expect that men will already have far more important and “manlier” things to take care of on the weekend, since their responsibilities take precedence over all. Neither, of course, is true.
I don’t blame those men who don’t want this responsibility for not wanting it, though. I don’t want it either — and no, that’s not a comment on my abilities or lack of “maternal instinct.” I just have other things I’d like to devote my time to, thank you very much.
But there is the issue of trusting men with certain tasks too — especially considering all the rightful attention being given to child sexual abuse. This is not to say women don’t ever abuse children, but according to this study, “more than 90% of the perpetrators of sexual offenses against minors were male.” In light of highly publicized and despicable offenses like Jerry Sandusky’s, it should be overwhelmingly clear that there is a need for some sort of societal shift that would make this behavior so unacceptable that someone even thinking about perpetrating such crimes would kill themselves before inflicting such abuse upon children.
Stay tuned for five more things you would never say to a man, which I’ll post next week.