Dear, Men, We Need to Talk
About the [Wrong] Ways We Love Each Other
“We need to talk”. No matter who says them, these words often mean impending doom- that we might have done something wrong. In movies in tv shows, when a character, more importantly a female character, utters those words it usually means a plot twist is about to happen. And it’s the not knowing of what she’s going to say that makes us want to avoid any difficult conversation to begin with.
But no worries, it won’t be one of those conversations, I promise. 😉
In fact, I’m even doing it on purpose right now as I type, currently at 2:44am in my high rise apartment, to stall whatever it is I need to talk to you [men] about, just to spike the tension further. Where is this conversation getting at? Am I about to scold you? Remind you to put the toilet seat down? Ask you to help with the housework? Talk about the wage gap? Sexism? Am I ever going to reach my point without the need to possibly manipulate you into thinking that somehow you’re a bad person just for being an imperfect human? Maybe…
You see, as a woman I was taught that I need to soften my message- sugarcoat it if you will, to make myself heard, all while being the least offensive as possible. I was taught to tip-toe around a subject, hoping you’ll get the point, while avoiding to sound bitchy or bossy. We all know how important it is to be likeable, apparently. Boys on the other hand don’t have to be likeable. If they don’t enjoy something, they can say it, and no one is offended. Food over cooked? No problem. Not feeling up to watching that show? Okie-dokie. Then they grow into men who can communicate straight to chase, and who say what they want and how they want it. Since girls are socialized the opposite way, we grow into women who hesitate to express what we want.
We’re taught what we want doesn’t matter, which of course, is total bullshit.
You have to admit, this article could’ve made its point with less than half the words. As someone who’s been a writer almost my whole life, I’m well aware of that. See what I just did there?
Now that you’ve got the run down, here’s a list of things we need to talk about, [men]:
As mentioned above, we need to learn to say what we fucking mean, m’kay? But more importantly, we need to stop interrupting each other, and argue over who’s right or wrong- like men and women have been doing since (apparently) the beginning of time.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with a man, and the minute I’m angry, rather than him trying to use “logic” (you guys seem to love that word, by the way), to sit down with me and really listen- he starts yelling. Or he gets defensive. Or he’ll try to change the subject. Of course, we all know how female anger is soooo uncomfortable.
I once dated someone who always walked out of the room whenever we had an argument. It would make me feel hurt and abandoned. Try to imagine this: explaining to someone you care about your feelings, only to be shutdown, ignored, or laughed at. It’s awful. And since I can’t always be sugar and spice, we need to accept that men and women have the same emotions, which brings me to my next point.
I know you have ‘em. I know you might not express them the same way I do. Maybe you’re not as comfortable crying in front of me as I would, and that’s fine. No pressure, dude. But you have the right to, and I won’t laugh at you. It doesn’t make me see you in a different light. It doesn’t make me respect you any less. You shouldn’t have to experience your pain in solitude if you’re also that person everyone else can count on.
In my experience I never related to the whole “women are more emotional” stereotype. Having had a difficult childhood I was taught to be very guarded, and grew up being closer to male friends.
In truth, men are taught to hide their feelings so they don’t look “weak” and women are taught to water down their feelings, to avoid making men feel uncomfortable. I know you were told as a boy that I’m going to manipulate you and turn your feelings against you, because you think it’s your job to be my hero or knight in shining armour. Maybe some women are like that, but trust me when I say this: being vulnerable won’t downgrade your masculinity. How you express your gender is your damn business. We get it, Mr. Tough Guy.
I like you. I think you’re attractive. I think you have a great personality and want to grab a coffee together to get to know you better.
Oh, wait, but I’m also a woman so I’m not supposed to tell you that. Instead, I have to sit here and wait for you to ask me. But what if you’re shy? Maybe you’re the kind of man who’s been hurt in past relationships and you hesitate to tell me how you feel. Maybe you’ve been rejected one too many times, or you think I’m out of your league. Maybe you’re one of these rare snowflakes who thinks it’s awesome for me, a woman, to ask you out first. (Word of advice: if I like you, I’m not out of your league.)
And then what happens once we do go out on a date? I have to play hard to get. I have to feign interest, to keep you interested. I have to behave like a sweet little lamb so you can be the hunter. And on your side you’re expected to keep it cool, play detached even if you care about me, because ew, man feelings! Never mind if we become serious. What’s wrong? You’re supposed to know, without me saying what’s wrong.
Does this make sense to you? ‘Cause it doesn’t make sense to me.
Now at some point when you had your first crush, you were probably told if she ignores you, try harder. Please don’t do this. Unless she doesn’t know how to set boundaries, she’s not playing, bro. In the occasional situation where someone does play hard to get and is well aware of their behaviour, then they’re a shitty person. Grown ups know what they want.
Another thing, when you like my outfit or want to give me a compliment- you may want to keep your opinion private. Unless you’re either a friend, colleague, family member, or better yet, a potential date, your opinion doesn’t actually matter. Not sorry.
This is a big one, and it’ll be impossible to summarize, but I’ll try my best. Most women don’t want a dude who only wants to sleep with them, and most of us don’t want to be treated like a therapist. Just like most of you don’t want to be treated as ATM machines or personal bodyguards. Hey, if anyone has that type of arrangement or seeks that and it’s mutual, that’s totally cool, but I’m talking in general. It might be old-fashioned, but a lot of us seem to think this is still the norm, and we need to cut that shit.
Society would have you think that a romantic interest only exists for personal gratification, and that relationships are about gaining what we’re missing. A.K.A., the “you complete me” complex.
A real relationship is supposed to be between two people with mutual interests who enjoy being together (and who will also want a lot of sexy time). That’s it.
To be honest, I’m tired of the whole notion that I need to let a man do things for me, to prove that I care. I’m tired of being made to feel bad for my independence, out of fear that a guy will think he’s useless, because I refuse to lean on him just to open a frigging jar or pay for me each time we go out. If you feel like you’re useless to me because I don’t depend on you as often as you expect, you need to look at your self-worth, honey.
It’s 2018. I can afford to build my empire and still make time for love. After all, that’s what you’ve been doing for hundreds of years.
For some reason we have a very black or white view about what role each person plays in a relationship. There’s this idea that one partner is the leader and the other is the follower. In the bedroom, you’re either submissive, or dominant. Top, or bottom. Breadwinner or caretaker. I get it, I get it. Humans love their labels, but don’t you men agree that we’re starting to overuse them just a little? Does it really matter which one of us makes more money? Does it really, really matter which one is more assertive and which one is more sensitive? People are multidimensional- we can be different things at once.
Whatever gender turns you on, I think we can agree that men and women have been socialized to basically hate each other, taught to miscommunicate, nitpick, and aggravate, just so we stay divided as a society. The one conversation feminism hasn’t had… yet. Gender behaviour is really more a chicken or egg question than anything.
Imagine this: A world we’re everyone is taught to say what they fucking mean and mean what they fucking say, regardless of having a penis or vagina, or however they label themselves. Imagine a world where women could express their interest and be powerful just like a man, and men could be passionate and emotional just like a woman, and no one could give a shit. Wouldn’t it be great! If other people gave less of a shit about things that don’t concern them? This whole men/Mars and women/Venus thing, has got to be ditched. We’re all earthlings. I think it’s time we act like it.