Meg, I will grant you coming in, I do not know what it feels like to be a woman.
Ron Collins

There’s a lot here, so forgive me if I am wordy and, perhaps, somewhat disorganized in responding.

For starters, let me say that I like men. I married one. I work in a “man’s” profession. I have a lot of male friends.

As a child, my interests were more “male” than “female” as defined by our society’s gender assignments. I was interested in building, machinery, science, math, and woods-craft (as well as literature and art). I was not interested in dolls, fashion or many of the other things my female peers wanted to spend time doing.

As a result, I spent a lot of time around guys in a non-dating way. I don’t think most guys gave me a second thought because I was not a girlie girl. That was fine with me. I didn’t want them to like me in that way.

I was, however, privy to “girl talk” about guys. I was disgusted by the way girls of my acquaintance objectified and used boys, as well as their cattiness to each other. I was aghast at my own mother’s recommendations on how to interact with and essentially “play” men.

To me, guys were people just like me, not another species to be managed and exploited. So, I want to say that I do hear you re all this stuff. I would also like to say I blame culture for this set up. Here’s how I see it.

In recent (shall we say last 1000 years) western history, women have had less power politically, socially, economically, and physically than men. A wise strategy for anyone of lower rank is to make a study of those above them to learn their strengths, weaknesses and how far you can push your agenda. (Ask any dog. They are experts at the craft.) Women (as a group, not specifically any woman in particular), as a result, developed a whole lore of manipulation techniques developed around male weaknesses. Totally true. There are books on the subject, for God’s sake.

This power imbalance has also historically meant that women, in order to access power, had to access powerful men and were, therefore, in competition with each other. Hence all the backstabbing.

I will say that, compared to when I was in high school (when dinosaurs still roamed the earth), I have seen and heard a lot less of this. Of course, in high school you are thrown together with whomever. You have no choice, really. As an adult, you get to choose your friends. My women friends are not a bunch of manipulative man haters. I wouldn’t want to hang out with them if they were. My friends hold themselves to a pretty high ethical standard.

All I can say is, you get to pick your friends, male and female.

Although women have made great strides in the last 100 years, to think that we are now treated equally is to not have the experience of being a woman.

I have to be twice as competent at whatever I do to be thought as good as a man doing exactly the same thing. It has made me better at everything I do, so there is an upside. But that does not mean that I am being treated equally. Getting listened to — at a meeting, a car garage, a medical appointment, etc. — are all challenges women face.

Of course men know what it is like to abused, targeted, etc. Men are raped. Men suffer domestic abuse. The way the courts treat fathers in custody battles is unfair and needs to change.

However, statistics bear out that women have a high likelihood of suffering some form of sexual abuse in their lifetimes. Most of us don’t talk about it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t present in the back of our minds, waiting to be triggered by circumstances. I’m sure it would be the same if a man had been the victim of a mugging or rape.

I myself have been strangled by a former boyfriend. (You can read about that one here if you care to), and, after a struggle, escaped rape by a stranger on a deserted, rainy street.

Did these incidents make me hate men? No.

I was also mauled by a dog. Did this make me hate dogs? No. I love dogs, but I won’t take any shit from them.

What am I asking? I want men to take women’s complaints seriously.

By writing the piece you responded to, I wanted to humorously put the shoe on the other foot. Because I believe that, as human beings, we have great imaginative powers that allow us, if questions are posed in the right way, to envision ourselves in others’ steads. If we can do that, we have a hope of understanding one another or, at least, of appreciating the other’s position.

I think I have rambled on long enough. I don’t even know if I addressed every point. But I need to sign off for now.

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