Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Myths About Women

“Women cry to manipulate men”

Women cry for a variety of reasons. One is that women are sometimes frustrated about not being heard or understood by men. This frustration can lead to anger which leads to a more “acceptable” emotion—crying. Naturally we can’t win. If we get angry we’re labeled with that ever popular “B-word”. If we cry, we are made to feel whiny or we are accused of exercising our “feminine wiles” to get our way. If we try to explain in the most direct way possible, we are…well at this point our voices become grating on the nerves of some guys… and oh yes, we’re back to that B-word again.

Our culture, which is mostly defined by guys in power, sees crying as a weakness and something that men can’t or should never do because it is considered too “womanish” so naturally it is labeled with a negative connotation. It’s understandable that men are uncomfortable with crying since they have taught each other that it’s bad because women do it.
Women lead men on”

You’ve probably experienced something similar or seen countless films and TV shows depicting unrequited love usually seen from the man or boys’ point of view. Women often know what we want in a guy but for various and complicated reasons, choose or are swayed to give in to Mr. Wrong because we’re flattered or because others around us say, “but he’s such a ‘Nice guy’ you should give him a chance”.  So you give in to pressure and date the guy. One thing leads to another and you end up together for a year or so. Though he grows on you, he begins feeling like your heart isn’t in it and he gets resentful and passive aggressive. You feel like saying I told you so but really you feel like the jerk for letting it go this far. You end up being the jerk when you have to break it off. You knew better but no one else, especially the guy in question, could see it. If the guy had just listened to you in the first place, none of this would have happened. Not that any of this is autobiographical….

Popular culture insists that pursuit is exciting no matter how one sided the “love” is.
Men are duped into believing that pursuit is manly. Kind of like deer hunting. Women are made to think that we should be willing “prey” and that we are “teases” or evil,  if we do not return the “poor” fellow’s affections.
We’ve all been taught by tradition and countless formulaic love stories that men ask and women reject. When was the last time you saw a female character get rejected? An ugly duckling who wears her heart on her sleave for a handsome guy only to get laughed out of the room. No, usually it’s the man or boy with whom the viewer is expected to identify.
If you don’t believe me, watch any episode of “The Big Bang Theory” and you will see many examples.
Why don’t these “nerdy” guys go after nerdy girls instead of chasing the hot babe who also wants a hot babe?! They are only setting themselves up for failure which then stokes the fires of anger and resentment toward all women causing said men to become TV writers.

Trust me, mutual interest and love are the building blocks of a healthy relationship. I have 12 years of wedded bliss under my belt to prove it.

Female Dog

One day, back in the late 70's when I was in Junior High, I was running laps during gym class. As one of the last few to finish the assigned exertion, I heard a couple boys running on the other side of the field shout, “Run You F***g Whore!”  I did what a lot of girls and women do when boys and men verbally punish us for being female and that is to internalize the guilt instead of putting it where it belongs; back on the guys. I look back on that incident and wish I had the courage to yell back at them or at least the strength not to have internalized the shame and blame.

My reaction to that incident would help me with a similar one I experienced 
6 years ago, not long after my husband and I moved to Ontario, Canada.
I was walking along the side- walk near my home, minding my own business, when a small car full of young men drove slowly past me. With his head hanging out of the window, one of them shouted at me, “Hey You Stupid Bitch!”  I turned around to the young bully and shouted, “Hey! Shut Up!”

What happened next surprised me almost as much as it would surprise the maligning male and his amused buddies. I don’t know whether it was my age, mood, my years of feminist sensibilities coupled with the fact that it was my Birthday, but I decided to turn and walk briskly in the direction of their still sluggish vehicle.  I like to think that my decision to do so, was sanctioned by God because there were no other cars on that side of the road and the way seemed to be paved clear for me to take the next step.
Since I was already being compared to a dog, what would be more appropriate than to chase a Mazda full of misogynists down the “friendly” Canadian intersection?! 

So… off I went. My fast walking turned to a slow jog. I could see the boys’ satisfied smirks turn to disbelieving dismay as I began to move off the sidewalk and run into the street alongside the car. Finally, the driver, convinced I had no intention of backing down, grew a lead foot and took off down the road and disappeared into traffic. They may not have been frightened of me, but they were definitely thrown by the idea that a female might not just shut up and take it. Instead of internalizing their words and blaming myself for having the audacity to walk home alone, or just to walk while female, I made them confront the fact that I was a human being; deserving of respect. Did they respect me? Probably not, but I like to imagine that just one of them might think twice before shouting horrible insults at another girl or woman again.  In my other fantasy, the mouthy boy grows up to become an anti-sexist lecturer : )

I don’t advocate that everyone respond the way I did.
My circumstances made me feel comfortable enough.  It was daytime, I knew my surroundings and I kept calm. I didn’t even swear at the guys; tempting as it was.
Looking back, I probably would rethink chasing a moving vehicle on foot; for many reasons. Now, when I remember that incident, I can hold my head a little higher and walk a little taller because I struck a small blow for women’s dignity.