If Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus, Where the Fuck Have I Been All This Time?
As a middle-aged dude who grew up during the eighties and nineties, it has always been the default position that I don't always understand the feminine perspective. Obviously there are some elements of being a woman that I can comprehend but never fully understand: what it is to pregnant, what it is to feel a need to wear costumes and make-up just to get a job or treated like a basic human, what it is sync up menstrual cycles. The whole shoe thing.
There’s a lot of stereotyping that goes on with this sort of thinking. Whether these easy categorizations are rooted in nature or nurture is an academic exercise. Reality smacks one in the soft parts with them anyway.
It has come to pass as I read the countless examples of sexual harassment proliferated by so many other men that I don't understand most men, either.
Coming on to women by pulling the schlong out for view?
Masturbating in front of women as a seduction technique?
Catcalling random strangers?
Drugging women to have sex?
Raping drunk, sleeping women?
I don't get it. I mean, I can't even begin to understand why anyone would think that sending an unsolicited photograph of one of the least attractive appendages—even the largest looks like something out of John Carpenter's The Thing without teeth—would result in some sort of desirable tryst. Seriously, if you are the type of guy who intentionally drops trou, pulls out your phone, takes a snap of your dangly crotch-tail and then sends it to someone without them asking to see it first, you are exactly the kind of guy who women should avoid at all costs.
Business meetings in your bathrobe?
Groping... well, groping anything?
Jerking off into a potted plant? Really?
Recently, at a party, a woman confronted me for "taking up too much space on the sidewalk." Granted, I take up plenty of space and perhaps it does have some foundation in my white maleness. Her solution was that, in order to claim the space she deserves, she needs to be aggressive. Bump me out of the way. Shame me for standing on the sidewalk and maybe spreading my legs a bit when sitting on the 'L.' In a "I'm Mad as Hell" sort of way, come at me with the frustrations and rage of women for centuries as some sort of retribution for all MANkind.
My reaction is to go on the defense. It's a natural reaction when confronted with the tone of voice most associated with an angry asshole complaining about the lack of special sauce on his Big Mac. If I'm taking up too much space, ask me to move and I will. If I'm taking up too much room on a train seat, say "Excuse me," and I'll gladly shift or get up to give up my seat. Not because I'm some enlightened Feminist Male Ally but because it's just common fucking courtesy.
Are there really that many guys out there who routinely grab women as if they are property? Are there really that many men who use their position of power to blackmail women for sexual favors? Are there really that many douchebags who take up two seats on the train to sit comfortably without recognizing that other people might like a seat?
If the answer is yes, then I really am as hopelessly out of touch with men as I thought I was with women. If that's the case, people are as shitty and horrible to one another as the constant stream of dire news cascades across my screen indicates like the green digital rain of the Matrix. Then the harsh desire for vengeance against the thousand slings and arrows is not only justified, it is necessary.
SIDENOTE: My mother, who went through the seventies with her bosses chasing her around the office and pressing their erect penises on her shoulder while she typed assesses that at least 40 percent of all men are these perverted jackwads, and her suggested reason I am not one of them is that she wouldn't let me play football in high school. Good theory except that an awful lot of these dudes seem to be artists.
But I don't want to live in a world where insults and aggression meet more insults and aggression. I understand on a gut level the want of revenge but I can't believe that that is the best we have. If retribution, call-outs, destruction and an almost sociopathic response to personal assault is the solution, we've all just become a global slasher film and we are the killer with the blunt instrument. It's Jason vs. Freddy vs. Michael Myers vs. the undead and, in the end, everyone loses.
I'm finding my reaction to all of this—the bizarre, unexplainable behavior of the Men from Mars and the retaliation of the Women from Venus—is to become more misanthropic. To happily hide from all of the acrimony and political chaos of injustice met with violent response. I like my apartment. It's quiet (unless we have a party here and then the swirling rage of those who profit most from it engulfs my living room...)
At the party, I found myself yelling over people in my full-throated defense and the next morning was ashamed that I was so easily drawn into the battle. It's too easy to allow the anger and fear take over; its difficult to practice a more even tempered, less personalized response but it is essential that we do so if there is any hope for the egalitarian dream we seem to be striving for.
More Spocks, less Kirks.
More common courtesy, less aggressive reaction.
More civility, less of the fucking dick pics and weirdly antagonistic approach to getting sex.