The View is Different from Venus to Mars

Gender roles and gender differences have always fascinated me. I’ve written about these subjects several times. Most recently, I wrote a post entitled What Do You Do? about the many steps women take to avoid sexual assault. Men rarely have to think about these things.

If you search my blog for posts about gender, or click on my feminism heading, dozens will come up. Some of these include: Sworn Virgins in Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo; Secure in My Manhood; Buying in to Gender Violence Phraseology; and Gender-Specific Jobs? Pffft.

Recently I had the opportunity to have a very interesting conversation with someone who has a unique insight into gender roles. To protect his privacy, we’ll call him Mr. Anonymous. As you will soon see, he has had the opportunity to contemplate this topic even more than the majority of us have. I learned a great deal from this conversation, and so I asked him if he’d be willing to be a guest author for today’s post. He was kind enough to agree. So without further ado, here’s Mr. Anonymous.

_____________________

Today I was in the grocery store looking for this herbal tea that I usually find in health-food stores. As often happens, a woman approached, needing something on a nearby shelf. I was far enough away for her to easily pass me, but she still felt the need to apologize and grab her item quickly. I assured her that she was not in the way. She replied, “That’s good.”

She said it like it was a relief. Here I was, needing a haircut, and I hadn’t shaved in several days, so I looked kind of rough. I felt rough in that store today. Yet this woman, who was about my age, saw a man looking at the items from afar and apologized for getting in my way when she had no reason to.

Not everyone is like that. There are rude types of people in all walks of life. But there is also an obvious pattern of male privilege that I experience every day. I was not born with this privilege, since I am trans person from female to male.

I have gotten some odd vibes from dudes working in hardware stores. As a man, I’m expected to know about tools and such, and I’m not really up to par on these things. So I have learned to do a little online research before I venture outward. Men don’t expect to have to explain things to another man. On the other hand, it’s assumed that a woman would need help. Women are almost treated like children. I find it insulting. I was often insulted before I started passing as a man.

I have seen butch hardcore lesbians more mechanically inclined than I am. Sadly, in the Deep South, there is a great deal of pressure to maintain the stereotypes of men and women. Because of this, I see transmen put on acts to be like the guys. (In other words, work on cars and be an ass.) Well, I think, “Ask Sally, that butch woman. She will help ya out with that transmission.”

I dress masculine and never had an impulse to carry a purse. I remember things I used to do without realizing that they were “what men do”. I was told that I walked like a man when all I was doing, as far as I was concerned, was walking. My sisters wore makeup. I tried against my will to do the female thing, but it just doesn’t cut the mustard with me. Just give me a big loose flannel shirt and some jeans and I am ready to walk out the door.

One of the most alarming things about being on the other side of the rainbow is the fear I create in women just by walking down the sidewalk. If a woman is walking alone in front of me, she picks up her pace. I can feel her fear. I slow down, take detours, or sit down if there are steps or a bench until I feel she is far enough away from me so that she can relax.

A part of me wants to tell her that I know how she feels. I was born female. I know that fear. I was someone who was looked at and hit on by strangers. I felt degraded by people asking to pay me for sexual favors. That was disgusting.

I remember, in my early twenties, riding the bus home from work every day. It wasn’t the best neighborhood. I’d be standing at a bus stop waiting for the bus and several times men stopped, thinking I was a street walker. They would try to get me to go with them. Even after telling them I was only waiting for the bus to go home, they still persisted until the bus showed up.

I remember men asking me if my husband is home when I had no husband. I would reply yes. I would paint the imaginary husband as some rough around the edges redneck that didn’t take any BS. That was my life in Louisiana in my younger years.

I was not brought up and treated as male because I was born female. It’s most heartbreaking to me that women are often raised to be so passive and molded into being the shadow of men. They shouldn’t feel the need to apologize and get out of my way.

On the other hand, when I was seen as a woman, women would treat me quite rudely. I guess it has something to do with the pecking order or something. I don’t know. I never understood it. But wow, those same types of women became passive and apologetic once that they saw me as a man.

People make different assumptions about men and women. As a woman, if I told people I had bought a power-tool, I was always asked why. As a man, I can say the same thing and I get an OK.

As a man, I can add my input to conversations without being contradicted. Women get contradicted no matter how right they are. Many men do not want to be intimidated by the intelligence of women.

I am not a very social person, but I observe and feel compassionate about the issue of gender roles that are forced upon people. How many female geniuses in history, prodigies even, have been passed up and never given the chance? Women are half of humanity, lest we forget.

Evolution seems to be in the favor of men more than women because men are physically stronger. Men use that strength to their advantage. The bad ones belittle women because those women do not have the strength to physically defend themselves. (Although in fairness, some women will rip a dude a new ass. Even after years of my being on hormones, these same strong women could whoop my ass easily.)

Generally speaking, though, that feeling of power can bring out the worst in a man. Because of this, women are conditioned to be less, be passive, obey, and act like perfect good girls.

Sometimes I wonder if I am the shadow or if I am casting the shadow. It can be confusing. I might go to a bar and have a drink or go home and sip on hot tea. Either way, I’d like to be respected as a human first. But if I realize I am making someone feel like a shadow, I will move out of the way so they can feel the sun. That applies to all the women who have apologized to me when they had no reason to.

Everyone should be entitled to simply be respected as a person. It should be that easy. But it’s not.

Venus Mars

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What Do You Do?

My wonderfully woke husband recently posted this picture on his Facebook page, along with the explanation quoted below it.

Jackson Katz

Men ask why women are so pissed off, even guys with wives and daughters. Jackson Katz, a prominent social researcher, illustrates why. He’s done it with hundreds of audiences:

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other.

“Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’

“Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.”

Yup. I do the vast majority of these things. It’s second nature to me. I don’t even think about it. It’s what I have to do, as a woman, to walk safely through this world.

It never occurred to me that men don’t think about these things. It never really entered my mind how off balance this world is. It makes me kind of sick to my stomach in retrospect.

And then I remembered a couple of incidents that make a lot more sense to me now.

Once I was on a first date with a really nice guy and he was doing his best to impress me. We were having fun in downtown Jacksonville, and to get from one place to another, we decided to take a shortcut through an alley. (It was really more of a pedestrian walkway, paved with cobblestones and very well lit, but deserted.) I’d been through it a thousand times. But this time when we were halfway through, a scary guy entered from the other end. I stopped dead and started backing up. My date kept going and engaged the guy in conversation. He was begging for money. I think my date was trying to show me he was a compassionate person, and so he gave the guy some money, but by then I had backed out of the alley entirely. He came and apologized to me. He said he hadn’t even thought of the fact that the situation was unsafe, and he shouldn’t have put me in it. Yup. He never had to think of things like that when he was on his own.

Another time, I was riding bikes with my boyfriend through our small town, and we decided to go into the local convenience store, as we had many times before. But this time I could hear drunken shouting inside. Again, I stopped dead. I said, “Uh… not a good idea. Not safe.” But my boyfriend was thirsty, so he went anyway. I rode off and went home, where I have an arsenal of strategically placed innocent-looking items that I can use as weapons if need be. A much safer place to be than in the presence of an outraged drunken stranger. When my boyfriend got back he asked me why I had left without him. I said I wasn’t safe. He was truly baffled.

I would love to have the luxury of being baffled. Unfortunately, I’m too busy trying not to be in harm’s way. That’s the way it is. If more men saw that, it would make life easier for us women. I’m not expecting to be taken care of. In fact, I don’t want to be treated like a hothouse flower. But if I do ask you for help, or if I signal that you’re putting me in a situation, then please, take it seriously. That’s really the least you can do while I’m doing everything else on the list above, don’t you think?

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Singleness

Recently I’ve felt a fundamental shift inside of me—a shift away from the desperate pursuit of love, with all its disappointments and body-blows to my self-esteem. No, I haven’t given up. I’ve just lost interest.

Or perhaps it’s better to say that my interests lie elsewhere. I want to focus on improvement projects for my new home. I want to take care of my neurotic dog, who seems to hate every human being on the planet except me. I want to read more, write more, sleep more, explore more. I don’t want to have to compromise or try so freakin’ hard. I feel absolutely no need to be anyone other than who I am.

No, I’m not choosing some austere life. I’m not punishing myself, and I don’t hate men. They don’t scare me. Nor am I sexually confused. There’s absolutely no reason to feel sorry for me.

I think the assumption that you aren’t a success unless you are part of a pair is antiquated and absurd. In this day and age, women can support themselves. We can live alone. We can choose not to have children. (Hallelujah to that.)

Being single is not some cross one has to bear. It’s not a sign of damage. It’s not a problem that needs solving. It’s just a state of being. One isn’t the loneliest number. It’s just another number.

But am I lonely? Sometimes. And I’m a very passionate person, so having those needs go unmet can be more than a little frustrating. (I’m not an animal, though. I need some sort of emotional connection to scratch that particular itch.) But for the most part, to be honest, I just can’t be bothered.

Will I feel this way tomorrow? Hard to say. But right here, right now, this is how I roll.

single.jpg

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Nice Try, Player

There’s a reason I have stayed off the internet dating websites for quite some time now. I kept meeting the worst of men; the very dregs of masculinity. In fact, I’ve met so many icky men in cyberspace that I began to look at all men as icky. I decided that if I wanted to continue to function effectively in this world, it would be best if I didn’t get in the habit of looking at 49 percent of the population as pond scum.

So now I have date night with my dog. He’s not the most brilliant conversationalist, but he’s yet to taint my view of the planet. And he doesn’t mind chick flicks.

So time goes on. I rarely even think of romance anymore. It’s quite liberating, actually. I’m getting a lot done. I have fewer dust bunnies.

Then the phone rang. It was a local number that seemed vaguely familiar, so I answered it.

“Hey Barb, It’s S, from the dating website?”

“S…? Oh! S. Hi?”

Why in the hell would this guy be calling me? We went out twice. We had a great time. We hit it off, actually. But in the end, he was so self-absorbed that he expected me to be there for his drama, but when my beloved dog Blue was dying a weeks-long, horrible death, he mysteriously disappeared. In fact, he stood me up on our last date because he forgot he was getting his chest hair waxed.

No sooner had I buried Blue, but S tried contacting me again. I told him that I had been through a month of hell, and sure could have used a friend, and he was nowhere to be found, so I didn’t see friendship, let alone romance, on our horizon.

And yet, a year later, here he was on my phone.

“Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you, Barb. I just was wondering if you got the test results.”

“Test results?”

“Oh. Did I call the wrong Barbara? Oh! I remember you. You were, like, 70, and lived in Shoreline?”

“I used to live in Shoreline, yes, but I’m 52.” (Bitch!)

Why was I even talking to this guy? I bet he couldn’t even remember my hair color. But then, I slow down to look at traffic accidents, too.

“Oh, definitely the wrong Barbara, then. This Barbara is only a friend, and she got some medical tests done two weeks ago, and I was just wondering how they went. But, hey, I remember you were, like, a really, really good kisser, Barb.”

“Um, yeah. Well… take me off your contacts list, will you, S? We wouldn’t want this mistake to happen again.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Best of luck to your friend Barbara. Bye.”

“Bye.”

Saints preserve us.

Player

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My Newfound Independence

Every year on this date, my thoughts naturally turn toward independence. But this year, ah, this year! I truly am feeling independent for the first time in ages.

First of all, I am a homeowner again. That means that I am no longer at the mercy of landlords. I don’t have to worry about them hiking my rent up every year.

And I don’t have to deal with arbitrary insanity. I had one landlord who insisted on inspecting the place every few months. She would waltz in wearing (I swear to God) a leather dress (in Florida!) and spiked heels, and would root around in my closets, being careful not to mess up her bleached blonde chignon in the process, and say, in a thick Russian accent, “You need to dust.”

And then there was the landlady whose son was a felon who was growing marijuana in the back yard, and who was unabashed about committing a number of fraudulent acts herself, and yet treated me like I was a criminal even as she blatantly overcharged me for utilities.

No more of that foolishness! I’m in control! I am the queen of my castle! I will never again be put in a position where I fear that I won’t be allowed to keep my own dogs. That’s a weight off my shoulders, indeed.

And another thing that has happened recently is a certain shift in attitude deep within myself. You see, this time last year, I was trying really, really hard to find a man. To complete me? I don’t know. But it seemed important at the time. It was a solid year of being overlooked, discounted, insulted, rejected, passed over, or any combination of those things, that sent me on this house hunting expedition in the first place.

I decided, basically, to hell with men. Who needs them? If they can’t see my value, they are not worth my time and energy. It was high time I started focusing on things that I can control, such as giving myself the best living situation possible. Hence the house hunt. And it is the best choice I’ve made in a long, long time, let me tell you.

And oddly enough, when I think of trying to fit a man into my life now, I feel kind of claustrophobic. I probably won’t feel this way forever, but at the moment men seem kind of icky. So there’s one less thing on the ol’ to-do list! Yay!

As I write this, I’m lying in MY bed, with MY dog, in MY house. And I can genuinely say that I have everything I need. And I’m perfectly content letting the wants take care of themselves for now. And that’s an amazingly independent feeling.

Happy 4th of July!

Independent Woman

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The NASA Tank Top Debacle

Recently I shared this on my Facebook page because it delighted me.

Nasa Tanks

I love that someone is standing up for girls. I love that I’m not the only one in this world who wants girls to love science and dream just as big as their male counterparts. This small act just made me so happy.

And then came a shitstorm of epic proportions. This, from her blog:

“Every few years I manage to touch the 3rd rail of the internet and I am reminded how aggressively histrionic so many men can be toward women disrupting the status quo. Since this tweet I have been called repeatedly <offensive terms warning> “idiot”, “ass”, “whore”, “piece of shit”, “dick”, “moron”, “twat”, “bitch”, “crazy bitch”, “asshole”, “motherfucker”, “garbage”, “cancer”, “psychopath”, “faggot”, “dyke”, “dyke ass”, “cunt”, and “retard”. I’ve been told to “shut up” and “fuck off”. I was told I should be “punched in the head”, “raped”, “euthanized”, that I “needed a bullet to the brain”, and “should kill myself”. I was sent cartoons of Nazis kicking women on the ground. Because I moved 5 shirts. 25 feet.”

I don’t understand why men are so easily threatened. Don’t they have daughters? Sisters? Mothers? What causes them to go straight to name-calling mode in these situations? Do they think that’s a good look? If this is an attempt to appear superior, it backfires in a monumental way.

I get that they are feeling threatened and are therefore lashing out. Their sense of entitlement and privilege is being challenged from all sides these days. They’re not used to that. They’re the only group that has had the luxury of not being used to that.

But I’d like to respectfully point out that some of their fears are patently absurd. Are these men afraid that their chances of working at NASA would be threatened by this small act? Trust me, this reactionary type of man isn’t fit to scrub a NASA toilet, let alone compete with the big girls.

But the most terrifying, most sobering fact about this type of backlash is that, thanks to other white males for the most part, these irrational and threatened men have access to guns. And it’s becoming quite obvious that it isn’t the terrorists, it’s the disenfranchised white male who poses the biggest threat to our society.

But the days of appeasing these men are over. I’ll be moving tank tops every chance I get now. Believe that. Keep fighting the good fight, Katie Hinde!

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Internet Dating Profile Tips for Men

Now that I’ve reluctantly dipped my toe into the internet dating pool, my biggest frustration is that I don’t get to see the profiles of other women. I can’t assess my “competition”. Why am I being passed over? Does my profile stand out too much? Not enough?

And should you be highly specific in your profile, therefore weeding out a lot of people that would be a bad match and thus not wasting your time, or should you be more general, thus drawing in more people, and having to weed them out yourself on the first date, but allowing for a lot more benefit of the doubt? I can see arguments for and against both sides, but I’ve chosen to be specific in my profile.

What I have had the opportunity to do is view about a thousand profiles for men, so I think I can speak with a little authority about them. So what follows are things that have become obvious to me in a short period of time.

Profile do’s and don’ts

  • Don’t lie. If you’re using a photo that was taken 20 years ago, or have gained 200 pounds, or are bragging about a Mercedes that you don’t own, or say you don’t smoke when you do, or say that your kids are grown and out of the house when actually you have a set of 8 year old twins who still live with you, the truth is going to come out when you meet. Where does that get you?
  • Proofread your profile. You could be the smartest man in the world, but if your profile is full of spelling errors or grammar issues, you’re going to look like a dummy. If writing isn’t your strong suit, have a friend proofread it for you.
  • DON’T USE SHOUTY CAPITALS!!!
  • Choose your profile name carefully. If you call yourself something like “TurboStud4you” many women, who would like to be thought of as more than a sex toy, will pass you by.
  • The majority of women on these sites are looking for more than sex. They’re looking for companionship. So talk about what you like to do for fun. If all you talk about is sex, many of us will pass you by, assuming you’re only interested in that one act. If your profile indicates that you’re not really interested in getting to know us as people, we’ll look for someone who is. If that really is your only interest, save us all a lot of time and just go straight to a prostitute.
  • Include a picture. Many of us won’t even look at profiles without pictures. If you can’t tell if there’s potential for chemistry, you’ll move on to a profile that does provide that information, and there are plenty of those out there, believe me.
  • Don’t leave huge sections of your profile blank. For example, if you leave the “What I’m looking for in a woman” section blank, then I won’t respond to you, because I have no idea if I would be what you’re looking for. There are plenty of other profiles out there that will give me this information. Don’t make me guess.
  • Don’t make demands. State preferences. No one likes to be bossed around.
  • Be original. Many of these dating sites will provide you with profile examples. They’re not meant to be cut and pasted into your profile. I’m amazed at how many profiles are identical, word for word. I skip those. I want some sign that you’ve given this process some thought.
  • Don’t say you’re a nice guy. Every profile says that. Instead, give examples. “I volunteer at the local animal shelter” makes ME conclude that you’re a nice guy, and that seems more genuine.
  • Also include candid shots of you out and about, doing what you like to do. It’s nice to provide context. Try to avoid including photos of you looking like a serial killer, and don’t include pictures of you intoxicated unless that’s your usual state. Ask a friend for photo feedback if necessary.
  • I understand the instinct to lead with a photo of you in a suit and tie or a tuxedo, but if you wouldn’t mind a woman who prefers to be more casual, that could put her off. On the other hand, if your lead picture is you in a wife-beater, that will put off women who may occasionally like to dress up. (Which of course is fine if you aren’t interested in that type, but otherwise…)
  • Tread lightly when discussing fitness. I appreciate that I’ve yet to see the word “fat” in a profile, but many men say they want a woman who is fit. That’s fine. It’s honest. But you have to realize that many women have warped body images, so you may think a woman is fit, but she may not, and will therefore not respond to you, so you’ll have missed out on an opportunity to meet someone wonderful. Perhaps a better way of saying it would be, “I would like someone who would enjoy riding a bike 4 times a week,” or something to that effect.
  • And if you are yourself fit but would be willing to date someone who is slightly less fit, don’t emphasize your fitness so much. I, for one, skip the fitness talkers, for fear of rejection. Just show your fitness in your photo and leave it at that, unless you really do want to eliminate certain body types.
  • If you’re into sports (for example) but would be okay with someone who isn’t, then don’t make sports the primary focus of your profile.
  • Don’t make your profile only about what you want. You’ll look selfish. Also make it about who you are and what you have to offer.

Making Contact

If you haven’t figured this out already, you will in short order: There are a lot of crazies and bottom feeders and scammers on these sites. You will hopefully be contacted by a lot of people, and make contact with a lot. There is a way to navigate past the crazies. Here’s a little contact etiquette.

  • If someone takes the time to send you a personalized message which shows they’ve obviously read your profile and have specific questions or comments, give them a courtesy of a response, even if it’s only, “Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately I don’t think we’d be a good match, but good luck on your search!”
  • If someone sends you a generalized flirt, respond or don’t, it’s up to you. They’re testing the waters.
  • If someone contacts you from out of state, they’re most likely a scammer, or using the shotgun method. (If they contact a hundred men, one is bound to respond.) I strongly encourage you to blow these off.
  • If someone sends you a very generic message in chat, such as, “Hey, cutie! How are you doing today?” they are DEFINITELY using the shotgun method. Block them.
  • For the love of God, DO NOT send unsolicited photos of your body parts. (If you need to be told that, you probably need more help than this blogger can give you.)
  • If you read a profile and think you want to meet that person, don’t send a message right off the bat that says let’s meet. Talk for a while back and forth on the message forum before suggesting a meeting. That way you can get some sense of each other first, and the woman will not feel like you’re desperate or simply playing a serial dater numbers game.
  • If you read a profile, are interested, but don’t make contact, don’t be surprised if the woman doesn’t contact you. She’ll assume you’re just a “looky-loo” and have decided you’re not interested. Go ahead, reach out!

Safety

  • Do NOT put anything in your profile that even hints at your work or home location, your full name, where you can be found at any specific time, or outside contact info. Don’t even provide this in messages. Not unless you want to risk coming home to find a rabbit boiling in a pot on your stove.
  • Always meet in a neutral public place at first, like a coffee shop. Don’t reveal your address.
  • Tell someone where you’re going, how long you plan to be gone, and who you’re meeting.
  • Encourage the woman to follow these safety guidelines as well. She’ll appreciate your concern.

We’re living in a cyber world. Internet dating has become ubiquitous. Many people have success stories. But as with anything, you’ll get as much out of the experience as you put into it. Good luck!

[Image credit: destinationfemme.com]
[Image credit: destinationfemme.com]

A Different Breed of Ladies’ Man

The other night I had dinner with a friend who was just passing through. His work takes him all over the country. He fascinates me because we couldn’t be more different. But in a good way.

I have to admit that normally extroverts get on my nerves. But his is a pure, clean, distilled form of extroversion. He’s not attention seeking. He’s not aggressive or loud. He’s not in your face. He just genuinely and truly likes people. He likes meeting them, talking to them, interacting with them. Especially women. He has this affinity for women.

I’m not quite sure how he manages it, but he’s drawn to women without any perverted intent whatsoever. He genuinely seems to respect them and isn’t trying to get anything from them. He’s not on the hunt. He doesn’t have an agenda. It’s refreshing.

At dinner he made it a point to learn the name of the waitress, and whenever she stopped by to check on us, he included her in our conversation and asked her opinion. As the restaurant was crowded, we sat at the bar. Throughout the night he’d also turn and chat to the much older lady sitting next to us. He helped her get ketchup out of the bottle. He recommended the smoked sea salt. The cherries with our salmon were so delicious that he said to her, “You’ve got to try this,” and put a cherry on her plate. I was charmed. By the end of the night he knew where she was from and what she was doing here.

Don’t get me wrong. I doubt he lacks for female intimacy. I even contemplated making a move myself once or twice as we enjoyed our salmon. (Well, not at that exact place and time, but… you get the picture.) And even if he had rejected it, I’m quite confident that he’d have done so with aplomb and would have allowed me to maintain my pride and dignity.

But (and this is unusual in a man), I strongly suspect that he prefers a certain level of connection before he goes to that place, or else it would be as hollow and unsatisfying for him as it would be for the other person. I thought to myself, “This is a rare creature, indeed.” I think I’ll just appreciate the fact that he’s on the planet, roaming free, and look forward to future opportunities to interact with him in his natural habitat. Because it’s a delightful, friendly place indeed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

[Image credit: choosetodanceintherain.com]

Champagne Relationships

One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Katharine Hepburn. “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” That, to me, makes perfect sense.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love men, and miss having one in my life. But the older I get, the less willing I am to put up with things like sweaty socks in the coffee mug and extended debates over which direction the toilet paper should hang. I like having my own space and making my own decisions and having my own life.

Still, it would be nice to have a steady date on national holidays. And someone to go out to dinner with. And someone to call to talk me down off the ceiling when something has given me the creeps. And let’s not forget the occasional, shall we say, biological gratification?

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she introduced me to the concept of Champagne Relationships. All the bubble and the feeling of special occasions without any of the grit and sediment you get with home brew. All the sparkle without any of the polishing. An extended sense of newness and butterflies without any of the, “Oh god, you are doing my head in.” The ability to ask, “What’s new?” without already knowing the answer.

Oh yeah, sign me up.

kate

“End of Discussion”

More than one man in my life has said that to me, and it always works. For a split second. Because I’m rendered speechless by the arrogance, the gall, the unbelievable nerve that it takes to even conceive of that sentence, let alone utter it out loud.

It seems to be part of the collective unconscious that allows certain men to think that they have the right to stop women from speaking, that it is they who get to determine when we are and are not allowed to express ourselves. At the very least they must have learned it at the knees of their fathers, and they failed to realize that some lessons are best ignored.

But when you think about it, it makes sense. Study after study suggests that women are much more capable of communicating than men. I read once that on an average day, women use 20,000 words, whereas men only use 7,000. So if you’re going to try to take away a woman’s superior strength, and you already know that you’re most likely picking on someone who is not your own size, then you would naturally go right for her ability to speak, wouldn’t you? That is, if you’re so insecure that you require that kind of a leg up in order to feel as if you’ve “won” a debate. “End of discussion” is the communication equivalent of hitting below the belt. It’s beating a woman down by trying to handicap her very essence.

Here’s the thing that always stuns me about this flawed logic: do you honestly think that pulling the “end of discussion” card won’t permanently damage your relationship with the woman in question in some fundamental way? It may not be evident on the surface, but deep down when a woman is disrespected like that, she doesn’t forget it. She knows that in your soul you think you are superior, and that you believe that you have the right to squelch all communication, and that you can pull that stupidity again whenever the mood strikes you. Every time she speaks from that point forward, the implication is that she has to have your permission. But unbeknownst to you, you have chopped yourself off at the balls, because once you have done this, you have cracked the very foundation of your relationship. On some level, your partner will have lost respect for you. And once that has happened, it is extremely hard to get it back.

And the irony is that ironing things out requires communication. Once you have thwarted that, you may get the momentary peace and quiet that you crave, but the problem not only does not go away, it increases by a factor of ten. Open and polite communication is the pedestal upon which every healthy relationship stands.

Before I get blasted for this particular blog entry, please understand that I do realize that the vast majority of men do not fall within this category. Most are more cultured and respectful than that. Most are capable of civilized conversation. Most know how to have a reasonable discussion without things accelerating to the point where “end of discussion” is the only “weapon” upon which they can draw. In fact, most men do not feel the need to draw weapons of any sort on someone they love.

Real men do not beat their women, either. End of discussion.

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(Image credit: flurtsite.com)