Tuesday, December 21, 2004

On the importance of adhering to gender stereotypes

Or, you go on a date with the gender roles that you have, not the gender roles that you might want or wish to have.

Okay, so every couple of years, a new theory is born on men and women and how they should or should not relate to each other. A few years ago, the big deal was The Rules - quite literally a rulebook for women, an instruction manual to teach them how to take back the power in their interaction with men, pretty much by playing hard-to-get. When to call, when not to call, how far in advance to set dates, how long to wait before sleeping with a guy - Rules. And it was a big deal. And some women thought it was a great idea, and some thought it was a lousy idea, but most people had something to say.

Now, the newest and biggest is He's Just Not That Into You, a phrase which "Sex and the City" viewers will recognize from that show because the book was written by the writers of, well, that show. The idea behind this book is that women always make excuses for guys, why they don't call, why they're inattentive, when, for the most part, he's just not that into her. It's refreshing, really, kind of a strong cup of coffee for women who try to relate to men the way they relate to other women. It doesn't ask anyone to change their ways for someone else; it just requires men to be men and women to accept that. And I can accept that.


Except that men aren't always men. Sometimes, men are just as womany as women are. Despite the fact that men are supposed to be predictably and penis-centric and generally mannish, some men will insist on being multifaceted and multilayered and on playing little mind games. And while everyone has the right to be only as straightforward as they choose to be, it really confuses the hell out of everyone when some crazy rebel man chooses to reject the stereotype and play mind games. Or, for that matter, when a woman chooses to reject the stereotype and be straightforward and upfront (and guys, don't even pretend you don't know what I'm talking about).

So here's my pledge to men: I promise to be the girliest damn girl out there. I promise to never really tell you what's on my mind. I promise that if you ask what's wrong and I say "nothing," there really is something wrong. I promise never to remind you in advance of special occasions, and then to get my feelings hurt when you forget. I promise to take two hours to get ready for a date, to have the chef prepare my entire meal without butter, and to drag you only to movies with a John Williams score and actors far hotter than you. I promise to get offended when you don't call, to smother you with affection in front of your tough-guy friends, and to smack you publicly for checking out a perfectly attractive girl in a short skirt. I promise to push for girlfriend status two weeks into the relationship, to keep a toothbrush at your place, and to give you cutesy stuffed animals at every gift-giving occasion.

In return, I ask you to be mannish. Not manly - mannish. You must always speak your mind, even when tact would tell you to shut up. You must wear jeans to nice restaurants, and ripped jeans on more casual outings. You must ignore me whenever you work on your car - and you must spend at least two hours a day working on your car. You must call me up only when you're looking for tail. You must show affection with a firm slap on the ass, never commit to a date more than two hours in the future, and blow off dinner and a movie if one of your friends just bought a new firearm. You must tell wild stories to your friends about what a firecracker I am in the sack so that they leer at me whenever they see me. When I start talking to you, your eyes must glaze over a minute and a half into the conversation.

It's not pretty, but it's consistent.

Now, you might ask, wouldn't it just be easier to be straightforward? Would the world truly implode if a woman said what was really on her mind, instead of trying to figure out in advance what his reaction might be and adjust her statement accordingly and then complain because he doesn't know the real her and she just isn't being fulfilled? Could the apocalypse really come of a guy telling a girl that he's not interested in her romantically but would love to get a beer sometime - or, alternately, that he's interested in her only sexually and that she should expect attention from him only when he's trying to get some?

Well, uh, yeah.


a gentleman said...

I find it easier for men to be open and considerate than I do for women to give up the "what am I thinking" mentality. The "if you don't know I'm certainly not going to tell you" mentality is alive and well in many of the women I know. Most of the things you ask of men are part of being a gentleman- calling well before a date, dressing appropriately, being polite, considerate and non-peniscentric- and there are gentlemen around. One of the problems is that women play there mind games and at the same time allow ungentlemanly behavior to go unchallenged. If women spoke up and refused to tolerate the behavior, the men who offend would would be faced with the choice between change and celebacy. But women would rather complain and comply rather than stand up for themselves. There is nothing sexier than a smart personable woman who knows and is confident in herself. If she stoops to accept something less than she deserves, the blame is hers alone.

Anonymous said...

You forgot missing "movie night" and coming coming drunk and reeking of cigarette smoke at 3am. God I miss the days of being in a relationship...