That Nettling Assumption Of Ill Intent
I found this comic on gurl.com called “What It Feels Like For A Boy”, and it’s pretty great. It’s nice to see a feminist notice that it is our job as humans is to really try to understand each other, and that the privileged are people too. Do we not bleed? We do.
One thing that’s hard about being a guy is the assumptions about our intentions. For example, we can’t invite a girl back to our place without doing some work to prove we’re a gentleman, or that we’re not going to be angry if we don’t get sex out of it. Maybe for some people that work is done by their natural demeanor and/or charm, but for me, not always so smooth in my communications, it may have to be done consciously. It often doesn’t seem right to me to say to someone, “You want to come back to my place? We don’t have to have sex, but it would be a good place to cuddle or smooch or something, if you want”, even if that’s how I feel. Yeah, that’s a bit weird, not even sure if there is a mutual attraction or desire for such a thing until you hear how she answers the question in the first place. So the question “come back to my place?” hangs in the air, wondering what assumptions are attached to it. (Sometimes it does seem right, when the communication is exceptionally good. But if I had to wait for exceptionally good communication before I tried to make a move on a lass, I’d hardly ever be making moves at all, and would have missed some good opportunities.) In some cases it can feel like protesting a bit too much, like “Babysitter for hire, I’m not a child molester.” Or maybe it could cause her to call into question our red-blooded desire for the sex. “Is that weak? What if she really likes the sex, and wants a guy who will take some command here?” Maybe an addendum: “We don’t have to have sex, but actually I really like sex and would totally jump your bones if you gave me the go-ahead, but if it makes you uncomfortable we can stop whenever you want at whatever point and I won’t protest because I’m not a rapist.” Gah.
And these things weigh on us guys, we who want to do the right thing. They are a burden we carry around on our shoulders everywhere. It may not be on the same order as carrying that $10,000 around like attractive women do, or the assumptions carried around by a minority in a prejudiced society, but they are still there.
One way I would differ from a lot of feminists though is that I don’t really think this can be changed, at least not completely. I think men and women have our lots in life, bestowed upon us by evolution, and to an extent we have to live with them. I just think this is how sexual selection works. Societal attitudes should be constantly shored up lest they veer out of control and back into animal territory, but I think it’s a wishful fiction to assume the cultural work is going to get entirely get rid of our animal natures, the way we do the mating dance.
What the enlightened people can and should do is acknowledge them. Men should acknowledge and understand the specific difficulties of being a woman. And women should acknowledge and understand the specific difficulties of being a man. And carrying this nettling assumption of ill intent around our necks is one such difficulty.