I recently read an article on Man-myths that women still believe are true. As I was going through it, my vagina almost cried out in desolate anguish at some of those points. Specifically, one myth-busted is that men don’t find it uncomfortable, in fact welcome it, when women are the sexual aggressors in the relationship. The other is that men are totally comfortable letting the woman be the main breadwinner. Why is this upsetting me? Because the two things that one could depend on a man to do – be horny and be able to bring the jam to the table - is now slowly also becoming the woman’s prerogative.
As a person who lives alone, takes care of my house, my car, my work, my bills, my taxes, my business and often, my own orgasm, I’d really like to believe that when it comes to a relationship, I won’t have to lug a romantic laggard across the threshold, or work two jobs so I can be the primary breadwinner because – wait for it – “he’s totally comfortable with that”. This does not mean that I want a chauvinist as a partner, but yes, I like the fact that I can depend on my partner to come on to me, to splurge on me, without me worrying about where the next rent or mortgage payment is coming from. I do that anyway – why must I tolerate another whole person in my emotional and physical space just so I can do more of the same??
Don’t get me wrong – I understand the trauma women face when they have to encounter PMS-like mood swings from their man because she’s earning more than him, and yes, we’d all like to have partners who’re self-assured enough to not let that dent their spirit. But there’s a thin line between being self-assured and being a lazy-ass free-loader. And it’s that thin easy-to-cross line that scares me. Because it starts from “men being totally comfortable with not fulfilling their ‘traditional roles’ to men demanding and expecting that women fulfill them.”
It scares me because I’m a woman looking for a partner. However, during that search, one of the most common statements I’ve heard about my personality is that I’m intimidating. This trait apparently only comes into effect in the romantic arena, and miraculously goes completely AWOL in friendships and familial relationships. Why? Because it seems that when I’m auditioning someone for the role of friend-sexual partner-family, I have to tip-toe around their oh-so-sensitive natures. We must accept their retiring personality, laugh at their weak attempts at humour, shy away from discussions about religion or politics or money because heaven forbid, we intimidate them. Me? I’d rather scare them off over dinner, than find out in an emergency that they cannot step up.
And it’s not really their fault. Women have been socially and temperamentally conditioned to be nice, accommodating, flexible and always loving because these were the key qualities – along with social mores – that would ensure that you found a mate. This was indeed crucial because, even till 50 odd years ago, it was the male partner who brought financial security to our lives. And over so many years of social training, men too got used to expecting those traits from us. But the world’s economy kind of got away from us to the extent that most men today prefer working partners. The irony? What it takes to be an effective and high-achieving ‘working’ partner is also what pulls us back from being the above stated easy-going, ego-boosting, whatever-you-want-is-perfectly-okay-with-us-because-you-know-best people we’re expected to be.
The other day I went out with Manee. Manee was introduced to me by a friend, and quite out of the blue he asked me out. We chatted – well, he talked a lot, and didn’t let me finish my responses to questions he asked (oh well, I didn’t say it was a perfect date, did I?) – over some wine and fritters. At the end of the evening, when I offered to split the bill (as I do on most dates), he said one of the most convoluted sentences I’ve ever heard.
He said, “I’d like to take care of the bill, but I understand that you may feel offended, so if you choose, you may in fact split the bill though it would be just as okay for me to take care of this round, and if you want, maybe the next time, we could split it or maybe this time is also okay. Whatever you decide.” Honestly, a simple yes, please or no, thank you would have sufficed and been quite consequence-free. Instead now, at the end of the evening, two people stared at each other across a chasm of political correctness and over-sensitivity to non-existent feelings to find a way to clear a small bill. I stared at him and said, “So, should I put my card in with yours then?”
If you want. Whatever you decide. Leave the ball in his/her court. Go with the flow. Words that are increasingly defining our generation – men and women – and the inability to follow through on what YOU want if it involves another human being. We walk around in increasingly cushioned cocoons with pseudo-hyper-aware sensitivity beacons to other peoples’ feelings, and find ourselves paralyzed when it comes to going after what we want. Men seem comfortable giving that up and yet, the most attractive feature about men has been their confidence, their ability to go after what they want – even if its misguided and to make women feel looked after and safe.
But that’s hard work. It takes character and courage. Many would rather stay in bed and let someone else take those decisions. Society has a word for them – it’s “children”.
Which brings us to the crossroads. Ofcourse it’s understandable why men are totally okay with, in fact welcome it, when women become the aggressors – financially and sexually. When you come to think of it, it’s not that different from women who think it’s totally okay, if fact would welcome it, for the men to have monthly cramps, insert tampons into their genital orifices to stem the flow of blood, carry a baby for 9 months to term, breast-feed the spawn, have sagging boobs and cellulite, and ofcourse have their balls ripped out as something the size of a watermelon tears through them and is hailed as the “miracle of life.” We would really be okay with that.
So let’s make a deal. When the men can do the latter, we’ll do the former. What say? But until that becomes a real possibility, I’d suggest the guys just grow a pair and continue to try and live up to the ideal. If they want to be laid. Only if they want it.