Girlhood now is unarguably significantly more technology-based than any girlhood before this one. There is such a diverse range of media that can be seen by girls on a daily basis, second-by-second, through so many different sites, that it’s important to understand what kind of media they’re consuming.
Since delving into my interest in women and girl’s activism, I’ve begun to do my best to consciously understand the articles, photos, and messages that I am posting on my numerous social media sites. “Is this something I would want my 10-year old sister to see? Are these messages that are helpful to her development? If she read this, would I want her to mirror the behavior?”
And, to be frank, there are enough people in my social media feeds that should really start taking this into account.
Let’s look at an example of an article that has been furiously circling on my newsfeed the past week. Now, I’m not talking just men sharing this. I’m talking about grown women that I know in some capacity sharing this on every social media platform they can.
I’m going to get nonacademic for a second and just say that I am worried, people. If this is the type of message that people think is critical and important to share with others, how do boys and girls stand a chance at having fulfilling lives? YES! I said BOYS, too!
For starters, the title: “50 Things Every Woman Should Realize About Men.” Ah, yes, all men are the same, think the same way, experience the same things, etc etc etc etc so no need to look any further, here’s everything you’ve ever needed to know about any man, regardless of race, gender identity, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, or religion! All-inclusive!
While the entire article is problematic, I’m really the most horrified by the introduction.
“You’re all looking very pretty today, maybe we can go grab a drink sometime—no, shit. I promised I wouldn’t do that. Sorry. Habit.”
…”Habit.” Habit? What a great “habit” that we insinuate boys should have and one that girls should assume they need to deal with. Of course men are going to hit on you, but it’s okay, boys will be boys, right? Tell that to all of the women and girls that have experienced sexual assault and was told by someone “boys will be boys!” Also tell that to the man who is falsely convicted of rape (though I’d like to make clear that the prevalence of this is very low) because of course he raped her, boys will be boys, they can’t control themselves.
So stop expecting us to understand the intricate mystery that is the feminine psyche and just accept the fact that it’s never going to happen. However…there is hope. Once you stop over-thinking men and realize that they are much less complex than you are, you can take charge, keep them content and get what you want at the same time.
Let me translate this: “Stop expecting men to make any attempt to get to know you as any more than just an object because that’s all us men can understand — we’re much less complex than you are, meaning we just cannot cognitively express any emotions or complicated thoughts, so don’t try to get to know us on a deeper level because we certainly don’t want to know you in that way!”
This is offensive to men and women. This is problematic for boys and girls. We are telling our girls that men do not want to know them as anything other than a sexual partner and we tell our boys that they cannot be emotional or intellectually complex.
Now to the list. I am not going to include each one, but here are some highlights:
2. You Can’t Change Him
I know that you know this intellectually, but on some level, you may still think you can pull it off. You can’t. And if you do manage to get it done, he’ll figure it out and resent you for it. Love him the way he is or not at all.
40. You Need To Be His Moral Compass
He looks to his woman to keep him in check. Make sure he always does the right thing.
Wait. What if he’s complex? What if he’s emotional? Do I have permission to change him then? He won’t resent that, right? If I turn him into a bumbling fool that exclusively swims on the surface level of conversation and thought, he’ll be grateful? Is that what this means? But I’m supposed to keep him morally in check? Yes, because all men are morally corrupt by nature, I forgot.
12. He Wants To Bang Your Friends
I’m not saying he’ll do it, but he wants to. Don’t take it personally—he’s wanted to bang 90% of all the women he’s ever met. It’s really not that big a deal. Let him know you know and watch how red he gets.
30. You Should Never Flirt With His Friend
I know I said earlier that he wants to bang your friends, so this might seem like a double standard, but it’s true. He’ll think you’re fucking with him—or worse, that you’re actually attracted to one of his buddies. Don’t risk ruining his friendships or there will be bad times ahead.
Oh, right. Men have license to express their sexuality and no one should judge it because it’s just “how it is.” Listen girls, we know you have “urges” too, but could you keep those to yourself, maybe? It’s making the men feel badly. Didn’t you know boys aren’t capable of liking one person? You should always be suspicious because they can’t control themselves.
17. You’ve Got To Watch Your Weight
Oh shit, did I really say that? Well, it’s true. Just because you landed him doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want and stop going to the gym (and to be fair, neither can he).
Well, at least it’s the same expectation for men, too…? Or like, you know, we could follow the advice from an earlier point, “Love [anyone] the way [they are] or not at all.” There, I fixed it for you!
8. You Can’t Bombard Him The Second He Walks In The Door
He knows you want to talk about what that bitch said to you at work today or your plans to redecorate the bedroom, but for god’s sake, let him have a beer and stare at the TV for at least half an hour first.
16. He Wants You To Need Him
Sure, you’re an independent lady and he likes that. But he also wants to feel useful. So let him change a light bulb and open pickle jars for you. It boosts his self-esteem.
Okay, noted. I almost forgot how men are so significantly less complex than women that in order to make them feel needed, the farthest we can go is asking for help with the pickle jar. Any conversations that go beyond grunting is too much, so just wait until he’s got a few beers in him so he can pretend to understand.
19. Ultimatums Do NOT Work
Any time you try to force a guy to do anything, he WILL resent you for it. Try an honest talk about how you feel and what you want out of the relationship before you give him an “either/or.”
“How I feel?” Isn’t that off limits? I was so convinced at this point that the only way to get through to men was through dichotomous choices only because it was the only way they’d comprehend what was going on? Wait…could it be…that some men…respond to different things…differently…?
25. You Should Always Take His Side
Within reason. But if he’s involved in some kind of debate and you take sides against him in public, he will never forgive you.
GIRLS! Take note! Your opinion is second to his when in public, so just zip it, okay? No one wants to hear you anyway. Don’t be bossy or aggressive. It’s not cute.
33. He Needs To Lean On You Sometimes
Most of us are pretty good at shouldering our burdens, but every so often, they get too heavy. But don’t sit him down and make him talk about his feelings—that’s YOUR thing. Just do some little things for him to pick up his slack when he’s overwhelmed.
Noted. Next time my boyfriend begins a sentence with “I feel…” I’ll just leave and empty the dishwasher.
35. Don’t EVER Emasculate Him
Even if you’re just joking. I promise you, he won’t think it’s funny. And if you do it during a fight, your relationship might never recover.
BOYS! Now it’s your turn to take notes. Anything that insinuates that you are acting in a way that is more attributable to the opposite gender, this should absolutely and totally destroy your sense of identity and self-esteem. If you hadn’t heard yet, being equated to the woman is the worst thing that someone can do to you. Girls have cooties, remember? You don’t want to be like one of those cootie-queens.
48. He’s Not Your Dad
For all you princesses out there. Yes, he’s supposed to take care of you, but it’s not in the same way. You’re a grown woman, for Christ’s sake. Learn the difference between a father and a partner.
“He’s supposed to take care of you.” Listen, boys, if you make less money than the girl in your life in the future, you should definitely feel like scum. Like, you’re supposed to provide for her since she needs to be taken care of. Not you, though, you’ve got this on your own — no need for emotional support since you’re not complex enough for that kind of thing. Have you started bottling up your feelings yet? Yes? Keep up the good work!
42. If You Make Him Watch A Chick Flick, At Least Give Him A Blowjob Afterwards
Seriously, those things are painful. You have no idea how much we hate them. If he made it through the whole thing without complaining, reward him. And if it was one of the SEX & THE CITY movies, you owe him either anal or a threesome. Your choice.
But…what if I turned this into an ultimatum? Those are off limits. Guess this deal is off the table.
9. Withholding Sex Is A Dangerous Game
I don’t care how mad you are at him, if you cut him off for an extended period of time, what happens next is on you.
“What happens next is on you.” So like, rape? That’s on me? Thanks for perpetuating rape culture in the most clear and undeniable way. Neato!
I could have gone through each of these and made some sort of comments about how they perpetuate gender roles, our patriarchal heteronormative oppressive systems, and rape culture. These concepts are not new, they are not made up, and they are not issues to gloss over. They are very real and they hurt our girls and our boys and jeapardize their abilities to fulfill the identity that feels true to them, have a strong voice and advocate for themselves (whether that’s through sharing their opinion or expressing emotion), and have meaningful and equal partnerships.
by Emily Kindschy