Updated: Apr 23
From a non-misandrist & hopefully helpful standpoint
Graphic by Jose The Storyteller on Pixabay (quote added)
Talking to women is a minefield for men.
Romantic connection is at an all-time low. Millennials aren’t having sex. Bumble exists because, as a male friend put it, “Men are sick of being shot down all the time. Fine, let women decide who they’re going to talk to.” Michael Kimmel writes books about clueless young Guyland and Angry White Men, although I’m pretty sure not all the angry dudes are white. And the clueless ones aren’t all young.
If victim feminism made women hard to approach before, #MeToo now carries the danger of her snapping your photo in the bar and sharing it with all 53,579 of her Twitter and Instagram followers accusing you of intersectional patriarchal pseudo-woke misogyny because you told her she was beautiful.
My former blogging platform daily newsletter emails were full of article recommendations (“Based on your reading history”) by angry women with a gigantic hate-on for men who may need to rethink whether they need to post every damn day. So many of these articles sounded like a gripe about whatever annoyed them that morning instead of some earth-shattering, mind-blowing insight about how women and men are, like, different.
It’s no wonder the birth rate is dropping.
(Those recommendations ARE based on my reading history. I’m trying to understand angry feminists better to gently challenge their, IMNSHO, highly skewed and phallophobic view of the world.)
Can we talk?
But, it’s not all angry feminists spouting academic jargonbabble about what CIS-het normative rapists men are. Based on my nearly 40+ years of experience dealing with single men…the last fifteen of which have been largely man-free…I can state pretty categorically: Y’all don’t seem to learn.
Even the ‘woke’ ‘feminist’ men don’t seem to get it on a very basic level, which is how to talk to a woman you don’t know.
It was difficult in the best of times for a man to approach a woman, and like it or not, that’s how our biology works. Guys have always done the pursuing, and old evolutionary habits die hard. Modern women don’t always seem to get that, and we can all try and be a little more understanding. A guy who tells you you’re beautiful isn’t necessarily an asshole.
But, guys, it does make you sound like every pickup artist who’s ever approached us. I call it the UPS — the Universal Pickup Script:
“You know, you’re very beautiful.” “You have beautiful <eyes, hair, legs, whatever>.” “And you also have beautiful <different set of body parts>.” <Ask for the date>
Which is why the answer to “You’re very beautiful,” was quickly answered with, “I’m not interested/I’m married/I have a boyfriend.” I rotated my lies.
We can’t make a romantic decision as fast as you
A man sees a woman he finds attractive, and he chats her up. But that's 2–3 minutes of preliminary small talk and then he tries to close the deal, as we say in the sales world.
Problem is, smart women can’t make a decision about him in just a minute or two of conversation. He’s the bigger one. He’s the one who could be a psycho or needy or crazy or stalkerish. Women can be all those things too, but as Margaret Atwood noted, men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.
Guys, please remember this every time you chat up a new woman.
Romance novelist Phaedra Starling best explained the threat an unknown man poses for a woman in her now-classic blog post, Schrodinger’s Rapist.
Some (not very smart) women may be wowed easily by big muscles or a winning smile or a smooth line, and go off with a guy somewhere for a coffee or a glass of wine or Goddess help her, to his apartment. Or even to hers.
He might be okay, and that will lull her into the false belief that her judgement is excellent, but the next guy might not be as safe as she thinks. We all do it; even I’ve done it, but it’s never ended as badly for me as it has many others.
We’re not always clear, and sometimes you just don’t listen
One longstanding complaint men have about women is that we expect you to be mind readers. That’s a fair assessment. It drives me crazy when women say to me, “If you don’t know why I’m angry I’m not going to tell you!” or “You know damn well why I’m mad!” I don’t play guessing games, and I’m not going to let a woman torture me like that. You shouldn’t either. If she can’t tell you what the problem is, tell her if it’s that important she’ll discuss it like an adult instead of playing games. One of you has to be the grownup and in this moment, it’s not going to be her. Don’t twist yourself into knots over whatever your mystery sin was. Homey don’t play dat game. It’s supremely childish and women need to be called on it when they regress like this. This isn’t second grade.
Women aren’t always clear about what they want with a man, and it’s often because we’re not clear on what we want for ourselves. This is where the miscommunication came into play for Aziz Ansari, who stopped pushing Grace when he was asked and who apologized later, and was thanked by being turned into a #MeToo pariah.
His dick got in the way of his thinking, but ‘Grace’ sent a lot of mixed messages herself. Also, I don’t think going to a man’s apartment is a good idea when you don’t know him very well. As I noted earlier. Just a bad practice overall.
On the other hand, some women are quite clear on what they want, or not, and men don’t always listen. There are some pretty hairy stories of sexual assault and they’re crystal clear they were not down with what someone forced on them.
As a Facebook friend put it, “I have had many times where I have been very direct with men. Then they will not listen anyway. Some claimed that’s not what I meant. Others claimed I never said this or that. Sometimes I would make a statement and when not listen to [sic] I would get angry then hear, Oh you were serious.”
Yeah, she was serious!
I say, quite seriously, that it really does seem like a penis can cause male deafness.
But then there’s the dreaded female, “I’m fine.” Two of the most deadly words for a man. You asked her if something’s wrong, and her response was more frigid than a polar vortex. It’s not an acceptable answer. If she’s not fine, she needs to tell you why. Period. No games-playing. No expecting you to psychically deduce it ‘if you really loved her.’
Don’t let your dick do the talking
It really is true that some men think with their dick way too much. Some should just leave the damn thing at home when they go out with a woman because dicks make men say the dumbest things.
I went out with a guy from a dating site a few years ago who insisted he was looking for a long-term relationship and not just sex. Nevertheless, within an hour of meeting me he told me how big his 'junk' was, picked the sexual position he wanted to have for our first time, the type of bed he wanted to do it on, and he needed to know, absolutely needed to know, “Do you shave your pussy?”
Planning our first sexual encounter isn’t something a lot of women want to do on the initial coffee date. And also, don’t ever call it that. However, I gave him another chance and we went out again, and this time he asked me about my menstrual cycle and what my bra size I was.
I texted him later and politely told him why I didn’t want to see him anymore. That’s only fair, I think. Fortunately he was a man about it and didn’t make a nasty fuss. I was straightforward with what I said and criticized his behavior, not him. I braced myself for a possible responsive shitstorm but all I got back was “OK.”
I appreciated that mature response, if not necessarily his ability to focus on something other than my body.
Guys, just stay away from the sex talk the first few times.
We’re all a little crazy
I think a lot of miscommunication between men and women comes from our psychological wiring — our brains are different, so we don’t think like each other — and because, frankly, we’re all a little crazy.
Some of it is the way we’re raised, some of it is biological. What we have in common is we all filter the world through our biases, fears, past experiences, childhood traumas, insecurities, and just generally skewed views. Buddhists call it Wrong Perception.
Him: “She clutched her purse closer to her as she passed me! She thinks I’m gonna snatch it because I’m black!" Her: “Dammit, why’d I pack this big umbrella? It made my purse heavier and there’s not a cloud in the sky! Stupid bloody weatherman!”
Bagel Guy: “Why is it okay for women to say, ‘Oh, you’re five feet’ on dating sites? ‘You should be dead?’ THAT’S OKAY?” Female customer: “I just wanted a bagel.”
Her: “He won’t talk to me. I’ve been trying to make conversation all afternoon and he gives me short, one-word answers. He doesn’t like me anymore. He’s not attracted to me. I said something wrong. I’m too fat! He thinks I’m ugly! This is a disaster! I’ll never get another man! He’s bored with me already! HE HATES ME!”
Him: “Why wouldn’t the motorcycle start last night?”
A feminist Wrong Perception
There's a pervasive feeling among some feminists that everything wrong with their lives is due to men, patriarchy, sexism, and the way they were ‘socialized’ as women to be compliant and submissive and people-pleasing.
That’s true, to a point, but women really are, generally, wired to be better communicators and nurturers. We are, after all, the ones who have to raise the baby, at least for the first few years when s/he can’t be left alone for long and needs to be suckled six times a day. The language and communication parts of our brain are, generally, better developed than men’s. Men’s brains are more developed for sex, so guess what they think about more.
They’re not bad guys for being more sex-preoccupied, and women aren’t weak and stupid for being more emotional and nurturing.
It’s entirely possible little girls and boys are being raised a certain way because they evidence gender-traditional behavior at an early age. I don’t believe pink vs. blue booties has anything to do with it. CIS really is the norm, whether we like it or not, and most of us are going to fit into one label or the other. Some folks don’t feel comfortable with either and that’s fine, but this post isn’t about them.
I found one article about how ‘women aren’t allowed to be angry,’ or some such nonsense. That it’s okay for men to be angry but not women. Oh please. Plenty of men can testify how they were raised not to express their anger and how it’s made them serious head cases.
It’s not gender-specific; the world just isn’t comfortable with anger, no matter who expresses it.
It’s become too convenient to blame gender and roles for why we fail to measure up internally. It’s a lazy woman’s excuse. Other articles are about how women aren’t allowed to express their sexuality, or some such similar nonsense. Sometimes the writers come from cultures and religions that really aren’t okay with women’s sexuality, but many others don’t mention them at all. So where are all these pole-dancing sex-work-defending Girls Gone Wild coming from?
Meanwhile, men feel like they can’t express any sort of interest in women whatsoever for fear of being castigated by outrage junkies on social media. So, anger repression is looking a lot less gender-specific.
Maybe the problem isn’t men, or feminists, or socialization, but our own internal Controls Gone Wild.
For examples of male Wrong Perception, just drop by your nearest incel discussion forum to learn how women are running the entire world because Feminists Have Ruined Everything.
Are women really just a bunch of brainless Stacys forever in search of their Perfect Chad, leaving Our Heroes out in the cold with their dicks in their hands, or do these guys need to learn how to talk to women without asking about the condition of her vagina in a coffee shop?
Is there a Davos Summit for Patriarchal Wannabes to teach them how to keep women down, or are women who feel held back too often holding the reins themselves?
Maybe men should stop seeing new women as “Potential Love/Sex Interest” and get to know her without the not-so-hidden agenda. Especially since some women are particularly cautious, having had some pretty bad experiences with men in the past. Remember: We’re the ones who have to fear for our physical safety. Men have a long and ugly history of violence against women, and women have a much shorter history in reverse.
By the same token, maybe women can stop viewing men as abusive just because they get approached for a date. And also be more clear with themselves what they want and who they want it with and when, so we have fewer Grace/Aziz Ansari misunderstandings. And also, ladies, make sure you understand what ‘misogyny’ means before you go thoughtlessly tossing it around on social media.
Talk to each other, listen to each other, and…go forth and be joyful together.