Back in the very dark ages of the gender wars, say, before 1920, women were quietly and submissively hoping for a better world. Married women, at least my wife, if she’s an example, know how to quietly and submissively demonstrate how women can live in a marriage. But they (if my wife is an example) don’t do that. Instead, they exert a very powerful influence over men (if I am an example). Don’t go calling me “whipped.”
I heard that!! What the hell did I just say? HEY!! STOP LAUGHING!
OK, maybe I’m a little “whipped.” Shut up. It means I’m 26 years ahead of my time in the gender struggle. Or maybe it means I’m not rich or famous enough for anyone to bother accusing of harassment. It’s not because I’m not annoying enough, but at least I know that.
Although I’m not rich or famous enough to bother with, the question arises, when does flirtation become harassment? Where’s the line? As a blogger, when I become a rich, famous novelist, will I be found guilty of harassment for something or some things I’ve written in my blog that are only much later, say, 40 years, after the gender wars have progressed even further, be determined as “inappropriate,” or “harassment?” I won’t know unless a fellow blogger, or one of my two (maybe three) faithful readers tell me. What if there’s only one comment I’ve made on a random blog somewhere and I’ve forgotten about it, and no one ever told me they were offended? When will I be informed of the offense? Could I be alerted of getting close to crossing that very ambiguous line sometime before I cross it? Or will the flirtation be returned, such that I think it’s OK until it’s too late? Or maybe a more pertinent question would be, how much money do I have to have to be worth suing, or accusing?
It’s a cynical line of questioning.
I want to believe the claims because many times, men cross the more obvious lines. A woman is taken in by his wealth, power, and charming personality, drawn in by the promise of possible opportunity, career advancement, being treated nicely, or whatever else a lady may need of a non-sexual nature from a man. And a man, being either creepy or completely stupid, is looking for whatever a man may want from a woman, and blunders in thoughtlessly or deliberately. A woman who wants a career opportunity and may be looking for a good professional reference tries to make friends, and does the normal social and professional things, and the guy is all grope-y, or that and worse. And then he may or may not offer those opportunities to the lady, based on things going farther than social or professional. Because I know guys can be creepy, I want to believe.
But I’m sorry, I’m cynical. I ask the questions. Was she flirting back? What were her physical and verbal cues? How was she presenting herself? Where are the lines of demarcation for when a woman progresses from social and professional to something more? How are clueless men (and most are) to interpret a woman’s intentions in the minefield of modern gender warfare? Is she interested in more than social interaction, but waiting for him to “make the first move?” Was there an interest back then that went beyond mere social or professional goals, and now years later, with social or political or monetary aims, the interest is being denied?
What I’ve learned from dog training applies here, not that I’d imply that men are dogs. (read in my sotto voce whisper: MEN ARE LIKE DOGS! AND SOME ARE DOGS!) Any self-respecting dog trainer will tell you that the time to intervene to prevent a dog from acting on his or her impulse, is before they start acting. So before he lunges, charges and bites the neighbor kid, or snacks on the neighbor’s pet, an owner should distract and divert to a different behavior or give a verbal command, and give a reward for obedience. Cesar Millan, the “dog whisperer” says dog aggression may not be intended as aggression, but instead is curiosity and excitement. The same is true for a normal man. Even though I’m married, if a woman wants to talk to me, I am curious and excited. If a woman flirts in response to my flirtation, my curiosity and excitement will grow.
If I weren’t so very married, I might lose control of my impulses at some point, and I often wonder what that point is for me, but I don’t want to learn it. Guys are behaviorally similar to their best friends, but if there’s redirection or correction before things get out of control, I think many of those unfortunate biting episodes could be prevented. Cesar goes on to say that aggression may be triggered by fear, insecurity, anxiety, frustration, and lack of proper socialization.
Don’t be fooled by the guy’s veneer. We’re pretending to be stronger than we are. We’re acting calm, but on the inside we’re close to panic or desperation. We’re motivated by lack of proper socialization, too. Show a guy a curvy work of art, and he’s helpless. He wants to study that work of art, by whatever sensory means possible. He’ll stare, he’ll sniff, he’ll touch if given the opportunity. Et cetera. I’m still studying my wife, and damn! She’s still fascinating after all these years! Thank GOD I’m married, or in the modern minefield of gender warfare, I’d be a different kind of animal. I mean man. I mean person.
I believe the line has to be defined, and then respected, by us guys. It’s our fault if we do something wrong, and we damned well should know the difference between what’s OK and what’s not. I know there are women who lead men on, but because I’m a guy I’ll go out on record and say if a guy goes too far, it’s his own damned fault. Not hers. But I do understand how guys might feel some confusion on the line of acceptable behavior.
When Jesus gave the simplified commandments, He said the first commandment was to love God, and the second was to love your neighbor as yourself. We guys have to love our neighbors as ourselves, and learn to treat people with that in mind. Would we love it if girls ogled us or groped us? Oh, shit. Nevermind that line of reasoning. But we need to think about how our behavior will make our “neighbor” feel, and we want to make them feel loved, respected and appreciated, not objectified, hurt, or taken for granted. Just as we men want women to make us feel.
When my mother read about gender roles in the Bible, teaching me, she read that thing about women submitting, and then went on to read that thing about how a man should love his wife to death, like Jesus loved the church (See Ephesians 5). Jesus “loved the church, and gave Himself up for her.” When my pastor shared Ephesians 5 with us in counseling before we got married, he said “it is the wife’s duty to respect her husband, but it is the husband’s duty to be worthy of her respect.”
I try, but I’m not very good at it very often.
My mother-in-law, (God rest her soul (please)), used to make little jokes about me getting castrated. “Snip, snip.” Or whatever. It came to a point I asked Mrs. M. to ask her to stop.
And this is the point I’m trying to make: There is a point in the gender war where men aren’t just discouraged from being manly. Society, not understanding there’s a time to stop, goes past pressing the advantages and advances women have made in society, goes too far, and men are neutered. Men are expected to not act like men. Well, when a dog is told not to bark or growl, biting is the next dog-like behavior, so they resort to that. At what point, in telling men to not act like men, does a man resort to another male behavior?
If I haven’t gone on record yet, although I think I have, let me do so now:
I firmly believe that any man who rapes or beats a woman should have a fitting punishment as a consequence, to insure they learn the behavior is unacceptable and to insure they don’t exhibit that behavior ever again.
That being said, I am against the modern trend of social castration. My mother-in-law hinted at this trend, three generations ago. My wife often demonstrates a great understanding of having learned from her, and when she does, I fucking hate it, despite my deep love for her. Men shouldn’t be expected or taught to act like women. We aren’t women. We don’t need to be taught how to act like we aren’t men, with masculine traits, masculine thoughts, masculine drives and masculine wants. Instead, we need to be taught how to be better men. We need to be taught impulse control. We need to be taught proper boundaries and proper approaches to proxemics.
Glance at the curves for a half a second, but don’t be hypnotized! Look away! Her eyes are attractive too.
A Lesson for Guys in Poem Form:
Study words from her lips,
not the sway of her hips,
Notice hair, what she says,
don’t stare at her legs,
No matter what your brain says,
Never presume she means “yes,”
If you’re married, keep her,
Stir her heart with ardor,
Men, always keep your wits,
no matter how cute she is.
I know what you thought that last line would say. And you’re right. Everything women are, that’s different than what men are, is amazing, beautiful, charming, delightful, and exciting. But the differences aren’t just skin-deep. Guys, learn what’s ticking in her brain before you try to learn anything more, attraction notwithstanding. There’s more to relationships than just sex. What do you do after that? What do you do before that? What do you do instead of that?
Ladies, give us a clue before screaming to castrate us.
Guys, unless she marries you, it’s a minefield. Tread cautiously. And if you’re rich, get a prenuptial agreement before those nuptials.