This may come as a shock if you’ve listened to me speak for five minutes or read the first paragraph of anything I’ve ever written, but I am not a misandrist. I’ll even admit it, I love men! Physically, emotionally, sexually… boys, boys, boys! There was a time when I tried to fight it because it feels sick and twisted that I’m attracted to my very own oppressor, but I’ve surrendered—here I am gentlemen, my hands are held high and my head is hung in shame. After being forced to navigate far too many uncomfortable and borderline dangerous situations, I’ve been thinking about how to go about navigating being with men while understanding the role they play in making the lives of women generally difficult.
I am convinced that I have a certain aura that makes men think it’s okay to accost me on the street for my phone number—maybe it’s pure desperation, maybe it’s a beauty only 35 year old chauvinists can see, the jury is still out. But for far too long I entertained it, blame it on my general naivety and the way I misconstrued abrasive entitlement for romantic gestures. It wasn’t until I met a man in the checkout line at Pavilions who later went on to sexually harass me via phone calls and text messages, that I had to reframe the way I date during a time when men are confronting their masculinity and choosing to either abandon or double down on the toxicity.
One night shortly after my fallout with my grocery store suitor, I went on a run past dusk (yes, mom, I know). A man pulled his car over to prevent me from crossing the street, and determined to avoid a hostage situation, I ran with gusto through his engine’s exhaust. He jumped out of the car, physically stopped me from running, and demanded I take his number… famously handing me a lyft business card. Cheers to Lyft for investing in the professionalism of their drivers though?
Because men have been conditioned to believe they’re entitled to what they want, and are even told it’s respectable to fight for it, I was in no place to reject him on a dimly lit private street. This man very well might have known that I was not going to say no to his request when he could overpower me with a single wrist grab. Or, he could have been unaware that the nature of his approach was threatening and in no way made me feel comfortable and receptive. Either way, his inability to recognize the acerbity rooted in abruptly stopping a woman makes him a part of the greater problem—men’s historic refusal to accept a “no” has resulted a dating culture rooted in unspoken fear. See: passively cringing to yourself as a man squeezes your waist while pushing past you at a bar. Who said we liked this? Because 100% of the time it’s violating and 0% of the time am I hopping into bed with the guy! I have grown deeply resentful of this as a woman who, against all odds, remains eager to meet boys who aren’t awful.
AND THEN, to make the simmering resentment even worse, men in Washington DC who have absolutely no idea where the clitoris is located are continuing to regulate my uterus. Known abusers have flourishing careers. Pedophiles, even! Is anyone aware of how exhausting it is to be a woman? Can a man who is voting for Elizabeth Warren please come give me a hug?
Despite it all, and much to the dismay of my personal brand, I continue to adore my attraction to (good) men and pining for their affection. So much so, that I want to do everything in my power to reconcile my hatred for (bad) men with my desire to have sex as much as I can. Sue me! Men can ruin a lot about my life and this country, but they are not going to ruin my sex life! It’s a frustrating burden to carry, but I haven’t found another solution yet and until I do, I’ll continue working tirelessly to grow my relationships in an environment that can’t sustain festering toxic masculinity.
So, here we go. My definitive guidelines for Loving Men When You Know They Can Be Harrowing, Misogynistic Idiots:
If you’re feeling suffocated by The Man, make sure that you ask for what you want and demand what you need when a man (lower case, less threatening but still alarming) creeps his way into your heart and your hearth. I think the most tangible way to discover if someone respects your stake in a relationship—physical, emotional, or both— is how attentive they are to your desires. Women have been made to feel overbearing and crazy so that we don’t cross a line by “asking to define the relationship” when you’ve been “spending every weekend together for the past six months.” You shouldn’t have to convince men you’re “chill!” What does that even mean! Sexually and emotionally, become vocal. We’re witnessing men in our nation’s capital dedicating their life’s work to stripping us of the rights to our bodily autonomy—the men we choose to hang around better be giving us minimal grief. I’m not saying we should demand rainbows, butterflies and subservience, I’m just saying it’s time for respect, attentiveness, and an orgasm. And if he can’t give you that, then you can find someone who will. No matter what you’re into, how you’re into it, or if you’ve actually found yourself in a position to want to date someone, drink some warm tea and flex those vocal chords! Because if a man doesn’t adore your voice then honey, he doesn’t adore you!
Are you ready for this jaw dropper? “Warriors for feminism” are often times secretly housing internalized misogyny. You know, it’s the guy you’re dating who “just loooooves strong women!” but then picks a fight with you the day you get a raise at work. These types of people are so much worse than the “call me old fashioned but I want to be the breadwinner in the relationship” guys. Just say you hate women and go! Focus less on the guy wearing a “A Woman’s Place is in the White House” tshirt. Focus more on the ones who are going to shut up and let you fight your battles while holding your hand through the victories— and the defeats….hypothetically speaking… not that there will be any.
Most importantly, I’ve learned how important it is to trust your intuition. This can be the most difficult, because when you’re someone who is desperate to see the good in a situation, you can quickly become knee deep in defending someone’s harmful behavior. When something feels wrong, trust it. On the flipside, also trust that you can distinguish when a man is just a product of the world he’s been gifted and remains receptive to recognizing the preconceptions of masculinity. You shouldn’t have to be a man’s shaman on his journey to respecting women, but having discussions about the flaws of masculinity are crucial in absolutely destroying the male ego. I am kidding but I am also totally not kidding, okay?
It’s difficult for women to speak up for our needs and defend ourselves, because it seems to me that the moment men realized that we are just as smart as we are beautiful they decided to create a world that’s stacked against us. And so now, centuries later, we’re learning to retake that control. And somehow along the way, it’s become our responsibility to make men grasp the devastation they’ve caused, to teach them how to behave appropriately and like… to ask for consent? So if you’re like me and you have no choice but to sleep with men, then make sure you’re only doing it with the ones who deserve it. Because guess what? Natural selection is a real thing and if we come together, imagine the possibilities!