I am slowly but surely becoming a man-hating-feminist. I think I’m justified, though. I have found little use for men in my life. Though I suppose I should preface this with a disclaimer: I don’t hate all men. In fact, most of the men I’ve met I can stand. Some of my best friends are men. But I only love a couple men. I love my father and my grandfathers and most of my uncles. I like most of the guys in my grade and my homeroom. In fact, I even love a couple of them. And I’ve always revolted against the idea that men and women think differently. Mostly because I find that idea dehumanizing. It’s usually employed to belittle women, to assign them the role of the shopper, or the one who needs to be protected. But I’ve found it harder and harder to deny the fact that men and women do think differently (in my experience, anyway), though it probably has a lot more to do with society than it does with biology.
Casco Bay High has a lot of really good dudes. In fact, it is the first place I encountered non-toxic males my age. The guys in my class hug each other, express healthy emotions and care for one another. But there’s a few rotten apples in every orchard. And, unfortunately, it’s always the bad ones that take up most of our attention. I’ll just give a few brief examples.
There is this boy, a junior at my school whom I share many friends in common with. He is always at parties and he is a really funny dude, if a bit obnoxious, but when you’re around him you can’t help but join in his antics. I don’t like to tell others’ stories for them, nor do I know enough to, but suffice to say that he has crossed the line beyond just not getting the hint with two close friends of mine, and it has affected one of them deeply.
With the other friend, I’ll go into a bit more detail. He was drunk. My friend was drunk. Everyone else had gone to bed, and they were watching a movie. Suddenly, he is on her, kissing her. “OK, this is fine,” she thinks. He starts to get handsy. “Less fine,” she thinks. He starts to try to take off her pants. “Not fine,” she thinks, and stops him, redirects him. He tries it again. He crosses a line. In the morning, he knows he has crossed the line. I’m with her when he calls and texts her incessantly, trying to apologize. She doesn’t want to think about it, she tells him it’s fine. She takes time to process, and when she’s ready to talk about it months later, he is over it. “She said it was fine,” he says. “She didn’t want to talk about it. It was done. Why is she bringing this shit back up?” She tells him they don’t have to be friends, as if that was something he could give a shit about. He just wanted affirmation that what he had done was OK, and once he had it he was done with her.
The world would be a lot better off if men were less confident and entitled. If every man was as concerned as the average woman about doing something — any little thing they happened to be doing — wrong, then sexual assault would be a thing of the past. If the average man had as little self-confidence as most women I know, they wouldn’t be trying to get with every woman that gives them the slightest bit of attention. They’d apologize more, because how can you not apologize when you’re told everything is your fault?
I’m not sure how the world became a place were women are obliged to placate every man they come into contact with, where men feel entitled to women and feel certain that their feelings and reputations matter more. But I do know that if they weren’t taught to be so confident and entitled, not only would that whole drunk situation not have occurred, but the aftermath would have been so, so different. The dude wouldn’t have been pissed to have to have a conversation about it, because no woman would respond that way. Our mutual friend wouldn’t have reacted by expressing worry that this was going to ruin his reputation forever, brand him. Because women worry about the person it happened to. Our immediate reaction isn’t to jump to outrage that maybe, just maybe, this might negatively affect some man.