“10 Things a Guy Should Do on a First Date” and Other Stupidness

This is my response to this post entitled 10 Things Guys Should do on a 1st Date that my brother brought to my attention.  I want to publicly say that this post and the millions of posts like it on the internet, written by both men and women, are stupid.

By “stupid,” in this case I mean stereotypical, sexist, heterosexist, cis-gender biased, minimizing of individual differences among those of the “same gender,” diversity squelching, and generally ignorant.  Let’s forget for a minute those folks who don’t even neatly fit into a male/female category, for whom the rules of how to act on a date based on gender are probably most dramatically absurd.

Let’s just think about the number of men and women there are from all different races, classes, ethnic backgrounds, educational levels, with differing political persuasions, from different professions, some who grew up on farms or suburbs, others in cities, some who were born on other continents or studied overseas, who belong to as many religions as you can imagine.  REALLY?  You are going to make a list of rules of how people should act on dates with one of the 150 million females (and that’s just the U.S.) as if there is ANY one thing these women would have in common.

Admittedly, lists like this for women are equally absurd, but I think there are less of those these days as people are somewhat aware of the political incorrectness.  As my brother points out, it’s still okay to make absurd generalizations about women to “help” men, but not as okay to tell women how to please men.  So for all the straight men who have argued to me that there are now “rules” men have to follow that women don’t “because of feminism,” I am here to tell you that if these are the rules you are referring to, they are stupid.

Let’s start here.

Take Charge. We do not want to decide where to go. We will never tell you this, but it is true. Ask us what kind of place and/or food we like; then, pick a place like that. Do not leave it up to us to choose. You are the man. Act like one.

Brilliance!!  Guys, if you want to date someone who’s been in some kind of coma and missed second wave feminism, go ahead and take this advice.  Who wants to date someone who would state they don’t want to have to make decisions?  If “acting like a man” means telling women what to do because it takes too much exertion for us to figure out what we want, that is offensive to everyone.  Seriously??

Mind Your Body Language. If your legs are crossed and your hand is over your mouth, we will unconsciously think you are hiding something. If you are sprawled out all over with your legs spread wide and your hands behind your head, we will think you are a slob or generally loose. Sit up straight, lean in closer, and keep your hands where we can see them.

This makes men sounds like monkeys in a cage under observation by some very suspicious observer.  I don’t know about other women, but I would never be observant enough to notice and or take the time to read that much into a man’s gestures.  “Keep your hands where we can see them?”  Really?  Because all men are predatory and not to be trusted to even move their hands out of sight?  I don’t think so.

No Pawing Allowed. If you’re going to score with us at some point, we will let you know. Trust. Occasional physical contact is OK — a hand to the small of the back, a touch of the thigh, a brief holding of the arm while making a point. Do not grab anywhere in the red light zones. If we want your hands there, we will put them there.

Pawing?  Now the men have been demoted from monkeys to dogs.  Sensational!  I know some readers may be stunned by this, but some women like things to move quickly in the physical department… yes, I’m talking about S.E.X.  There are also men who want to wait… long… take it from me.  We all need to be aware of others’ boundaries.  I have had many female friends complain that a man is never making a move, and others complain that one is too forward.  If you want someone to know your boundaries you have to tell them.  This is true for persons of all genders.

Pay. Feminism, shmeminism. Take care of the bill without comment. That is what we want. Wave off any offer to go dutch. We lied. We don’t want to pay half.

UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.  Ladies, are you as pained by this as I am??  WTF.  SERIOUSLY??  I would like to state for the record that while I am biologically female and also identify with a female gender identity, I do not consider myself part of any “we” that wants to put up a sham of wanting equality only to have a man refuse to treat me as an equal.  THAT is NOT sexy.  Women should pay half!  If you don’t agree, date women like the one who wrote this post.  If you do, date women who will pay half.  Please do not read shit like this and then go around whining about how women are only interested in money, dating is “so expensive.”  BUNK.

When I hear my single male and female heterosexual friends complaining that “all men… ” or “all women…” I want to say where are you looking, and how hard?  What would you be willing to compromise to meet someone who doesn’t expect you to follow a gendered script?  Would you be willing to accept someone who doesn’t follow other culturally prescribed scripts?  Someone who doesn’t have money?  Someone short (mostly for women)?  Someone of a different race or religion?  Someone who identifies as GLBTQIAPK?  Someone who doesn’t meet your friends and families expectations?  Someone divorced?  Someone who demands equality in other areas in addition to splitting the bill?

Most of the rest of these are not so bad, but I  can be put under the category of good advice for ANYONE:

Listen…  Ask Questions…

Everyone needs to ask questions and listen.  EVERYONE.  People who ask questions and listen are more successful in most aspects of life, including dating.  These social skills predict success better than IQ, education, etc.

We really do not care if you are secretly neurotic, deeply insecure, or mildly nuts. We are interested in how you portray yourself. Act confident, interested, engaged, self-assured, ambitious, and happy. We like that. Thanks.

We’ve all been on those dates where people reveal way too much too fast.  If you’re a shrink like me, you are probably married to that person.  Yes, there are those of us who are impressed by someone who will speak openly about his/her emotional life and past struggles.  Of course that depends on the way it is presented.  Everyone has a different level of tolerance for airing one’s baggage.  But in general, it’s probably best to be yourself, without talking like you would in my office.  That goes for men and women.

Bottom line… if you don’t like “the rules” don’t follow them, and demand partners who don’t either.  I often here from men and women that they get better results with internet dating when they present themselves in a very gendered way, or in ways that don’t suit them.  Remember high school?  I probably would have been more popular if I had done a lot of things that didn’t suit me too, but I didn’t do all those things.  Hell, I’d probably have more people reading my blog if it was called “Naked and Horny in the Suburbs” and included photos of me in in compromising positions.  Quantity is not everything.  You are better off with 10 dates with quality people you might actually like than 100 sheep who are blindly following cultural norms.  Quantity is for conformists.

If you don’t follow “the rules” that will make it more likely your peers and future generations will not have to either.  If you don’t like the expectations of the people you are dating, date other people.  Here’s a tip – TALK to people.  When the bill comes, start a conversation.  Even if it turns out you’re totally incompatible, that’s good information that could save you a lot of hassle. You get to have a genuine exchange instead of being fake and following some script that’s going to lead you nowhere anyway.  And who knows… somebody might just learn something.

 Copyright 2012, undercoverinthesuburbs.com.  All Rights Reserved.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Lyla Cicero

My Husband Does Do That Part 2 (Not My Mom Part 3)

In the early 1900s, pink was considered a color for boys.  Wikipedia quotes an article from a 1918 trade publication as saying; “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink.

Imagine seeing a boy baby dressed in pink?  Imagine dressing your baby boy in pink?  How can these things feel so wrong down to the fiber of our souls and yet be so completely and utterly culturally constructed and random?  But they are.

Despite my belief that gender roles are largely socially constructed, I do not practice what I preach.  I don’t live my life as an androgynous being.  Anyone who saw me would know I was a woman.  Not a girly girl, but also not a woman who is trying to make a statement about gender.  Just your average woman.

I don’t wear make-up or much jewelry, don’t do nail polish, refuse to spend more than five minutes doing my hair.  That said, I enjoy looking nice, and let’s be honest, part of that is looking my gender.  Unless I can somehow magically extract my own mind from its cultural context, I’m never going to look in the mirror at the long dark hair on my legs and think –  I look so beautifully natural, time to go out for a night on the town. 

I try to strike a balance in which I can feel good about myself in the real world, but don’t allow myself to be convinced that I have to mutilate myself, go through painful procedures, put chemicals on my face, take drugs or pills, or buy expensive hair and skin products (again filled with chemicals) to feel like a woman.

I guess you could say that balance is also reflected in my choice of mate.  While Seth also looks like a man, his gender role is quite flexible.

Seth doesn’t have a macho bone in his body.  I know more about sports than he does, and that’s not saying much.

He doesn’t talk shit about women or make nasty jokes or brag about sexual conquests (no really, I’m certain).

He is 100% comfortable with homosexuality.

He is wonderfully domestic.  He is a better cook than I am, does more housework than I do, and he is every bit as competent with our infants as I.

I’ll never forget the first time my husband and I had my Dad and step-mom over for dinner.  Seth cooked so I could talk to my family.  My Dad was utterly perplexed.  He just sat there stupefied, unable to understand what was going on.

I had arrived… I was not my mom!

I often hear women complaining that their male partners don’t “help” enough with children, do housework, etc., but these same women don’t seem willing to be flexible in their own gender roles.  As long as we have the attitude that we can do it better, men probably won’t step up, because what man enjoys feeling incompetent?

We have to believe men can care for children and manage homes, just as we believe we can run companies and lead nations, rather than expect them to “help” while we maintain control over the domains of children and home.  How would we react to that kind of attitude toward our entering the public sphere?

If you want a truly egalitarian life, don’t accept a partner who doesn’t, and don’t be fooled by the belief that there are no men out there with flexible gender roles.  You don’t have to swear off gender all together, but be willing to practice flexibility yourself.  Be the kind of person you want to find.

Copyright 2011-2012 undercoverinthesuburbs.com.  All Rights Reserved.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Lyla Cicero