I asked some folks to help me come up with some concrete examples of how women’s lives are different than men’s and JR and the Shill got back to me before I started this post.
The Shill starts off with the broad stuff (ha, nice pun. This is all broad stuff!):
Men are never asked to think about balancing a career and family
Men are not constantly being told what their actions mean (when you decide to get married vs stay single, keep your name or change it, have a baby or not, etc etc etc) and how they feel about them. Constantly being told that (from the fucking media, your friends, your family, TV — whatever!) takes its toll. Men just don’t think about the same things we do — and they are not made to feel bad about not being able to do everything (see domestic porn like Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, etc).
This is harder than I thought — I’m going to think on it some more. It’s all very wishy-washy and I know you’re looking for concrete examples.
Perhaps for another post: we’re also struggling with what it means to be a man — and right now we don’t know. We’ve done a very poor job shifting from provider to partner and while I want a partner, I also want a man — not some masculine girl (and I use girl deliberately here).
JR has good concrete ways she sees her life being different from Elias’s and other men’s:
well, i do walk around with a key in between my knuckles in case anyone tries any funny business and i have to jab out their eye.
and, when i was in college they outfitted all the girls with whistle key chains, and i remember through a series of events one night when i was waiting for the bus and i didn’t have my keys and felt totally vulnerable.
and, when down the street in college there were a series of rapes – males raping women, big shock – and i had to walk to the library every night – keys poised.
also, there was a man in my neighborhood recently torturing and sexually assaulting women (sometimes during the day), 7 or 8 in total, including one he kidnapped, raped, and beat to a bloody pulp. elias had to walk me to yoga 2 blocks away during those few weeks – he walked home alone, i did not.
men don’t know when to say when in yoga class. i always get nervous when men are in the class, because they think they can do everything…IT’S NOT COMPETITIVE but they find a way to make it competitive.
okay – not all of them, but a lot of them.
Here are the ones I came up with right off the top of my head:
I have never been to a bar alone. I’ve never just thought “I could use a drink” or “god I need to get drunk” and sat down at a bar by myself and started knocking them back.
For that matter, I’ve been to the park alone once in my entire life that I remember. Otherwise, I’ve always gone with friends or with the dog. I’ve never been to the park alone in Nashville.
I’ve had car repair become significantly cheaper when I said that I would have to call my “fiancee” and talk to him about it and could they please tell me exactly what was wrong with the car so I could check with him.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to take my shirt off at the park because I can’t imagine my naked body not being sexualized by observers.
I’ve had someone report back to the Butcher about how much my lunch cost, because he (the reporter, not the Butcher) felt I was wasting “the Butcher’s” money.
I’ve had men stroke my hair and pinch my nipples and grab my shirt and demand hugs; men who, by far, didn’t know me well enough to do that.
In high school, there were three girls in my calculus class. We were forced to sit at the front of the class where we could “learn better.” What kind of lesson was imparted by leering, I’m not sure.
When I’m talking to a man I don’t know, I’m often interrupted and not let to finish my thought, though any attempt to cut him off in similar rude fashion is ignored.
We’ve already talked about the man in the bar problem, this belief that women talking alone must be interrupted and refocused on the most insecure man in the room and I’ve had this happen plenty.
I don’t see men’s friends or even acquaintances making sure that they present themselves correctly to women (ha, or we’d have a lot more men beating the shit out of rapists), but women spend a lot of time policing and critiquing other women’s behavior and how they present themselves to men.
The Shill makes a similar point:
(Talking about older women criticizing younger women) The older women needed to feel validated about the sacrifices they made and feel safe in knowing that the decisions they made were the right ones. The problem with all of this is that answers are different for everybody. You can’t tell somebody what college to go to, what type of job to get, what type of work to do, who and when to marry, when to have a baby, what to do once you have it — because the answers are different. Experiences, psyches and motivations are different. And these decisions are logical AND emotional. They are sometimes unexpected and scary — sometimes they might seem daunting but when you’re faced with them, the answer is simple. Some women have people to talk to, some make decisions alone. You can say — the optimal time, biologically, to have children is ages 27-32 but if someone’s ready at 25 or 35 — why is it the business of other women? Why isn’t it the business of the woman and her partner?
(Sorry to rely so heavily on the children thing — but it’s the easiest and most obvious way these things play out, and it’s being rubbed in my face constantly these days.)
Ultimately, this is just the shit women do to each other. It doesn’t even surprise me anymore.
Here’s a way we live differently — the Legal Eagle will never be in a situation where he wonders if he’s being taken seriously based on his clothes. I do wear skirts to work on occasion, but I don’t wear them to important meetings.
That’s just a start. This is one of those Jay-Z type remixes, where y’all are welcome to take the stuff and make of it what you will.