I have a new five-star, gold-medal least favorite commercial of my entire life: A man is standing in the shower and his pretty femme friend is primping at a mirror nearby. She asks, “If you were going to be with one of my friends which would it be? I’m not going to be upset.” To avoid answering this question, he soaps up and pretends the soap’s dripping in his ears. She prattles on, oblivious. So far, I have avoided pulling an Elvis on my TV – but I’ve come really close a few times.
There is so much wrong with this set up I barely know where to begin. So let’s go around from the other side.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me how I could engage with men in primary relationships. It’s a perfectly valid question, and I am always interested in considering my assumptions where the other humans are concerned. I thought about it at great length and concluded I didn’t see much difference between the shitty things men do and the shitty things women do, and both are capable of great things, great affection and wonderful surprises, if we open ourselves to them. My friend, I also felt, was not so much asking a question as declaring her feelings about men and asking for validation. I told her feelings were facts, and her antipathy toward men was perfectly fine, and nothing I could say would change that, which I accepted.
Men abuse power. Women abuse power. Men can be tremendous douchebags. Women can be tremendous douchebags. At the end of the day, I understand why some women say they can only feel safe and happy in lives insulated from contact with men. I wish them well. And I hope the women they come in contact with are nothing like our TV commercial average Jane HetGirl, who hates other women.
I’ve never read an entire issue of Cosmo and I feel sick when someone mentions Sex & the City. I don’t have much in common with the Oprah people; I don’t understand why women want babies and mortages. While I appreciate that Feminism is about making one’s own decisions, I can’t grasp why a whole lot of women choose the two-dimensional, no-thinking, hormonal siren song that is saying, “My children are my whole life.” I can’t find that in myself, despite the fabulousness of my darling Miss Sasha. My child could never be my whole life, but I see that other women do this, say this and mean it. Well, okay.
Last week on an NBC morning show: business cards for Mommies. That seemed interesting until it turned out the cards said, “Amy’s Mom” and “Bobby’s Mom.” When the camera cut back to the anchors, the male anchor said he’d like that better if Mom’s name was at the top and the toddler’s name was below. That loss of my own identity as Miss Sasha’s parent was the worst aspect of being a woman, and here, these women renounce theirs without a second thought.
Then we have our TV Jane HetGirl. She has these problems:
1. She hates other women, as above;
2. Jealousy, and she will never trust a man;
3. She is deeply dishonest about her own feelings
– to start, and she is everywhere. A whole lot of women set these traps for men and themselves based on the idea that jealousy is perfectly fine and not in fact repellant. The other day, I was walking down Harper Street in Highland Park. I was sweating and wearing three layers of athletic wear, making my round person even more spherical. I posed no threat to anyone. On a porch sat three people, one of whom is a man I see at work. I don’t even know his name and he doesn’t know mine.
Man: Hey! It’s you!
Woman: You know her?
Tata: Library. We work in the same building.
Woman: You always gotta watch, am I right?
The answer is no. If you treat your spouse like property you shouldn’t be surprised if he or she finds something less confining attractive. If a man or woman said to me, “Which of my friends do you want? I won’t be upset” the next words out of my mouth would be, “Grow up. Get out and don’t come back.”