I’ve always had a much easier time creating and maintaining friendships with males than females. As a kid, my closest neighbor was a boy named Frank, and while there was a girl down the road named Sharon that we hung out semi-regularly, she came from a strange family where you never saw the Dad, her older sister believed she was too good to speak to us, and her brother was both manic and explosive. (I found out many, many years later her Dad was molesting her and her sister, she ended up a stripper and addict, and she and her brother both spent some time in jail. But we couldn’t know one iota of this when we were playing tag in the backyard). In the other direction was a boy I met my first day of 3rd grade and still maintain a great deal of fondness for (he’s gay, so no peanut gallery comments), and a girl who moved in a smidge after our hide n seek days concluded.
Junior high, high school, I had just as many guy friends as I did girls. I never considered them anything else until the guy I dated the summer I turned 16 stated emphatically that each and every male friend I possessed was really just waiting for an opportunity to date me (Amusingly, his strongest accusation was meant for the gay guy!). I was terrifically offended, and while he did break my sensitive teenage heart, considering how my life has turned out, that attitude of his would’ve been a deal breaker anyway!
It was from one of my male friends that I first learned about Morning Wood. Another one of my guy friends was the first to talk to me honestly and openly about masturbation. Both of these experiences happened during my later years of high school when the difference between the sexes seemed cavernous, and anything related to sexuality was simultaneously capitivating and horrifying. And the best part is that I wasn’t just learning about men, I was learning about myself.
The definition of irony is that I consider myself a feminist, I devote myself to so-called women’s causes, and in general, most women do not like me. I could be exaggerating the situation a bit, and I hope I am, but I can say with most certainty that my track record with women is littered with potholes and minefields of the most disasterous kind.
Susan Jane Gillman speaks of this in her memoir “Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress”, and I will take the liberty of a small quote: Women plot.
In short, where boys and men embark on selfish and thoughtless acts, girls and women will pre-meditate the most vicious attack possible. They are malignant, judgmental and down right evil in their purpose.
Gossip, rumors, silent treatments, freeze-outs, exclusions, haughty expressions and other nonverbal weapons – women are the experts at psychological warfare. Men, on the other hand, will flat-out say “Dude, you’re pissing me off.”, fistacuffs will fly and then they’ll go out for a beer.
Personally, I’d rather be shot in the chest than stabbed in the back.
Without re-reading my lengthy ramblings, I’m certain that up to this point, I’ve portrayed my gender as without merit, which is simply not the case. I’ve not the ego or defense mechanisms enough to think I’m without blame for all of these situations, but I will say, in all fairness, that I’ve been on the receiving end far, far more than been the holder of the sharp implement.
My character deficits, as it were, that probably inhibit the majority of my female friendships –
Confidence. This is a variable factor, so let’s break it down:
1. How I look. What I’m wearing (see earlier blog post about one such incident), or just the fact that I’m reasonably attractive and choose not to hide it under a tent dress. A woman’s first instinct, in many situations upon meeting an unfamiliar female will be to instantly comparison shop. If she is threatened in any way (ie. fears the other woman is equal to or more appealing to her), she has a tendency to perceive this new addition as an adversary. Obviously this is not conducive to rapport and trust building.
2. My ease with men. This instantly makes a lot of women suspicious and/or jealous. The fact I flirt does not help. We’ll leave it at that.
3. My mouth. And I mean that metaphorically. I’m often far too blunt and honest for many women. We’re all socialized to be “nice” and The Thumper Principle stays in effect throughout most of our lives, so that we never learn how to BE candid or DEAL with candor. We make up all sorts of justifications about ourselves, our relationships and our life, instead of getting real with the whole thing and maybe being genuinely happy.
High Standards. While I’m a very approachable person, I’m extremely cautious about my vulnerability. This is often mistaken for aloofness by women. Misunderstood is not only my self-protection, but the converse, which is that when I do decide to commit to a friendship, I do it fully and with great loyalty. I love with impunity, and no matter what the eventual conclusion of the friendship, that emotion will sustain indefinitely. Like everyone else, people in my life have caused me grievous wounds, but regardless, I still care about their condition and would invite them in if my doorbell rang.
I don’t have much tolerance for bullshit. While this could be a sub-part of Confidence and My Mouth (do we need a flowchart?), it’s also one of those traits that stands on its own. If a man is irritated, he’ll either get over it on his own, or he’ll let you know. Women, on the other hand, will stew over that sucker until it emerges in a hostile and back-handed manner. I do not have the time or the energy for emotional game playing. Fortunately, I’m no longer mystified by this behavior (unlike adolescence when I could not, for the life of me, comprehend such viciousness), but it does irritate the hell out of me. Unlike men, who often complain of the mystery of the female pysche, I almost always KNOW where the underlying predicament/problem/issue/or emotion originates, so I’m even more annoyed that they cloak it in all this other verbiage. I always want to blurt, “Geezus, stop with the bullshit! I know this is really about XYZ, so just Fucking Say So!”
This, needless to say, is a direct example of Number 3, and doesn’t win me any points for Ms. Congeniality either.
I’m very grateful for all the fantastic people I’ve had in my life, male and female, past and present – I’m even thankful anticipating all the great ones yet to come – but there is a part of me that longs for the community that women can only develop with other women. It’s a painful conundrum; I can’t be what they want me to be any more than I can lure them to The Dark Side that is apparently me. So we stare at each other across the canyon, wondering how we each arrived.
I console myself with the knowledge that the women I have known, that currently share my life, and those that will cross my path are the most extraordinary people I can ever imagine. Flawed and tempestuous, their supernova passions diverging and multiplying with each breath until the very air shimmers.
Thank you for the privilege of your friendship.
Thank you for loving me.
You make me a better person.
I love you all.