So You Want To Be A Woman? *Hollow Laugh*

I follow Thought Catalog on Facebook because they’ve often got interesting posts from twenty-somethings that make me feel good about getting older (as in, “Thank all that’s holy that I’m not dealing with that crap anymore!”). This evening, I read this post entitled, “10 Moments As A Man That Make Me Envious Of Women.” As a woman, and as a feminist (albeit a relaxed, non-femi-nazi-type feminist), I was…tolerantly amused. The author, Christopher Hudspeth, seems to be comparing his idealized version of being female to his reality of being male. I would, therefore, like to respond to Mr. Hudspeth’s comments with a few choice words from my own personal experiences.

1. When I see the inside of a woman’s purse and realize just how much stuff it holds. I can’t even fathom how nice it must be to have so many of your favorite belongings in a sack by your side at all times. To walk around carrying whatever you please from necessities to random goodies would be awesome to someone who’s never had that luxury. Lip balms, chewing gum, makeup, perfume, lotion, candy, etc. Some women’s bags basically contain a condensed Walgreens, and for that I am jealous.

Mr. Hudspeth, have you never heard of a man-purse or a Murse? I thought this was the new thing for the up-and-coming Metrosexual Man. You’re not left out at all! Just go down to your nearest office store and find a nice messenger bag. Then you, too, can know the joys of bashing your bag into random people in the street accidentally, and setting it on a sticky floor, and having random people feel like they should search it, and having it not fit in your 2′ cube of a workplace locker. Not to mention the fact that you will be judged by the brand of bag you choose, as well as whether or not it matches your outfit. All of this is why I have given up on purses almost entirely: I carry my cell phone, wallet, and keys in my pants pockets, like most members of the male gender, although I don’t think you’d want to hear me rant about the pathetic excuses for pockets the clothing manufacturers see fit to put in women’s pants. I’ve got a backpack for school (I’m a Master’s candidate in English Composition and Rhetoric) and a gym bag for the gym, and that’s enough for me.

2. When I’m seated on a toilet and my man part touches the bottom side of the seat. Every time this happens to any man, it’s a disgusting tragedy, and even the least bacteria-conscious dude turns into a germaphobe when their most precious body part comes in contact with such a disgusting area of the toilet. In that moment, all of the dangling and the hanging is infuriating.

I suppose I’ll have to let this one slide, except for the fact that I have either sat in or stepped in the lovely warm puddles left by members of the male gender who seem to like to pee standing clear in another room. I’m not blaming you, specifically, Mr. Hudspeth, but I have dated one or two members of the male gender who apparently thought that they should stand in the hallway outside the bathroom and just hope the stream makes it into the toilet eventually. For the sake of brevity (and because I’m sick of the argument), I’m not going to do more than mention how much fun it isn’t to get up in the middle of the night to pee and find yourself sitting in a bowl of cold water because someone couldn’t be bothered to put the seat down (Side Note: In my house, we are very democratic – everyone is required to close the lid after using the toilet, so that the cat doesn’t try to drink from it; besides, toilets become germ fountains if you flush with the lid up).

3. Seeing the array of comfortable looking women’s pants — specifically yoga pants and leggings. I own full-length spandex type tights that are workout attire, but they’re hands down the most comfortable thing in my wardrobe. Is this what yoga pants and leggings feel like? They appear to be tight fitting, thin material and I just can’t imagine that being anything less than insanely cozy. It’s about as close to wearing no pants as one can get.

I’ve got to give you this one: yoga pants are insanely comfortable (despite the lack of pockets, which causes me problems – see my response to #1 above for more details). However, there is a downside: any excess fat is plainly visible to anyone you come into contact with, and they can see your panties (or lack thereof) as well. Therefore, it takes either a really secure woman, or a woman who just doesn’t give a crap, to actually wear these pants in public. Besides, I’ve actually seen guys wearing leggings or compression tights in public, usually with a pair of shorts over them (in fact, I’ve worn this style myself, and find it to be the best of both worlds if the shorts have pockets). So don’t feel left out! Furthermore, I think that any benefit we may gain from these types of pants is instantly negated by women’s dress pants. The pockets are barely big enough for your hands, and some sadist has decided that, despite the fact that 90% of people are right-handed, to put the zipper and button on the left-hand side. I’m not going to get into the difficulties that I personally have with pants (briefly, that the waist is always too huge, because I have to buy them to fit my thighs/rear end, and then I spend all day either with my belt digging into the small of my back, or pulling my pants up), but suffice to say, most women have a deep hatred for most pants, and with good reason.

4. Whenever there’s a bug in my personal bubble. I hate insects, but it’s not exactly a social norm for a grown man to perform what looks like very aggressive karate every time he walks through a spider web. I can’t remain calm. I can’t pretend like I’m brave around things giant cockroaches. I’m probably going to jump and take a few steps back, despite there being a level of bravery men are expected to uphold in these scenarios. Now, I will escort out the door, or kill a bug, but I won’t look heroic doing it. Picture a tipsy dinosaur in high heels trying to pick its contact lens up off the ground with a tissue, and you’ve got me handling a routine spider.

Aah, stereotypes! Basically, what I’m seeing here is that you feel uncomfortable because you think you should be the Big Strong Alpha Male who is not afraid of bugs. I get that. However, if you want to compare stereotypes, I have no doubt that you men have it much easier than we women do. For example, even though the majority of married women are not stay-at-home moms, the vast majority of household chores are still performed by women (I don’t have a link to this, but the information was in the sociology textbook I taught out of two years ago). Besides, although I am perfectly capable of killing my own bugs (I lived alone for years before I got married; if I didn’t kill them, who would have?), I still am expected to pretend to be the Damsel in Distress if there is a member of the male gender within shouting distance. This is as tiresome for me as I’m sure it is for you; why don’t we just agree that we’re done with this sort of stereotyping? And while you’re at it, make me a @#$&^ sammich!

5. Seeing a woman’s inbox on a social network filled with private messages from dudes. Look, I know this must get annoying after a while, but I feel like I’d enjoy receiving compliments regularly. I don’t care if they’re coming from a person who’s unattractive or has a lame approach — a confidence booster is a confidence booster and I’d take it. I do understand that the tenacious type might start to wear on your rapidly thinning patience, so perhaps this is impossible to fully understand unless one experiences it for oneself.

I’m not sure whose inboxes you’ve been looking into, but I’ve never received a genuine compliment from any random person on a social network. Or on a dating site. Or anywhere, really. It is not a confidence-booster to be jeered at, or to be treated as if you are only worthwhile for the way you look. I realize that, because I’m an academic, and I spend most of my time improving my brain, I may not be the best person to respond to this, but I have discussed this with other female friends, and we are all in agreement that almost all random flirtation is creepy, rather than complimentary. For example, imagine that there is a large group of people who only care about you for your body, and you know that they are genetically predisposed to be bigger and stronger than you. You know that they don’t see you as an actual person, but only as an attractive body that they want to use. Do you still feel complimented now, or are you just nervous and creeped out?

6.Witnessing the various uses and mystical powers of breasts.They honestly just look like they’re a great deal of fun to have. I’d use them as shelves, stress balls, persuasion mechanisms, or whatever else felt right in the moment.

I don’t mean to be snarky, but I’ve had constant low back pain since I hit puberty – that is not my definition of fun. Something else that isn’t fun is members of the male gender who are unable to look me in the eye or listen to what I am saying because they are too busy staring at my breasts. That’s not my definition of fun either. The final thing that’s not fun: trying to find bras in my size that I can actually afford (bra manufacturers must think all full-figured women are just rolling in cash; the last time I went bra-shopping, I spent almost $200 for three bras – THREE BRAS! As I mentioned, I’m an academic, so this kind of money is just not something I am in possession of). Not to mention that bras are very delicate – they have to be hand-washed and hung to dry – to coin a phrase, “Nobody got time for that!” So then I use the delicate cycle, and sometimes they fall apart in the washing machine, and I have to spend another $75 to replace it. Therefore, if it was possible, I’d be more than happy to give you my breasts for awhile – I doubt I’ll miss them, and I suspect you’ll quickly see what I mean.

7.  Wanting to play around or work with little kids. Men are often perceived as creepy, predators if they enjoy kids too much, so joking around or interacting with children often puts apprehensive thoughts in some people’s heads. This is why it’d be  interesting working in, say a preschool, or being a counselor at a camp. There just seems to be a preference for women caring for kids instead of grown men, and as a dude who enjoys Fisher Price basketball hoops and hearing odd, toddler logic, this is a huge bummer.

This one is stereotypes again. I agree that there is a stereotype that men who like young children are creepy. However, there is also a stereotype that all women love children. Stereotypes suck for anyone who doesn’t conform, which is why it sucks for me just as much as it sucks for you, because I don’t like young children. I spent four years teaching high school, and five more before that as a substitute teacher for all grades. I enjoyed my time at the secondary level very much, but I really did not enjoy my time with the elementary kids. They’re almost always dirty, slimy, snotty, or sticky, for one. For two, they’re very needy, attention-wise. No, thank you, I’ll stick to my high-schoolers – they are old enough to understand my sense 0f humor, and you can talk to them almost the way you would talk to other adults.

There’s another side to this, as well. As a member of the male gender, I bet that you and your male friends, even your male friends who have produced offspring, are capable of going out together for a meal or a couple of drinks without the fathers bringing their children along. I am (as I’ve implied) childless by choice. My female friends frequently ask me when my husband and I will be having kids, and any time I make any kind of announcement, someone always asks, “Are you pregnant?” Then they are disappointed when I say no, I’m not. Now that most of my friends have rugrats, it’s nearly impossible to spend any amount of time with them that doesn’t include their kids in some form or fashion. I understand that their children are their chief #1 priority, but it’s tough to have a serious conversation with someone who is only listening to you with the tiny corner of their brain that is not focused on their children. Consequently, I am very lonely in a way that a member of the male gender would probably never be.

One more thing on this topic: I bet you will have very little trouble finding a woman who wants to marry you and have your babies, based on this comment, and it’s not creepy at all when it’s your own kid (nieces and nephews aren’t creepy either; ask my husband).

8. You can fart in public and not be a suspect. If a woman passes gas and there’s someone else around her, specifically a man, he’s pretty much guaranteed to be blamed for any pungency in the air.

I think this is more a maturity issue than a gender issue; most people I know don’t notice public farts anymore, because it’s childish. Furthermore, if a woman did pass gas and there is no convenient male around to take the heat, she will be instantly reviled for being “unladylike,” whereas society is far more tolerant of men who pass gas in public.

9. Unprovoked, random, untimely arousal. Nobody has any idea what’s going on with lady parts, whether they’re stimulated or sleeping, but that’s a luxury guys don’t have. The worst part is that some of the time those moments that force men to remain seated or find a way to conceal their groin area are completely unexpected and motiveless. You don’t know hating your private parts, I mean really being frustrated with ‘em, until you’ve had an untimely erection.

Um, excuse me? No one has any idea what’s going on with women’s genetalia? That may be true of the general vaginal area, but you forget (which is surprising, given your rhapsody in #6) that women have breasts. Breasts, you must understand, have nipples, which are just as capable of showing arousal (in exactly the same way: by becoming erect) as men’s penises. And let me mention that nipples getting hard can be just as random, unexpected, and without stimulation as men’s erections, but a. Nipples are closer to the average person’s line-of-sight than penises (which means they get noticed far more frequently), and b. Despite popular lore, women don’t often look at men’s crotches (which means men can get away with it more easily). Plus, you can stay sitting down, but I’ve not found a way to hide nipples that isn’t painfully obvious.

10. Some days being a man just feels like WAY too much work. Ladies, you might not know this, but being swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon can really wear you out.

And being a woman isn’t hard work? If anything, it’s impossibly hard work! Just for a few examples… If you put out, you’re a slut, but if you don’t, you’re a tease. If you dress nicely, you’re shallow, but if you don’t, you’re a slob. If you work hard at school, you’re a nerd, but if you don’t, you’re probably “easy.” If you eat, you’re a pig, but if you don’t, you’re anorexic. If you wear makeup, you’re vain, but if you don’t, you’re lazy. If you approach a man, you’re bossy, but if you wait to be approached, you’re stuck-up. Need I go on?

Now that I’ve addressed all the points in the original post, I’d like to discuss a few ways that men have it far easier than women in ways that the original post didn’t address. Therefore, here is my list of Ten Moments As A Woman That Make Me Envious Of Men.

  1. You never have to wait in line for the bathroom. If you’ve ever been to any major concert or professional sporting event, or even just a good house party, there’s inevitably a line for the ladies’ room, while the men usually enjoy little or no waiting. The reason for this is fairly easy to determine; namely, that men are equipped to pee standing up. Still, it’s got to be nice to know that you can usually go just as soon as you need to, rather than having to plan your trip to the restroom in advance.
  2. Getting dressed isn’t particularly challenging. In Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys (available from Amazon here), the author notes that, “[Guys] can wear basically the same outfit for their entire lives–to work, dinner, church, the theater, parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs–and then they can be buried in it” (95-96). This is much simpler than trying to figure out which skirt goes with which blouse, or trying to put on panty hose. Not to mention the fact that men never have to wear high heels.
  3. You’re allowed to gain weight without being asked if you’re pregnant. I’m not saying that men can gain weight indiscriminately with no social consequences, but any woman of child-bearing age who puts on a bit of weight, especially in the abdominal region, will probably be asked if she is pregnant. What’s even more annoying is that complete strangers will think that they therefore have the right to put their hands all over her abdomen to try to “feel the baby.” Can you say, invasion of personal space? Then, if the woman is not pregnant, the complete strangers will then give her an angry/disappointed look, instead of apologizing for being in her space. Men never have to deal with this.
  4. You’re allowed to have exciting news without being asked if you’re pregnant. About a year and a half ago, I made the very difficult decision to take a break from full-time employment to pursue my Master’s degree. Because I wanted to emphasize what a big deal this was to me, I posted a status on Facebook that said that I had Big News that I would share at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. The first half-dozen comments asked if I was pregnant, which made my eventual announcement something of a let-down.
  5. You’re expected to be career-oriented. Society expects men to focus on their careers, even at the expense of their family lives. Women, on the other hand, are expected to focus on their husbands and children, which is why they are often paid less or given fewer responsibilities at work – even women who do not have children. Furthermore, if a woman doesn’t have children, she is judged harshly by society, as “unfeminine” or “too manly,” even if she is unable to have children, or if her income is vital to the survival of her family.
  6. You’re allowed to forget important dates. If a man forgets his anniversary, society tends to give him a free pass – after all, men have other, more important things to worry about, right? However, if a woman forgets an important date (and here I am thinking about something like her mother-in-law’s birthday) she is judged harshly for this slip, because all women are fiercely detail-oriented, and no real woman would ever forget an important date.
  7. You don’t menstruate. I know most men think that premenstrual syndrome is psychosomatic, but even if we agree to disagree (based on the fact that we’ve actually experienced it, and you have not), there’s still the little matter of leaking blood out of your crotch for approximately 1/4 of your teenage, young adult, and adult life. Does this sound like tons of fun to you, even without the cramps, water retention, and mood swings?
  8. Sex has far fewer consequences. Even discounting the pregnancy issue, my GYN says that, in a heterosexual relationship, if a woman has sex with a man with an STD or STI, there is a 90% chance that she will contract it. On the other hand, if a man has sex with an infected woman, there is only a 10% chance that he will contract it. The reason for this should be fairly obvious, considering the mechanics of the act (men are throwers, and women are receivers; men have a far easier time removing all physical traces of a woman’s bodily fluid; etc.).
  9. You’ll make more money, and you’re far more likely to be selected for promotion. Women still make only around $0.77 for every dollar a man makes, and there are far more men in managerial positions of most companies. For example, while I was working on my undergraduate degree, I worked as a cashier at a Humongous Superstore. Just in my little corner of the store, about 90% of the cashiers were female, while 75% of the cashier supervisors were male, and 95% of the store’s managers were male. For another example, I’m currently working in the photo department of a local drugstore, at which all but one of my coworkers (including cashiers and other departments of the store) are women, but all but two of my supervisors are men.
  10. You are not often objectified. Most of the time, I am treated as though I am nothing more than my body. My razor-sharp wit and far above-average intelligence is not noticed by most men, let alone respected. Even among my own gender, I am often cautioned against appearing “too smart,” and I am urged to focus more on my appearance than my studies. No one would ever say such things to a man.
  11. And, for a rousing finish, your health care is far cheaper, and no one will make you jump through hoops to obtain necessary treatment. I spent almost all of my 20s using some form of hormonal birth control. To obtain a new prescription when the previous one expired, I was required to endure a very invasive examination at the bare hands of a virtual stranger. I do understand that older men have to have prostate exams, which are also quite invasive, but, trust me, this is nothing compared to what is required for a “well-woman” exam. I’m not going to go into details because it would take too long, but I’m sure Google or Wikipedia can give you information on this topic if you would like more information.

Despite all of the drawbacks, I have to say that, for the most part, I’m okay with being female. I’ll never be a stereotypical “damsel in distress” anyway – I’ve always been a strong, confident, capable woman who is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone – I’m far more the “Merida” type (from the film Brave) than I’ll ever be the Cinderella/Snow White/Sleeping Beauty type, and that’s just fine with me.

1 Comment

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One Response to So You Want To Be A Woman? *Hollow Laugh*

  1. Rob

    I love every detail about you. From your body to your razor sharp wit. I did not marry you for your uterus. I married you for your heart which I’m eternally grateful for that. I know you’ve not seen it, but to quote Heath Ledger from “A Knight’s Tale” : “She is not the target, no, she is the arrow.”

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