And how I Learned this through Online Dating…
Masculinity in America is synonymous with biceps, (heterosexual) sex, violence, and confidence. Superheroes in comic books have so many muscles their muscles have muscles, James Bond is sexing new women on the daily, and macho men like Stabler on SVU punch their way through episodes. Our pop culture is saturated with these images and it’s sensible to consider that a lifetime of these lessons from a young age affects the way we perceive how men should be – and it impacts men on who they choose to be. Quite frankly, whether they realize it or not.
Yet this idea of masculinity is false. Men are human and this idealized trope is not natural for many men to live up to. It’s unfair they must feel the pressure to even attempt it – because so often if men are not living up their prescribed gender roles they can face ridicule from men and women alike who have bought into these patriarchal falsehoods about how a ‘real man’ lives.
Ultimately, this version of masculinity is dangerous – especially to women. When you push back at this patriarchal concept of manhood it cracks like a raw egg, with anger and violence spilling out.
This has become evident to me through stories of women dealing with street harassment (when men issue ‘compliments’ to women in public) and online dating. Odin forbid a woman actually reject a man’s advances!
I dabble in the online dating world – it’s not easy being a woman interested in men working in student affairs and I’m not the sort to go bar hopping and pass out my number. Well, there was this attractive doctor fellow who began messaging me and wanted to meet up. Usually I prefer not to give out my number right away but sometimes texting with someone you’re interested in is easier than logging online to send messages.
Aye, was that a mistake.
It started off normal. I discovered he was a doctor at a local hospital ER and liked hiking. Then 24 hours later the convo changed. He asked me to meet up, I said okay, and then I gave him the general idea of what side of town I lived in so we could pick a good location. His response:
Like, are you serious?! Did this dude really think that after 1 day of texting I was just going to invite him into my home?! Yeah, okay Mr. Craigslist Killer. And then he took my statement in stride by suggesting further activities.
Being the educator that I am, I felt the need to explain to him why you just don’t suggest to a woman that you visit her home on the first date and that a coffee shop is more appropriate. Obviously this dude was off my dating list but I couldn’t help but think he needed to understand so at least he’s not a creep with the next woman he tries to date. He clearly had never watched the C.K. Louis skit where the comedian explained how, in the world of (hetero) dating, men only have to worry about getting their feelings hurt but women have to worry about getting killed (statistically speaking, this is true).
He didn’t get that aspect, so I further elaborated that if he wanted to come over and ‘snuggle’ then that to me says he wants sex – which is cool for him (no slut shaming, no matter the gender) but not what I’m interested in.
He got offended.
Oooooooh right, you are a good looking doctor! Aye! Your bedroom must be awash in panties! How silly of me! I am fortunate for your interest because all women would have sex with you! You are such a catch!
So then I started work and was in 3 hours of meetings. At lunchtime I see this:
Like, calm down yo. I’m not spending my day on my fainting couch waiting for you to message me. And…his seemingly ‘compromise’ was interesting. To do coffee or a walk first? As in…you are still expecting ‘snuggling’ afterwards?
Time to end this convo with the self-presumed McDreamy. I decided to be polite – because quite honestly there’s a further danger for women when they rudely turn down a man. This person has access to your phone number and your photos/info from the online dating profile. We, as women, have to be extra careful.
If you can’t tell, the gif I sent back to McJerkface to end the convo was this one:
But I mean….
Not to mention…what kind of ‘doctor’ misspells “dumbass” into “dubmass”?!
So there you have it, my people. Masculinity is so fragile for so many men, that this is what women have to deal with. Whether you tell a guy cat calling you on the street that he can’t have your number so he violently shouts bitch, or whether you politely say no to a man via online dating so he flips out, the unhealthy masculinity that society has created is so fragile it turns dangerous when denied.
Related links in case this topic interests you or you think I am just some crazy random man-hating feminist:
- OKC Creepsters: A blog documenting all the creepy, crazy, and offensive things men say on the internet.
- Understanding Patriarchy: By Bell Hooks
- The Mask You Live In: An upcoming documentary on masculinity by the Representation Project
- Stop Street Harassment: A website explaining and documenting street harassment
- Policing Masculinity: “It’s fascinating, really: femininity is depicted as weakness, the sapping of strength, yet masculinity is so fragile that apparently even the slightest brush with the feminine destroys it.“
- Complex Masculinity Policing: Great post via the site Men Need Feminism
Have you or someone you know ever experienced something similar? Comment here or tweet me at @NikiMessmore.
**Straight male= for the purposes of this blog post, men who are dating women. It is possible the man mentioned in this post and men who make similar allegations are somewhere along the sexuality spectrum, further than just a 0/1 on the Kinsey Scale.