I was putting on makeup the other day when I realized it’s totally bizarre that I’m expected to do that in preparation for a business meeting. Admittedly, even I look at my un-made-up face and think, “oh THAT won’t do” if I’m going somewhere important. Isn’t this WEIRD? When did our own faces become all wrong without a bunch of stuff put on them? This got me thinking about all the things we’re expected to do as women. All of those expectations seemed bizarre. When you’re female you are expected to:
1. Draw on your face with colored pencils. For men this is only for when your friends pass out drunk; then you get to draw on THEM. When you’re a woman, you have to do it to yourself. Every day.
2. Strap spikes to your shoes and balance on them. This makes you look “nice” if you’re a woman.
3. Change your name to say you love someone. When you really really really like someone you’re supposed to stop being yourself and start being someone different, symbolized by changing your name. Pointing out that women start out with their dad’s name and switch to some other guy’s name, so they never really have a name of their own, isn’t a groundbreaking observation, but it’s still weird. On the other hand, when else do you get the chance to get a new name so why not (unless your life love’s name sucks)?
4. Play hard to get. If you’re a woman and you’re approached for a date by someone you like, you are supposed to say “no”. Eventually you can say “yes” but then you have to cancel at least once and only sporadically respond to said person’s attempts to communicate with you. And this is how you’re supposed to treat a person you LIKE! Even when you’re an adult woman you’re still supposed to act like you’re all a bunch of kids chasing each other around on a playground. Weird.
5. Install paint on your fingernails which, weirdly, makes them more delicate rather than stronger (cuz you can’t mess up the paint, don’t ya know). Which serves no purpose. What? I notice that several weird things women are expected to do involve staining body parts unnatural colors. I’m not even going to mention that anal bleaching thing (though I just did).
6. Act like you can’t do all the things you can do. People always tell me to back off on my abilities so that others (well…men) won’t be intimidated, or they’ll feel needed, or whatever. As Madonna sang, “when you open up your mouth to speak, can you be a little weak.” Weird. Just because I can use a table saw doesn’t mean I don’t need help with other stuff; why isn’t it as charming to need help with the vacuuming as it is to need help with the framing of my new garage extension?
7. Plan your wedding when you’re in the second grade. “Every girl has a dream wedding in mind.” “As girls, we spend our whole lives dreaming of what our perfect dream wedding will be.” “All girls dream of their wedding day.” “Every little girl plays ‘bride.” I pulled those quotes from the top Google results for “wedding”. My personal favorite is “Girls start planning their weddings at age seven. Boys wait until the day before.” Ha! That does it, a man’s soul lurks in this X chromosome-laden body. Don’t get me wrong, I, too, would love to be a princess, but only because I want a kingdom to command, not because I want to put on a fluffy white glorified tutu, parade around in front of all my friends calling it “my day”, and force them to fight nearly to the death for the flowers I throw at them. Actually, you know, that does sound kind of fun.
8. Be willing and able to never go anywhere alone. If you’re female, there are men who want to hurt you. It seems that we’re stuck with that. Weirdly, though, rather than the general sentiment be “we should stop these people from hurting women” it’s “we should keep women from doing anything on their own.” I realize there’s a reason to do things for personal safety, but it really does seem as if all the energy goes into convincing women it’s too dangerous to go out on their own rather than convincing bad men that they belong locked up forever.
9. Take forever to get ready to go out. Ever had a climbing partner drop you off to change before dinner, saying he’ll be “back in an hour and a half”? An hour and a fucking half? No. If I’ve been climbing, I’ll be starving and need a burger and I’m not waiting no ninety minutes to get one. Leave the car running in the driveway; I’ll go put on clean underwear and some jeans and put on a beanie and I’m good to go. Is this about that colored pencils thing again? It’s not gonna happen when I’m hungry.
10. Not like sports or motors. You’re a girl, you can’t like baseball, you have to ease it up and make it “soft” ball. If someone asks you what kind of car you have you’re likely to respond “a blue one.” You won’t know how to change the oil or even change a tire. If you can, I refer you to #6, which describes how you’re supposed to pretend you can’t.
Bonus #11 – If you, too, think all the above expectations are weird, you’re gay. Look, I’ve no problem with my Sapphic sisters. Those chicks are fun as hell! But you don’t have to be a lesbian to be into motorcycles and short fingernails. It doesn’t matter if you are or not, it’s just the assumption that bugs me.
Once I got done writing this, I started wondering what weird things we expect men to do. I suspect that deep inside we’re all pretty much the same regardless of gender so I’m sure that men carry a burden of weird expectations too. I’m a woman, so I couldn’t answer that question, but I still wanted to know, so I asked Brendan Leonard of http://www.semi-rad.com to answer it for me. So here are:
10 Weird Things You’re Expected to Do When You’re A Man
1. Keep track of football scores/know the names of professional athletes. I don’t hate football. But a lot of football games take place during the hours that tend to be perfect for climbing and other outdoor activities – i.e., daylight. Thusly, I’m a little behind on who is playing for what team, and who is doing well. I mean, three hours is a long time to set aside on a weekend. Most movies aren’t that long. Sorry. I realize this is un-American. We’re going to have to find something else to talk about. Perhaps we can bro out about bicycles, or skiing, or The Departed? That would be great.
2. Know what’s wrong with a car. I don’t know what’s wrong with your car, I’ll just be honest here. If it has oil, coolant, gas, and air in the tires, and it’s not overheating, it should be running, and if it’s not, I don’t know what to tell you. I have a AAA card. They can help. Let’s call them.
3. Wear closed-toed shoes. These are my toes. They are not pretty. They hate socks. They like Chacos, which are the Air Jordans of Colorado, which is where I’ve spent the majority of the past six years of my life. Sorry if that’s “feminine.”
4. Own power tools. I own ice tools, an avalanche beacon, several ropes, and a whole collection of dinged-up cams and nuts and carabiners and all that stuff you use for rock climbing. I bought my first drill about 18 months ago, and have used it twice. When it comes down to taking care of a home, I don’t know how to do shit. But I can probably fix your bicycle, which I think is probably less masculine than mentioning that I need to run down to Home Depot and pick up a new rip saw. Actually, I don’t even know what a rip saw is. But I will build you a bomber rap anchor if needed.
5. Not talk about things other than sports, cars and power tools. Men are not supposed to talk to each other, unless we’re sitting next to each other in a bar or the front seat of an automobile. No sitting across from each other in a restaurant or coffee shop, just talking. If you want to talk to a male friend, go climbing together, or watch football, or at the very least, play pool. Preferably while drinking beer. But don’t, under any circumstances, get together just to talk to each other.
6. Not listen. Woman, please. I am watching the game.
7. Objectify women. Trust me, I love looking at beautiful women just as much as the next straight guy, but being put in situations where women are nothing but sex objects makes me feel dumber, and kind of sad for America. Please, take away my man card. Hooters, for example. If the food was really that good at Hooters, would the waitresses really need to dress like that? Beer billboards: If you drink Bud Light, this ad agency-hired model will definitely sleep with you. Sure. Cheerleaders: Are cheerleaders leading the cheers? No, the sports team is. When the team scores, the crowd cheers. When the cheerleaders come out, mostly men just stare at them and think about what they would look like if they somehow lost the tiny articles of clothing they are wearing.
8. Ride a horse. Just kidding, nobody expects you to know how to ride a horse anymore.
9. Not cry/be sad/emotional. Do men purchase Bon Iver albums? Yes they do.
10. Realize when women are attracted/interested in us. See Jill’s #4. If my life experience is at all similar to most men’s, we have no idea. We are clueless. I mean, seriously. Just say something. Don’t worry about being too forward. It’s refreshing, especially if you’re in your early 30s and have been wandering around totally ignorant since the eighth grade.
Thanks Brendan! See, people? We’re all the same. It’s just these weird expectations that make it so hard to get along. Next time you’re at a loss for what to do in a situation, remember, there are no hard-and-fast roles to which you must subscribe. Just be yourself. You’re going to have to do it anyway at some point so you might as well start now.