On the Differences Between Men & Women

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About seventeen I opened a door for a girl of my acquaintance offering the cliché that “Chivalry isn’t dead.”

I forget her response but it made it clear I was speaking foolishness. This was my first lesson about sexism.

I never thought that women were less able anymore than I did black people (this was long ago: both notions were even more alive back then). I’d never thought of the social implications of my polite gesture. In a moment any notion of treating a woman differently vanished.

Like many males I’d invisible acquired a code of behavior. Women and the elderly were to be offered seats on the bus and have doors held open for them. So I opened doors for both sexes equally (probably I always did). Older people I still surrendered my seat to.

Loving femme guys gave me opportunities to follow the code without reinforcing sexist stereotypes. Who knows maybe that contributed to the preference. And Alex humors me, allowing me to open most doors for her.

That I enjoy this sort of gallant deference is one of my few connections with a certain kind of heterosexual norm.

An optimistic young man I assumed sexism would be banished in short order. So I was baffled when visiting married couples and the woman would still be the one cooking and cleaning. At times it left me feeling creepy and uncomfortable.

In the back of my mind I suspect I pictured a genderless utopia. You know the kind. In silly science fiction novels a man from the 20th century would fall into suspended animation, wake up and let the serene citizens know they were missing out on the best things in life. Like suffering and pain.

Probably one of the reasons it would take a few years for me to discover my actual sexuality.

And why when I did find myself with a girl she wore jeans and flannel shirts. Didn’t carry a purse or shave her legs.

When I finally had my pansexual revelation and discovered my pleasure in guys who wear dresses and people whose gender defies categorization.

It would culminate in understanding that I like girls in dresses as well. That given self-respect and clarity I liked all the feminine frippery.

The Mars and Venus sexism still needs to die. I think much of the weird culture of heterosexuality stems from straight people seeing themselves as having not just different bodies but differing sexuality.

That women can now admit their honest lust without shame helps. Don’t know what to think about males. I could believe that there’s some evolutionary hardwiring that causes their penis’ demands to confuse them.

But I know too many straight guys who don’t suffer from that.

Arguments from evolutionary biology aren’t satisfactory. Queer sexuality is proof enough of that. Though prehistory may have left us with social inertia that is hard to overcome. Thanks to things like contraceptives heterosexuals have a better life than they did a few decades ago.

Anyway, this is how I came to accept that men wearing pants and women wearing whatever they want isn’t necessarily evil.

Not that it can’t be improved upon.

Comments

Interestingly enough, I’ve just read a new book, ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture’ by Ariel Levy. It’s a good essay about the whole Girls Gone Wild/Women going to strip clubs/young girls dressing like porn stars and giving blow jobs to guys without any reciprocation, etc culture. She basically argues that women (who are involved in promoting this culture, as well as consuming it) want to be ‘one of the guys’ and this has led to them actually emulating that laddish culture by objectifying other women, such as strippers and porn stars, but also by emulating their style (because that seems to be what guys like). Somewhere in all this, women’s authentic sexual desires seem to have got lost. Paris Hilton is the epitome of sexiness, when by all accounts her famous videos show her looking bored, not aroused.

So whether women are really allowed to show their honest lust, or just some approved commercialized simulacrum of it is a moot point. I’m just glad that I’m old enough not to give a shit about whether my lust is ‘approved’ or not.

The majority of women (people) will probably forever trying to live a life imitating something – what they are told they should be in church, what advertisements say will give them a happy life.

I think most people should be as honest and free sexually as most of the gay men I’ve known.

But I wouldn’t expect them to do it wisely. Nice wish but even if you are fairly bright you’ll always make many mistakes, sometimes in emulation, others is idealizing.

I’ve sure made plenty of my own.

Thanks for that book recommendation, harpy - I’m going to look for that one.

I still think chivalry isn’t dead - and I think anyone, male or female (or other), can be chivalrous to any other human being.

Sure. I’m a fairly courteous guy. In my case I restrict my use of the words chivalry and gallantry to when there is pleasure in gender roles.

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Thanks,
Richard

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