Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy (Be)Labor Day: Debunking Myths

Like many of you, I don't even think about the meaning of Labor Day, I'm just happy for the day off. But as one would imagine based on the name, it is a holiday in honor of American workers according to the U.S. Labor Department web site. Well, on this day that I should be taking a break from labor, I'm finding myself having to belabor a point that should be clear to most reasonably sane people. But apparently not. I recently wrote about men and clowns and how I'm sick of bad male behavior. As expected, I get comments which pretty much paint me as the perpetrator of this bad behavior. It's happened quite a bit over the course of this blog and over the course of my lifetime when I am baffled by idiotic male behavior. I am honestly beginning to believe that when called out on such behavior, men have this need to blame women. Interesting. Well, I have a need to debunk some myths.

Myth 1) Women make men behave badly.

Here's one of my favorite comments: "Despite your
protestations, you DID "give dudes a reason to call [you] this late" simply by
being the kind of person that will "go out with friends or by myself after
midnight. If you want it to stop, just go to bed at 11 and stop answering the

How ridiculous is this? First of all, I never said I answer the phone when these guys call. Voice mail messages are just as bad. If I meet a guy while I'm out late at night with my friends, does that mean he should call me to come over late at night rather than ask me out on a date at an appropriate time??? I should go to bed at 11 pm every night so that guys won't call me for disguised booty calls??? Wow, way to keep a woman in her place!

Myth 2) Only certain types of men behave badly and women should know who they are and be smart enough not to associate with them.

Here's another good one: "Men generally act in such a disrespectful manner when
they believe that they will get what they are asking for. You say that you did
not give them reason to believe so. Maybe you are just hanging out with men who
have a low opinion of women, in general."

Now this really makes no sense. Men will try to get what they want the minute they see it. They don't need to know anything about you or the situation and most women will attest to this from rampant street harassment. I can be dressed to go to a funeral, to work, in gym clothes, whatever, and have the most disrespectful things come out of a man's mouth. And no, these are not just bums on the street. Do they think they will get what they want? I doubt it. But hey, why not try. Why do men pull over in their cars and try to get women walking home from the grocery store in flip flops and a ponytail to come over? Has this technique really worked for them? Probably not but they do it anyway. Don't tell me that men behave badly because they believe they will get what they are asking for. And I have friends who do in fact go to bed before midnight during the week and still have disrespectful things happen to them. And for the record, I would under NO circumstances hang out with men who gave me a reason to believe they had a low opinion of women. If they do, they hide it very well and I resent the idea that I should have to decipher this trickery. Also, I have met plenty of men who seemed perfectly normal on a first encounter who then call not for a date as one should, but to "come over". Is there a reason why those guys don't know any better but many other men I've met actually do?

Myth 3) Where you meet a man makes all the difference. Bar, club - bad. Work, school, church, through friends - good.

I do feel somewhat conflicted about this one, but my personal experience and that of others, has made me realize that this truly is a myth. This past year made me even more convinced. Most people will tell you that there's more of a chance at finding good relationships when you have something in common with the person and going after similar goals, hence the work/school thing. Well, not so much. I have met guys through work and school before and neither worked. This year, I met a guy with the same job title, in my own department (academia, no less) who seemed perfectly normal and about as nerdy as me. After a lovely dinner and conversation (about history, politics, teaching, etc.), why did he ask if I wanted to go to a strip club? Freak! Yes, him, not me. I also met a seemingly normal guy at work a few years ago who I had lunch with a couple of times. We talked about what it's like being single in DC and would occasionally email when work was boring. Funny, never once did he mention that he had a fiance and child. I found out through another co-worker in casual conversation. This year I also met a couple of guys at bars. First dates were great. What does that mean? Who knows. But I do know that there are no hard and fast rules, and until you've been single for as long as some, like me, just shut up and stop blaming women for all the bad male behavior out there.

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