Why “If A Guy Did That…” Is Not a Thing

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Neither of those guys approached you with an inappropriate salacious come on. One guy was maybe a little forward and the other was clearly making a joke – ie flirting. So, if those men are the options cited for supposedly “looking for sex” on your other site, I think you may have more options than you think.-DMN

Personally, I don’t think those comments were particularly rude. But, it’s really a separate issue. The issue as originally framed here is that these comments are rude yes but also that they make us feel bad because they reflect a focus on our bodies and not our minds or characters. I just don’t see a distinction between that and lusting publicly after a guy at the gym because you like his ass. I just can’t imagine the critique of a male blogger who publicly wrote this stuff about his gym crush. Lacks principle. That’s all. Carry on.- DMN

Okay. Let’s unpack these two comments. Starting with:

Neither of those guys approached you with an inappropriate salacious come on. (For context see the texts below.)

rupstahp

I have a simple questions for you, DMN. Would you make comments like this to a woman you met online? If not, why?

You don’t see these comments as inappropriate because as a white male you re afforded a level of regard that women (and men of color) are not. Just by being a white man a higher societal value is bestowed upon you. This article about white privilege can explain the this phenomenon far better than I can.

Privilege simply is. You are privileged whether you believe it or not. The way the world sees you has made a difference since the day you showed up on the planet.

The heart of privilege is that it is a systemic reality; you are part of a larger truth that is far greater than your individual experience or personal actions—as important as those things are. Recognizing privilege isn’t just about policing your behavior or monitoring your thoughts, it’s about purposefully pushing back against systems that nurture injustice and inequality in our culture, in the workforce, in our government.

To put it simply, white men – simply b y existing – are treated differently (read: better). I’m not surprised to hear that DMN – a white man – doesn’t consider these comments salacious. White men are groomed to see themselves as more than a sum of their parts. Women are not. We are raised to believe that we have only certain functions in society: we either are to be beautiful and desired, nurturing and supportive, or promiscuous and easy. Men can be all those things and more. They get to check off more than one box. We’re pigeon-holed.

The issue as originally framed here is that these comments are rude yes but also that they make us feel bad because they reflect a focus on our bodies and not our minds or characters. I just don’t see a distinction between that and lusting publicly after a guy at the gym because you like his ass.

I stand with you that when I lust over Gym Guy’s ass, I’m being crude and inconsistent in my message. I would never dream of leering at him in person or tell him to his face all the filthy things I’d like to do to him.  Just like I’m near positive that you wouldn’t ever message a woman on Bumble and tell her how sexy her mouth was. It’s a matter of decency and situational awareness. However, men are encouraged to objectify women, often to the point of dehumanizing them completely. It’s considered acceptable. I assure you that when we (women) salivate over the image of a man and make lewd comments, we do it because we see men get slapped on the back for it. It’s similar to the idea of having sex “like a man.” (Indiscriminate and unfeeling.) This is not a thing among men with honor, a segment I happen to think outnumber the men without. Women emulate the worst of male behavior because men are assigned cool points for it and still considered desirable. Women who are gruff and aggressive and indiscriminate with their sexual partners are labeled promiscuous and bitter and angry.

But here’s the real difference between objectifying a man and objectifying a woman. If a man walked down the street and a woman shouted at him, “Hey baby, unzip that fly. Let me see what you’re working with!” he would not feel threatened, nor would he feel pressured to offer a coy if phony smile in order to avoid the rage of their cat caller. Men are not conditioned from birth to believe that any inappropriate sexual attention they receive is their fault.They don’t feel guilt when on the receiving end of that sort of attention.  Men don’t care if women just want to fuck them because they can be used for sex and still maintain their credibility and character. A woman can not. A woman who allows herself to be used as a receptacle has low self-esteem. She’s a whore, a slut. Men are allowed to take pride in women wanting to bed them. Women are not. If she does, she’s insecure and needs male approval and validation. (Side note: I am 100% guilty of accusing women who bray about their sexual conquests of being pathetic, but I criticize men for doing the same thing. Men don’t get a pass anymore than women do in my eyes.)

In my dating profiles and various bios I mention the fact that I walk rescue dogs, support the ASPCA, run a small business that allows me to be self-sufficient, work out, and that I’m writing a novel. If – after reading all those things – all you can compliment are my lips, you’re tipping your hand as to how you view and treat women. A man like that doesn’t care that I run a six-figure revenue generating business or that I have a soft spot for abused animals. No. All he can think about is how good it would feel to have his dick in my mouth.

Guys will counter with being used for their wallets. To that I’ll say that society praises men for being the financial provider. These men are considered chivalrous.So, while I agree that using a man for a free meal or for attention is wrong, I will highlight the fact that – even when acting as dupes – men are praised. We’re considered gold-digging whores. Guys who use women for sex  are just “players” when, really, they’re predators. They exploit the weaknesses of their prey to their benefit to get what they want. Women are vilified for this kind of behavior. Gold. Digger. Dinner. Whore. Guys just get a slap on the wrist. Player. Even the language used to describe these kinds of people demonize the women more than the men. We’re whores. Men are just cads, a term that in literature is often used as a back-handed compliment.

For all the gushing I do about the guy at the gym, I’ve been overlooking one very important thing. When he approached me a few weeks ago to talk about the stabilizer ball and yoga classes, he wasn’t flirting with me. He wasn’t asking me if I needed help lifting a bar or kettle bell – something the other older men at the gym have asked me. He – this Cross-Fitter type who clearly takes fitness very seriously – was speaking to me as a peer, as an equal. That’s a compliment. For all the lambasting I do of entitled men, I feel it’s important to point out when guys do something right, and he did something right. It’s disappointing to consider that he does not return my interest, but big picture-wise, it’s a win.

It’s incredibly frustrating to me to have to explain in great detail why the comments made by the men on Tinder are inappropriate or why women should not be forced to endure such boorish behavior just to get a date. DMN, you don’t find those comments rude because you are not on the receiving end of them. They are the norm because we’ve allowed them to be. Women are not over-reacting by expressing their discomfort or distaste for them. We’re tired of this kind of treatment. That is a lived experience you can never understand. You’ve mentioned before that you’re a lawyer, so I’m sure you have an inkling as to what it’s like to have your value determined by your bank statement.  I bet 90% of the messages you get online involve the woman asking you what you do for a living right off the bat. Don’t tell me that doesn’t annoy you. Don’t tell me you don’t get offended when women sit there on those dates and make not one gesture that implies they wish to contribute to the bill. You may accept that as your reality but that doesn’t make it okay. It’s an easier pill for you to swallow because – just by being white and male – you are considered superior. A woman might devalue you by making it obvious that she cares how much money you make, but that’s only because you’ve achieved a level of status to which many aspire. When a man dates an objectively good-looking woman and trots her out on Facebook, do you think anybody looks beyond the exterior the way they do for men? A rich/successful man is usually also considered educated, connected, powerful and ambitious. A beautiful woman? Well, she’s just a recipient of good genes, a winner of the genetic lottery. Never mind that she probably works very hard to keep that body. (She must have had plastic surgery/Whatever. She’s never had kids) To stay beautiful and fit we must have failed in some other area, like not reproducing. Oh, and we’re probably dumb as a post, too.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s not as black and white as “If a guy did this…” On the surface – yes – there is an inconsistency. Dig deeper and you’ll see there’s more to it.

Thoughts?

 

 

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7 comments

  1. I just wanted to say that I think you expressed that quite well and I am enjoying you getting into the much larger (and more difficult) reasons behind why stuff like this sucks.

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  2. Great analysis. To me, the fundamental difference is saying it in a dating correspondence and writing about someone in the third person, which is done somewhat abstractly in this context. I’ve run into this issue too, saying things about guys that seem rather crude, and wondering if it makes me a boor. I just think it’s really an important different context when done in the third person–and, if the people you’re writing to don’t know the person, it’s really about an abstract idea in the minds of the reader rather than a specific person.

    I do think that adopting a progressive consciousness should transcend privilege in certain contexts. For example, as mentioned, it’s ok for Moxie is ok to hold women to account for bragging about their sexual conquests because she holds men to account as well. Likewise, I think men can hold women accountable so long as it’s done in the spirit of equal standards and respects the special challenges that women face in society’s estimation of them relative to men.

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  3. DMN is a guy I rarely agree with, since he usually boils down the human complexity of relations to a defense lawyer’s arguments: “no evidence of a crime here! Prove it!” He also tends to apply the tools of a statistician or logician to the humanity of dating, combined with a sort of humorous cynicism. He rarely or never admits to a personal mistake or flaw, which then detracts somewhat from his credibility (not to assert that I don’t have my own flaws and sins, which could be much worse than his).

    Even so, I think he’s provided a lot of valuable insights, logic, and analyses, and has provided a lot of information as a veteran male dater—even when he openly trolls from time to time. Frankly, he’s probably the most valuable male contributor on the site. As far as I know (based on his ridicule of Trump supporters), like about 40% of white males, he is also a Democrat/Hilary supporter.

    He’s accused here of being “privileged,” but we can’t know that. Maybe his parents or grandparents were sharecroppers or Holocaust survivors. Perhaps he has mentored a few women and/or minority staff at his company or donated to the United Negro College Fund. Personally, I have sometimes found some viciously cynical white guys quietly doing some surprisingly generous things—such as cutting big checks to charities, participating in Big Brother programs with African American children, or volunteering at food banks. My point is, we can’t know, so I don’t want to demonize him.

    This goes to the larger issue—clearly implied by this post– of demonizing all white males or ascribing them as being in total control of everything. Statistically, this is not a reflection of reality. Asian and Arab Americans actually have higher per-capita incomes than whites, and also score much better academically. Hispanics have the highest rates of capital formation (albeit from a small base and currently primarily in small business), and also enjoy the highest rates of social mobility. Women, particularly white women, now outnumber men on many American campuses: this means the future company boards and legislatures of America are bound to be far more female. All this is to say that American political, economic, and cultural drivers and principals will continue to diversify rapidly—simply because of the current economic, political demographic tides. In a real sense, it almost doesn’t matter who sits in Congress or the White House because of these tides.

    It’s also pointless to try to rank each individual in a “progressive stack/privilege ranking.” Is my Polish immigrant janitor “privileged” and an “oppressor?” Should he pay me reparations for slavery? Is the lesbian Muslim woman a marginalized person? But what if she’s also a CEO? How do we “rank” her? Native American woman? Surely a marginalized woman. But what if she sits on the board of 3 casinos? Then what? It’s not possible to quantify “privilege,” which is a highly subjective concept not easily applied to individuals or entire groups. Progressives themselves have tried themselves in knots trying to do it and gotten into fierce arguments about who ranks where in the “progressive stack” or “privilege hierarchy.”

    On a personal/dating or professional level, I think it’s also bad to treat all white men as enemies or potential enemies. I’ve known a ton of white men on three continents. A few were truly evil. A few were almost saints. The vast majority, like all other men, are just ordinary guys. About 50% of my best friends are white men, and they are good family guys, fathers, husbands. I see no reason to adopt an adversarial posture in advance toward white males or white people, or demand that they prove that they are “safe” to approach or something.

    This post reads like some progressive version of an Ann Coulter screed, with white males serving the role of evil strawmen that Coulter uses with Muslims and Mexicans. I suppose the future of this blog may be as a sort of Alt-Left Feminist Dating Blog—which, who knows, could actually be quite profitable.

    Damn strange for a black man to write a post defending white men, but here we are, I guess.

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    1. **He’s accused here of being “privileged,” but we can’t know that. … My point is, we can’t know, so I don’t want to demonize him.**

      Since I don’t actually know DMN, he could in fact be a blue Smurf. But yes, there is inherent privilege in being a white man (as there is in being a white woman). I don’t get why acknowledging this makes people so defensive they consider it “demonizing.” When the female Native American CEO walks into a meeting with her white male secretary, people meeting them for the first time will likely assume their statuses are the reverse of reality and treat them as such until corrected. People of greater privilege do not need to do this – they do not need to go out of their way to correct negative assumptions about them based on their gender or the color of their skin. That is what privilege is.

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      1. I think the reason why people get so defensive about privilege is that they’re worried that they will be treated poorly by those who are aware of privilege as an equalizing mechanism to correct for the better treatment they receive by default by society in general. The thing that’s troublesome about privilege is that, while it is real, it applies in low-information situations. I think speed’s comment speaks to this idea somewhat. So, in your example, the Native American woman is treated like the secretary–until people find out that she’s the CEO. The thing is, I think that, in a situation where you don’t know much about someone, you should treat them neutrally (without malice–of course, this still leaves room for some people to be treated better than others, but I still think neutral or better is what most people are comfortable with in terms of how other people should be treated). The main way privilege enters into the equation for me is that 1) I try to be consciously less judgemental of relatively unprivileged peoples’ efforts to protect themselves (e.g. if a woman responds strongly to what seems like a relatively innocent overture, I appreciate that she may be fatigued by having been catcalled all day).
        2) I judge privileged people that are mean and obnoxious more harshly. The reason for this is that privileged people have more power to sway the uninformed observer to their side, so if they’re being a jerk, they’ll likely do more damage than a relatively unprivileged person simply by virtue of the fact that they’re privileged.

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    2. I’m not sure you understand the concept of privilege in this concept. I will give you an example. My brother and I are white. We ARE the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and our mother was born in post-war Poland and my bother and I grew up hearing how difficult it was for my mom’s family there. Our mother came to NYC with absolutely nothing – like, she could not afford to return to Israel if she’d wanted to. She had no money.

      You ask if the Polish janitor has privilege. Yes. By virtue of being a white male, he is treated with respect – just due to him being white and male. JUST as an African-American woman, even if she has a Harvard PhD, when she walks down the street, she is likely to be viewed as less-than, that SHE is the one more likely to be followed through a store. A white guy is very rarely going to have security following him though the store.

      Sort of like…my brother is white and we grew up hearing about WW2. BUT, he walks down the street, goes on a job interview, walks into a room, and he is assumed to be no different from our uncle who is literally a descendant of people from the Mayflower. This is just by virtue of his race and his gender. The same thing applies to a Polish janitor. An Indian CEO does not have that same privilege.

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