This week, my company is hosting a Champagne Social at a local make-up salon here in Manhattan. We’ve produced professional and social networking events for years. I’ve decided to add another channel of events that would be for women only.
I have now received two emails from women asking if they could bring their male gay best friends, citing their uber-feminity. One woman even commented that even with him there the room would still be devoid of testosterone.
Setting aside the offensiveness of such comments, I want to focus on why I told both women that they could not bring their gay male bestie to this event. Women only means women only. Regardless of whether or not these guys are gay or straight, they’re still men. I am always suspect of men that attempt to encroach upon women’s spaces. We’ve all seen them; they’re usually self-identifying feminists that trip over themselves to prove that they are allies. In my experience, men who like to tout their feminism – especially in an audience of women – have an ulterior motive. My personal belief is that they use the f-word to ingratiate themselves; portraying themselves as “nice guys” who get it. Only, they really don’t. If they did, they’d know their mere presence in women’s spaces are usually unwanted. Guys who include the fact that they’re feminists in their profile almost always turn out to be rage machines with unreasonable expectations about women. They’re feminists, but their girlfriends must look and act a certain way. Any man who says he’s looking for a “lady” or a woman who is “feminine” gets the big fat Nope from me. With descriptors like that they are revealing how they define womanhood and it’s not flattering.
More suspicious are the women who prefer to bring a gay male friend instead of a female friend to an all-woman’s event. Why would you prefer the company of a man over a woman at event for women? That’s a rhetorical question. A woman believes that she’s perceived differently (read: better) if she can say that closest confidante is a man.We all have encountered women who prefer the company of men. Women are all about the drama, they’re competitive, blah blah. Nope. Women who say such things are all about the drama and are competitive, not the ones they refsue to hang out with. Bottom line is that women with a disproprotionate number of male to female friends are suspect. Full transparency; I used to be one of them. I thought it made me look cool that I could say my closest friends were men and that men thought I was a “guy’s girl.” I did that because I was insecure and was internalizing a lot of issues with women. I lived in a nice insulated bubble where I believed sexism wasn’t a thing. Then Eliot Rodger’s manifesto and subsequent shooting became part of the public consciousness. I’d been spending time in women’s spaces before that and gradually coming out of my uninformed cocoon. My eyes were opened to the misogynistic ways of some of my male friends and men across the internet. I wasn’t a guy’s girl. I had bought into the belief that men were rational and sane and that women were catty bitches. Ironically, the more time I spent in online women’s spaces, the more I realized how anti-woman many of them were. There are comments on sites that I read and the women all talk about their male friends and their boyfriends or husbands, but rarely mention any female friends. Comments often turn into the one-upmanship olympics, with contests over who paid the least for their wedding; who looks ten years younger; who doesn’t need an engagement ring; or who gets laid the most.
In the last few years, I have grown and benefited more from my relationships with women than I ever did with those I had with men. (I expanded on my thoughts of female loyalty here. ) Women will defend and support each other in ways men can not. Hence why I wanted to initiate a line of events just for women. Sporting events, boxing classes, historical tours, etc. When we work together, we are unstoppable. If I didn’t have a beta reading group of women throughout the process of writing my book, I’d have quit long ago. They’re the ones encouraging me and feeding me harsh truths when I need it. The men are not invested enough in my growth or happiness to care.
I’m not rejecting these women’s requests to bring a gay male friend to be a hard ass. I’m politely telling them they can’t bring their gay male friends because we’ve advertised this as a women-only event. Gay men – no matter how effeminate these women perceive them to be – are not women. Stripping gay men of their masculinity for your benefit isn’t cute. It’s offensive. Just because they might not present themselves in the way you might define masculine does not mean they are not men. I feel bad for men who have befriended people who speak of them this way.
As someone who attended an all girl’s school, I can attest to the benefit of not having the distraction of men to deal with. Remove men from the equation, and women focus on bettering themselves.
Regardless of his orientation, a man who believes he belongs in all-women’s spaces is displaying entitlement.That’s the whole point of a woman-only event: to have something that is just for us in a society where we’re not valued the way we should be. Making an exception for a gay man is still making an exception for a man. No. The comfort of the women is the priority. Letting a man in sends the wrong message. If some women can’t interact with other women without men there, then I don’t want them to attend.