Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dear J-hay


Dear J-hay,

            Men and women. Two seemingly different species, entirely mysterious to the other. Out of all the things in the world that separate the two, your first thoughts were bags and bathrooms? Really? Although purses and restroom decorum may seem like the most important differences between guys and girls to you, they’re pretty trivial. Yes, it’s true that girls have to sit down when they go to the bathroom. That’s old news. And honestly, purses suck. They’re uncomfortable and full of useless shit that I throw in just because I have the space. I’d take pockets any day of the week. Besides, ever heard of a backpack? Our fellow blogger Mark carries one just about everywhere he goes.

            Granted, I agree with you that both men and women are subject to “horrible experiences,” but those experiences are certainly worth mentioning if your point was to decide which has a better life in this society. So now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk about some big topics.

            Sex. As teenagers it’s on all of our minds. Whether you want it or you don’t and whatever your reasons may be, sex is all around us. It influences the decisions we make and the people we relate with. Both genders are pressured to have sex, but in my opinion, girls will prevail here. The key factors are as follows: who has to initiate the relationship and who can say no. In our culture, men are expected to start the relationship. That’s a massive risk. As childish as it sounds, what if she doesn’t like you back? What if you don’t live up to her expectations? The girl has all of the power in this situation, and that moment of horror while she contemplates your fate is torturous, not to mention if she says no. We can also see this dynamic on any typical Saturday night. The boy has to prompt the encounter with any of several certified, teenage initiation moves, like grabbing her hand and leading her into a bedroom.  Once that bait has been cast, sex is on both of their minds. The question then becomes if he’s going to go for it or not. Traditionally, girl says no, and boy reluctantly complies. The night ends with God rejoicing that two more of his children haven’t had sex before marriage. But what if it’s the guy that isn’t ready? What if she wants to hook-up but he doesn’t? Guys can’t say no. If the prospect of sex is placed before them, they have no choice but to hesitantly acquiesce. Thankfully, most guys do want to have sex, but at least girls have the choice when it comes down to it.
            Clothes. Fashionable girls are cool and fashionable guys are gay. However, with fashion comes responsibility. Girls are required to wear different outfits every day that match and look decent. It can’t be too baggy or you’re sloppy; it can’t be too tight or you’re a slut. Guys can get away with wearing t-shirts every day, and in rare cases can even get paid to wear the same outfit for an entire school year. Granted, they can’t try out fall’s latest fashions, but who cares? I’d rather have a uniform for school than spend time picking out what I’m going to wear each morning. Men can wear a button down and dress pants to practically every event, whether that be a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or school. For girls it’s totally different. Family reunion? Maybe a sundress, but maybe pants and a nice top would be better. Sister’s graduation? A dress would be nice, but it has to cover the shoulders. Maybe pair it with a sweater and it’ll be okay. Don’t know what to wear to school today? Don’t even think about a dress, too fancy. Jeans and a cute top…but what shoes? Maybe earrings today, but maybe not. In terms of clothes, guys have it easier.
            Being a man makes you automatically right when you’re talking to a girl. Whether you actually are or not is unimportant. As a girl, and a fairly confident one at that, I have firsthand experience with male dominance in both a classroom and a social setting. Girls aren’t wrong when they talk in class, just not right. As a boy your ideas are thought of as superior, with a particular sophistication, no matter how much you actually thought it through. This is the reason women can’t be leaders. Female president? Forget about that. Her decisions would be too heavily influenced by her emotions. All of these gender roles are imbued in our subconscious, whether you like it or not, and the majority favor men.
Now back to my boy J-hay. Let me make this clear: I don’t think you’re wrong, I just think you’re right for the wrong reasons. If you neglect all of the concrete examples, it comes down to power and confidence. Those “horrible experiences” that you talked about all have to do with being thought of as normal. You’re not normal if you carry a trash bag around. “Normal” is a golden word for all of us with self-esteem issues. Now it’s no secret that all girls have self-esteem issues. They all strive to lose a pound, have whiter teeth, or prettier eyes. This may come as a surprise to some girls, but men have the same issues we do, they’re just better at hiding it. We’re all the same and we’re all aspiring toward the same goal: to be accepted. So if you want to yell “Yes we can!” at the guy in the mall, go for it. Maybe your words will help him feel a little more normal.

--Quinn Salditch