I’ve been listening to my friends agonize about their male partners this week and there’s a deafeningly consistent theme. These men and women do not feel as though they’re being listened to – they do not have a voice in the relationship. Now I know their partners, and I can say that unilaterally they’re good guys. They’re kind, compassionate with others, attentive to their children, and while none of them might identify as such, I would say they were all feminists. I don’t doubt that they regard their significant other as their equal, in most regards. (and therein lies the crux of the biscuit, as Mr. Zappa used to intone.)
Nonetheless, and I’ve witnessed this phenomenon, there’s always this place where these guys are hearing-impaired. It’s like you have to check the bars on your men to see if you’re getting reception. “Hello, I have an opinion, a thought, and it’s valid and impo…!” Shit, they can’t hear me here. You’re looking at a human who has checked out entirely, stonewalling behind the channel changer, his dinner, his simple conviction in the overweening rightness of his always correct idea.
Was I that way with my previous girlfriends? Probably. When I have an opinion, and I often do, I’m quite convinced it’s the best one, even though I’ll change it in a heartbeat given new information.* I’m a touch overbearing. A soupçon, really, a smidge. Okay, I’m totally sure I’ve been that asshole guy who's not only right - you’re not even a part of his landscape right now that your lips are moving.
I remember, once upon a time a hundred years ago today, being completely revolted by my nearly natural quiescence with this guy I was schtupping. I mean, we were just doing it. I was a lesbian, f’crissake, and me backing up on his penis just meant we were having friendly sexy times. But I remember one afternoon he went out with the boys, and left me at home. And they were my boys. My two best friends. The hierarchy, however, was clear. It was like they all knew somehow that I was fucking Scotty, and it knocked me down in the pecking order. Scotty should’ve been at the bottom – the three of us were older, had shot more dope than him, but no, I had a vagina** and so it didn’t much matter how much dope I’d shot, or that I’d taught at least one of them how to shoot themselves up, and how to cop: I was the bitch on the bottom, and I knew it, I swallowed that wholesale, I said nary a word.
These men, these husbands and partners to my friends? They’ll listen to another man. They’ve got aaaaallllll the tiiiiiiiime in the world for another dude. They’re practically glassy-eyed with Bambi love for another man’s idea.
I’m creating a checklist. Some male-biased behaviors are cultural, but I’m concerned that some are enhanced hormonally, and I don’t want to be any more of a dick than I already am. In fact, now that I’m in the dick camp, I’d like to take the opportunity to pare down my dick, as it were. I’m not alone in the trans-community in wanting to bring something else to the gender-banquet; we see having been socialized as female as a distinct advantage for our sex.
Where does this come from, this “your lips are moving, Little Lady, but I sure caint hear you,” sometimes passive, sometimes balls-out hostile cock-block of women’s opinions and feelings? I want to punch men just writing about this. In fact, maybe I will, now that I’m not crying and stuff, maybe I’ll just go punch somebody. What’s that you say? You smell a stereotype? Who’s talking? There’s no one here but me.
*As long as that information’s source isn’t YOU.
**I still have one! I’m delighted that vagina has made it into mainstream language, albeit mildly infantilized, like “va-jay-jay.” It’s nice the people are invoking vagina. Just remember kids: vagina is on the INSIDE. VULVA is on the outside. I shouldn’t even have to tell you that.