Friday, March 15, 2013

I like you, but not That Way

Syrbal posted something the other day that got me thinking about this.

Isn't it odd how many of my gender seem to have a problem making friends with women?

If mean, I get that us het guys want to get into your pants. We're like that from about the time our testicles descend until about five minutes after clinical death. Most of us. Fortunately for everyone concerned most of us learn early on that shoving our noses in your crotch like a demented Pekinese is both counterproductive for the Fleshly-congress Project and demeaning for everyone involved, so we stop. The few that persist, well...there are still prisons, or Catholic parishes, enough for them, I suppose.

The thing that has always seemed rather strange to me, though, is how many guys seem to have a problem with the idea of seeing a woman (or women in general) as "someone-which-I-like-and-enjoy-being-around-but-whom-I-do-not-fuck". Like I say; I get that we want to have sex with you. But what seems to me both silly and wasteful is the notion that we only want to have sex with you.

As Syrbal notes in her post, this sort of "woman-as-animatronic-love-doll" thing is especially noticeable in the armed services. I saw the same thing she did; a LOT of the guys I knew who were the typical sorts of guys in the services saw women in general as a sort of life-support system for a vagina. Most of my buddies in the service didn’t have female friends; they had women they fucked (or, more charitably, girlfriends and wives), and their male pals.

A lot of them didn’t seem like they LIKED their wives and girlfriends a whole lot; they didn’t do things with them all that much other than things they had to do – kid-care stuff, household things.

That seems...well, sort of foolish. I typically like women, both as individuals and as a gender. There are women who are assholes just as there are men who are assholes, but there are as many likeable women out there as men and they enjoy the additional facet of being not-men; they have a perspective on life that I lack and that is valuable and interesting in and of itself.

One of the things that makes my bride so delightful is that she has all sorts of enjoyments and interests and I share many of them. One of my deepest regrets is that my deteriorating hip makes it impossible for us to exercise together; that was always a great pleasure. She never looked half so strong and beautiful as when she was whipping my ass on the squash court.

Yet there seems to be a ridiculously large number of my fellow guys out there who have a hard time with the idea that a woman can be a pal, or a comrade, or a co-worker, or a boss, or just a friend or acquaintance or someone who shares something with you; a burning hatred of conservative politics, say, or a love of soccer or Star Wars or birding or roller derby.

So it seems that not seeking out or having women friends makes our guy lives less pleasant and less interesting. And I don't get it. Why the hell should that be? Guys, any idea? Gals, any suspicions? What's the deal with this?


Leon said...

Probably because you're no longer a hormone addled early 20's. Also I suspect the culture the soldiers inhabit conditions them to say/act that way. I suspect you could hear the proverbial crickets if a soldier was to say "no, I just like to hang out with her, I'm not interesting in with her" during a bullshit session.

Lisa said...

Re. men having a "hard time with the idea that a woman can be a pal, or a comrade, or a co-worker, or a boss ...", I believe that is because for most of our time on this planet, they probably weren't, right? I mean, each gender had a sphere of influence, with little area of union.

Add onto this the fact that so many humans are sneaky and suspect, in general (not that I'm neurotic, just observant), and we don't have a good cocktail for friendly fraternitie, sadly. The machinations come from both sides of the aisle, and are deeply ingrained.

That said, those of us who live on the coasts tend to be more open-minded to the project of an opposite sex friend for non-sexual pleasure, but on the whole, I'm with Chris Rock: Men don't have friends, they have women they have not yet f*cked. Sad, but for many, true.

Speaking of my sisters, I can vouch for the fact that the descriptors "catty" and "b*tch" are not some one-off (again, sadly.) They've been trained that way. They are on the prowl for a nest and a meal ticket, and they trade up when they can. I trust few women.

Cynic? Not really, just realist. I have true men and women friends; more men than women, as they tend to be more interesting (to me). The frisson between the sexes is part of the allure, no? You enjoy that je ne sais quios of the opposite sex; ditto here. For me, a big part of that attraction lies in the mind and the heart, so I love my big-hearted and -minded female friends as much as my males.

But my experience is, along with adoration of those fine qualities comes a desire (between the sexes) ... it is just human. So it is hard, and it takes evolved individuals to manage this. Often, couples who are solid may do this inter-couple, but single friends are always a threat, IMHO.

I have met few women who are so hardcore about personal responsibility as myself. That is not to "brag on myself" as they say in the South -- it's just what I've seen and heard.

FDChief said...

Thing is, Leon, I know guys my own age that STILL think that way. Admittedly, I knew a lot more when we were all in our twenties. And I know that we all bullshit each other when we're hanging out versus what we really do when we're with a woman we like. But the dynamic still seems strange, and it just seems like there should be a way to do things better...

Lisa: I think we sent through a period where the "best" we could do was a sort of harem-kind of deal where the guys didn't get to really know the gals at all; they were "protected" and immured inside their families until marriage. Since the breakdown of that system, though, lust has been given reign but we haven't managed to get a handle on the middle ground between it and mere acquaintance.

And I'll agree that there's always a sexual awareness in any het male-female relationship; as you say, that's part of the "good" part of the gender differences. But a lot of guys seem to have trouble with the friendship part when they "haven't fucked yet", and I guess I don't understand that. Just because you find a female friend attractive doesn't mean you have to act on it, or mean that you need to cheat on your inamorata. You'd think that a genuinely adult couple could acknowledge that, accept it, and incorporate it into the sexual part of their lives - as my wife reminds me when I look at another woman with open enjoyment; "Work up your appetite wherever you want, slick - just let's eat at home, eh?"

And the truth is that I don't have a good feeling for how women handle this - and I'd love to hear your extended take on that. Perhaps you can write something at Big Brass Blog, or e-mail it here for me to post, if the subject interests you.

Re: "personal responsibility" perhaps I've been luckier than most, but many of both my male and female friends are fairly stand-up about their actions. But I tend to agree that the need to be the star of their own show seems to outweigh the imperative to be honest about their own acts and to resist the impulse to take the easy, skeevy way out and then lie - to themselves as much as anyone - about it...

Lisa said...

Thank you for the invite; I find human behavior endlessly fascinating, and would be happy to give this woman's take.

Tell me what you mean by "how women handle this", and I'll give it a stab (not to be Freudian :))


FDChief said...

Specifically; do you sense that there is a general female tendency to see men in general as a) a meal ticket, or b) a dildo with a human attached?

I throw in "a" because I think that we've created a society where rather than look at the other gender as individuals we're invited to looked at them as a generic...something. For men, it's a sort of self-propelled rubber fuckdoll. I would guess that if women had a similar preconception sold to them it wouldn't involve sex; we as a society tend to discourage women from taking an active interest in, role in, or contribution to their own sex lives (i.e. if she "wants" sex she's a slut; if you're having sex and she takes steps to ensure that you're pleasing her she's a domineering bitch). So my thought would be that the kind of thing that might make women tend to look at men not as a potential friend (ally, fellow fan-of-something, pal, running partner) might be the encouragement to see him as her meal-ticket...

My thought is that, in general, I've found my women friends DON'T share the whole "you're not my friend, you're just someone I haven't fucked yet..." Chris Rock thing. And - maybe I've been lucky - I've never run into the meal-ticket deal outside of anecdote and foreign climes...

But I lack the perspective of "the other side of the hill". Thought you might have some ideas from that POV...

Lisa said...

Ah, I see ... Well, having done field studies my whole life, I like this challenge. I'll be sending a draft along forthwith :)