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One Strong Woman: Five “Manly” Men

December 6, 2009

Last night a friend and I were at my boyfriend’s house and there were a gaggle of guys there who had packed in for a fight (ordered on Paper View) between Amir Kahn and Dmitry Salita, a Jewish boy from Brooklyn. Maybe it was the fact that they were all wound up from having viewed sport all together – a fight, no less. And maybe it had to do with the fact that all bar two (one being my bf) were single and/or depressed about it and/or horny as hell and frustrated. But whatever it was, this was a Y chromosome room, and we’d walked in as the unwitting OTHER.

One of the men, Q, – a very sweet chap to whom women are immediately partial (as a friend) – was talking about going out to meet foud female friends. Various roars of dispproval sprang from the crowd – what do you want with four women friends? What are you- gay? Two maybe, but four? There’s no such thing as a woman friend anyway- either you want something with them or you don’t! And on and on these old-fashioned objections came. One objection we didn’t let pass- or rather, my fierce friend didn’t let pass. It was that male company must by definition be superior – or at least, as much was hinted. Spiritedly, my friend pointed out richness of this view in light of the fact that precisely NOTHING was what “the men” could offer Q in the way of conversation. Nothing, bar the occasional grunt about sport and sexist comment. At one point she dismissed one of the guys as a neanderthal. It was harsh, but brilliant, and made the point beautifully. As for men having tough skins, not these. Up in arms they flew at once, attacking her like a pack of wolves. It was clear that her comments- delivered in the spirit of hyperbolic argument rather than malice- were more offensive for having issued from a critical, or “difficult” or- as one of the friends insisted on saying “judgemental” woman than because of what she said. She took it well- it was a big attack. One, albeit a lovely chap most of time, got up afterwards and repeated somewhat dementedly: “We are men! We are men! We act like men”.  As if “we are men” is excuse enough for crap views and crass, soul-numbing generalisations about women, gays and so on.

As soon as I hear the rallying cry of “we are men”, I switch off. To me, it sounds like an attempt to grasp whatever personality models society has provided us lost moderns.  In the absence of identity, people cling to gender stereotypes. It’s just that, when it comes to a certain type of man who sees himself as a MAN above all, it often excuses a world of disrespect and stupidity. One outspoken woman giving as good as she gets and they can’t handle it. I wanted to clap – but settled for smirking.

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