Friday, February 5, 2010

An Honorary Man

It is hard to talk about this without hearing female voices saying “I’ve always had more men-friends”. This isn’t what I am thinking of. I am thinking about how I have moved through the man’s world and for so much of that time been accepted by men almost as though I was one of them.

I was never the kind of female that men chased after. I am good looking, although always plumper than the accepted standard. I am very smart. I am direct. I am not particularly ambitious or driven. The last may be one of the reasons why they can accept me so easily. If I am not seen as threatening it is fine. It has not been my experience that men dislike intelligent women. Nor have I found men to be disdainful of women who can be direct. But I have seen both responses from men toward women other than myself. Why should I be treated differently?

I remember my father telling me that I was like a truck driver. Mostly I believed because of my facility with four letter words. That is not the only reason. I am not a delicate flower, but I am not a woodsy outdoor jock type either. There is something solid, dependable and relentless in me that made my father think of a blue collar worker.

I understand men. I know the fear that society has placed in them about appearing too female (you know, being a pussy) the anger they feel about having to “man-up” for so much of life, and the confusion they feel about women, about sexuality, about emotions. It is this sympathy, empathy, that I believe allows me in where most women are not allowed. I know their fears and identify with them. I also was/am afraid of being too female. It is dangerous for us both.

I like shopping (when I have the money) I like jewelry and cosmetics and bath products. I like a warm luxurious bed piled high with comforters to sleep in. I am a sensual animal. Animal. I remember that there are also parts of me that enjoy walking on a rocky beach on the coast of Maine in January. I like hot chiles on my burritos. I recognize power. I recognize that I am an animal and do not resent its implications. Men understand this. Few women want to.

There are women who will say that they too feel this way, but unlike me they are doing it to make men comfortable. I am not concerned with whether men like or dislike my type of femininity because I am not trying to have a man. I am not looking for a husband, boyfriend, partner.

Men know when you are looking and women have been taught to look. Even if you are married, you must look. It is an internal looking. It is the desirable quotient. You must be desirable and you must gauge that by your marriage-ablility. There are women today who will disagree with this statement. But I have watched them marry the men they pretended not to pursue.

So why do I believe that men accept me as one of their own?

One time, I organized a brunch after a meeting. We met in a really great café on Ave A. I had extended invitations to my friends, men and women alike, but for some reason only the men showed up.

We had a great time, lots of laughing, sharing stories and gossip. At the end of the gathering as we were getting ready to leave, one of them said to me:

“This was a great idea Laura. Next time why don’t you invite some women?”

I was standing, preparing to leave, when he made this remark. I was so stunned I sat back down into my chair with a thump.

I looked at no one in particular, but I threw out my hands across the table and said,
“What am I—wood !??”

This got a huge laugh, and I did laugh myself, but it has always stuck with me.
Men like me, but for some reason, most of them don’t see me as female. Or so it would seem.

Maybe it’s because I have a brother; maybe because I have a son. Maybe it’s because I read “Iron John” that men find me other, not really a woman. I suppose I am posting this partially to assert, despite the belief of some male readers, that I do not hate men. Shit, I am an honorary member of the tribe.