Is it just me, or do straight men seem inordinately concerned with what other men think of them? Of course, this is not an every-man sort of thing (nothing is). But it seems as though, every time I get into gender-based arguments with straight men, the ones I'm arguing with seem to get their motivation for being "a real man" from other men. It seems to me that, if a man is heterosexual, it would be in his better interest to take his cues on being "a real man" from the women he hopes to impress.
Take the argument I got into with a coworker, who opened up with "Hey Joreth, you're a girl, tell me, is a theme park a good date?" That very quickly devolved into him explicitly admitting that he infantalizes women for the purposes of making male strangers of a certain ethnic type who just happen to be passing him on the street nod approvingly at his behaviour, in complete disregard to the preferences of the woman he is currently infantalizing. No, I'm not making that up or exaggerating. I asked him outright "dude, you don't see how treating a woman like a child is offensive?" and he said "no [full stop]", with no other explanation or trying to hedge or make it not sound so bad. Not "that's not what I meant!" or "you're taking it the wrong way". No, he said that he saw nothing wrong with treating a woman like a child and that the reason he did so was so when "a Latin dude walks down the street and sees me, he'll nod and be all 'that's right'." ::headdesk:: I wish I was making that up, or at least building a straw man.
Then there are all the arguments about Only Yes Means Yes, where, without exception, the objections to OYMY are: "If we waited for a woman to say yes, we'd die virgins" and "No only means 'not yet' and it's up to us to keep trying until it becomes a yes." Again, I'm not exaggerating or paraphrasing or taking it out of context. Not only are those direct quotes, but they are almost verbatim quotes from every single online argument I've ever had about OYMY. These particular men are completely unconcerned with how they appear to women or what the specific woman they are with thinks of them. From a purely strategic, cold point of view, it just doesn't even make sense to ignore the preferences of someone you are trying to get something from. That sounds like a much longer wait for sex than hearing a verbal "yes". "Hey baby, I want something from you that you will resist giving me, and my method is to ignore what you want out of the deal entirely and concentrate only on what I'm getting." That doesn't sound like utter fail to you people? That doesn't sound suspiciously like rape?
And, of course, there are all the objections to male dancing. "Real men don't dance, men play football." "Dancing is for sissies." "That's a girl move, not a guy move!" "C'mon, my buddies'll make fun of me!" Seriously? As one young male dancer said during the human-interest story on this season's Dancing With The Stars, "you're in a sweaty locker room filled with other dudes; I'm in a ballroom surrounded by cute girls and my hands all over hot women." That is also as near a direct quote as I can remember. For most sports, the genders are separated, and for contact sports, we get a bunch of self-proclaimed straight guys (because they have to proclaim heterosexuality, since being gay is, well, gay, or something.) all wearing very little clothing, touching each other, sometimes with full contact, body-slamming each other, and showing off their muscles. But in dancing, you get men who have to develop strength, agility, timing, and rhythm, also with very little clothing, but with female-bodied partners rubbing up against them, putting their legs around them, holding onto them, and an audience of women oohing and ahing and drooling over hot male bodies.
Plus, I've had sex with football players, and I've had sex with men from the "girlie" sports like gymnastics and cheerleading and dancing. Guys, if you want to impress the ladies with your bedroom skills, you won't do it by bodyslamming 200 pound men. You'll do it by developing the core muscles & flexibility necessary to move with fluidity and musicality that dancers need. If I was given a choice between a football player and a dancer as a sexual partner (and that was my only choice and criteria, and I had to choose one), I'd take the dancer every fucking time.
So, straight men who do this, go on ahead and do what you think you need to do in order to impress your buddies. I'm sure you and your buddies will have good times together. Meanwhile, I and all the other women will be over here with the handful of men who are doing what needs to be done in order to impress women - namely being confident in themselves, doing things because they like it instead of because it's expected of them, treating us like humans, treating us like individuals, learning our specific preferences, listening to us, not telling us that we are wrong when we make statements about what we think or feel, engaging in the kinds of activities that we like to engage in and where we feel welcome, and generally being all-around decent people. And they won't be doing it for the purpose of "impressing" us, they'll be doing it because it's the right thing to do - because they know that human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and women are merely other human beings that they just happen to find attractive.
Of course that last paragraph can be extended to all genders and orientations by changing pronouns. I'm ranting at a specific type of straight men right now, so I used the appropriate pronouns for that audience.
Apparently I should also point out that this is not intended to be a dig at sports or people who like sports such as football. I used to play football, and basketball, and many other competitive sports - both contact and non-contact. I understand what a person might get out of playing sports. My point is ONLY about people choosing or avoiding to do certain things in disregard to the people participating and BECAUSE OF APPROVAL FROM NON-INTERESTED PARTIES. Treating a woman he is interested in romancing like a child BECAUSE SOME GUY WILL APPROVE; playing football, not because it's fun, but because HIS GUY FRIENDS WILL APPROVE; avoiding dancing, not because he's not interested or can't do it, but because HIS GUY FRIENDS WILL DISAPPROVE; ignoring a woman's stated preferences for sexual relations because of his erroneous idea of gender roles, which is more important TO HIS BUDDIES than to the woman he is disregarding.
Basically, this entire rant is about people who ignore the preferences of individuals with whom they wish to engage in some kind of mutual relationship, and the football thing was an example within this context, not a commentary on football or people who play football.