6 Things Men Still Don’t Get About Women (But Should). ~ Melanie Curtin

Via on Feb 4, 2013
Source: Thitaya Tan via Pinterest
Source: Thitaya Tan via Pinterest

Newsflash, men: It isn’t all (always) your fault.

I recently received an amazing email (names and other identifying information have been changed), and it had me realize just how much confusion there is when dealing with the fairer sex:

“Hi there. I stumbled upon your blog and thought you might be a good person to turn to for advice, so here goes. I met a very intelligent and attractive woman at a lecture a few weeks ago. We had been talking for about a half hour and really developed a great rapport. We had even made tentative plans to meet for coffee sometime.

Then things suddenly went downhill. There was a pause in the conversation and since she had classic curves (large bust, narrow waist, etc.), I commented that she had a “really nice hourglass figure.” My intent was to be complimentary and a little flirtatious but instead she became deeply offended. I went into damage control mode and tried to clarify my comments but the more I talked, the more I exacerbated things as she rolled her eyes and shook her head. She told me I was being “inappropriate” and that she was “very disappointed” and then whap, she slapped my face and departed.

My reply:

“She slapped you!? No, I don’t think you should email her an apology note. I think she should email you one!”

I was actually so appalled by this poor man’s missive that I was rendered speechless—which is really saying something for me. In fact, after collecting myself I had so much to say that I had to organize my thoughts. Thus it was that I came up with what I consider the Intelligent Man’s Guidelines to Dealing With Women. Follow these simple guidelines and things should go much smoother in your life—both romantically as well as in any other context in which you’re dealing with a woman:

1. Don’t Put Women On A Pedestal.

woman and man
Source: Nik Pavlov via Sara Joy Bialostocki via Pinterest

Many men idolize or idealize women—not just one woman, but all women. These men tend to assume if something is going badly, it’s because they themselves did something wrong and that the woman herself had nothing to do with it.

There are two problems with this: 1) It gives women more power over your emotional state than they should legitimately wield. 2) It’s narcissistic. You are not the only one responsible for her feelings. There is a lot more going on over there on her side of the equation, and to think that you are the only one controlling or affecting things is both inaccurate and self-absorbed. Trust me. Your experience of your love life will improve when you truly internalize that women are not better and do not know better than you. They are human beings just like you, with their own host of insecurities and issues with which to contend.

2. Don’t Put Up With Bullsh*t.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but do you really need outside confirmation that a woman slapping you in the face is not OK? Just because someone is of the female persuasion does not give her the right to slap, punch or bite. As we learned in kindergarten, hitting is never OK. Verbal abuse is not OK, either. Statistically, far more women than men are abused, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. If you are a man and you’re being abused, walk away. You do not have to take crap just because it’s a woman dishing it out. You have the right to respect, love, and safety, just the same as women.

3. How Women React Often Has Nothing To Do With You.

One out of every four girls (and one in six boys) are sexually abused before the age of 18. In the U.S., ten million girls and women suffer from anorexia and/or bulimia (along with one million boys/men). Women are all in different stages of learning to love themselves and their bodies, and that is often reflected in how they react to others. Some know how to say what they want and don’t want; others are still learning how to communicate their boundaries. Some women are comfortable with themselves physically and emotionally; some aren’t there yet. It’s not up to you to fix or change anyone, but know that how she reacts is just as much (if not more) about her as it is about you. The key is to spend equally as much time evaluating her as evaluating whether you said or did the right thing.

I would also like to point out, acknowledge and celebrate the host of women who have actually used their issues to become more evolved, more aware and more mature versions of themselves. Many men have done the same. The point is not that “all women” are one way, or that women on the whole are emotionally unstable—they’re not, and that’s not a stereotype I’m interested in perpetuating. The point is to take responsibility for your own actions, and let other people take responsibility for theirs.

Source: Erika Daniela Garza via Pinterest
Source: Erika Daniela Garza via Pinterest

4. Sometimes You’re Gonna Get Slammed.

I’m sorry to say it, but chances are high that if you’re a man and you’re putting yourself out there (which I both recommend and respect), sometimes you’re going to get shut down. Whether it’s commenting on a woman’s appearance, as this guy did, or making what you thought was a “harmless” comment to your girlfriend, it is practically inevitable that when it comes to dealing with women, you will step on emotional landmines. And when you inadvertently run up against a trigger point, that place that reminds a woman of where she’s still raw and tender, she will often defend herself with everything she’s got. Men do the same.

But that doesn’t give that person the right to be violent, and it doesn’t give you the right to give up or shut down forever just because you happened to run into someone who’s still on the crazy train (which hopefully, at some point, they will disembark).

At some point you’re probably going to get hurt. Sometimes we all get hurt. It’s not always fair and it’s not right, but it also doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Sometimes you’re gonna get slammed, but other times you have that moment of real joy that makes it all worth it.

5. “Respecting” A Woman Does Not Equal Ignoring Her.

Some men are so terrified of objectifying women that they’re afraid to even notice them. I, for example, attended a top school with driven men from liberal households, where they’d clearly been taught not to objectify women. The problem was, they ended up equating “respecting” a woman with ignoring her. And trust me — if there’s one thing women don’t want, it’s to be ignored. I didn’t have sex a single time in college (don’t worry — summers made up for some of that), and I have a feeling the guys busy “respecting” women at my school wondered why they weren’t getting laid, too.

Unfortunately, this belief is sometimes reinforced by some women themselves. Many either consciously or unconsciously associate male attention with men not respecting them. However, there is a way to both respect and desire women.

Truly sexy men are those who can simultaneously see a woman as both a sexual being and a human being, and truly sexy women are those who can receive such attention in an open and empowered way.

… which leads directly to the last point:

Source: Healthcare Guidevia Pinterest
Source: Healthcare Guide
via Pinterest

6. Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Sexuality—It Is A Valuable (And Hot) Part of You.

As much as women have issues around their sexuality, so do men—and a lot of that has to do with women shaming men for their sex. Is a man a pervert if he checks a woman out, or tells her he noticed her body? Do we call him “sketchy” if he admits to getting busy in the law school bathroom (hey, when the mood strikes… )? And how many mothers walk in on their little boy masturbating and, instead of screaming, calmly say, “Excellent job, Johnny! I’m glad you’re exploring your sexuality.”

Not many. We have a tendency in this culture to judge and shame men for their sex, much as we don’t want to admit it. And after a number of incidents like these (particularly during formative years), some men start to shut down their sexuality completely. They cut it off because they feel they will either be punished or put down for it.

I believe we’d be better off as women and as human beings if men felt equally as safe as women when it came to their sexuality.

Look, here’s the truth: neither men nor women are clairvoyant. You never know what’s going on in someone else’s head. There are women who are insecure about the way they look and their sexuality, and there are women who are secure. The insecure ones may lash out the way the one from the email did. The secure ones may flirt with you right back. The question is: who do you want to be with?

Also, if a woman is disapproving of you in some way, bear in mind that it may literally have nothing to do with you. Consider that her reaction exists within a universe of her own experiences, some of which are likely to have been traumatic. Just don’t let it stop you from being you—all of you, including your sex. If you feel like respectfully giving a woman a compliment, do so. If she wigs out, move on. If she plays along, stick around.

And ladies, let’s give men a break when it comes to complimenting us (or trying to). They are often unsure of how to do so without offending or turning us off, but most of the time they genuinely want to connect.

Because ultimately, that’s what most of us want, whether we realize it or not. We want connection. We constantly seek to not just know, but feel that we are not alone. As I was once taught, man or woman, we all want the same things: to see and be seen, to understand and be understood, to love and be loved.

In the meantime, it’s nice to get compliments. Just make sure you don’t give them—or take them—too seriously.

 

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Asst Ed: Lori Lothian
Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About Melanie Curtin

Melanie Curtin is the founder of Vixen on the Loose, the sassy brand seeking to redefine what it means to be a modern, empowered woman (and man, for that matter). She is convinced her generation can do the whole sex, dating, and relating thing better than those who came before, and her goal is to spark the conversations necessary for this to be the case. Both lightning rod and spitfire, she invites you unleash your inner vixen by unabashedly expressing her own. Tweet her at @VixenOTL, email her at vixenontheloose [at] gmail [dot] com, and subscribe to her YouTube channel for more sexy, spiritual smackdown!

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17 Responses to “6 Things Men Still Don’t Get About Women (But Should). ~ Melanie Curtin”

  1. Andy says:

    I wish that you're my mom, or my elder sister, at least.

  2. Alan says:

    Very insightful, I have made every single error on this list and more. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Irene Clouthier says:

    I love your list, they are very insightful and helpful not only for men but also as a woman

  4. Julie says:

    So this man, out of the blue, made a completely, utterly inappropriate comment about her body to a woman he didn't even know, and because she reacted badly, suddenly he doesn't owe her an apology anymore? Now she should be the one apologizing to a creep who felt completely entitled to make an inappropriate, sexualized comment to her in public on basically no acquaintance?

    I'm sorry, but your correspondent is the classic example of the "nice guy" who's actually a creepy jerk. And when your response directed all your outrage toward the way the woman he offended behaved, you validated his astoundingly inappropriate behavior.

    Should she have slapped him? Probably not, but frankly you don't have enough information to judge why she did.

    Your article might have some good advice in it. I don't know, because I was too angry at your immediate reassignment of blame to the woman in the interaction to read it. I did skim over it, though, and nowhere in the headings did I see advice to the effect of "Women's bodies are not your conversation pieces. Learn boundaries."

    • Joyce says:

      You probably should read the rest of the article. What it sounds like, to me at least, is that you’re having an emotional trigger based on personal experience (like she talks about in the article). A confident woman without insecurities would most definitely be able to handle this kind of situation without an intense reaction and would easily be able to discern whether the man was in fact a creep or a bit nervous or insecure, himself. The article speaks to the fact that both parties potentially have issues and strong emotional health is really the solution to any and all relationship dynamics. This was an excellent article for illustrating how important it is for people to be responsible for their own happiness.

    • Lulu says:

      I don't find that comment inappropriate. If I like the guy, I would welcome his flirtatious comments, if I don't feel chemistry for the guy, I would politely let him know in some way that although his comments may be flattering, I am not interested in anything beyond friendship. I think flirting is great and complimenting a woman's body appearance can be flattering if done respectfully. Does not seem like the comment was degrading at all.

  5. alrishi says:

    Right on Melanie! You've obviously spent some time putting yourself in a man's shoes. Thanks so much for that; I wish it were more common.

  6. lentil says:

    Here's some real advice: Seriously, if you don't want to get slapped in the face, don't make remarks about a woman's body the first day you meet her, heck even the second! A truly confident woman doesn't need your damn approval anyways, she probably figured it out that you were attracted to her when you asked her out. Ending things then wold have been smart. Also, learn how to give a compliment without objectifying someone, that's a nice thing to do. Hitting is very uncool but let's get real, what was said was friggin rude. Deal. This article mises the mark in many ways, how disappointing!

    • Guest says:

      Hitting is not 'very uncool', it is completely wrong in any circumstance unless defending yourself against physical attack I don't care what your gender is. If a women made a very inappropriate comment to a man and he slapped her in response he would be demonized. If she felt the comment to be insulting she could have said so without physical attack, she could even have been angry and walked away without physical attack. Also some women like comments like that, how is a man supposed to know until he tries, if you don't like it say so, if you do like it say so. But slapping someone is NEVER ok.

  7. Relationship Guru says:

    "And how many mothers walk in on their little boy masturbating and, instead of screaming, calmly say, “Excellent job, Johnny! I’m glad you’re exploring your sexuality.”

    Utterly ridiculous. What kid wants their mom or dad walking in, catching them masturbating, and then commenting on it. Sheesh. Kids have private lives too. And imagine a dad walking in on his daughter and commenting, "Excellent job Jenny! I'm glad you're exploring your sexuality." Something tells me the author wouldn't be quite as comfortable imagining such a scenario (and that's perhaps why she wrote about the roles reversed in this case – mother catching son – instead of the other way around).

    Besides. I highly doubt most parents today would "scream" if they caught their kids masturbating. Most likely they would just silently LEAVE the kid to his/her own privacy, and the kid would be none the wiser (or creeped out).

    "Look, here’s the truth: neither men nor women are clairvoyant. You never know what’s going on in someone else’s head. There are women who are insecure about the way they look and their sexuality, and there are women who are secure. The insecure ones may lash out the way the one from the email did. The secure ones may flirt with you right back. The question is: who do you want to be with?"

    Another binary choice? So flirtatious people are "secure" while those who get offended by sexualized comments are "insecure"? Says who? (besides the author?)

    He very well might be. There's no way of telling with just that little information. But one thing is for sure, sexualized comments coming from complete strangers out in public IS offensive to many, many people.

    "As much as women have issues around their sexuality, so do men—and a lot of that has to do with women shaming men for their sex."

    Please. Women do not "shame" the healthy sexuality of men they are in mutually agreed upon RELATIONSHIPS with.

    Strangers, on the other hand, who are wielding unsolicited sexualized comments in public? They SHOULD be shamed!

    • Sabrina says:

      Wow, really great reply to the article. From this only I would judge you to be an actual relationship guru. Do you have other writings and ponderings for readers to follow?

  8. Relationship Guru says:

    Correction to the comment above. It should read;

    " Is a man a pervert if he checks a woman out, or tells her he noticed her body?"

    He very well might be. There's no way of telling with just that little information. But one thing is for sure, sexualized comments coming from complete strangers out in public IS offensive to many, many people.

  9. Joyce says:

    For once, a woman who is secure enough in herself to hold women (and men) accountable for their own well being and happiness. Great job.

  10. Reba says:

    Wow! The comments here are certainly indicative of the maturity scale and the many passengers on "the crazy train" ! There is no excuse for violence – it begets only further violence – crass comments however can be ignored, shot down or diminished by a mature and reasoned adult. Enough of the blame game ladies – let's lead by example: I don't want to be hit – so I don't hit – simple as that.

  11. Anne says:

    Relating to and interacting with other people is all about communication. Unfortunately we all respond to what we hear, not neccesarily what's being said. I'm very happy I am a woman, meaning I deal with men, not other women when it comes to matters of the heart, makes it a lot easier. I think that the flip side of the coin of woman's lib and equality and all that ( which I'm all for, of course) is that we have all become so uncomfortable in our on skin and almost asexual that when a man pays us a compliment we get offended. He should like us for our brain, right? Not our hour glass figure. The same figure we work our butts off to attain, by the way….. I don't know how this guy phrased his compliment, but he seems genuine and willing to accept any wrong doing and even eager to improve. All qualities that makes him a prize catch if you ask me! It could very well be that he met a real bitch, pardon my French, and don't tell me she dressed in such a way that her great figure was in plain sight for it not to be noticed!

  12. However, when a girl does a similar comment to a guy on his body, and if the guy slaps her or even walks away, that would be considered abnormal. I didn't slap. But, I and my friends rudely told a few girls it's none of their business. We were just checking. And in all the instances, we were considered complete jerks.

    I went a step further. In close proximity, after living in with three different girls for a month or more (at different time), I never touched them, and very coldly refused their wish. All of them thought I was either gay, or have some more serious problem. Later, when I told them that I was experimenting they refused to talk me ever after.

    Anyone is invited to conduct a similar experiment. All girls may not react similarly. There can not be any general category. Generalization is very similar to objectivization in effect. But, too much observation of objectivization and political correctness definitely lead to a kind of frigidity. And that frigidity comes out of a kind of fear induced repression. That is definitely healthy.

    It is exactly this repression that leads to making one the "nice guy" who is "actually a creepy jerk" – the comment which Julie posted more than a year ago.

    As a psychology Masters, specializing in relation psychology, I took it up and conducted some experiments. A pattern can emerge from many controlled experiment.

    But, I guess the making of such creepy jerks who behave as fearful nice guys come out of extreme dollops of second wave feminism, political correctness at every step (literally) in life, academic reinforcement of such beliefs and a continous fight with on'e own moral.

    At the end, one is forced to stop his libido, the instinctive drive. The result is creepy jerk.

    I think women like Julie are a little responsible for this.

    We still hate the patient, and not the disease.

    So, the article has some truth.

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