Warning: Adult language ahead!
“Male” is the family; “Douche” is the genus.
Yesterday evening, after teaching two CrossFit classes and attending one, I was standing on the street in front of the gym. I was tired, sweaty, and wearing short spandex shorts and a tank-top, workout gear.
It’s an arterial street, two lanes of traffic in each direction, and some guy, on the far side of the street honks, makes some sort of weird guttural sound, stops his car, raises his eyebrows at me and holds his hand out of the window, palm up, as if I’m supposed to give him something, or take his hand as an invitation into his car to go do something. I can only imagine what…
Is he hoping that I will say, “Wow, thank you so much! Can I suck your cock now? I’ve been waiting for a guy like you, do you want to meet my parents? I’m sure they’ll love you! Oh my god, can you picture our kids? This is so exciting, please, take your penis out right now!”?
Honestly, some day, I’m going to say that to see what happens.
Look, I am not offended by this single act. At all. If you want to look like a completely desperate jackass, that’s your business; it has nothing to do with me.
But what does it say about our society that we have raised men to think that sticking their penis in a woman is so vitally important that they would cause a traffic accident at the mere thought that they found a “good one?” Or that “a good one” would be defined by “one in tight clothing?” Or that life is but a hunting expedition for a good one? Or that it was so important that they would do it with any old ass on the street?
Are there women that fall for this? Who would just fuck a guy because he cat-called her?
I really cannot imagine that there are.
But if there are, what does that say about our society?
That we’ve raised women who believe it is so important to be sexually attractive to complete strangers that they might take this fool’s upturned hand and loud grunting as a compliment? And a good idea?
Someone suggested to me that I should be flattered that I can still stop traffic at my age. They meant it as a compliment, but what does that say about our society that we assume at “my age,” (43) women are unattractive unless told otherwise by horny strangers? Or that the ability to raise a boner in a stranger is a sign of achievement of some sort? Like that should be my goal?
No. I could not possibly care less if some person I have never met thinks I’m sexy, much less if they’d want to fuck me. It is not a relevant metric for anything that I care about. As such, it is also not a compliment, because the opinion of some perfect stranger is in no way relevant to me.
I thought about hurling the 36-pound kettle bell that was at my feet through his car window, which I could totally do, and is a relevant metric for many things that I care about (strength, the ability to express myself). But I am not violent, and do not wish to harm anyone, especially any innocent bystanders. I am also pretty sure that my opinion means just as little to this guy as his does to me.
I just looked at him with a look that I’m sure clearly stated, “Are you serious? Oh my god, I feel so sorry for you.” Because I did. And I do.
I honestly wonder what it was that he was trying to accomplish. What itch needed scratching?—because there is no way he genuinely believed he was going to get laid as a result of that. So why do people do this? What do they want and need that they are hoping to get this way? What can we, as a society, do to give it to them so that women don’t have to be commoditized, constantly.
It’s a serious question, I want to know:
- Why do men do this?
- What do they hope will happen as a result?
- Is there a healthier way for us to feed whatever the empty place is that results in this behavior?
I felt bad for him. I really did. I want to fix it. I really do.
Now, let me be clear, I do not see this as “male” behavior. Most men don’t do this, this is not an innate part of masculinity. This is a subset of males. If we were to map this out in some sort of biological classification, I would probably say that “Male” is the family, “Douche” is the genus.
Further separation would give us a “Harmless Douche” and “Predatory Douche,” as separate species. I have no way of knowing which species this douche belonged to. But he is a small subset of “male.”
This situation reminded me immediately of an article that has been circulating wildly on social media called, “Changing The Creepy Guy Narrative.”
In it, a guy (dare I say, a “nice guy”?) recounts an experience on the BART train in the Bay Area. A woman is reading a book, with headphones, and a douche (we’ll call him that because it’s both accurate and differentiates him from the guy in the story) sits behind her and keeps trying to engage her in conversation, even though everything about her posture says, “Leave me alone.” He does the all too-cliche, “I like your hair,” “What are you reading?” “That’s a nice skirt,” “You must work out,” etc.
She tries to rebuff him with things like silence, turning away, not responding, and eventually, “I’d like to read my book.”
To which the douche responds, “You don’t have to be so rude.”
As if, you know, it was rude of her not to respond to his invasion of her space.
Just to be clear, she was not out at any sort of social event in which it would have been reasonable to assume that conversation was a possibility. She was commuting, with headphones in, reading a book. Nothing about that even kind of says, “Hey, let’s chat.” No, he saw a pretty thing and thought it was his right to try and get it.
At which point, our guy sits behind our douche and immediately starts in with, “How are you doing?” to which the douche says, “Fine,” without looking back, clearly annoyed. So our guy says, “I really like your hair,” no response. Our guy goes on and on, repeating the lines of our douche. The douche gets really upset, and eventually gets off the train in a huff.
Whether or not our guy made an impact on our douche, I don’t know. But the social media world is responding, because it makes it very clear that an unwanted advance is unwanted and unacceptable. So often when we bring this up in conversation, the Douche species of the male family will say, “I’d love it if women did that to me,” but that misses the point entirely. How would you feel if a woman who you didn’t think was “hot” did it to you? Or another douche did it to you? Or even just a guy?
It’s different then, right? For lots of reasons. Obviously, you are not interested, so it’s not cool. But what if that guy is bigger and stronger than you? Would you feel endangered? Yeah, it’s different, isn’t it?
Yes, I can hurl a 36-pound kettle bell at someone with no problem. I’m a strong woman, for sure. But I don’t usually walk around with those. And once I am shown that I need to have my guard up to protect myself, it’s up.
Guess who that screws? Not just me, but every normal guy out there who would never do douchey things.
Guys, you need to help us rid the world of douches. Because they’re making it hard for you to exist with women in lots of ways, not just mating and dating.
It’s like dogs. (Sorry, it really was the easiest analogy for me to think of.) If a kid is bitten by a dog once, they are likely to be afraid of dogs for a long time, if not a lifetime. Moreover, they are likely to think that dogs, in general, are kind of dangerous and a bad idea, i.e., why would anyone want one? When really, it was just one poorly-trained dog in a particular situation.
As a society, we all—men, women, media, everyone—need to work on not lumping all men into one category, but truly understand the classifications. Not because categories are good for people—really, they’re generally not—but because we have to learn to identify the behavior that hurts us all so we can change it, without demonizing a whole family of people. Men are not bad. Douches are bad. (Human douches, and those drug-store products that are sold to women in pretty packages but are also bad for them.)
Wanting sex is not bad. Thinking about it a lot is not bad. But persisting in unwanted sexual advances is. And it always will be. I don’t get offended by the random initial overture, really. But if it is not greeted with an enthusiastic invitation, you have to move on. Because no one, men nor women, are yours to try and acquire.
It is not a compliment; it does not make us feel good. Yes, a random, “You have a nice smile,” as you are walking by and making no moves to get in our space can be fine, but the moment you stop and try to get in our space, it almost always feels like a threat, to the majority of people. And anything with a command attached to it, like, “Smile!” is just wrong. It implies a power that most of us feel in our bones when someone tells us what to do.
I don’t want to end this without mentioning the Dustin Hoffman video that has also been circulating. A video of him talking about what it was like to become Tootsie. He was already a famous actor when Tootsie was made, and when he agreed to play the part, he asked the costumers to make him the most realistic woman possible. When he first saw himself as a woman he cried, because, in his words, he wasn’t pretty. He had assumed that he would be pretty, that his appearance would conform to something that he found sexually attractive, as probably determined by years of cultural messaging about what beauty is and isn’t.
Quoting Hoffman now:
“It was at that moment that I had an epiphany. I went home and started crying talking to my wife. I said, ‘I have to make this picture’… I think I’m an interesting woman when I look at myself onscreen, and I know that if I met myself at a party, I know I would never talk to that character because she doesn’t fulfill, physically, the demands that we’re brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out… there’s too many interesting women I have not had the experience to know in this life because I’ve been brainwashed.”
That epiphany is one we all need to have. I cannot count the number of times men have complained to me that there are no women interested in them. What they mean, of course, is “there are not hot chicks” interested in me. And women are just as guilty of this, often complaining to their male friends that there are no “good” guys to go out with, by which they often mean some combination of hot, strong and wealthy.
We all get stuck on this beauty thing. And on the one hand, we’re all attracted to what we’re attracted to, nothing we can do about that. But on some level, after a steady diet of six-pack abs and perky boobs, we’ve all been brainwashed. We’ve all missed a lot of opportunities because we were looking for looks and not substance.
Make no mistake, the guy who cat-called me had no way of knowing how smart I am, or kind, or funny, or adventurous or … . He saw a firm ass, that’s it. And the woman on the BART train? That guy had no way of knowing anything about her other than he might enjoy sticking his dick in her. It is nothing but appearances.
Dustin Hoffman realized how much he would have missed out on in life because he was not pretty. And because he was only spending time seeking out pretty people. He had been part of the problem, all along.
Women are more than just pretty. Men are more than just strong, or providers. We are all more than our fuckability, or our fuck records. (A metric that swings either way, too much and you’re a slut or a player, not enough and you’re a prude or a loser.)
When a guy makes unwanted advances on a woman it is predatory. When my douche cat-called me on the street, no, I wasn’t offended, but I was sad. Not just for him and how fragile his ego must be that it would settle for being fed that way, but for him making me part of the problem, and that other women responded that I was lucky. This is how low our standards are, and how impossible. The notification that a stranger would consider fucking you is supposed to be an achievement.
I’d lose faith in our species right now, if it weren’t for our guy on the BART train, Dustin Hoffman, and my ability to hurl a huge kettle bell wherever I want.
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Ed: B. Bemel