A reply to Christina Hendricks
This “open letter to men” written by Christina Hendricks came across my radar today. I read it and my immediate reaction was to feel patronised and stereotyped. For the most part, I take issue with the whole “instruction manual for dumb neanderthal men” approach to the piece.
There are big problems that still exist in the pursuit for equality between men and women, but pieces like this only serve to widen the rift in understanding and true communication between the sexes. Men don’t need pieces like this to remind them just how much they are expected to “not understand women”. And women don’t need to perpetuate the myth that men always need to be told what to do. We’re (as in all of us) better than that.
Some of the specific parts I took issue with…
We remember forever what you say about the bodies of other women. When you mention in passing that a certain woman is attractive — could be someone in the office, a woman on the
street, a celebrity, any woman in the world, really — your comment goes into a steel box and it stays there forever. We will file the comment under “Women He Finds Attractive.” It’s not about
whether or not we approve of the comment. It’s about learning what you think is sexy and how we might be able to convey it. It’s about keeping our man by knowing what he likes.
Here’s something. Most men are not actually polygamous sex-crazed animals who are expected to be unfaithful at the fluttering of an eyelash. You do not need to work at keeping “your” man. You do not need to build some sort of memory bank of what you assume a man finds attractive. Christina makes an earlier point in the post about unconditionally accepting a man, “potbelly” and all. Well, conveying that sentiment is not exclusive to women. When I’m with someone, I’m with them because as a whole person I find them attractive, and therefore I’ll accept them for exactly who they are, including how they look. Anyone who’s ever heard me talk about a girlfriend I’m head over heels for will know that I won’t shut-up about them; how I love talking to them, what they do, how good they look, their little quirks and idiosyncracies that I adore. I’m not looking for (nor finding) faults.
Don’t make it a competition thing. Talk about attractive people together! There will always be attractive people in the world. Embrace it together. It’s not for comparisons, or part of some weird wish list, it can simply be about appreciation.
Never complain about our friends — even if we do. No matter how many times we say a friend of ours is driving us crazy, you are not to pile on. Not because it offends us. But because it adds to the weight that we carry around about her.
This quote could be re-written as: “Women will be bitches. Especially to people close to them. Men will not ever comprehend nor even be allowed to participate in anything that falls under ‘bitchiness’. Men, don’t make women even more bitchy than they already are by being dumb and having an opinion.”
How about both people in a relationship accept that the other might have valuable opinions or insights into people? Sure, if those comments aren’t welcome then that’s fair enough, but if I’m asked for an opinion about someone I’ll be honest. That means I’ll defend them if they are worthy of defending against complaints about them, or I may agree with said complaints. But I’ll use my own brain, thanks.
We want you to order Scotch. It’s the most impressive drink order. It’s classic. It’s sexy. Such a rich color. The glass, the smell. It’s not watered down with fruit juice. It’s Scotch. And you ordered it.
You want me to order scotch? I want someone who would like me to order whatever the hell it is that I want to drink! Impressive drink order??? If I need to rely on what I’m drinking as a way of impressing someone, then I shouldn’t even be wasting my time. And yes, order whatever the hell it is you want too, because I just couldn’t care less about judging you for it.
No shorts that go below the knee. The ones almost like capri pants, the ones that hover somewhere between the kneecap and the calf? Enough with those shorts. They are the most embarrassing pants in the world. They should never be worn. No woman likes those.
If my clothes are comfortable, I’ll wear them. Don’t tell me you’ll accept me for my “potbelly” but then judge me for my choice in shorts! (Or for not drinking scotch…)
You know what’s attractive? Being around someone who’s comfortable. One of the most attractive ways to see someone is waking with them on a Sunday morning with messy hair, smudged (or no) make-up, wearing comfy tracksuits and being natural and relaxed. It’s attractive because they are being completely themselves and they are comfortable to do so around you. Plus I think it’s just really cute.
Maybe that’s just me.
Marriage changes very little. The only things that will get a married man laid that won’t get a single man laid are adultery and whores. Intelligence and humor (and your smell) are what get you laid. That’s what got you laid when you were single. That’s what gets you laid when you’re married. Everything still works in marriage: especially intelligence and humor. Because the sexiest thing is to know you.
Because, really, all we men care about is getting laid. And while you’re at it, we need instructions on how we can best coax our resistant females into bed. Men want sex and women “submit” to men’s want when it suits them. That’s how it will always work.
I can’t even begin to vocalise how frustrating this last one is. Please stop thinking of men as sex-crazed cavemen who “don’t understand” women. Please start thinking of men as people who can be your intellectual, emotional and physical equal - not below you and certainly not above you. I know this rhetoric sounds awfully similar to what many would expect to hear from feminists, and I think that’s just the point.
It’s the same argument for almost every prejudice that exists. Stop thinking so much about the lines that separate us and keep us apart, and start thinking about the things that we can all share and connect to each other through.
Or perhaps this whole reaction is just because I’m cranky today. What do you think?