Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Club

I had a quiet dinner with several of my female friends a few weeks back. One woman’s husband recently died at 33 years of age. After he was gone, she found out he had been lying to her about something for years. She has nobody to vent to now, except us. It never scratches that angry itch entirely, though.

My other friend is recently married and already unhappy, feeling like anything she expresses to her new husband is met with retaliation and disapproval. She’s taken to keeping her mouth shut and feeling depressed and defeated. I’ve never seen her so withdrawn.

The final woman in our group is actively searching for a man, dating all the time, feeling like her life is always lacking. The men she does meet often tell her how they're "not looking for a relationship" after dating her repeatedly and of course, having sex with her. She drinks a lot and is starting to get a little bitter, maybe.

And then there's me. I’m single and pretty independent. My mother never raised me to be super concerned about marriage and the like. I date occasionally and would like to find the right person, but live my life with a certain twisted, carefree force, regardless. I try to have no preconceived notions about the other sex, though it’s hard at times. I don't want to be bitter, though it often feels a heartbeat away.

As the night came to a close, they arrived at the well-worn conclusion that “men suck.” It’s not like I haven’t heard that before, in a myriad of ways. Men are liars or cheats or whatever. It breaks my heart a little every time I hear it and fills my mouth with an acrid taste.

I wonder what solace women glean from thinking that men suck. Do you become comrades in misery? Is there some truth that I’m naively trying to deny?

I don’t want to hate men. Because if they across-the-board suck, how can I be in love with one? How can I understand someone that I’ve turned into a letch? How do I care and open my heart to men or hell, simply even have fun with them, if they’re all inherently jerks and assholes?

I’ve been lied to and deceived on many levels; some subtle, some as obvious as a vase being cracked over your head.

I’ve also felt insecure around men in my life many times. I’m a sensitive person and I can tell when I’m being shut out or distanced. And it’s always hard, especially if they seem to be moving toward something or someone else. It’s a sad moment. Suddenly feeling so small and alone.

And there's not much you can do about it. You can’t clip someone’s wings and instruct them to focus on you the way the way you want. You need to allow them to do their own thing. Hell, not allow – it’s not even up to you.

Have I ever been the looker, the strayer, the distancer and the deceiver? Of course. But somehow, it never felt the same.

Several of the songs I sing in my women’s choir this semester include lines like “men are deceivers ever” and “ladies better beware” stuff. And it’s hard to sing them. I fear the words will embed in my head like a tick and I’ll slowly become a member of the “men suck” club.

I prefer to use something proactive to expel my bitterness of the disproportion in this world. Martial arts certainly helped. I trained hard and sparred men much bigger than I. It felt good to have a seemingly healthy release for the anger that builds. Because it does build. Any woman who tells you it doesn't is lying. Unfortunately, they released on me as well and I've had my ass kicked resoundingly on several occasions.

But you know, every once in a while, as I was getting pummeled repeatedly, I’d wait. And wait. I'd see that smug, condescending smile on their face that read “Nice try, little girl.” Then wham! I’d send a searing roundhouse kick to the side of their head. I’d hear an audible “Ugh!” fly from their mouth and it felt good. Real good. I wanted to say, “Don’t ever be that sure of yourself, asshole.”

If men suck, then what do we as women do? Shine on Mt. Olympus in white, virginal robes or something? If they suck, don’t they ultimately get some carte blanche that I’d like to have sometimes? “To suck” sounds easy and free. Like a lazy day where you get to do whatever the fuck you want. I want to suck too then.

We’re just humans. We all share the basic elements – love, greed, honor, debasement, misery, disillusionment, whatever. I’m abundantly sick of this “men are from Mars” crap. We all know what that means, right? It means men are essentially distancing and emotionally unavailable and we had better learn to adapt if we want to “keep our man.”

Anything in service to the king.

I’m tired of understanding the differences. They’ve been forced down my throat my whole life. I see the differences every day of my life. I certainly don’t want to read a fucking book about it. And of course, its mostly women reading these books in some desperate attempt to "understand." Men are busy making all of the money and ruling the world.

Underneath it all, I fear if I join the club, I won't be able to dream about my fairy-tale soul mate if essentially, he's a jerk deep inside. It’s hard to let go of that dream of deep, earth-shaking, ever-lasting love only to make room for more jadedness. That cup is full, thank you.

Yes, it’s true. Men do seem like they lie a lot and are never happy with the woman in their life. They seem like they get away with emotional murder with little sense of recompense. Many seem to have the equivalent of a 6-year-old when it comes to emotional relating. They seem to move away from you when you need them the most. You stand there alone and confused and convince yourself that "need" and "vulnerability" are dirty words.

And it’s true, I see women constantly, constantly, constantly settling and adjusting for them and I see men doing very little in return, with a certain shoulder shrugging “Oh well, whaddya do?” attitude. And of course, it makes me angry and want to join the club.

But that bitterness grows and poisons you and you’re left with such little hope for
human connectivity. I for one, don’t want to give men - or women - that kind of power. I just want everyone to be as shabby and perfect as me.

I know. I want everyone to join my club. Club Beth. Membership is free. You can be president and I can be president. You can be the secretary though. I don't want to be the secretary anymore.

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