Two thirds of the way through the meal we start talking about our exes; this is never a topic I enjoy discussing with ANYONE. After quite a while of the guys going on and on (and on) about the exes they have laid claim to, they turn to me and they ask, “Hartsoe, what gives? You haven’t been talking at all about your exes…. What? You still a virgin?"
I froze in my seat. My palms started to sweat. MY masculinity had just come into question. I answered in the only way I could, “Why do you care about my exes man?” (clearly the most manly response to the challenge on my manhood...). I know, I know, I shouldn’t have even bothered to engage him in an argument about my former partners. However, this jerk had just stereotyped me, and I wanted to say that I felt uncomfortable talking about past relationships, but saying that out loud was NOT going to help the situation. So I did what I do best: I got defensive, threw him my death glare (if that doesn't scream wuss, I don't know what does), and changed the subject.
Fast forward, on Monday morning, my boss at the WRC sends me this article “5 Stupid, Unfair and Sexist Things Expected of Men” (http://www.alternet.org/story/147626/5_stupid%2C_unfair_and_sexist_things_expected_of_men?page=entire) about how men in today’s society face sexist expectations.
All of a sudden my frustration and irritation makes sense!!!! The guys at dinner were just fulfilling society’s expectations of them by bragging about how many people they’ve been with and objectifying their partners, positing them as trophies that could be put into their collection….. The fact that this isn’t something I like to do flies in the face of society’s expectations of what it means to be a man. But WHY does that make me less "manly"????? More importantly, HOW do we change it???