featurebanner_dudebroboobs_opedAMBER LOVE 14-MAY-2014 Lately my girl friends and I have been sharing stories about our relationships with men, including friendships or those first awkward encounters. There are things that are obvious to us, as women, that the men in our lives don’t seem to understand. Why are they so off-base sometimes?

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If you’ve read even one of my non-literary posts, you’ve seen that I am the absolute worst at relationships. I still don’t know what to call what it is that I currently have in my life because I don’t think there are American English labels that fit; I have relegated myself to Mistress because it’s close enough but “solo poly” might fit too. My point is, I’m not an expert on relationships but I am an expert at having my feelings hurt and being used.

One thing I’ve found to be true is that misery does love company. When the gals and I vent, I feel so much better. When I talk to my friends about how frustrating men are, their shared stories give me comfort. They really do understand. The men who say they understand… well, they don’t prove that they do by their actions.

Men say they enjoy having female friends. They’ll also say they are looking for a girlfriend/SO. Some admit they want a friends with benefit situation and we thank you for those honest moments because it’s better than leading anyone on. Part of being our friend means you believe us. When women publicly share their stories about being catcalled on the street, facing inappropriate remarks in professional settings, and rape culture – it matters that you are a good friend or even a sympathetic stranger and BELIEVE US.

CAPTION: HOW TO BE A DOUCHEBRO
CAPTION: HOW TO BE A DOUCHEBRO

You see a pretty girl at the comic shop and you want to ask her what she’s reading. For some people talking to strangers is easy and for others it’s a panic-inducing nightmare. Enough about you for a second. What is she feeling? Does she want you to talk AT her or TO her? What’s your approach? Even if you think you are distant and as polite as possible, we as an entire gender are faced with daily threats, so even the most kind approach from a man can put a lot of women on defense. Learn the signs of a good conversation. Identify if there’s going to be an actual conversation or if she’s only willing to go so far as to answer you with a terse, “Ms. Marvel” instead of something longer that brings the subject back to an opening for you to continue. If the answer is, “Ms. Marvel. Have you read it?” There you go… an opening to continue the conversation.

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We’ve seen the statistics that one in four women have been sexually assaulted. And yet I am witnessing the “nice guy” feeds that say a man smiled at a woman and he was berated for it. One in four. ONE IN FOUR. Chances are the assailants are someone the victims knew. So your smiles, your hello, your casual conversation, your offer to buy a drink ARE SUSPECT. Deal with it. That’s the world women live in.

Yes, these horrific facts make socialization extremely difficult. You need to get to know people. You do want friends after all. And if you’re looking for one of those lifelong mates, you have a helluva challenge.

I really don’t know if the other THREE women of the 1:4 statistic are, perhaps, a better choice for you. I don’t know how those women react when men approach them. I don’t know if it’s always an open door policy to walk up to one of those women and pay her compliment without her thinking you’re about to hit on her hoping it’ll lead to sex. I don’t know because nearly my entire adult life it hasn’t been that way for me. I’m one of the ONE IN FOUR women as are many of my female friends. So when I see any of them facing harsh comments online about how they should lighten up, take it easy, realize you’re a “nice guy” and not one of “those guys,” I want to open up the gates of wrath and spew the worst of the worst stories on you. Maybe then you’ll see your “funny” comments aren’t funny; your first words telling her she’s got pretty eyes IS creepy and unwelcome; and that you make you look bad not that women misunderstand your intentions. If you think commenting on a cosplayers photo telling her she looks hot will lead to anything beyond a “thank you,” you are part of the problem.

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Does it happen to me every day? Does it really matter if it’s a daily problem for me or that it happened at all? I can tell you on any given day, I am winked at by two or three executives to whom I don’t directly support. When I’ve had consensual “more than just a friend” interaction with a coworker, I got punished for it. I have worn clothes that make my body look good and people talk to my chest (look when I’m not looking, we’ll be fine). I’ve had my clothing been used as a “she was asking for it” defense when I filed a sexual harassment complaint against a politician. When I don’t wear those clothes, I’ve been told I’m frumpy, too casual and not professional in appearance (in several jobs). The only job I have where I face no sexism is when I model nude with one exception: I had one problem with a photographer and never worked with him again.

The fact that I’ve been the safest in environments where I’m not wearing any clothes at all should knock that “she’s asking for it” bullshit on its ass.

Compliments are nice. They can turn your day around. That’s a risk you have to decide if you want to take because there’s a chance that the woman in question, doesn’t want to hear it. There’s a chance she’ll think you’re about to invade her personal space or start asking her questions about where she lives and where she hangs out for fun. Those are stalker questions not “nice guy” questions. There have been times when I got random compliments that made me smile; other times I’ve grabbed my purse tighter, made sure my phone was in my hand and looked for alternate routes. That’s the world women live in.

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Is it any wonder people fake half their online profiles? My “city” of choice is where my comic shop is. That’s my social headquarters so that’s what I’m willing to share about my life. I will Foursquare my location when I want to, but not from my house. That’s kind of insane.

What’s sad is that when I was even fatter, I didn’t have the catcalling directed to me – kind of like now – so I felt I had no worth. Yet other women have faced sexism regardless of their size. Sadder still, one friend intentionally got fat because she could no longer bear the unwanted attention being a “hot girl” (later remedied as she emotionally healed).

Ok, Nice Guys, if you’re so okay with being a woman’s friend, then check your privilege. This stuff about consent can seem really scary and maybe even confusing since different people will look at it from different ways.

Here’s one of my issues: texting/emails. It’s been great that there are some men in my life who have had the decency to ask if I want their naughty pics. This usually comes about because I have either publicly or privately shared my own XXX content. Ok, so they’ve asked once and I have said yes once that the reciprocation would be welcome. First of all, I KNOW when it’s just someone who’s spouse is not with them. Horny, lonely men are the ones that message me. I’m not an idiot. The thing is, when I said yes to wanting the pictures or the compliments, that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

I never thought I’d have to keep any kind of tally about how often this happens because I don’t want to analyze every crappy second of my life. I’m very open and honest. I will post on social media or my site about what kind of emotional state I’m in. Men tell me things like “bewbs make everything better” to be humorous and to lighten the mood or to be encouraging in a really weird way. They feel down, they like to see boobs and then they see some beauty in the world which might help the tiniest little bit to distract them from whatever made their day suck. This is not what works on me. When I am having a bad day, I do not want your dick pics. I do not want to hear that you think I’m pretty. I don’t not want you to say shit about how you like older women or that you wish we could date. These are not welcome responses to me. Your penis doesn’t solve my problem unless my problem is that I want your penis and don’t have it at that moment.

I can only speak about myself and my own depression/illnesses because I don’t know if that kind of response for someone else is the same. Saying something like you’re missing me, wanting me around to talk about books, that you thought of me while watching a movie, or telling me that I mean something to you – those are responses for how you handle someone like me. Dicks don’t fix my problems.

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What I’ve tried to do in these cases is restrain my inner bitch. I’m already in a bad mood – usually depressed – so I don’t need to feel anger on top of that. I either ignore the messages indefinitely or until the next day or I write back saying I’m not in the mood for being cute.