When it comes to the men in my life, I must admit, I am a lucky girl. So many of them are amazing: my brothers are all laid-back, down to earth; my father is so kind and the best dad a girl could ask for; my boyfriend is smart, handsome, and attentive to my every need. And that's just the straight boys--if I included the fabulosity of the gay boys I know in this discussion, we'd be looking at a tract of several volumes.
Yet I realized something interesting as I was thinking about this project the other day. It was Tuesday, a mild mannered afternoon. I had a spare hour between rushing here and there, and decided to write. You see, self-critical Virgo that I am, I have been having doubts about this project lately. Thoughts like:
"This is a fool's errand."
"No one will ever buy a book on this."
"Yeah, you get treated differently as a blonde. So what?"
You know, that sort of thing. Self-critical, deprecating thoughts, whispered to me from the back of my mind.
So, on this mild mannered Tuesday, I decided that it was time to have it out with these self-critical voices. I mean, really. Who were they to go around, getting all up inside my head and making me feel discouraged? I sat down with my journal, blank page open in front of me. It was time to take these voices down.
I armed myself with logical thinking skills and not a few generically affirming phrases ("I'm good enough"..."I'm smart enough"...)I wrestled them out, thought by thought, parced them out, feeling by feeling, and sifted through this mass of negativity. And as I did so, I realized something: these thoughts aren't thoughts that I dreamed up on my own. Sure, I've exacerbated them, nurtured them with insecurity and fertilized them with self-doubt. But, when I sit down and think long and hard about where these awful ideas come from I realize, they echo the words of some key men in my life upon learning the subject matter of this experiment: being blonde. Par example:
BROTHER #1: So, let me get this straight...you're going to dye your hair blonde? And then see if people treat you differently? Of course people will treat you differently. Blondes are hot. Duh.
BROTHER #2: You're writing a book that's based on research you do in a bar? Uh, okay.
GAY FRIEND: Oh. How interesting. (Turns his face into a smiling mask; the smile is fake; his tone betrays that he thinks the project is bullshit.) Anyway...(turns the conversation back to himself.)
THE MATHEMATICIAN: Truthfully, I think people are going to pay attention to you no matter what color your hair is 'cuz you're a stone cold fox. (Biased much?)
These comments don't make the aforementioned men any less great, but they do underline an important point that it has taken me over a year to realize: this book is not something that men are going to inherently understand. Very few men know what it feels like to be ogled at 7:30 in the morning when you're simply running up to the corner store to grab some goddamn milk, or to be degraded by teenagers while buying a pack of gum, or to be blatantly sexually harassed, then blamed for it because, well, "you are wearing a short skirt."
But women do understand. All women. Regardless of hair color, waist size, or age. This daily circus of testosterone is something that we all have to deal with, the minute we develop breasts and sprout hips. This is a universal thing and it happens to all of us.
So men of the world who get it: thank you for your support, I adore you and appreciate it.
And the men who don't get it: I just don't know what to tell you. You're never going to get the project, and there's not much I can do about it. So with all do respect guys, if you think the project is bullshit, keep those thoughts to yourself. You wouldn't understand.
And I'm no longer going to listen.