At work, I always end up being the only girl in my sub-division or one of the very few in a throng of male colleagues. This is contradictory to my otherwise all girls boarding school-background. In a way this served as a good thing, as I get to experience the aspects of both worlds. I left boarding school with a surge of female empowered estrogen-clad feminist pride spirit, and when I got to know boys it was almost like watching a National Geographic documentary – what are these creatures and why do they like sports so much?
And somewhere along the line, as chick flicks, dating and hormones came into the picture, it has been drilled into us that guys should be approached with caution; there is the whole ‘hide and seek’ element, the ‘does he or doesn’t he’ mind boggling games and stories about some unnamed jerks going around breaking people’s hearts. All these painted guys as scary, sometimes-intimidating robots fuelled by testosterones about 90% of the time. Fascinating stuff.
Eventually, as I got to know them personally whether they are colleagues, friends, people I dated or even family members, I quickly came to the realization… it is not easy being a guy!
Take the story of Male X for example. Male X is somebody I know from work, and one day he told me about his failed attempts of asking a girl out three times to no avail. I cringed when I heard this story. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I had mustered all that courage only to be shot down by a girl. Yikes. That must hurt. In fact, if I was him I would probably be traumatized and not ask anyone out for the next decade. Male X, if you’re reading this, I solute you.
And even if you did get to ask a girl out, the raging river of challenges had just begun. Do you know how much it costs to take a girl out on a date? Not to mention that unlike women, men are heavily assessed through their assets too, as much as we like to deny it. I once heard a male friend say about his then-girlfriend, “I used to have a lot of money in ASB. Then it all disappeared and turned into her”. I felt pretty bad for this. As much as I know that guys actually do prefer to pay and pamper, the fact is they still do spend a lot of money and energy into this whole process.
We like to also think that when it doesn’t work out, girls take the hit harder. Perhaps this is a true statement to a certain extent, given that guys seem to have an almost default robotic method to cope with it. They submerge themselves in work or gaming or buddies, and seem to be handling it all like a champ (while the ladies cry buckets in the public restroom). But through experience I have watched some male friends I know getting hurt just as we do, feeling sentimental just like we feel and well, in general, are just humans like the rest of us.
What these observations resulted in is a certainly more cynical agreement towards a lot of so-called notions of what men are, as portrayed through a lot of movies and books you see these days. Since women are the more expressive gender it is normal to see/read/watch more snide conclusions be made about men, when come to think of it, there are so many great guys out there. I was raised by a dedicated Father who once worked 2-3 jobs to support us while he was in studying, and has been loving and loyal to my Mother for 30 years. To then settle with a generic opinion that men are awful and non-sentimental even when we had just gotten hurt by one would not be a fair statement. Sometimes a bit of perspective goes a long way to stop us being spiteful and disheartened over the whole idea of acquainting a decent guy.