I shouldn’t be allowed to have the internet, really, because the minute I start to raise my hackles at crap like “Thirteen Things Jennifer Lawrence Looked Like At The Golden Globes Last Night” (I’m sorry, the woman just won a second Golden Globe at twenty-three years old, do we really need an article comparing her to “an old tampon that’s spent the last year unravelling in your handbag”??!), I made the mistake of clicking to the next suggested thing, and boy, did Thought Catalog out-Thought Catalog-itself this time.
(I can say this, because I have been published on Thought Catalog before, and only in retrospect did I realize that everything I had written sounded like whiny, privileged nonsense, which is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night).
The article that got under my skin wasn’t the same clickbait that you just KNOW they’re publishing to stir up controversy; this wasn’t “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m A Beautiful Rich White Girl Saying Racist/Classist/Insensitive Shit On The Internet.” This one felt a little more, well, familiar than that. Ready? Here goes.
Honestly, I think I clicked that link because I think some part of my brain was like, “Huh! I wonder if I do one or more of those things! I bet if I just knew I was doing that annoying thing, I would be more attractive/not single/prettier/funnier/a better human. Thanks, Thought Catalog!”
That wasn’t exactly the case. If you don’t plan on reading the entire thing, I’m just gonna pull author dude’s five things all women apparently do right here, in one convenient, easy-to-reference list:
There are certain things men do that really bother women, but there are also things women do that really bother men. Since I’m a straight dude, I’m going to address the latter. Here’s what really annoys men:
1. When you tell us what qualities you like in a man, but the men you date are entirely different from what you claim you want.
2. When you try to change a man.
3. You like it when a guy you’re interested in becomes jealous when you receive attention from other guys.
4. When a woman acts like a “princess.”
5. When a woman acts/is dependent upon a man.
Awesome. So glad to know what I’ve been doing wrong!
Because mostly, what got under my skin about this is that it’s the same bullshit message women have heard over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Since our childhoods. Since our mothers probably read similar articles in vintage Cosmo magazines while we were in the womb. Just in case we missed the memo: women are fickle and date bad boys instead of nice guys; women are demanding nags who try to change everything; women are manipulative; women play games.
There are certain things that women do that bother men, but there are also things that men do that bother women. Since I’m a straight lady, I’m going to address the latter. I’m also going to assume that I speak for all women. All of them. Because that seems reasonable.
Here’s what really annoys women:
1. Poorly written Thought Catalog articles lumping all women into one stereotype.
You have a lot of thoughts about women who date ‘jerks,’ and not ‘nice guys,’ and don’t seem to know what they want. And you’re right: sometimes that is true. Many women DO get involved with men who make them unhappy for various reasons. Many women don’t know what they want. Hate to break it to you, but many men also get involved with women who make them unhappy for various reasons. Many men also don’t know what they want. Why? Because humans are complicated and messy and flawed creatures, and because we’re all blindly searching for meaning in our lives, and because we all make mistakes, and because sometimes people grow apart from each other, and for any other ten billion reasons why relationships sometimes don’t work out. Yes, some women date men who are jerks. And some men date women who are Julia Allison, or that bitch who cut me off in line at the grocery store. People are the worst sometimes, and you’re going to keep dating them until you find the one who doesn’t totally suck, and you really hope they feel the same way, and if you’re tremendously lucky, you call that love. It’s honestly a pretty traumatic process, but we wouldn’t have every song, movie, play, poem, or novel ever created without it, so you can rest easy knowing that literally everyone else on the planet has been frustrated by this phenomenon before.
2. When men try to change women. In weird, manipulative ways, not the kind of normal good change that might actually be OK.
Whew, I am so glad you brought out that old chestnut. We women really ARE constantly trying to change our men! Hey, men! You should eat better! You should pick up your underwear off the floor! You should stop playing videogames until your eyes get all blurry and your skin gets all pasty from the lack of sunlight!
You’re right. That shit does happen. Wanna know what else is true? Men sometimes try to change women, and if you haven’t guessed this part yet, it’s suuuper fun for us, too! It sometimes manifests in quiet and negative ways, like dudes I’ve dated who have made comments about my weight and my appearance, or made me feel bad about my career, my work ethic, or our sex life, with the implied assumption that it would be great if I could change those things about myself. (And to throw an additional wrench into the works: all of the dudes I’ve ever dated have been really smart, wonderful people, who had NO IDEA they were being jerks when they said those things). All of that stuff can basically be summed up as: yeah, some men try to change women, in the same way that some women try to change men.
But you know something? Not all change is bad. Sometimes I really don’t mind it when a guy is around to casually mention that maybe I should eat better, pick my underwear up off the floor, and stop watching Netflix until my eyes get all blurry and my skin is pasty from the lack of sunlight. Thing is, when the right dude is around, I kind of want to impress him, and wind up doing that stuff on my own.
And when it comes to the big stuff that we might want to change in our partners – politics, religion, that awful sweater that he really thinks is a good idea – I love the opportunity to have a conversation about it. Maybe we’ll just agree to disagree; maybe one person can say to the other that they had never considered it from another point of view. Let’s face it: when you look at those happily married couples who have been together for fifty years, you see people who have weathered change. Wars, recessions, births, deaths, children, houses, jobs.
Situations change. Bodies change. Opinions change. People change. They just do.
Change isn’t the problem. The problem is finding the person you’d like to change with.
3. When a guy I’m interested in becomes jealous because I was talking to this other guy because I’m kind of a free agent right now but frankly I was only talking to the other guy because the first guy was talking to all those other girls which was making me super jealous so I dealt with my jealousy by talking to other guys which made him incredibly jealous.
You’re right, those games are stupid. I mean, they’re frequently effective, but that’s an entirely separate conversation.
But I do want to talk about this one thing you said.
“If you like a guy, tell him. The only thing complicating this situation is you.”
AWESOME. THANK YOU FOR THAT. I am so glad to hear that women are the ones complicating the situations. It certainly helps explain the various versions of “hey, uh, so, maybe, do you want to hang out some time, no pressure?” text messages from any number of dudes. (Some of whom wanted to date me, some of whom wanted to bang me, some of whom seriously just wanted to hang out and talk, because they thought it would be fun to be my friend).
Some men are good at being straightforward. Some women are good at being straightforward. Most of us aren’t, because we’re trying to protect our squishy, vulnerable feelings from being hurt, so we do this elaborate dance to avoid what’s actually on our minds. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s just the way this thing works. I assure you, I’m in just as much agony as you are when the game’s not going well and neither of us can really explain why.
4. When a man acts like a macho idiot.
Okay, this one. This one I kind of understand.
You think women who act like “princesses” are super annoying, and I actually agree with you on this point. “Princess culture” does kind of feel like lame, antiquated nonsense, and I strongly believe that smart, independent women are desirable.
If only there was some way we could create a culture that supported this….
…. shit. Right.
Women have been brought up their entire lives to believe that they are, in fact, princesses and deserve to be treated as such. They also have recently been brought up to believe that they can and should be independent, career-minded women. They also have been brought up to believe that they should be mothers! And also they have been brought up to believe that they can have it all, career and family, regardless of whether or not that is even remotely true. They should be beautiful! Smart! Skinny! Brave! Silent! Resourceful! Pure! Sexy! And every other possible combination of contradictory adjectives spewed out at them by the culture at large.
Yeah, women who act like the world owes them something are super annoying, and you probably shouldn’t date them. But try to understand that women live in a society that sends some pretty mixed signals. Because frankly, I think you DO understand that, considering you’ve been told your entire life that you should be a Superhero! Provider! Athlete! Sexy! Macho! Strong! (And, increasingly, a culture that has started to demand Sensitive! Father! Monogamous! Intelligent! Considerate! Funny!)
Figuring out your own identity after internalizing all this stuff is hard, and it’s a long process. It’s worth thinking about: are you the person you really want to be, or just the person that you think everyone wants you to be?
So for princesses and macho idiots, both: Read a book. Grow up. Ask questions. Cultivate personalities. Explore the world. Figure out who you are. Figure out if it’s who you want to be.
But don’t be too hard on yourself for not knowing right away.
(And frankly, if you’re going to stand there and argue that “women only want a bad boy and not a nice guy,” then I’m going to come right back and tell you that a whole lot of men prefer a princess to an actual woman. In the words of the incomparable Tina Fey, “You could put a blond wig on a hot-water heater and some dude would try to fuck it.”)
5. The Thought Catalog editor who looked over this thing and thought, Yeah, that sounds about right, let’s hit ‘publish’ and call it a day.