Here’s the No. 1 Thing Keeping Guys Single (It’s Not What You Think)
It’s Friday night and you’re out on a first date with someone you met on an online dating app. You don’t have any friends in common, but she’s decently attractive, you have a few overlapping interests, and she managed to make you laugh once or twice. When she suggested getting drinks, you thought, why not?
You’re in a dimly lit bar and trying to figure out how you feel about her. She’s made a few jokes so far that made you feel a little weird — jokes about how men are scum, jokes about how every guy she’s ever dated was an idiot, jokes about how she killed a male stripper once — and you’ve noticed you’re enjoying yourself less.
As she puts her hand on your knee you remember a story you’d heard recently — a buddy of yours was drugged and raped by a woman. And on the news yesterday, you’d heard about a guy who was recently murdered by his ex-girlfriend. You take a sip of your drink and fake a smile. Your date’s still talking, but you decide, however good she might be in bed, it’s not worth it.
You tell her you have to go to the washroom, stand up, and head for the door, walking quickly just in case.
Most likely, you’ve realized by now that this isn’t a real scenario of a guy on a date with a man-hating feminist — it’s a gender-flipped one, a thought experiment exploring what it’s like to be a woman on a date with a misogynist man. One of the biggest turnoffs for women today is a straight man who hates women, and whose anger towards them is palpable.
Over the past few years, between the #MeToo movement and various other technologically mediated cultural shifts around gender roles and relations, the reality of male physical, sexual and emotional violence towards women has gone from being an open secret to an ongoing headline-making discussion — and the role of male anger towards women as the root of that has come to the forefront.
We live in an era where men can no longer misbehave and expect to get away with it. Not too long ago, men who acted with impunity towards women were safe in the knowledge that the accusations wouldn’t be believed, that the police wouldn’t investigate, that the jurors wouldn’t convict, or that the media wouldn’t cover it. That is thankfully no longer the case.
Today, women take to social media when men harass them; the popularity of Instagram accounts like Bye Felipe and Twitter accounts like SheRatesDogs is a sign that broadly speaking, women are conscious of the extent male cruelty and callousness like never before.
Part of that consciousness is the increasing awareness that male anger towards women isn’t a final product, it’s a seed. Every man who’s ever been violent toward a woman — every man who’s beaten a woman, raped a woman, killed a woman — began as someone who was angry towards women.
That’s not just conjecture. School shooters, murderers, and domestic terrorists so often have domestic violence charges or convictions on their records that it’s a confirmed part of scholarship around how male violence functions. Women are increasingly aware that men hurting the women they’re close to is step one on the path to worse violence.
That’s not to say that every man who’s cruel to a woman will end up committing violent or criminal acts, but spotting the red flags that a guy harbors ill will towards women in general can be an absolute deal-breaker in the early going of a courtship.
So, here’s how it might play out for you. You think your date is going well, but then you start trash-talking a female pop star, deriding particular women as sluts, or saying someone deserved to be harassed because of something they did or said. You think you’re just making conversation, but all of a sudden,the woman sitting next to you starts making plans for an early exit.
That might feel like an overreaction, but in a climate where the worst-case scenario for getting involved with a guy is, quite literally, violence or murder, it makes sense that women would be increasingly sensitive to signs that a guy doesn’t like women. It could be that he thinks female success isn’t as deserved as male success, or that women shouldn’t be able to act the way they want, or worse, that male-on-female violence is somehow justified.
Recognizing that those opinions aren’t neutral or natural or chill but rather explicitly anti-women is the first step to working through that anger. Step two might be a bit more complex. Once you’re capable of recognizing that you are angry towards women, you’ll need to work on figuring out why, and work on changing that.
Going to therapy would be a good start, as it’s possible that your anger has roots in past experiences such as feeling unloved by your mother or a mother figure at a young age. You could also be dealing with trauma from a difficult relationship with a female sibling, a bad breakup with an ex or a series of rejections or humiliations that left you distrustful of women in general. Of course, a healthier approach is recognizing that your issues were with specific women or specific women’s actions, not all women.
If you have women in your life you’re close to or who trust you, opening up to them about this could also help you work on your anger issues. You shouldn’t expect a female friend, relative, acquaintance or coworker (or stranger!) to help you work through the fact that you feel anger towards women, but it’s possible someone in your life who wants to help you will be willing to talk to you about gender and how your perception of it is impacting your life.
What you should absolutely do is to start listening to women. Whether that means reading books written by women or watching movies made by women, following women on Twitter or listening to female-led podcasts, make a significant space for female voices and opinions in your life.
So many men who experience a deep frustration with or anger towards women deal with the problem by increasingly turning away from meaningful interactions with them. But all that’s likely to do is leave you ignorant of what being a woman is really like and substituting your own frustrated reasonings to try to explain their actions.
The upshot is that, increasingly, the likelihood that you’ll get turned down for a reply, a date or a kiss won’t be because you’re lacking in looks, strength or manliness. It won’t be because of the size of your dick, your car or your wallet. It’ll be because your anger toward women is more obvious than you think.
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