Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What men want

I started this post weeks ago and never seemed to get through it. Today I decided I have to either finish it before the New Year starts or let it go because I don't want to carry old, unfinished stuff with me into 2008

So, I was thinking about men and their ideas and expectations in regard to their women and figured I might as well write about it.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my boss. We were discussing the amount of time he pays me for (very little) versus the amount of time I spend working for him (a whole hell of a lot) and he began to question, because I work from home, whether all the time I said was spent working. Which is insulting because I've worked for him too long and too hard for him to question my integrity. But in the midst of the conversation he said something that threw me off so much, I almost forgot to be indignant.

He said, "I hope when you're working from home, and you have things to deal with as a wife and mother, doing stuff for your husband and kids, you don't count that as work time."

Again, I was insulted by his questioning my integrity, but over-riding that was confusion and surprise that he thought there were things I would do for my husband during the day. What could I possibly need to do for him? The only thing I could think of was sex - but then I don't do that for him as much as with him. So what would I be doing for him?

Then I thought about my bosses wife. In addition to working in the office as an occasional receptionist or pseudo computer tech, I've seen her running errands for my boss, calling to remind him to make doctor's appointments or take his vitamins, dropping off freshly baked quiches or banana bread. And I've heard her talk of making his favorite sandwich or making sure he knew where his cuff links were. Is this the stuff he thought I was doing while working from home?

That same week I was reading Torrance Stephens blog Raw Dawg Buffalo and he made a list of what he expects of a woman he's involved with. Number 1 on his list was:

"I expect her to fix my plate for dinner without asking and know what I want on that plate."
I almost didn't read the rest of the list.

At first I thought, "what is WRONG with him?" And then I remembered how my aunts reacted every time I brought a man home to meet them, including the Bull.

"Listen, I laid out some nice food in the kitchen. Go fix him a plate."

And my response was always the same - there's nothing wrong with his feet or hands - he can fix his own plate. When I was younger my aunts would chastise and harass me into going and fixing a plate. By the time the Bull came around, they'd just shake their heads and go do it themselves.

I don't understand this waiting on men like this. I don't understand why a woman would do it, or really why a man would want it done. But apparently I'm quite lucky that I've found men who were willing to accept a woman who expected him to act like a man and not a child.

I fix plates for my daughters. I make sure the foods they like are on it and the foods they don't like aren't. I cut the big pieces up to make them manageable for them. I make sure their food is accompanied by a napkin, silverware and a beverage. They need this because they can't do it for themselves. I just can't imagine myself doing the same for a man.

I also can't imagine myself reminding him to take medication, or taking his clothes to the cleaners (unless I was going for myself) or knowing where his cuff links are or keeping track of his doctor's appointments. I wouldn't expect him to do any of these things for me either. I mean, to me these are things that capable, responsible adults do for themselves.

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand the concept of taking care of someone you love. Doing things for them to make them happy or comfortable. And there are plenty of things I will do - I will rub my man's feet, his back, his head - or any other body part he needs rubbed to make him feel better. I will support him in all his endeavors, will give him encouragement and love, will cheer him up when he's down, give him space when he needs time to himself - and quite honestly I don't understand the whole "not tonight, honey, I have a headache" thing. I never have a headache or any other ailment bad enough to make me push him away in bed.

But I want a man, not a child. I will not do for him the things I'm teaching my children to do for themselves. I don't pick up behind, keep track of or fix plates for him. Those are things he will always do for himself. I mean if I do those things for him - how can I teach my children that they need to do them for themselves someday? I don't want to hear, "How come I have to fix my own plate when Daddy doesn't have to?"

And admittedly, it's not just about teaching the kids, because I felt this way long before there were any children putting their sticky little fingers on my life. It's the whole subservient thing that irks me. I will work with a man, help him, love him, soothe him, comfort him, but I just am not the type of woman to ever serve a man. I will walk and work by his side, but I will never hold him above me in any way, shape or form.

And, I find it odd, that this act of treating a man like a child - by doing things for him most adults can handle on their own - somehow puts him in a higher position.

Anyway. I guess it's really neither here nor there. I guess it would be a real dilemma for me if I were looking for a man. And maybe it has been a problem at various single times in my life. That along with refusing to play weak or stupid. And maybe - if the Bull and I ever part ways ( which is always possible) it might be a problem again.

For now I'm happy to be with someone who takes care of these things for himself. And as the year comes to a close I'm happy to start the new year appreciating him.


Ros said...

And I'm happy for you that you're starting 2008 with appreciating him! I'm happy to occasionally wait on a significant other to show love & thoughtfulness, but not if I ever thought it was expected -- it's the whole "this is the way it's supposed to be" attitude you describe that would make me nuts. And as you ask, how come actions that would be interpreted towards women as making them helpless are seen as exalting men? Because they're too special to do these mundane things for themselves?

Ginger said...

Amen sister. I married H because we take care of each other. I married another a grownup not a child.

The Bear Maiden said...

LOL. See this is a MAJOR problem when you're single, because it seems like a bunch of men expect this, and the thought of doing any of those things you've mentioned because I'm *supposed* to... well, you already know me well enough to know what my reaction might be, right?

When I was about 17, I lived across the street from where the "Horrible Hebrews" congegrated. If you've been to or live in NY, you know who they are; profess to be Black Israelites, wear very flashy regalia and are always spouting unbelievably racist propaganda about the "So-Called White Man" and the "So-Called Black Man". If they were white, Black people would call for their heads and say they were the equivelant of the KKK. But because they're "brothers", people actually stop to listen to that crap. But I digress. Anyway, one of them approached my mother (NOT me) and said they wanted to marry me. My mother turned to me and asked what I thought. I told him I would never be subservient enough for him.

Anyway. I *will* do any number of those things for someone I love... because I love them, because I happened to be there, because I felt like it. Not because I'm SUPPOSED to.

And I often wonder if it's why I'm still single ;). Ginger and Fat Lady... you two are definitely two of the lucky ones...

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

im sorry if i offended u. but u did read the rest of he post right

Fat Lady said...

Ros & Bear Maiden - yeah, I guess it's the idea that it's expected - part of the job description that annoys me. And the idea of it not being reciprocated. Because, yes, there are times when I will fix a plate for the Bull - sometimes when I fix breakfast, I'll make up plates for everyone, or when we're at a family gathering and he's chasing down the kids and my hands are free, I'll grab a plate for him as well as the girls. But then again, he'll do the same for me too. Same with little errands and reminders. We do those things for each other - they are not part of my "wifely duties" just things we do to work together.

So yeah, it's the SUPPOSED to part that irks me.

Ginger - You and H are one of those very few couples who have a relationship I aspire to - or maybe just dream of. I've known 3 couples in my life who have relationships that work the way I want mine to and yours is definitely one of those.

Torrance - No offense taken. It just added to my confusion about men and their expectations and ideas about things. And for the record - the rest of your list was pretty good. Definitely sounds like if there's a woman out there who feels comfortable with the subservience of being expected to regularly bring you a plate of food - that in every other way she'll be a lucky woman.

Mom said...

I suppose if it is expected, then I would be ticked but I do a lot of stuff "for dh" (some of which isn't actually for him but does benefit him by keeping the household running smoothly) just because I do. Part of it is, I'm home all day and he isn't. It is easy for me to run to the post office and mail things (like presents for DSD) but it is a pain for him because he works nights. I also do laundry, dishes, etc that keeps us from living in a total craphole. For him? Not really since we all need clean close and dishes but he certainly benefits from it.

Pretty much anything that needs done during the day, I handle simply because it is easy for me.