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The Truth About Guys and Gals

Last night was completely fucked up in all the best ways. Well, most of them. And it’s led to semi-deep thoughts.

Mind you, I hadn’t had enough sleep. I’d had a shitty day at work, following the shittiest four-day weekend I’ve had in forever, and just that afternoon our call center director had asked me how things were, which led to me saying “not good” and then doing too much sniveling on the way home from lunch to feel capable of stopping by the gas station for a lighter. So this is the context.

One of my most cherished friends, one of the very first I ever met upon the intertoobz and who has been a presence in my life for a surprisingly long time, was up visiting from Oregon. He wanted to hang out. Hadn’t seen each other for ages, had we? And so, instead of heading straight home for bed, I picked him up in Lynnwood after work. We’d just do some pie, jibber-jabber for an hour or so, and then home for me.

Pie happened. Jibber-jabbering took place. And somehow led to us comparing notes on chick flicks we’d seen and liked. Not that this was something we’d necessarily confess in public (hence me hiding his identity, and not telling you about some of the other awesome stuff we discussed. He can out himself if he wishes). He gave me shit for not liking Love, Actually as much as everybody else on the planet. I couldn’t believe he’d never seen Bridget Jones’s Diary. And there was a moment of regret when I discovered I’d deleted Anything But Love from my DVR to make room for all the Doctor Who and science programs, without having checked to see if this was a film that could be easily obtained via Amazon Instant Video. Whoops.

This discussion should not have happened. He is a manly man. I am a chick-flick disdaining woman. But he’s got lady friends who loves them some chick flicks, and is secure enough in his masculinity to watch such films with them and appreciate the well-written ones. And I’ve got a Muse who sometimes decides that sexual frustration is conducive to the writing process. Hence, we know our chick flicks.

Having been denied our Anything But Love experience, we turned to a chick flick I’d actually been astonished by. It was one of those freebies from On Demand I’d watched during the chick flick marathon, and I’d watched it mostly because I couldn’t believe anyone had made a movie about such a ridiculous premise. 27 Dresses? Really? The title alone is horrid. And then it’s about a woman who’s been in a bunch of weddings and kept all of the bridesmaid dresses. Puh-leeze.

But it turned out to be funny and clever and touching. Surprisingly good. So I bought it, and we watched it last night.

What interested me most was how who in the story we identified with. My friend, who is one of those white knight types, identified with Jane, the perpetual bridesmaid. She, like him, is one of those people who goes around perpetually sacrificing her own happiness and time for other people. The reliable one everybody takes for granted. Too nice for her own good. Believes that one day, forever-after will be hers. And a bit on the hopeless romantic side.

I, OTOH, identify with Kevin. Stuck in a job he hates by way of getting to where he wants to go. Cynical about love and marriage and all that rot. Perpetual bachelor. Decency and kindness often swamped by the definite not-nice traits. Encourages friends and sometimes random strangers to stop being unfailingly nice and be bad every once in a while, for their own health and happiness. Did I mention the cynical about relationships and even more so about weddings bit?

And I realized, once again, the truth.

The truth is that these roles we think are filled by men and women are actually filled by people. Guys can be mushy-gushy I-believe-in-love sorts. Women can be the love-is-for-fools type. I’ve known hetero men who are far more in to fashion than I am. I’ve been the one saying, “Fuck talking” while a significant other thinks We Need to Communicate More. Except for those of us who feel trapped by society’s gender roles, who are terrified to put a toe over the line into the territory supposedly reserved for the other gender alone, most of us inhabit pieces of the whole genderscape. We’re a mishmash of all sorts of different traits. We pick and choose what works for us, what really is us, regardless of whether it’s supposed to be for a boy or girl.

And we should. Men and women both should feel completely comfortable poaching on one another’s territory. Those boundaries are all artificial anyway.

The boys who played dress-up with me and my girlfriends when we were kids were no less boys than the ones who preferred toy soldiers. And the girls who liked to go jump bikes and play Cops and Robbers weren’t any less girls than the ones who set up elaborate Barbie houses. As we get older, that Us vs. Them shit should fade away. We should be able to identify with who and what we want without worrying if the pinks and blues are “properly” sorted.

I’m Kevin, he’s Jane. We both like chick flicks, and Firefly. And we’re completely comfortable with all that. In the end, it’s not male or female, it’s simply human.

Comments

  1. Sheikh Mahandi says

    Love actually is one of my wife and I’s favourite movies, but for some reason she is not keen on the “The truth about cats and dog’s” which I like.

  2. says

    I really liked Fifty First Dates. There I said it.

    More importantly I wonder what kind of thoughts most of us never have, or problem-solving approaches most of us never try because we’re afraid of messing with gender expectations?

  3. F says

    The truth is that these roles we think are filled by men and women are actually filled by people.

    QFT.

    It would be fantastic if more people could realize this occasionally.

  4. Yellow Thursday says

    I don’t watch very many “chick flicks,” but I liked You’ve Got Mail. Besides being both a computer geek and a book geek, I liked that the movie actually showed the relationship developing.

    A lot of people told me that if I liked You’ve Got Mail, I’d love Sleepless in Seattle. I hated it. The main characters didn’t even meet or interact until the very end of the movie. How can there be a romantic interest between people who’ve never said one word to each other?

  5. says

    The truth is that there is at least as much variation within the genders as there is between them, and I’m not even talking about between gay and straight members of each gender (among which there is also much variation, of course). Stereotypes are inevitable and not entirely un-useful, but one has to keep in mind that they don’t describe everyone and be open to the fact that lots of people just aren’t going to fit them.

    I’m a guy who tends to like so-called chick flicks and has little use for manly adventure and action movies. I love words, so I much prefer good dialogue over special effects or action. But I still stop every time I’m flipping channels and come across Bloodsport, just to see the godawful acting.

  6. Inflection says

    Hear hear.

    I like to turn off my brain and watch an explodey action flick every now and then. I also go mushy for the latest incarnation of My Little Pony. Neither of these says anything about my manhood in any way that I care about.

  7. nora raum says

    Yellow Thursday, I also hated Sleepless in Seattle for the reason you mentioned, but also the set up. The guy’s wife dies unexpectedly. Instead of focusing on doing everything he can to help his now motherless son, he uproots the kid from school, friends etc. and makes him begin a new life across the country.

    What a self centered boob! Friends have told me I should overlook that and enjoy the rest of the movie. I can’t. Also, I don’t buy the whole “there’s one person in the whole world for you and you’ll just know it” tripe.

    My. I’m a bit more agitated about this than I should be.

  8. anthonyallen says

    I was “made” to watch PS: I Love You.

    I’m not ashamed at all to say that I cried almost all the way through it. In fact, I tend to shed tears at most emotionally powerful movies. I don’t think that makes me any less “manly,” and if it does, then I don’t want to be “manly.”

  9. says

    I’m going with a sexist classic, “Pretty Woman”, as the ultimate chick flick guilty pleasure. The only time I’ve ever liked Cameron Diaz was in “The Holiday.” That movie really had a better cast than it deserved, and it deals with gender bending role! I can’t get myself to watch many, many romantic comedies. I find the premises boring, but I will watch them when I’m convinced they have a good cast and are offering something fun to watch that won’t make me slam my head against a wall the entire time I’m watching it. I think the last ‘new’ comedy I saw that I really, really liked was “Forgetting Sara Marshall.” How can you not love a movie that involves Dracula muppets? This is a pretty decent example of identifying across genders, too, because I would be the type of person that sits on their secret dream until something crappy like a break up forces me to change. And…dracula puppets. That is all.

    • Wes (thecausticignostic) says

      Dracula puppets….and Mila Kunisssss. “I’m getting complaints about a woman crying hysterically.” “Yeah, I know (sniff). She sounds so sad.”

  10. says

    “In the end, it’s not male or female, it’s simply human.”

    Well said, and very true. If more people understood this, I think, it would be a happier world.