A woman wanted me to help her change her tire, but I had no idea. Sometimes, I just don’t know what’s expected of me.
So, I was at the gas station today, and I was filling up my tire. Next to me at the air/vacuum thingy was a woman who was changing her tire. As she was ratcheting her car into the air, I thought I should offer to help her. Then I thought, no, why am I assuming that she doesn’t know how to change her own tire? Because she’s a woman? So, I finished filling my tire and got back in my car. She looked up from jacking her car and scoffed at me.
“You could have offered to help, but that’s okay, I guess.” Then, she scowled at me, waiting for a response.
I turned down the Rush Limbaugh (yes, I know it’s a bad habit). “Oh, sorry. Would you like me to help?”
The scowl never left her face. “No.” Hmmm, okay.
“Sorry, I didn’t want to insult you.”
“How could that be an insult? You see a woman in distress. You coulda acted like a gentleman.”
Distress? If a flat tire in a well-populated area during the middle of the day is distress, then she must live a charmed life.
“I didn’t want to assume that you don’t know what you’re doing. Would you like me to help you?”
“No, it’s fine.” So, despite what she said, this obviously was not “fine” to her. My point in relating this story is simple: sometimes, men don’t know what we’re supposed to do. To that woman, I was supposed to ask if she needed my help, and then, presumably, change her tire. I would have had absolutely no problem with doing that. Full disclosure: I kind of enjoy it. It affirms some old standards of masculinity that I haven’t been able to shake (not even sure if I want to shake them).
To another woman, asking if she needed my help could be seen as patronizing. If someone offered to help me change a tire, I’d probably be a little miffed but wouldn’t think much of it. The difference is that I’m supposed to be able to change a tire. To assume a woman doesn’t know how to change a tire is essentially to buy into a stereotype. Am I thinking too much into this?
This isn’t only about changing tires, obviously. This is about cutting men some slack. Spend an hour perusing feminist/ women’s blogs and websites and you’ll find a pretty decent amount of frustration with men. Some complaints range from men not being mind-readers to men being predators. Railing against men who perpetuate or participate in predatory behavior is a noble goal and one which I take part in as often as possible.
There are millions of women in the United States and each one is unique. If a man doesn’t pick up on your subtle cues that you’re busy or not attracted or otherwise uninterested, that isn’t an indictment of all men. That’s not even necessarily an indictment of that man. Perhaps, your cues were too subtle or perhaps, he just didn’t pick up on yours. Maybe he’s not a complete insensitive pig; maybe you just miscommunicated. That’s not to say that some men aren’t complete insensitive pigs.
I know that for me, personally, I talk to people with my arms folded. This is pretty classic closed-off body language, but it just makes me feel comfortable. So, if you were trying to read my “subtle cues”, you would probably be way off. Starting an argument about Alabama, Alabama football, or politics? That’s flirting. I have no interest in someone who can’t hold her own in an argument. Maybe this stuff is just crazy confusing at times.
Too long; didn’t read? Sometimes, we just don’t know what each specific woman wants and/or is trying to convey. Give teh menz some slack.