If I learned anything during and since my four years at Bible College, it was that you should never have conversations with a man (as a woman) on the following topics:
Now before you go and get all defensive on me (guys and girls alike) and tell me that I'm being far too definitive in my line-drawing, let me tell you why I'm right.
#1: I want to get married one day.
Ladies: remember that time you were hanging out with that guy and you started to talk about big ideas; life and dreams and futures. And remember when the conversation turned to relationships, and you started talking about how you really hope to be married one day. And remember that crazy look he got in his eye, as if you were proposing to him on the spot?
Gents: remember that time you were hanging out with that girl and you started talking about relationships, and before you knew it the girl was dropping hints that she wanted to marry you!?
Ahemahemahem...could I have just proved my point?
I think so.
#2: Space available - one Uterus.
I remember quite vividly an experience that happened in and around my 2nd year of college. I was walking through the bustling hallways of the Academic Building on my way to class with one of the girls I was friends with. We walked by a baby. I said something like: "Oh! What a cute baby! Oh I can't wait until I get to be a mom!"
"ASHLEY!" she gasped, "Say that louder why don't you!?!" You see, it was her understanding that if I continued to spout off about my maternal instincts (which, um, all women were born with) that it would come off as blatant desperation. You may think that my friend was nuts, or oversensitive, or just plain off her rocker. But the fact of that matter is: she was right. Needless to say, I learned (from this experience and many others) to keep my mouth shut about all things baby-related.
- (a sidenote) -
...I often start conversations, or say drastic things from time to time, for the sheer joy of watching people panic, or gush, or get vehemently annoyed (or in other words: prove my theories). Social experiments give me an odd sort of thrill. That being said, I have toyed with these two conversation topics (marriage and babies) many, many times. And as much as you might not want to hear it: my education has served me correctly.
#3...What has happened to us??
Women my age now gather in hushed circles to celebrate their femininity, instead of feeling like they can be who they are in public social circles (the very fact that I'm writing this blog where I mention wanting marriage and babies is likely going to be a bit scandalous). Why? Because if we are too nice, or too interested, or laugh at too many jokes, or make too much eye contact, we are at risk of being preyed upon by unaware men who read normal social activity as flirting. And we also risk marking ourselves as "immediately and desperately available to anyone".
Men aren't immune from this either. Men now hesitate to to be men, because women now view everything they do as an inappropriate attempt at seduction. "Gosh, that guy is totally into you" (uh, actually, I think that was just a polite introduction sweetheart). Like it or not ladies, we've put men in an impossible position. We want them to be gentlemen, we want them to be interested, but we punish them for showing interest by belittling their attempts at friendship; and in some cases, we punish them for something as simple as holding open a door.
I can say this so boldly because I am a part of the very generation of which I speak. And I've been burned more than once by ignoring the very rules (unspoken or not) that I'm talking about. Burned how? you ask. How about being accused (as a shy girl!) of being inappropriately flirtatious for laughing at a joke. Or being accused by a 'good friend' of hitting on her boyfriend for asking him questions about himself. Or getting solicited (yes, for the very thing you're thinking of) in a grocery store lineup for breathing a simple and polite "hello". Or being told a million, billion, kajillion times that you are "too nice", and this is why you have to deal with the things you have to deal with. What else is there to do but alter the personality just a bit (or a whole lot), if only to try and salvage a reputation that is unjustly tarnished?
My point is this: we have completely screwed up our perspective on all things relational. We've been so over-sexed as a culture that a simple statement is no longer a simple statement. A kind word is now an act of subtle desperation, and friendships between guys and girls are usually eyed suspiciously. There is no longer any such thing as "innocent conversation". Women feel preyed upon for being women, and men are demasculated for being men.
Disagree? Here's an experiment for you then. Women: start talking more freely about that desire you have to be loved and to be a mom. Or even if those aren't goals of yours: Laugh when he's funny, and look him in the eye lots when he talks to you. Come and see me in a month and let me know what it's done to your reputation (and your love life, for that matter). Men: ask her out if you think she's interested. Same thing, see you in a month with your tally-board of rejections.
Scary, isn't it? And that's my point.
Our definitions are skewed. How do you know someone is interested? Someone has GOT to start teaching our men what this means. Someone has also got to start teaching women not to find their confidence in having men like them. That right there is the source for a large part of this problem.
I am interested in hearing your perspective regardless of whether or not you agree with me. In all my years of searching I have yet to find a person who can honestly say our generation has not been effected by this horrible dichotomy (is it generational? or is this simply "adulthood"?).
...let the social experiment begin... :)
~afterthoughts: after reading the comments (a few of which are proving my theories, by the way!) looks like i'm gonna have to "part two" this one. next few days i'll have something up...stay tuned!...and keep commenting!