Updated: Apr 16
When asked “what do women want?” I can only speak for myself. And the truth is, I don’t want much. I would like a piano and a rose garden. I would like space to myself. I prefer a small modern house but nothing ostentatious. I want time and freedom to think and write. In many ways, I feel the most connected to myself through writing and perhaps I write in order to feel connected to others as well. I would like to think that it’s possible to be understood on this planet simply for the intellect and emotional depth that I possess. Yet, I find that practical matters complicate this to the point of near impossibility.
I’ve had the unfortunate luck of being born apparently desirable to men. My entire adult life, men have lingered in doorways, hallways, and street corners, chased me through the subway system, and all but harassed me at restaurants. It’s not like I’m a buxom woman with innate sexuality oozing off of me. In fact, I’ve always been quite introverted, shy even. Despite the pouty lip blonde hair popular girl stereotype, I was always hiding at the library rather than socializing. In fact, I’ve wanted nothing to do with men or people in general for most of my life. So it is just my luck that men have shown such interest in me, lungeing at my mouth like bloodsucking predators.
In my life, I have rarely met a man that when rejected has said, “I will respect your space.” I have however met plenty that will viciously stalk me, insult me, or attempt to dominate me with emotional manipulation. You might be wondering what exactly it is that I’ve been doing to merit such behavior and, in fact, I have been wondering that as well. Men have been on the receiving end of my indifference. From what I can tell, it’s due to my apathy that men try a little harder. And when rejected, they feel stunned and angry. It’s not that I enjoy rejecting others, but it’s that I never invited anyone in. I was not looking for a sexual relationship, so why all of the sudden am I blamed when not interested? These men seem to have an innate sense of self justification that places fault on others, as if they are doing women such as myself a favor by acknowledging them. They flaunt their wealth, their confidence, their sense of humor, but all the while failing to realize that sometimes women do not want their advances at all.
In many ways I’ve found it impossible to escape not only male advances but the perceived role of women in society. It was recent that I was watching Jordan Peterson videos on Youtube when I found something that I could not agree with. Peterson is a renowned psychologist, idolized by men and oftentimes criticized by women. In a lecture he explained, “It’s a very rare woman who at the age of thirty doesn’t consider having a child her primary desire. And the ones that don’t consider that, generally in my observation there’s something that isn’t quite right in the way that they’re constituted or looking at the world.” He then goes on to suggest that women who choose not to have children and do not regret that decision are actually masculine women.
My problem with Peterson’s perspective is his method of reducing women down to reproduction. There are plenty of women, after all, who’s sole purpose is not just having children but also having a career. Some women are passionate about a hobby or a philosophy. Most women do not want to be judged for that physical function their body possesses, even if it serves a purpose. What’s more, there are many men who desperately would like children, yet they are not defined by their reproductive abilities. They can be lawyers or teachers, they can even be working fathers who have the best of both worlds. Peterson tells men to “be a monster.” In other words, he encourages men to pursue worthy causes, to be assertive and bold. He does not reduce men down to their sole purpose as fathers. Peterson fails to imagine women as anything other than nurturers and supporters. He finds it baffling that there are women everywhere who criticize his claims about them. Yet, he does not seem to find that troubling or seek to adjust his mentality about them. To be clear, Jordan Peterson has a lot of wisdom that I can agree with. I appreciate his logic and his push for truth. He certainly does not pull punches and he is right that as adults we need to measure up to a noble cause. Therefore, I am surprised he can only see women from this vantage point. He is producing a generation of men who are expecting women to be as Peterson talks of them—mothers and primarily that.
When men talk of themselves they speak of their singularity, their right to take ownership, their individual need for conquest or recognition. They speak of their rights. They are called leaders. “Man” has been used as a symbol of a conqueror, a warrior, someone with personal gain and sacrifice. Yet, when women are spoken of, it is of yielding, supporting, or as Jordan Peterson suggests, simply people of reproductive purposes. Despite the intuition and wisdom that women may possess, it is often seen as secondary, in support of children or man. When women are seen as beautiful it is for the purpose of male fulfillment, rather than simply its own thing that cannot be possessed or controlled. A woman’s power is often in her subtly rather than the obvious. Yet, this does not mean that it ought to be ignored or downplayed. And it certainly does not mean that women are only reduced to a physical function.
I grew up in a conservative Christian family and my future as a mother was all but guaranteed. Growing up, people would say, “when you have children” or “college is to get your Mrs degree.” It seemed that despite my efforts to be a distinguished student, athlete, or musician, the only value that held weight to others was my ability to reproduce. Men, as well, have shown that their value in me has been superficial sexuality, and by extension the reproductive process. Yet, for someone introverted and independent like me, having a child has always meant signing onto a lifestyle that I would struggle to maintain. I would no longer have quiet space to think and my nocturnal preferences would be forever halted. I would agree to allowing my body to be possessed by another human being and I would watch myself grow large without my control. A football sized human being would be painfully ripped from my loins, only to become an adorable but all-consuming little person of needs. My body would never be the same again. I’m often confused that men do not seem to acknowledge the sacrifices and challenges that come with motherhood and instead jump to conclusions of their own, creating opinions of their own about women, and omitting the gory details that only women can suffer through. And often in silence.
Some men like Jordan Peterson assume that women desperately want children and if they do not then there is something wrong with them! In fact, when conservative platforms produce articles about this belief, the comments are packed full of men reinforcing it. “Well duh!” Many people from my background have even stated that it is selfish not to want children.
This judgment call can leave me feeling isolated. I often do not feel camaraderie with other women because of my independence and my seemingly selfish need to maintain it. I’ve always been the woman that challenges authority and traditions. I cringe at cute baby talk and sentimentality. I have a couple small tattoos. I sometimes smoke black clove cigars and when I’m angry I allow quite a few expletives. And if you ask me why I do as I do, it would be for the simple pleasure of being exactly myself despite outside pressure.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love babies. In fact, I spent several years as a nanny. Children seem to get along with me and I often enjoy children more than adults. I like many of the stereotypically girly things. I love make up. I won’t go anywhere without wearing perfume. I wear high heels on a regular basis and I’ve got quite a stash of silk scarves in my closet. I am apparently more right brained than left, preferring the arts, music, and writing. I have often been called sensitive, if not overly sensitive. I love Jane Austen and pictures of kittens. I even quite literally faint at the sight of blood! So I’m not quite sure what Jordan Peterson meant by being masculine.
Yet, Peterson points out that “there’s plenty who will not admit to themselves that [having a baby is] what they most desperately want.” According to him, there are only three options for women. To most desperately want a baby, to be a masculine woman, or to lie to one’s self about wanting a baby. This to me is quite reductionistic of women to the sum of their evolutionary parts.
Being the writer, the journalist, the chronic self-reflective, I find it strange that in all of my journal entries I have yet to write that I most desperately desire children. In fact, it has rarely occurred to me. There must be something with wrong me!
As I have been perusing the internet, watching Jordan Peterson videos, and interacting with others online, I have seen a quite few shocking comments. I have learned this week that there are men out there that not only believe that women’s sole purpose is reproduction, but that women actually should have no right to vote. What shocked me most of all was the extreme amount of likes and retweets on posts like these. “You are not for men’s rights unless you agree that the 19 Amendment should be repealed!” Surely they could not mean this in seriousness, I questioned, only to be stunned with the vicious response from men all over the country.
Now I know what you might be thinking. I realize that someone like Jordan Peterson is likely not in agreement with men such as these. I realize that most men do not subscribe to this insane notion of repealing the 19th Amendment and silencing women. However, it is quite interesting that there are so many men online speaking for women, dismissing women, and placing fault with them if they do not do as they are expected.
There must be a boys’ club that convenes in some way, shape, or form. Perhaps on the internet, in fraternity houses, gyms, man caves and the like. And in this club, men have formed many opinions that are about women I have found. If the philosophical is not a compelling enough claim, let me suggest that there are many if not most that are objectifying women in their spare time. There are men who talk vulgarly of women. There are men who dismiss them for their emotions or resent them for their apparent privileges. Men have complained about women not being drafted. Men have complained about women winning custody of their children. They have complained that they must pay for women’s dinners. Yet they complain if women insist on paying for their own! Men seem to be obsessed with the stipulations! They seem to be angry and bitter. I never realized how many straight men secretly hated the creatures that they most desired to possess physically.
It was just the other day that I encountered a mass email from a well known physical trainer, who wrote about the “super hot lady” that gave him a massage, which awkwardly ended in him having an erection popping up under the sheet. For a trainer who has in the past attempted to pull in a female audience, I am shocked at this kind of behavior. It seems inappropriate and in blatant disregard for tact or class, promoting his Zoolander inspired phallic tale to thousands of strangers. Perhaps he didn’t anticipate a woman like me reading it. Perhaps he did not think that women might care about this kind of commentary. Yet, I have to comment on how strange it is to me that men so openly talk about their sexuality even amongst themselves. I was always under the impression that straight men were afraid of this kind of suggestive body talk to each other, but I must have been mistaken. I may be wrong, but it seems as if some men get a thrill out of their own bodies and their own dominance in general. If not culturally, then philosophically, or even physically. In fact, my very own brother does not believe that women should be main characters in movies!
And if this is not enough, then there is of course the cultural norm that women are expected to change their names to that of their male spouse. In many Protestant homes like the one I grew up in, women are even expected to submit to male authority in some way or another. I’ve never been quite clear on what exactly that means. Does it mean that we graciously remain silent if we disagree? Does it mean that we yield sexually if a man desires us? Does it mean that we provide children and familial comfort when expected? Does it mean that we accept the proclamations about us, the opinions about us, the reductionistic understanding of what a woman is or should be? Isn’t it interesting that so often it is men who define for us what a woman is? And it is men who speak on our behalf.
Many of you who are reading this are women that have children and truly love and enjoy them. Maybe you are divorced or married. Maybe you prefer a supportive role, or maybe you prefer to be outspoken and different. Whatever you may be, I have respect for you and I see you loud and clear as the brave women that you are. Many of you who are reading this are men who truly love the women in your lives in a respectful way, who have seen women as individuals with likes and dislikes, struggles, opinions, conquests, talents, intellect, emotional depth and wisdom. This article is not directed at you. Rather, I commend you because you are overwhelmingly heroic in a world that so consistently does the opposite.
After all, women have been raped by men. Women have been sexually mutilated by men. Women have been pressured and objectified. They have been abused or even murdered. They have been taught that their only worth is in their reproductive abilities. They have been taught their only worth is in their beauty. They have been spoken of inappropriately and dismissed intellectually, unless they are the privileged minority of women in the free world. Even there, however, we find these obstacles of peer pressure and judgment.
What fascinates me most these days are the men who now proclaim to be women and insist that they are allowed in women’s locker rooms and bathrooms. So-called transgender women have somehow dominated women’s sports, omitting the female athletes that worked so hard to get there. They have robbed women of their well earned titles. They have exposed their male genitalia in the women’s bathrooms. They have physically compromised women in sports such as boxing. One transgender actually fractured a woman’s skull in the MMA. It does not take more than common sense to acknowledge that biological men have more power and strength to their physical being than women. Yet, if anyone speaks such a truth, they are harassed and threatened. When a woman of smaller stature has the courage to stand up nonetheless, she is punched in the face! She is publicly smeared and her worth is put into question. The shocking reality today is that we now have a biological man representing women’s sports bras at NIKE. He even puts on a hyperbolic display of what he deems to be feminine characteristics. This man, Dylan Mulvaney, is actually just a mockery of what a woman is. He even states that he gets his period!
I often go back to this reality: Just because you say it, does not make it true. Yet, it is starting to feel like that 2+2=5 society that George Orwell wrote of in1984.
When truth is the new hate speech, there is something profoundly sinister at bay.
This very movement is also persistent in the education of young children on their sexuality. There is a Dutch show debuting this year that exposes adult nudity to children in order to “educate” them on the Frankenstein-esque patchwork quilt of their sexual mutilation. This sexual ambiguity is creating an avenue for sexual corruption and abuse. It is opening the floodgates to any kind of sexuality, stating that the only acceptable behavior is that of full acceptance and non-judgment. And it is successful due to its emotional manipulation, dominance, and control. Frankly, it does not seem dissimilar to that of a typical male tyrant.
Interestingly, many of these so-called transgender women are actually just men in women’s clothing. Another way to put it, of course, is a “transvestite.” It used to be, at least, that those radical enough to undergo the extreme surgery entailed for a physical sex change were considered transgender. Yet, now it seems that the rules have been tweaked, the goal posts have been inched forward, and being a woman is even easier to achieve! In fact, in some places a man need only identify as a woman to be allowed in the private quarters of women’s changing rooms, in their sports, magazines, titles, and brand advocating. Men are robbing women of championships at sporting events and speaking for women in their social media campaigns. They are even replacing women for product branding, stealing women’s jobs and their legacy. There is little to no discussion about autogynephilia, a condition in which a male is sexually aroused by the thought of being a woman. When those concerned about male predators in women’s restrooms speak out, they are labeled “transphobic” and dismissed. Yet, there are already numerous accounts of men who claim to be transgender that have raped or sexually assaulted women and girls in what was once considered safe public space for women. And when girls and women are raped, harassed, and vulnerable, they are met with opposition. I’m shocked that there are women who celebrate this movement toward all-inclusivity without boundaries or rationale. Truly, the women who support this are traitors to their own kind.
I can’t help but feel that there is a fixation on labeling with this gender conversation. So many men would like to be women, but when asked, they cannot even define a woman. A woman is something of an imaginary concept, a fantasy, a dream. “Woman” is something to dominate or possess. Suggesting that women must have two X chromosomes, have breasts, a uterus, the ability to carry a child, get their period, and so on, is actually offensive. Truly, I feel stunned that the same party that supports transgenders and their mockery of science, is the same party that demands that the public respects science in relation to climate change or the coronavirus.
I write these things and wonder if I will get a violent threat online. After all, these men dressing as women have enacted violence on the women who stand up against them. The greatest irony of course is that they appear to behave just as any other unhealthy man would—prone to violence. There is of course no coincidence that many countries that have distinguished themselves for their advancements have also called their men “gentlemen.” It speaks of sophistication and intelligence when there are men who learn to be gentle, to treat women with honor, and to treat themselves as persons of merit.
The truth is, I am angry. And I can no longer remain silent. Silent is, after all, what I was taught to be, maybe even inclined to be. Studies suggest that women have a significantly higher level of agreeable personality traits than men. Studies also suggest that women are much less assertive than men. That is perhaps one of the many reasons why dilemmas such as these happen and continue to happen. It is because women cannot find their own voice.
I believe in a world where women are respected and seen as individuals with likes and dislikes, interests, passions, children or no, to be seen as a person as any other man might be seen. For it is rare but it is a right to be respected as individuals, rather than a stereotype, a label, a generalization, or a reductionistic theory. Being a woman is not really a statement to anyone. It is not a bragging right. It’s not necessarily very interesting or even relevant. It is simply a fact. However, being an individual despite these things, accepting of truth, ferocious in conquest and conviction, is to me the greatest honor a human being can have.
It was just recently that in the UK a transgender woman entered a women’s cycling race. However, when the female athletes found out about this, they collectively agreed to boycott the race. The racing officials then denounced the transgender, disqualifying him from the race, allowing women to fairly compete again with others on their own level. In some ways, this silent withdrawal is everything. It is woman’s weapon when she has no other. As Virginia Woolf wrote in her book Orlando, “For nothing […] is more heavenly than to resist and to yield; to yield and to resist.” She makes an excellent point. Women may not have the strength, maybe not even the assertiveness that we see with men, yet we possess the power to resist. And if we choose to resist rather than yield—whether it be in silence or vocally—we may still have a chance to maintain what it is that we have won. A world in which we may make choices free from condemnation or pressure. A world in which men do not dominate us.
A world in which women are no longer silenced.