traditional gender roles create unattainable expectations and ultimately perpetuate harmful behaviors with adults. men, like women, are given mixed messages about what it means to really be a man. they are expected to be strong (physically, mentally and emotionally), natural leaders, sexually promiscuous, dominant, and self-sufficeint. these characteristics that are expected of men create all sorts of insecurity about masculinity especially as they contradict the normal experiences of humans including expressing emotions and wanting to be a part of a community. not only are these roles harmful to men but to women and people of color as well.
A while back, one of my friends said to me “why would I settle for less just because I want it now?” it was a bit of off handed commentary on the current state of our dating lives. She had just suffered through a rough summer with her ex, and my girlfriend had just broken up with me. I wrote it down immediately in my notes app, only to stare at it later and feel a sense of emptiness–I knew even then that I was going to have to wait a while before i found someone worth loving again.
at this point in my life i have had acne longer than i haven’t. i was first majorly aware of my acne during the sixth grade when i had it all over my chest. my english/history teacher was fluent in audacity and did a lot of really inappropriate things during her time at my middle school. however, on one particular occasion she had pulled me aside and asked if i had chicken pox and was, of course, referring to my acne.
i came to cal poly as a transfer student, already 21 and far removed from underaged party scene. for the past few years in my hometown i was able to use a fake id to hang out at bars with my older friends and coworkers on the weekends. so coming to san luis obispo i felt like i already had a handle on ‘bar culture.’
a new quarter is upon us and with that the expectation of something new. however, i feel the need to reflect on how my first two quarters at Cal Poly have gone and more specifically how my intimate relationships have been morphed by my move to this new area.
“I don’t know, you just give off surfer girl energy. Like, the kinda girl that guys want to be friends with. Ya know, like they wouldn’t want to date you.” He said it as if it was a complement. As if it was everything a girl wants to hear. Oh thank god, I was worried someone in these crazy college years might see me as more than a “bro,” a girl they can hang out with and completely disregard her femininity. He said it as the three of us studied for one of our engineering midterms–me, him (a friend of two years), and my ex boyfriend. They both laughed. I shrugged it off, only to excuse myself to the restroom to wipe away tears.
When I turned 19 I bought myself a pair of the shoes I had been dreaming about for years: black platform doc martens, the kind with a clunky zipper up the side. Being a huge supporter of sales and savings, I had never spent that much money on one item of clothing. But these were going to be THE shoes for me, I knew they could go with any outfit.
i want to discuss this phenomenon of a cool girl. in the movie Gone Girl, amy recites a powerful monologue where she discusses that this is the ultimate girl that men look for. hearing this monologue from a powerful, well-developed female character was unforgettable to me. for those that don’t remember the dialogue, it goes something like this:
I met my first love the first day of my freshman year at Cal Poly and it basically fucked up my life until the begining of my junior year. As someone who was always a bit of a late bloomer with a disdain for the romantic world, I was entirely underprepared for what college relationships could look like, and the damage a breakup could do.
“I had a really fun time with you tonight” he says as you're sitting on his bed, knees touching and your heart pounding out of your chest. You’re smiling and giddy with attention. He leans in for the kiss and all you can think is “oh fuck I’ve never sucked a dick before!!”