A friend of mine sits disconsolately, nursing a beer and staring at a menu despite having no appetite. He'd just told me a story I've heard all too many times from my male friends over the past few years.
But before I relate the story, I need the obligatory disclaimer: I, and most men I know, have an old-fashioned respect for - if not an outright deference to - the fairer sex. And despite being at a loss as to how every last word out of our mouths can come under intense scrutiny (guaranteed that I've just offended somebody somewhere with the "fairer sex" term), we maintain the basic principle that there are intrinsic and chemical differences between men and women. We also believe they deserve every advantage and opportunity a man receives; we're certainly not against equal pay, equal rights, equal respect, etc.
All that makes perfect sense to us. What we're failing to understand is how we're forced to become cowering fools in the presence of females. The story my friend tells me is one I often hear from anyone who works in an office environment: Basically, they spend their days walking on eggshells. They dare not even meet a female coworker's eye for fear of the look being misinterpreted. I mean, this video here has some great advice but can we even get away with it now?
"I literally walk around staring at the floor and mumbling," my friend said, staring at his virtually untouched beer. "One guy complimented a woman's dress yesterday and he might get fired because 'intent is irrelevant.'"
If you've been active in the workplace for a while, you know this idiotic "intent is irrelevant" rule. It basically means that the offender's intentions are meaningless and if the woman feels offended or harassed in any way, the man will always be at fault. He has no defense. None. The man who said, word for word, "hey, that's a really nice dress" resulted in the woman complaining to her boss, which turned into a huge reprimand and a warning for the guy, and yet another mandatory sexual harassment seminar (the third one in a year and a half, so I was told).
That's the workplace, of course, and it's not quite so outrageous outside the confines of the office. Even so, men everywhere are really starting to wonder what they can say to a woman without it being misconstrued. What can we say? It almost seems as if compliments are out the window because it's just too risky. If you're on a date, it should be fine but when you're approaching a woman for the first time, you better stick to the weather or something. Even politics and religion would be less treacherous than a compliment on the female's physical appearance.
What the hell is going on? Have we completely lost our minds? It's just indicative of this country's complete inability to find a middle ground, to locate the virtue between the vices. Yes, there was a time when women were treated abominably in the workplace; it was absolutely reprehensible how females were treated in the '40s and '50s, for example. It's also stupid that a woman should earn less than a man for the very same job, a problem that persisted into the '80s but has been - for the most part - addressed. Yes, we should've dealt with all that and we did. But did we stop? No, of course not. Now, it's men who dread the idea of going to work in the morning.
And yet, I know for a fact that women are still women. They still like to be treated nicely. They still like to hear compliments. They still have no problem with a man complimenting everything from their hair to their sense of humor. In fact, I think they really want more of it and other women are sabotaging everyone by acting like over-vigilant victims at every turn. And you know, I've spoken to a lot of interesting people in recent months; doctors, therapists, dating and love experts, lifestyle coaches, etc. And they all agree that there are obvious differences between the sexes, and that yes, women still like to be treated as women, and they appreciate it when men act like men.
I was chatting with Tara Babcock (totally epic interview coming soon, GaGers) and she let loose on this issue, basically saying she can't stand the constant bitching and downright militant feminism that's sweeping the nation. "Women have it so fucking easy," she said as bluntly as can be. Sure, you can make your assumptions when you see her - blonde, big tits, YouTube/Twitch personality - but trust me, she's got a brain. You'll find out in due time but the point is, what she says has jived with what I've been hearing from a lot of women lately, which is that they're thoroughly annoyed with their female brethren for utterly ruining the dating and love scene.
We don't want to revert back to a time when women really were treated like second-class citizens. We just want that happy medium. We just want to be able to give a woman a compliment with the best intentions in the world, and not be worried about a freakin' lawsuit that will effectively ruin our lives. Is that really too much to ask?