I am writing to ask you a favor. But before I get to that favor, I want to explain some things, so please listen.
Men are not like women. I know that we want to erase the lines and I know that I would have been just as fine a Navy pilot as most men and that men can be terrific knitters if they want to. But our experiences in life are really, really different. For example, here are some ways in which our worlds are different.
- You've never had a fight with your underwear. In fact, I bet your underwear has never tried to kill you. Don't believe me about deadly underwear? Corsets can restrict breathing so much that a woman can suffocate. And hoop skirts and bustles had a tendency to knock over oil lamps and catch on fire. Now, I don't wear a corset or a hoop skirt very often, but I have two words for you: Spanx and underwire. Seriously, ask your women friends to explain how long it takes to put on a pair of Spanx and how much fun it is to go around all day with a wire stabbing you in the armpit.
- You can reach stuff we can't. You are on average taller than us. And did you know that a man's arm span is usually 2 inches longer than his height? Guess what? The average woman's is only 0.5 inches longer. I discovered this when I let my 6'2" husband unpack the kitchen in our first apartment. He put the plates on the top shelf. I had to get a stool every time I needed a plate. Husband said well, you didn't give me any instructions, which is true. So I do now. Every time we unpack a house, which is very often because the State Department moves us a lot, I say, Husband, stay away from the kitchen stuff!
- You know how when you go to the movies with a woman and we want to sit on the aisle and you want the middle and so we put our purses on the seat next to us and you say that's rude and we're taking up extra seats? Well, it's not only because we don't want to put our purse on the floor. It's also so that Bad American Men don't sit next to us. Oh, you've never been groped by a stranger in a movie theater and were traumatized by it and are still afraid decades later? Good for you! That is another way we are different.
- When you go on a date, you just throw on nice jeans and a shirt. You don't usually try on ten different dresses and reject them all and then try jeans and a nice top and then have to decide between the shoes that will hurt but look sexy, or the shoes that you can run away in. Oh, you don't dress defensively? You don't know what that is? Well, that is dressing in a manner so complicated and hard to get off so that your potential rapist just gives up like a parent trying to get Barbie out of the package on Christmas morning who just hands it to their crying child and says--that's not packaging--that's her force field! It's supposed to stay on!
- I bet that you don't know what hat pins are for. Women don't wear hat pins anymore, we have rape whistles and keychain sirens and pepper spray instead. But back in my grandmother's day, she wore hats and she used a pin to keep them from blowing away in the wind. But she also made sure she had one on every date so she could jam it into a man who was attacking her. My grandmother. In the 1930s. Her own mother born in the 1800s taught her that. Bet you didn't know your great grandmother also had to fight off Bad American Men and her only weapon was a hatpin and maybe a hoop skirt on fire.