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Desperate But Equal

I couldn’t believe the ink you wasted responding to “Failed Flirt.” You advised her to make lots of eye contact, play with her hair, and keep touching a guy’s arm to get him to ask for her number, when you could have just told her to ask for HIS. Equality means that women should have to take just as much of a chance of being rejected. Do you honestly think it’s the guy’s responsibility to do all the work?

--A Modern Woman

It’s an imperfect world we live in. Bean sprouts taste like bean sprouts, not hot buttered filet mignon. “Root canal” isn’t a synonym for “mind-blowing sex.” And no, women in bars aren’t sidling up to men and growling, “I’m a love pirate, and I’m here for your booty!”

Sorry if it gets your leg hair in a snarl, but equal doesn’t mean identical. Women expecting the same coin for the same work as men makes sense. Your Evel Knievel-like leap to the conclusion that men and women ARE the same makes me wonder whether you’ve ever seen a man naked. Nudeflash: Men and women are physically different. That’s why men do not wear bras or Kotex, and doctors are not accused of malpractice for neglecting to offer women prostate exams. That’s also why men and women have had different job descriptions for millions of years. Is it really such a stretch that they might be psychologically different, too?

Sure, most women are physically capable of turning to the stranger on the next barstool and inquiring, “Hey, how about I emasculate you over cocktails Tuesday night?” But, if they’re smart, they’ll refrain from asking men out. What your fairness-in-dating chore chart fails to take into account is that men live through their accomplishments -- far more than women do. They actually enjoy the chase, which boils down to a kind of Fight Club for the ego, where they battle other men and their own insecurities in hopes of getting the girl. If women do the asking, what are men supposed to do – stand around trying to look dainty?

Don’t listen to guys who claim they just luh-uh-uvvv when women ask them out. Chances are, they’re putting the standard manly spin on “I’m terrified of rejection.” Give a man who’s into you reasonable reassurance that you won’t turn his ego into a quarter pound of ground chuck, and he’ll ask you out until your ears bleed. Reassurance doesn’t come from making men feel like hunted animals, but by repeatedly flirting them the message that you’re likely to respond to a request for a date with a “yes” instead of a “How dare you exist in my presence!?” Sure, you’ll run into women who’ve successfully dragged a man home by the hair into wimpily, uh, happily, ever after-hood, but they’re the exception. Generally speaking, if the man you’re eyeing is a total stranger, and you’re looking for more than a 12-hour future with him, it’s my way or the lonely, man-free highway.

That said, when you’re getting repetitive stress injuries from brushing a guy’s arm and he still seems about as forward as a coat rack, either he isn’t interested in asking you out or he’s too much of a chickenman to try. Should you suspect the latter, don’t take it as your cue to play the man role “just this once.” If a guy is such a social ingrown toenail that he can’t even ask for your number, do you really think he’ll suddenly morph into a man just because you asked for his? Oh…perhaps you think you’ll transform him with your love! Right. In time, maybe you’ll get him to change…his clothes. Just yank him on his leash to the store, bark orders at him, and cross your fingers that he’ll surprise you by crawling into a pair of pants.


Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.