The concepts of gender neutrality as well as racial equality are both very welcome to me. As a young Aspergirl I was extremely offended and suffocated by the fairly ridiculous constraints that were put on me by society, even and especially in my own home.
I failed to win the prize in science class despite having the highest grades, because it was given to a boy. According to the teacher, “School is harder for boys”. This was his explanation. My mother told me, when I asked if I was going to go to college, “You will get married and have children.” Apparently she slept through the sixties.
A fifth grade social studies teacher told our classroom that, “America is the greatest country in the world because here, anyone can become president.”
“Even me and Tony Marbury?” I asked, because I was a girl and Tony was black.
“Everyone but you and Tony Marbury,” he actually responded, without a hint of irony.
For me, the people that love Trump and other blustering buffoons like him are, at least partly, the ones that need to believe that there is a God, who is male, and further, who is a white man. He has a long white beard, thick curls and a robe, like Santa Claus. That way they never have to try, to face the fact that they are as capable as anyone of making choices, and if their choices don’t work out, they’ve no one but themselves to blame. There is something tempting and reassuring in believing that a man in a position of power is stronger and more capable than you, but they almost never are. Lay yourself at a man’s feet and he will have no choice but to look down on you.
While I do believe that there usually are inherent differences between the sexes purely for hormonal reasons, those differences are far less important now that slaying wild animals for supper with a rock is no longer required.
As a woman who is perpetually single, I see around the world that men have to perpetuate the myth of their superiority. Don’t get me wrong, everyone I’ve ever met knows how much I like men. And I have to clarify, that while I actually gravitate towards black males as friends, I tend to date white males. This is important to note, because in many (not all, of course!) white males, the sense of entitlement is astounding, their egos are fragile, and their jealousy of a woman who may be in some ways smarter than them is sometimes dangerous. I have been called a witch since I was a small child, always by white men, presumably because of my intelligence and natural abilities. “Birds can’t produce music” said one British manboy I met, when I was engineering a record in my Liverpool flat. “Girls shouldn’t win at table hockey,” said my english husband, who was 6’2” tall and who whinged like a baby when I whipped his arse at the game, and followed it up by slaying him at foosball. He left me shortly thereafter. My last real (for lack of a better term) boyfriend said “No one will ever love you because of the things you say,” but I’ve sold more books than him, so apparently some people out there actually love me because of my words, not in spite of them.
I have finally perfected the act of dining alone as a woman, owning the right to be in a restaurant or pub by myself, with my own money, my own card. I am friendly, sometimes witty, and I am never ever obsequious or apologetic. This is where we go wrong. While haughtiness is not cool and merely a mask for a fragile ego, obsequiousness is the invitation for the wolves to devour us. If I’m not feeling strong enough, if I’m feeling vulnerable, I avoid people.
Inviting a man out for a drink or dinner is also something that can get you looked down upon. I’m still unsure how to handle that. The feminist side of me says “Well, if he’s threatened by that, he’s not strong enough for me anyway.” But the practical side of me says “Play the game.”
As I’ve been writing the new manuscript Sex and the Single Aspie, gender stereotypes have been something I’ve grappled with daily, complicated by the fact I’ve been living in or visiting several countries, most of which I am still fairly new to. It takes time to learn the ways of a people. But, the world over, within a limited margin, I see little difference in the male need to dominate, at least in the European and Asian countries I have so far visited. In fact, it may surprise you to know that I have found my dates who were born in Middle Eastern countries to be the ones I got along the best with, for the most part, whether Jewish or Muslim-born. They know how to resonate with a woman, I connected with them deeply –intellectually, physically, and just in having fun. Most other men I have been meeting seem to want to play and conquer a woman, to come at her sexually as if she were a victim or a target to be nailed. Yet another myth shot to hell. We can’t run around saying “we’re not racist” out of one side of our mouths and then out the other “all Muslims are evil” that is as stupid as saying all white people are Nazis.
I’ve heard it said that men with strong mothers prefer and can handle being with a strong woman, but again, this is dumping the responsibility of the man’s personality onto a woman. We are each individuals and we can retrain our brains at any time of life. God knows I have….although when I say god knows, she definitely doesn’t have a beard.
I am fully aware that in saying gender and racial stereotypes should be abandoned, I have been discussing them. But we must admit there is an elephant in the room before we can befriend it.