Just a Little Pussy

Recently in my adult life, I started seeing a new guy. I’ve been off the dating market for over two years, so as I progress towards my mid-twenties, I wasn’t sure what this process looks like, or what it even entails. After dating several classmates as a junior high and high-school student, I’d met a few partners as I moved jobs. Other than selecting someone I was always in close quarters with, I couldn’t even say I know what dating today should or does look like. By some act of God, or the stars, or fate, or sheer dumb luck, perhaps, I met a single man, who is mutual friends with one of my best friends, at her birthday party.

It started off simple and casual, and like H2O molecules, it became fluid as we stuck together the duration of the party. With bowling, mini-golf, and drinks, it was a great atmosphere to meet in. By the end of the night I’d sent him a friend request on Facebook, and by the next night, he had sent me a message. Five months later we are still in constant contact with the progressing of what is turning into a fulfilling relationship for us both.

What is most curious to me, as an older adult seeking a relationship with a man, is that the men in his life seem to look at me through a lens that made me stop and clamp my mouth shut the first wind I got of it. That is to say, whether by joke or by seriousness, I’ve picked up the pieces of what my partner has told me about his roommate and coworkers (all of whom are males in their 30’s, 40’s and up), and I’ve come to realize that they view me not as a woman, not as an equal, not even as a girlfriend, but as “pussy.” I’m not sure if this is some sort of male culture, where men tease each other about dating a new woman, or if this is their serious view of me. On the one hand, I could care less what people that are insignificant to my life think of me, but as a feminist, I finally stopped, and it struck me as if a slap to my face: THIS was it. Even if it is just joking, it’s completely unacceptable for any man to equate the value of woman to “pussy.”

I’ll be honest, growing up I hated the word “pussy” just because of the connotations. I’m not entirely sure I’ve come to terms with the word and have separated myself from it, even as a young adult trying to be mature and confident in all my endeavors. There are also different definitions and versions of the word: wimp, whipped, and sex. I can’t honestly tell you which versions I’ve rejected, and which ones still bother me, perhaps they all still do, but I digress. What has come to light, and what I wish to discuss here, is the value of women when a young man is freshly infatuated or even in love with a woman, other men appear to spoil it, at least from the point of view I’m taking.

Men spoil it by making it less than the beautiful feeling it is, as if to say from one man to another, “You’re not in love, you just love pussy.” Or even, “You just want pussy, that’s what you’re feeling.” Which is a sick view of relationships. I’ve noticed over the course of the last few relationships I have had with older men, that I really wasn’t ever taken serious by the man’s friends. Comments similar to these followed me wherever I went. I thought maybe I was just the one who had the problem, that I couldn’t accept a little joke and I needed to be strong and get over it. But that’s not the case at all: my feelings were hurt and I had every reason to feel that way. Why? Because in the eyes of others, I meant nothing to them, and they suggested to my partner that I was less than what I should be valued as. I wasn’t taken seriously. I didn’t even equate to a partner, a girlfriend, or even an equal. I was viewed as a living sex toy.

In case I’ve somehow managed not to exemplify this well enough, here’s a conversation from when I was 19 dating a 24 year old man. It was his birthday and we had made plans to spend the evening hanging out together. Time flies, and 11pm rolls around. Without any warning, his friends pull up outside his house and demand he go hang out with them. As an individual, I’m not comfortable around people who heavily drink, so I didn’t want to go with, not that I was even invited: quite the opposite, I was dismissed. The text read, after he informed them that we were spending time together: “Finish up, put your pants back on, and let’s go.” Never mind that we were actually engaging in PG behavior just spending time with each other, they just assumed, and excused me. But what bothered me most, which perhaps speaks more to who my ex was as a person, is that he didn’t even bother to correct them. He didn’t defend me. And in less than 20 minutes he was walking me to my car, sending me on my way, despite that I drove 20 miles out of my way to see him for his birthday.

It’s easy to overlook a situation like that, I suppose. As the worrywart I tend to be, I put the blame on myself. I was the one uncomfortable with drinking. I was the one that was younger. I could see him whenever, and they were his friends after all, they were entitled to see their friend too. But what still enrages me to this day, was the part that it was assumed that I was just a sex toy, not even his girlfriend or equal, which was evident in the fact that they didn’t even ask me to come hang out with them.

But now that I’m 24, I’m still seeing situations like this in my life, and it’s finally starting to piece together. My current partner lives with an older roommate, and they have their own living routine where he chips-in money for dinners that his roommate cooks. The particular night I’m referring to, I had made dinner for my partner, wanting to ever so cleverly impress him with the cooking skills my father had taught me, and have an evening in peace. Since my partner wouldn’t need to eat dinner at home, he informed his roommate not to cook food for him, as it would go uneaten. The text he got back, which I wasn’t supposed to see as he yanked the phone out of view in his own shock when he read what it said, about made me fall over. Eventually giving in to me being irritated at his apparent shock that he almost threw the phone he had jerked it away so violently moved it out of view, he shared with me what his roommate had said in response that he wouldn’t be home for dinner. The message read, simply, and bluntly, “All about that pussy.” That’s it. Nothing else. Nothing more.

Excuse me, for perhaps assuming that a grown man with a girlfriend of his own would think to say something more intelligent, like “That sounds great, I hope dinner goes well,” or something conversational. I don’t know what this man thought was for dinner, but dear lord, what does a text like that really say? Does it imply that even a man over the age of 30 is childish and immature? Does it say that he views me as a new sex toy that his roommate is partaking in enjoying? Does it imply that my partner has spread crude rumors to his roommate? Or does it say what we all need to stop justifying: boys will be boys?

I want to know what makes men talk about women in this way. Here we have two young adults who are very much so infatuated, got the early love-bite feelings, and are invested in getting to know each other. Yet, for all women’s words and conversation of “What’s he like?” and “Awe, that’s so sweet,” men seem to just stop at hazing their friends for having feelings: surely it’s the sex he wants, not the girl—for it would be weak to have real feelings of love: no man should ever be “whipped!” That “being whipped” is still a thing is actually just as insulting, and an underlying issue of the devaluing a woman’s worth to just pussy.

And thus the “pussy” comments start. Is it really that simple? Is it simply hazing? And why? Is it really so wrong for men to have feelings of love and NOT be ridiculed for it? Is it just joking? But again, why joke about something that matters to your friend? Or is it bread and trained into the minds of men for the span of their lives that women aren’t equals, their sexual parts are the only thing worth liking, thus forming the phrase: boys will be boys? Or, is it a combination, one that teaches boys and men that feelings in general are bad, and instills values of shaming emotions?

I’m leaning towards the excuse people use: “boys will be boys,” which instills the shaming of male's ability to have emotions, and promotes a culture where boys will act in whatever crude or perverted manner they've been taught to. If it were just a few experiences here and there, I would think men devaluing women and relationships as simply a need for "pussy" as just random disrespect, but it isn’t that simple. This is a culture. It’s a mindset: a belief. Examples of this type of behavior are everywhere: it’s in our TV shows, our movies, taught to our sons, boys, and men. It’s in media, advertisements, pornography, and society. There isn’t a plot where a man loves a woman that he isn’t ridiculed for it in some way. It’s all about the end-goal: “Did you get any?”

If there is a way to enlighten, we should teach men--and women, for that matter--that (1) It’s okay for men to have feelings; (2) There are more things to a relationship than sexual items; and (3) Women are not only equals, but are worthy of as much respect as a man is given. It's time we stop making excuses for the behaviors of both men and women just because it's a culture we've grown up with. Mutual respect is key in any relationship, and is just as important in a friendship. Humanity is deserving of mutual respect; just because you don't know the person you're talking about, it doesn't make them any less worthy of your respect--especially if it is a person your friend is fond of. Let's be the change: spread respect and stop tolerating derogatory uses of words like "pussy."