Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm just one of the girls

Let me tell you something horrible: the other night I was working on a project with some of my female friends from the social work department and they invited me to a “Girl’s Night Out.”

Needless to say I was devastated. Crushed! Shattered! Heartsick! I am not a girl! Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s nothing wrong with being a girl. It’s just, well, I’m not.

And I declare, with whomever is reading and the rest of Internet as my witness, that I am one hundred percent heterosexual (even though some say this is a controversial statement to make) and I totally like girls. I would hang out with other men in the social work department, but I am afraid there are none. It’s just me, swimming in a sea of estrogen.

“I’m not a girl!” I said, stupidly and obviously.

“Yeah, we’re not saying you’re a girl, but you’re cool,” they said, a little too soothingly. “You’re different. We like hanging out with you. You’re not like other guys.”

What the heck is that supposed to mean? I was livid. I think I felt like a dog feels when he gets neutered. It was awful. Somewhere, somehow I had lost something very precious to me and I wanted desperately to get it back.

“So what makes me so different?” I asked defensively.

“Well, for one, you don’t jabber about sports all the time.”

OK, that’s true. I haven’t a clue about sports. I certainly am not interested in watching them. I just don’t see the point. And I don’t like to play sports either. Maybe a little racquetball here and there, but that’s it. This is not to say I don’t like to exercise, because I do. I will gladly bike, run or hike, and I try to do so on a regular basis. But when it comes to angry, yelling, cursing dudes playing basketball and throwing elbows, you can count me out.

“So does that make me less of a man?” I asked brokenly.

“Oh, no!” they said. “You’re very manly, it’s just that you listen and you don’t run around continually trying to assert your male dominance.”

Hmmm. That’s good, I think? But still, I don’t want to get turned into a woman by default. Can’t I be a man and a non-jerk at the same time? I’m confused.

I guess there will always be stupid dudes who want to prescribe what a man can and can’t do, and if that prescription includes sports and guns and being super-aggressive all the time then I just won’t fit in. I guess my father got a lot of grief from his father for helping change diapers and for sharing the cleaning and cooking with my mom because that was all “woman’s work.” I think I will follow my father's fine example and just do my own thing.

As silly as it sounds, I do worry a little about losing some masculinity. All through high school and college I worked at Jiffy Lube and fancied myself a “Man’s Man.” I wore a uniform and got grease, oil and gasoline on me every single day. I lifted heavy stuff and got burned and used power tools. The only subjects we talked about were cars and women and that was it.

Now I’m going to be a social worker, and let’s face it: social work as a profession is pretty much all female. How will I persevere? Am I going to turn into a woman and lose all of my masculinity? What will become of me?

Maybe I can take testosterone supplements or something.