This week I was reading an article in the New York Times called “She’s a Director Who’s Just Another Dude.” It’s about Lynn Shelton, who directed a movie called “Humpday,” yet another bromance comedy. The writer spouts off about why Shelton is so cool—citing “masculine” tendencies such as enjoying alcohol, showing confidence, and feeling powerful as reasons why she rocks. The article wasn’t too offensive but it got me thinking: why, for us gals, does being compared to men constitute a compliment? How many times have your heard someone use the phrase, “She’s like one of the guys,” as a compliment for a woman? Chances are, a lot. I have two problems with “compliments” like these. First, they imply that it is a good thing for women to be like men. Men are not the superior sex—they are equal to women—so why should we have any desire to be like them? Also, if you flip the compliment, it’s always negative. For a man to be “girly” is a severe blow to his ego. And, if you take the comparison too far, it’s also a bad thing. It is insulting to call a woman “manly” and powerful females like Hilary Clinton are often called “bitches” or described as “cold.”
My second problem is these statements perpetuate sexist stereotypes. What does it mean to “be like a man” anyway? I am a girl and I am feminine. I wear dresses or skirts and makeup almost every day. However, I am also confident, assertive and strong. I’m a competitive boxer who likes the outdoors and I seldom sit with my legs crossed. Does this make me like “one of the guys?” No, it absolutely does not. My gender does not determine what my likes and dislikes are. Also, positive qualities are positive qualities, regardless of gender. Drinking beer and getting dirty are not female-specific activities any more than cooking and cleaning.
Before you start commenting furiously, I’d like to set the record straight. I am not a man-hater or a (I hate this term) “femiNazi.” I do, however, have my fair share of issues with men, as I’m sure many guys do with women. Also, I am a feminist. There are no two ways about it. For those of you who are unclear about what this means, a feminist is someone who thinks men and women are equal. They are NOT women who hate men. Get it straight, please.
We need to stop complimenting one sex (women) while patting the other on the back (men). It is not abnormal for women to enjoy camping and drinking beer and it is perfectly fine for a guy to like shopping. Activities, emotions and human qualities aren’t gender specific. If you want to pay me a compliment or describe me in some way, talk about specifics, don’t compare me to the opposite sex.